Research projects

Members of the Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies pursue a number of research projects, including several major AHRC-funded undertakings with dedicated research teams:

Ancestral Studies

Ancestral Studies is an innovative new interdisciplinary field of study.

Concerned with the social, cultural and biological contours of identity, it explores questions of who we are and of past generations engagements with, and definitions of, being and belonging through experiences of place, landscape, language, text, visual and material culture. 

Find more information on our website.

Bawdry and Popular Print

This project is funded by the Carnegie Trust. For more information, please contact

Comasan Labhairt ann an Gàidhlig

Comasan Labhairt ann an Gàidhlig/Gaelic Adult Proficiency is a three year research project funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Funding Council, which began in November 2014. The project is based in Celtic and Gaelic, and is run in collaboration with Gaelic Studies at the University of Aberdeen

CLAG will develop a series of proficiency scales to serve as the basis of a framework for the teaching and learning of Scottish Gaelic by adults. This will be linked to the Common European Framework of Reference, and will be aligned with existing Scottish Qualifications Authority frameworks.

Find more information on the project.

Commemorations of Saints in Scottish Place-Names

A three-year Project funded by The Leverhulme Trust (2010-2013).  The cults of saints have long been studied as a way of understanding religious history, and in Scotland the poverty of other kinds of evidence from the early medieval period give hagio-toponyms special significance. But there are considerable challenges: understanding the derivation of the place-names themselves, for instance, or difficulties in identifying the individuals commemorated.

In place-names we find both formal processes of naming (reflecting authority, possession and power), and naming as a reflection of local popular devotion, and the stories people told about their landscape. Study of hagio-toponyms must cope with extremes: dedications to saints as expressions of monastic control, and the mistaken creation of saints out of common name-elements (e.g., St Ford, originally Sandford). It was, and is, a dynamic process of forgetfulness and invention.

We hope we will be able to reclaim and understand through our work the landscapes of Scotland's religious past.

Visit the Commemorations of Saints in Scottish Place-Names website

The Community of the Realm in Scotland, 1249-1424: history, law and charters in a recreated kingdom

This three-year project has been funded by the AHRC from 2017-2020.

Corpas na Gàidhlig

Corpas na Gàidhlig is a constituent project of DASG. It was founded in 2008 with the following aims:

  • to create a comprehensive electronic corpus of Scottish Gaelic texts for students and researchers of Scottish Gaelic language, literature and culture
  • to provide the textual basis for the interuniversity project Faclair na Gàidhlig (‘Dictionary of the Scottish Gaelic Language’) upon which the future historical dictionary will be based
  • to provide a resource which will facilitate corpus planning and corpus development technology for Gaelic

The website can be found here.

Dachaigh airson Stòras na Gàidhlig | Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic

This is an online repository of digitised texts and lexical resources for Scottish Gaelic. DASG has two main components, Corpas na Gàidhlig and the Fieldwork Archive.

Corpas na Gàidhlig aims to provide a comprehensive electronic corpus of Scottish Gaelic texts for students and researchers of Scottish Gaelic language, literature and culture. Corpas na Gàidhlig also provides the textual basis for the interuniversity project, Faclair na Gàidhlig (Dictionary of the Scottish Gaelic Language), upon which the future historical dictionary of Gaelic will be based.

The DASG Fieldwork Archive consists of a collection of vernacular materials (questionnaires, wordlists and sound recordings) collected throughout Gaelic Scotland and in Nova Scotia between the 1960s and 1980s as part of data collection for the Historical Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic (HDSG) project, which was based at the Department of Celtic between 1966 and 1997.

Seanchas is a new project under development, hosted by DASG, which will provide an online hub providing information on Gaelic sound recordings held in institutions around the globe.

Visit the Digital Archive for Scottish Gaelic.

The Edinburgh Gazetteer: Radical Networks and Journalism in 1790s Scotland

The Edinburgh Gazetteer: Radical Networks and Journalism in 1790s Scotland’ is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and will analyse the networks of 1790s Scotland as evidenced by the short-lived Edinburgh Gazetteer. The Gazetteer, which was printed in the capital from November 1792 to January 1794, is a radical, post-French Revolution journal which offers a lens through which to read the turbulent Scottish 1790s. As well as covering high-profile cases, including the trials of Louis XVI and Maurice Margarot, the journal features contributions by Robert Burns; detailed accounts of Scottish sedition trials, especially those of Thomas Muir and William Skirving; reporting on reform societies, including the Friends of the People; and radical responses to the abolition debate. This project brings the radical reporting of the Edinburgh Gazetteer into clear focus and will produce a new online edition of the Gazetteer which will be accompanied by notes and illustrative material.

For more informatoin, please contact

Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century: Correspondence and Poetry

'Editing Robert Burns for the Twenty First Century: Correspondence and Poetry' (2017-22) [PI: Gerry Carruthers] will produce two volumes of Poetry and three volumes of Correspondence for the Oxford University Press Edition of the Works of  Robert Burns as well as the Oxford Handbook to Robert Burns (40 critical essays amounting to 240,000 words).

The first phase of 'Editing Robert Burns for the Twenty First Century' produced the work for Nigel Leask (ed.), Commonplace Books, Tour Journals and Miscellaneous Prose (2014), Murray Pittock (ed.) The Scots Musical Museum, 2 vols (2017) and Kirsteen McCue, Songs for George Thomson (forthcoming, 2018).

The two AHRC awards for the Burns edition amount to over £2M FEC.

For more information, see the project webpage or the project blog.

Iona Research Group

The early medieval monastery of Iona, Argyll & Bute was founded AD 563, and remains to many an icon of the ‘Celtic’ church. Yet Iona is more than about its famous founder St Columba, and even the medieval Benedictine abbey (founded 1203) rests on a 600-year legacy of learning, innovation and pilgrimage.

Thanks to the survival of primary texts produced here, along with an unparalleled survival of archaeological remains, carved stones and Gaelic place-names, the entire island is a rich resource for archaeologists and historians. More than a missionary outpost in the sea, Iona has played a key role in the shaping of Christianity itself.

Researchers across the departments of Archaeology, History and Celtic & Gaelic independently conduct work on various aspects of Iona’s history, producing important articles, monographs and edited volumes as seen in the reading list below. In 2012, we created the Glasgow Iona Research Group to spark collaboration and generate new multidisciplinary projects. Several members attended the Iona Research Conference in April 2012 hosted by Historic Scotland and the Iona Community, the proceedings of which can be consulted online. The research of Dr Katherine Forsyth and Dr Adrián Maldonado on the early sculpture played a key role in the new redisplay of the carved stones in the Iona Infirmary Museum in 2013.

Since then, the project team has continued to work together to develop new research projects concerning the monastery of Iona as well as the history and archaeology of the rest of the island.

The most recent project is currently under way in the department of Archaeology, where Dr Ewan Campbell is writing up the unpublished Russell Trust excavations on Iona by Charles Thomas in 1957-1963, thanks to generous funding from Historic Environment Scotland. This will involve limited re-excavation of some of Thomas' trenches on Iona in May 2017.

For more information, visit the webpage.

Land-holding, the recording of property-transfer, and the formation of kingdoms: the comparative experience of medieval Scotland and early medieval Bengal

John Reuben Davies was awarded £9835 from the British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme to pursue a project with scholars from the University of Calcutta (West Bengal, India). John's co-applicant in Calcutta is Professor Swapna Bhattacharya of the Department of South and South East Asian Studies, the pioneer in the field of comparative diplomatic of early medieval records of property-transfer in Europe and India.

Specialists from Glasgow and Calcutta worked on contemporary sources from both countries, seeking original perspectives, and aiming for a renewed understanding of land-holding, royal power, and the formation of kingdoms.

The University of Calcutta has a memorandum of understanding with the University of Glasgow, and is one the University's priority strategic partners in the 2010–15 South Asia regional plan, and the College of Arts Corporate Plan.

The Scottish Funding Council awarded John Reuben Davies £5674 under the Global Challenges Research Fund for his subsequent project entitled  'The preservation and promotional of historical cultural heritage in the rural communities of Bengal'.

For further information, please contact:

The Making of Scotland Historical: Scottish Historiography (1832-1986)

Funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, this project involves Catriona Macdonald in extensive research relating to the evolution of Scottish History since the death of Sir Walter Scott. Researching UK, Scottish and local groups and a diverse range of historians and historical novelists, Macdonald will reassess the Romantic legacy, probe the impact of ‘scientific methods’ on the historical community and develop new ways of looking at the professionalization of historical studies in Scotland.

Models of Authority: Scottish Charters and the Emergence of Government 1100-1250

Models of Authority is a resource for the study of the contents, script and physical appearance of the corpus of Scottish charters which survives from 1100–1250. Through close examination of the diplomatic and palaeographic features of the charters, the project will explore the evidence for developments in the perception of royal government during a crucial period in Scottish history.

The project is funded by the AHRC (2014-2017) and is a collaboration between scholars from the Universities of Glasgow, Cambridge and King's College London.

Find out more information.

Romantic National Song Network

The aim of the proposed network is to explore and map the area of Romantic national song culture in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales during the period 1750-1850. At this time of great political upheaval, the four nations of the British Isles (and many European nations) were actively collecting and disseminating what was presented to the public as ‘National Song’. While work has been done on some individual writers, composers and editors/publishers, there is still considerable confusion about the meaning of the term ‘National Song’ and little understanding of the relationships between the living song cultures of the British nations.
Bringing together scholars working in literature and language, musicology, history of the book, and performance history, the network will map the field bibliographically, exploring where these songs were published and performed and will begin to establish how they shaped public perceptions of the different national cultures of the British Isles. 

For more information, please contact

The Scottish Charters Project

The Scottish Charters Project will produce a calendar of aristocratic charters to 1286 and a calendar of episcopal charters to 1250. This project includes a Postgraduate Scottish Charters Reading Group.

Members of the Centre also contribute to the Syllabus of Scottish Cartularies, a project of the Conference of Scottish Medievalists.

This project has contributed to the 'Paradox of Medieval Scotland' project and the 'Models of Authority' project.  Access the ebook resulting from this project.

Visit the Scottish Charters Project website.

Seanchas: The Global Gaelic Jukebox

Seanchas: The Global Gaelic Jukebox is a new collaborative research project that aims to facilitate access to ethnographic Irish and Scottish Gaelic sound and film recordings, held internationally at a variety of archives and institutions. The project aims to provide a new online directory of Gaelic recordings, particularly those pertaining to the folklore and ethnology of Gaelic communities in Scotland, Ireland and elsewhere.

The Seanchas project is directed by Dr Sìm Innes, Lecturer in Celtic and Gaelic at the University of Glasgow and Dr Barbara Hillers, Lecturer in Irish Folklore at University College Dublin. The project receives funding from Colmcille, a partnership between Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Foras na Gaeilge. It also receives further funding from the University of Glasgow.

If you would like more information, or indeed to let us know of little-known collections of Gaelic or Irish or Manx Gaelic sound recordings to be included in this directory, then please contact Dr Sìm Innes at or Dr Barbara Hillers at

Visit the website for Seanchas: The Global Gaelic Jukebox.

Sgeul na Gàidhlig | The Gaelic Story at the University of Glasgow

A project led by Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh, Dr Katherine Forsyth and with Dr Aonghas MacCoinnich as main researcher, will explore the history of Gaelic and Gaels at the University of Glasgow.  Gaels have been present at the University since its foundation in 1451 both as students and as members of staff.  Gaelic however, was not taught at the University as a subject which contributed to an MA degree until session 1906-1907.   This project will look at aspects of the story of Gaels and Gaelic connected  to the University over the longer period as well as Gaelic as a subject, under the auspices of Celtic, at the University

Visit the project website.

Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot (SERF)

Forteviot occupies a special place in the history of Scotland. The death of King Kenneth mac Alpin, one of the first kings of a united Scotland, was recorded at the ‘palace’ of Forteviot in AD 858 and at this time this site was an major royal centre in a fledgling Scottish nation. Forteviot is also the location of one of the most extensive concentrations of early prehistoric ritual monuments in mainland Scotland.

It is these two chronologically separated but physically linked episodes of landscape use at Forteviot, which provides a focus of the SERF project. What it is about Forteviot and Strathearn that drew people here at different time periods to establish such important centres?  The Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot (SERF) project is a long-term study set out to explore this question and to situate Forteviot in a wider political, social and geographical perspective. Since 2006 archaeologists from the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen, with the help of local volunteers, have been exploring Forteviot and the neighbouring parishes of Dunning and Forgandenny.

Project Directors:  Prof. Stephen DriscollDr. Kenneth BrophyDr. Ewan Campbell

Project Manager:  Dr. Tessa Poller

Find out more information on the SERF project.

The World of the Gàidhealtachd and the Making of the Early Modern ‘British’ State, c.1513-c.1594

Funded by the European Commission, this two year Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, undertaken by Dr Simon Egan, investigates the relationship between the emerging ‘British’ state and the autonomous Gaelic-speaking regions of Ireland and Scotland. By 1603 the political power of the Gaelic world (or Gàidhealtachd as it is commonly, though not exclusively, known) had been broken in the face of the recently created British state. Certain Gaelic dynasties such as the Campbells of Argyll and O’Briens of Thomond found accommodation within the new order. Little research however, has been undertaken on how other, recalcitrant dynasties such as the O’Donnells and O’Neills possessed the capacity to not only (i) resist governmental encroachment; but also to (ii) actively threaten this process of state formation throughout the sixteenth century. Using a series of case studies that chart the fortunes of the more powerful Gaelic Irish and Gaelic Scottish dynasties and by drawing upon a broad base of primary material, this project explores the political and military development of the Gáidhealtachd during two key phases of Anglo-Scottish relations. The first phases investigates how certain Gaelic lords manipulated the course of Anglo-Scottish hostilities from 1513-59 in order to enhance their position within ‘British’ politics. The second phase explores how the Gaelic lords reacted to the gradual development of Anglo-Scottish peace and amity from 1560-94. The main objective of this project is therefore to uncover the basis for the strong level of Gaelic political and military resilience within ‘British’ politics throughout the sixteenth century and how significant a factor this was in contributing to the outbreak of the Nine Years War (1594-1603).


Project Website: