This chapter focuses on the economic importance of wood products, which in early modern Scotland was immense. Every building from the grandest castle to the smallest home was constructed or furnished with wood. No boat could be built or wheeled vehicle made without wood. No tool or agricultural implement could be fashioned, no fence made to protect crops or stock, no fish or other food packed for keeping, no baskets made of any strength, no mine sunk below the ground, no machinery devised for milling, draining, spinning or weaving, that did not utilise wood. In the nineteenth century, when coal completely replaced charcoal in smelting, cheap iron and steel largely replaced wood in the manufacture of machinery and ships and in the frames of large buildings. Coal tar replaced wood tar, and chemicals supplemented vegetable tanning. Nevertheless, demand for wood in the economy continued to grow rapidly, partly because there were many uses that were not substituted, particularly in house construction and in such specialised but important industrial uses such as bobbin manufacture, and partly because new uses were found.
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