Intimacy, Community and Power: Bedding Rituals in Eighteenth-Century Scotland

  • Katie BarclayEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Emotions book series (Palgrave Studies in the History of Emotions)


Bedding rituals were a popular part of the wedding ceremony for early modern Scots, a ‘spatial drama’ which held cultural and emotional meaning. Leaving the couple alone in the bedroom symbolised consummation and, in a culture where church wedding ceremonies were unnecessary, placed sex at the heart of marriage. Such physical movements through space were not just symbolic, but constitutive. As well as creating a marriage, the bedding ritual generated a particular form of emotional intimacy – one that focused on sexual intimacy, family, community and gendered power. While the marriage bedding ritual was only performed once, going to bed as a married couple should be a daily occurrence, promoting this form of intimacy across married life.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 International License (, which permits any noncommercial use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations