Celtic & Scottish Studies

Internal projects

See also individual staff profiles for further information.

Celtic and Scottish Studies

The Maclagan Manuscripts, 1893-1902

There is now a Maclagan Access Database in the School of Scottish Studies Archives, which can be accessed in the search room. Copies of the 9000+ page manuscript collection can also be consulted there.

Responding to a call from the Folklore Society, made at their annual meeting in 1889, to gather items of folkloric interest from various parts of the United Kingdom, Dr Robert Craig Maclagan (1839-1919), a doctor based in Edinburgh, embarked on a project which was to run for almost ten years, and which, in the fullness of time, would become one of the most significant and fascinating collection of manuscripts available to scholars of the folklore of Scotland.


Through a team of dedicated collectors, working in the West Highlands, Maclagan amassed an amazing array of material and during his lifetime he published a number of articles and books which reflected the diversity of the material that had been collected. The manuscripts, consisting of some 9,200 pages, with an as yet uncalculated number of individual items, covers material as diverse as folk medicine, customs and beliefs, hero tales, material culture, rhymes and children's games, recipes and weather lore, place-name legends, the natural world and much, much more.

Through this material it is possible to glimpse a different world and to understand better how men and women, living at the end of the 19th century, had negotiated and made sense of the world around them: a world which, within so few decades would be so utterly changed.

The size of the collection, and the nature of the organisation of the material contained within it, has, until now, made it a slightly cumbersome resource for academics to explore, but this is set to change as staff in the archive are now working on a database which will index the manuscript material, making it more readily accessible.

Medieval Scottish Music

Dr Greta-Mary Hair has produced several important studies of Scottish music in the Middle Ages, with particular emphases on chant, notation, and performance. These include studies of the 'Office of St Andrew', as recorded in the Sprouston Breviary; an edition of the Office, jointly produced with Betty I. Knott, University of Glasgow; and edition of the Vespers, Matins and Lauds for St Kentigern, also with Betty Knott. With Dr Margaret Mackay and others, she edited a volume in honour of Kenneth Elliott.

Early Scottish Melodies Online (ESMO)

(Previously known as Melody and Algorithm, Early Scottish Sources of Music Online, and Early Scottish Music Online)

This is an ongoing project based on the research work of visiting scholar Dr Evelyn Stell. It is a database containing details of seventeenth-century Scottish manuscript sources of music, including graphics and audio files of the incipit (first few bars) of each melody. Currently, the database contains seven major sources comprising 700 tunes. More sources will be added, with a final total in view of approximately 2000 melodies.

Other proposed developments:

  1. Dr Stell is working on full versions of selected pieces.
  2. One or two major eighteenth-century sources may be included for comparison purposes.
  3. ESMO data is also being used as the basis for a further research project which attempts to match melodies using thematic musical material as well as straightforward sorting by title.