Dr Duncan Sneddon

Lecturer in Celtic


I first came to the University of Edinburgh as an undergraduate for my first degree, MA (Hons) Celtic and Scottish History, from which I graduated in 2012.  My honours dissertation was on the influence of James Macpherson's Ossian on Gaelic poetry.  I then went down to the University of Oxford (Wolfson College) for a year, taking an MSt in Celtic Studies, and writing a thesis on Lochlann and the Lochlannaich in Gaelic literature.  I returned to the University of Edinburgh for my PhD in Scottish History, which was an analysis of Adomnán of Iona's Vita Sancti Columbae.  This was funded by the Wolfson Foundation, and I graduated in 2018. I was a Teaching Fellow in Gaelic at the University of Aberdeen from 2018-19, and in the summer of 2019 undertook research funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and commissioned by Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Angus Council, Dundee Council, Fife Council and Perth and Kinross Council on the past, present and possible futures of Gaelic on the east coast.  In 2019-20  I worked as Gaelic Language Development Officer for the Church of Scotland, a post funded by the Church of Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

I have taught distance courses for Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, as well as courses in Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies at the University of Aberdeen.

From 2021-22 I worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Edinburgh for Harvard University's project, The Fionn Folklore Database, led by Prof. Natasha Sumner.

At the start of the 2022-23 academic year I was appointed Lecturer in Celtic at the University of Edinburgh.


MA (Hons.) Celtic and Scottish History, University of Edinburgh, 2012

MSt Celtic Studies, University of Oxford, 2013

PhD Scottish History, University of Edinburgh, 2018

Responsibilities & affiliations


Cohort Lead, Celtic and Scottish Studies

Year Abroad Co-ordinator, Celtic and Scottish Studies



Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

Co-editor of Na Duilleagan Gàidhlig, the Gaelic supplement to Life & Work, the magazine of the Church of Scotland Member of the Gaelic Committee of the Church of Scotland

Trustee, McCaig Trust

Member of the Gaelic Committee, Church of Scotland

Member of the Committee for the Ladies' Gaelic School and Highland Bursary Association, Church of Scotland  

Undergraduate teaching

Celtic Civilisation 1A: Barbarians, Saints and Scholars

Celtic Civilisation 1B: Domination, Dislocation and Defiance

Gaelic 1A

Gaelic 2A (Cuspairean)

Heroes, Wonders, Saints and Sagas: Medieval Celtic Literature in Translation

Songs, Swords, Rebels and Revivals: Modern Celtic Literature in Translation

Early Irish Texts 1

Early Irish Texts 2

Outlaws and Monsters: The Finn Cycle in Ireland and Scotland


Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome enquiries about PhD supervision, especially for projects focused on medieval Gaelic literature, early medieval Scottish and Irish religious history, Fiannaigheachd, Gaelic folklore and Gaelic religious literature from the medieval to modern periods.

Research summary

Medieval Gaelic religious literature - Saints' cults in medieval Gaelic Scotland and Ireland - Gaelic folklore - Gaelic heroic ballads - Modern Gaelic literature - "Celticism" in fantasy, sci-fi and weird fiction

View all 8 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details


Finn Cycle Conference, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

“Laoidh Chaoilte: Dà thionndadh o Uibhist a Deas”



Glasgow International Fantasy Conference: Beyond the Anglocentric Fantastic, University of Glasgow

“Fantasy and science fiction in Gaelic: an emerging current in a minority language’s literature”


Aquatic Animals in the Global Middle Ages, University of Silesia in Katowice

“Aquatic Beasts in the Columban Hagiographical Tradition”


Éigse Cholm Cille, Ulster University

“Vita Sancti Columbae: Teacsa, cleachdadh agus cultus”



Tales and Transmission: Storytelling in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, 700 AD to the Present, University of Cambridge

“Folkloric Hagiography”: Medieval written and modern oral traditions of the saints in Gaelic Scotland



Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig, University of Edinburgh

“‘Chaidh e nas doimhne agus nas doimhne ann an seann theacsaichean’: assessing An Sgoil Dhubh by Iain F. MacLeòid”



Conference of the Association of Celtic Students of Ireland and Britain”, University of Edinburgh

“A very Gàidhealach fantasy: Gaelic history and legend in An Sgoil Dhubh by Iain F. MacLeòid”



Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

“Vita Sancti Columbe: cleachdadh agus cultus”


International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds

“Vita Sancti Columbae: structure and sequencing”


Association of Scottish Literary Studies Conference, University of Glasgow

“Text and practice: Adomnán's Vita Sancti Columbae and the life of the Columban familia”



Irish Conference of Medievalists, University College Dublin

“Would you Adam and Eve it?  Women as givers of advice in Vita Sancti Columbae”


15th International Congress of Celtic Studies, University of Glasgow

Comhairle nam Ban: Gliocas agus Gnè ann an Vita Sancti Columae”


35th Harvard Celtic Colloquium, Harvard University

“Monsters and Beasties and Boars, oh my!: The monstrous in Vita Sancti Columbae”



History of Christianity Graduate Conference, University of Edinburgh

“Adomnán’s Vita Sancti Columbae as a literary production”


North-West Gender Conference, University of Lancaster

“Sex and Gender in Adomnán’s Vita Sancti Columbae”


“Facing the Monstrous North” at the International Congress of Arctic Social Science VIII, University of Northern British Columba

“Monsters and the North in Adomnán’s Vita Sancti Columbae”


Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig, University of Edinburgh

“Cànan ann an Vita Sancti Columbae”


First Poznań Conference of Celtic Studies, Adam Mickiewicz University

“Adomnán's Vita Sancti Columbae: Textuality and Metatextuality”


IMBAS: Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Medieval Conference, National University of Ireland, Galway “Adomnán's Vita Sancti Columbae: Textuality and Metatextuality”


Oxford Celtic Seminar, University of Oxford

“Adomnán's Vita Sancti Columbae: Manuscripts and Textuality”



Celtic Seminar, University of Oxford (MSt students’ presentations)

“Scandinavia and the Scandinavians in Scottish Gaelic literature”


Oxford-Cambridge Celtic Colloquium, University of Oxford

“The influence of James Macpherson’s Ossian on Scottish Gaelic poetry”


Conference of the Association of Celtic Students of Ireland and Britain”, University of Edinburgh

“Writing at the Crossroads: Interactions between Scottish Gaelic and Scandinavian and Icelandic Literature”

In the press

I am happy to be contacted for media interviews on any aspect of my expertise, and have provided information for journalists and taken part in several television documentaries in the past.  I can give interviews in Gaelic and English easily, and with adequate time for preparation can do so in Irish, Spanish and Norwegian as well.