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Archive news & events

Updates and events from the School of Scottish Studies Archives.

A shelf of burgundy register books in the School of Scottish Studies Archives. These are numbered by Year


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The School of Scottish Studies Archive is Seventy!

In 2021 we celebrated our 70th Anniversary. We created a brand new blog where we hosted much of our celebratory content and it is the best place to keep up to date with what we delivered. You can visit the blog at:

One of our blog focuses for 2021 was to celebrate our building and collections in The SSSA in 70 Objects. We invited submissions of short posts and you can find out more information here: 


Peter Cooke

Peter Cooke
Peter Cooke

We are sad to report the death of Peter Cooke on 28 December at the age of 90. Peter started working at the School of Scottish Studies in 1969. He had previously taught in Uganda where he recorded and encouraged local music-making and brought this experience to his work in Scotland. He remained active in international music networks and brought musicians from many countries into the life of the School. Though he took early retirement in 1989, he continued as an Honorary Fellow until 1994. He maintained the connection, less formally, as friend and colleague for the rest of his life. During his time at the School Peter’s main role was as ethnomusicologist and he made over 600 field recordings and contributed significantly to the Photographic Archive. His interests were manifold and as well as his work on piping and fiddle traditions, he worked with Scottish Traveller, Betsy Whyte and was instrumental in setting up a filming programme which commenced in 1970 with ‘Cloth Waulking in South Uist’. He also took charge of the John Levy Collection.


Peter was keen to share his knowledge and expertise and he published as much as he could. During his time at the School, he was editor of the Scottish Tradition series, compilations and contextualisation of SSSA fieldwork recordings now published by Greentrax. Peter had a particular connection with Shetland and his thesis ‘The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles’, (CUP, 1986) is now available online More recently he created a lovely website ‘Whalsay’s Heritage of Song’ in collaboration with the local community


In 2019, Peter was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, receiving the Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award. Peter’s own website contains more information about his work: We shall greatly miss Peter. He was always so happy to share his knowledge and did so with great warmth, enthusiasm and kindliness.




Voice of the People #Hamish100 Concert and Symposium

As centenary celebrations for Hamish Henderson come to a close, The Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies was delighted to present our final events: a symposium and concert celebrating Hamish's work on oral tradition and Scottish culture.

An evening concert  took place at the Queen's Hall.

Voice of the People brought together contemporary voices inspired by Henderson’s life and work, featuring prominent tradition bearers and material from the School of Scottish Studies archives. Artists include Alison McMorland & Geordie McIntyre, Dolina MacLennan, Allan MacDonald, Gary West, James Robertson, Fiona Hunter, Mischa MacPherson, Steve Byrne, Lori Watson, Scott Gardiner, Essie Stewart, Findlay Napier, Innes Watson, Heather Downie and Alistair Paterson.


Singing the archives: Gaelic and Scots Song Traditions

This event was an exploration of the use of archival resources in traditional song transmission with an opportunity to listen to recordings from the School of Scottish Studies Archives and to learn a song or two that appears in both Gaelic and Scots traditions.

The workshop was led by singer and researcher Naomi Harvey.


Plaque Celebrating Founder of the Archives unveiled.

Hamish Henderson Plaque

A plaque was unveiled at 29 George Square on Monday the 5th of November commemorating Hamish Henderson; poet, song-writer, folklorist, and founder of the School of Scottish Studies Archives.  It will stand in perpetuity to celebrate the work of Hamish here in the Archives. This is part of a series of events to celebrate the centenary of his birth on 11th of November 1919.










Dr John MacInnes

Dr John MacInnes

We are sad to report the death of Dr John MacInnes, at the age of 89, on Friday 10 May after a short illness. John was born in Uig on Lewis and was there until the age of eight when the family moved to Raasay. He went to Portree High School and then to study at the University of Edinburgh. John spent his working life, from the 1950s to 1993, at the School of Scottish Studies where he made over 400 field recordings with people from all parts of the Gàidhealtachd and beyond. He was a renowned scholar within academia, and within the Gaelic community where learning and an interest in and desire to pass on the history, songs and stories that keep the culture and the language alive are so highly valued. His memory was prodigious like so many of those that he recorded. He had a wide-ranging knowledge, not only of the Gaelic literary and oral traditions and how they connected, but also of the people and where they were placed. And he shared it.

John will be very much missed as a friend and as someone to turn to with a question, a question that often turned into a quest. You would always get more than you asked for from this lovely, interesting, warm, vital and very singular man.



Art of Treepling Festival

The Art of Treepling, a mini festival of percussive dance, 'beating out the rhythm of the music with the feet', was held the week-end of 7-9 June 2019. This was the culmination of a residency, First Footing, undertaken by Nic Gareiss with the Traditional Dance forum of Scotland in partnership with the School of Scottish Studies Archives and Moray House School of Education.

The festival opened with a special work-in-progress showing of the Art of Treepling on Friday evening at 7.30 in St Cecilia's Hall and the programme over the following two days included masterclasses with Sandy Silva, Colin Dunne, Nic Gareiss, a panel discussion on the Art of Treepling, the Migration Dance film Project and a final performance with Gareiss, Silva and Dunne featuring solos, improvisations and spontaneous collaborations. Further information is available at:


Hand-made Archives: Cleekit Gloves

A ball of pink yarn and a small piece of fabric lay on a sheet of paper alongside a yellow crochet hook

On 18 February 2019, as part of the Festival of Creative Learning, we held a day-long event at the archive which celebrated evidence of hand-making in the sound and photographic archive. Particular focus was given to the craft of cleeking, a type of flat hook crochet.

Archive & Library Assistant Louise Scollay, presented a talk on a collection of letters in the archive, dating from 1959, which relate to the "lost craft" of cleekit gloves. This craft was at one time the passtime of men who worked in farming and agriculture. The letters, sent to the editor of Scottish Home & Country Magazine, describe the practice and reminisciences of the craft. Later at this event Dr Alison Mayne led the group in a cleeking workshop and participants were able to create small wrist cuffs. 


For further information on this event,  you can read Alison's case study of the event, at the Stitching Together Project.


Theatre Inspired by the Archives

Internationally acclaimed, multi award-winning Song of the Goat Theatre (Fringe First winners in 2012 & 2004) were commissioned by Summerhall to create a new performance drawing on Scotland’s ancient musical traditions partly inspired by the School of Scottish Studies Archives.

Return to the Voice



Artists performing

Three pairs of writer/musician collaborators visited the School of Scottish Studies seeking inspiration for the creation of new works based on recordings of traditional music, songs, stories and oral history held in the Sound Archive. Amble Skuse and Angus Peter Campbell, Ailie Robertson and Rebecca Sharp, Mike Vass and Charlotte Murray worked together interweaving music and words to create surprising and innovative compositions which will be be performed by Mr McFalls Chamber with singer Maeve MacKinnon and writer Angus Peter Campbell in March 2014 in Edinburgh and Plockton.





Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin Archive Project

Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin in the Archive Search Room

With funding from Creative Scotland, Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin have completed a project to involve some of their members in the Archives. The main aim was to enable young people to get a meaningful understanding of the content of the Sound Archives and the context of the recordings, and then creatively respond.

They were assisted in this by local musicians and staff from the archive including Dr Mairi McFadyen, Alasdair Roberts, Mike Vass and Matheu Watson.





Artists in the Archives

Artists in the Archive

Alasdair Roberts, Aileen Campbell, and Drew Wright embarked on a twelve-week commissioning residency in the School of Scottish Studies Archives at the University of Edinburgh. During their residency they listened to recordings, sifted through photos, conducted their own fieldwork and developed new performances from their findings. You can follow their explorations on the Archive Trails website.