Past Research Projects

Researching and curating active manuscripts: Scotland’s medieval cartularies

PI: Jo Tucker (GU)

Co-I: Dauvit Broun (GU)

Funder: Royal Society of Edinburgh

Funding period: 2018–2019


This project brought together researchers from the University of Glasgow and curators of cartulary manuscripts from the National Library of Scotland and National Records of Scotland in order to discuss new work and develop new strategies for the care and study of cartularies. The core question of these workshops was: What are the challenges for researching and curating active manuscripts, and how can curation strategies enhance their potential for research? The project consisted of five discussion-based workshops held in Edinburgh, followed by four events aimed at disseminating the results to different groups (curators and conservators, postgraduates, local and family history societies, and medieval scholars).

Transformation of Gaelic Scotland in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

PI: Dauvit Broun (GU)

Research Associate: Matthew Hammond (GU), Cornell Jackson (KCL/GU)

Funder: Leverhulme Trust

Funding period: 2013–2016

Project website: PEOPLE OF MEDIEVAL SCOTLAND 1093 - 1371


This project expanded the People of Medieval Scotland resource by providing for mapping facilities as well as exploratory research on using Social Network Analysis. The work conducted by this project marks the first time SNA has been applied to medieval society on such a large canvas. The findings will provide the disciplines of medieval history and digital humanities with new models, methods and ideas. In particular, our results offer insight into both exciting possibilities and perplexing challenges stemming from the application of SNA methods to a large-scale digital prosopographical database which has been carefully designed to represent the social context of documentary production.

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 Breaking of Britain

Funded by the AHRC from 2010-2013, this collaborative project involved the University of Glasgow, Lancaster University, the University of Edinburgh, and King’s College London (including the Department of Digital Humanities). The project was concerned with the period which extends from the failure of Alexander II’s short-lived revival of a Scoto-Northumbrian realm in 1216–17 to the formal abolition of cross-border landholding by Robert I in November 1314, following his victory at Bannockburn.

The project built on the work of another project funded by the AHRC, The Paradox of Medieval Scotland (PoMS), and extended the PoMS database to 1314. It will also be linked to a new database, recording interactions between the Crown and people in the three northern counties of England from 1216 to 1307. The project also studied border chronicles as a source both for medieval perceptions of identity and fields of medieval historical interest.

The Breaking of Britain website can be found here.

Bridging the Continental Divide: neo-Latin and its cultural role in Jacobean Scotland, as seen in the Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum (1637)

Bridging the Continental Divide was a project funded by the AHRC and based in the School of Humanities at the University of Glasgow between August 2012 and July 2015.

The project's main aim was to produce an electronic edition of a selection of the Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum huius aevi illustrium (DPS, Amsterdam, 1637), the largest anthology of Scottish neo-Latin  poetry ever produced, which was edited by the Fife laird Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit and the Aberdonian poet Arthur Johnstone.

The resource provides original scans of the entire 1,272 page text, and a full transcription and translation of 11 of the 37 poets featured within it, totalling 335 pages. Each poem features a full critical apparatus detailing all scriptural and philological references cited, historical and social context, and biographical material on each poet.

The website is open ended so that the remainder of the text not translated now can be added by scholars in the future. This resource will allow scholars to understand more fully when and why Latin was used in Jacobean Scotland, and how it interacted with the Protestant culture that dominated early modern Scottish society.

The website can be found here.

A Companion to Recent Scottish Music, 1950 to the present

A Companion to Recent Scottish Music, 1950 to the present is a Carnegie Trust-sponsored project involving researchers from the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Napier and Kingston.  

The resulting volume will be published by Musica Scotica Trust.

Read a pdf about the project [10mb PDF]

The expansion and contraction of Gaelic in medieval Scotland: the onomastic evidence

Another AHRC-funded endeavour, this place-names project explores how Gaelic expanded from Argyll into eastern and southern Scotland in the early middle ages and receded from these areas by 1500.

The project team is led by Professor Thomas Clancy (Celtic and Gaelic), with Dr. Simon Taylor as lead researcher, Gilbert Markus as research assistant and doctoral student Peter McNiven.

The final volume of this project is currently in press and due out in 2017.

More information on the project can be found here.

The Paradox of Medieval Scotland: social relationships and identities before the Wars of Independence

This AHRC-funded three-year project ran from 2007-2010 and was led by Professor Dauvit Broun (History) in collaboration with Professor Robeard O'Maolalaigh (Celtic and Gaelic), and Professor David Carpenter of King's College London. The team ibuilt a prosopographical database of 11th and 12th century Scotland based on charter evidence.

By reconstructing a picture of Scottish society before the wars of independence, this project sought to explain why and how Scotland became a self-conscious nation of Scots at the same time as it experienced extensive English settlement through Anglo-Norman immigration.

The website can be found here.

School curriculum reform and the Scottish War of Independence: A Collaboration between Education Scotland and the University of Glasgow

People of Medieval Scotland was produced through a partnership between Education Scotland and the University of Glasgow, and includes contemporary academic research on this topic. It is made up of 32 extensive resources on a range of topics focused on the lives of ordinary people in Scotland during medieval times. This material is for practitioners working with children and young people across the broad general education. It could also be used to support learners researching National 4 Added Value Units and National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher assignments. It is designed to improve the teaching of medieval Scottish history to children and young people. Specifically, the resource aims to make this complex topic more accessible to younger children.

The 32 downloadable resources provide source information for practitioners and the learning journeys include innovative teaching suggestions. These can be found here.

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 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.

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

Bawdry and Popular Print

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

The People's Voice: Scottish Political Poetry, Song, and the Franchise

The People’s Voice: Scottish political poetry, song and the franchise, 1832-1914 has been funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland from 2016-2018. This project unearths the wealth of political poetry found in the Scottish popular press, and uses its to analyse the roles that poetry and song played in the extensions of the electoral franchise in 1832, 1867-8, 1884 and 1918.

More information can be found here.

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

Centre for Cultural Policy Research

The Centre for Cultural Policy Research is pursuing an evaluation of the Highland 2007 Year of Culture for the Highland Council.

Visit the Centre for Cultural Policy Research website.

The Scottish Gothic Churches and Abbeys website

The Scottish Gothic Churches and Abbeys website seeks to promote an appreciation for surviving Gothic monuments in Scotland.

Visit the Scottish Gothic Churches and Abbeys 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.

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.

Political Petitioning and Public Engagement in Early Modern Scotland, Britain and Northern Europe, 1550-1795

Two research workshops at Glasgow University 
Friday 28 April and Friday 15 Sept 2017

Click here for more information. 

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.