History’s current projects include: the Corpus of Scottish Medieval Parish Churches database; British relations with early Republican America; medical provision, apothecaries and migrant welfare in modern Scotland; Global Evangelical networks; Lest Scotland Forgets - Recording Scotland’s Great War Memorials; Mining and Health & Safety history in modern Britain; Forth Valley Health Board and allied archives; the Atlantic Silk Trade; the History of the Book and Privy Council records in Scotland (pre-1707); a multi-volume edition of the Papers of Francis Bernard, governor of colonial Massachusetts on the eve of the American Revolution; the political friendships of John Adams; the Scottish Political Archive and the 1979/1997 Devolution referendums; food history, oil exploitation and environmentalism in modern Africa; Domino Revolutions in the European World from 1789 to post-Communism and the Arab Spring; political and cultural biographies of the reigns of Kings Alexander II, Robert I and James VII/II; and the Ochils Landscape Partnership in built heritage community access. Our research feeds directly into our diverse undergraduate teaching and postgraduate supervision, with current PhD topics ranging from ‘Social and Physical analysis of Scottish Medieval Castles’ through ‘Loyalists from New York before, during and after the Revolutionary War (1775-83)’ to ‘Contaminated landscapes in Canada in the twentieth century’.
Click Here to go back to the main History section
There has been a widespread view that the loss of medieval ecclesiastical architecture since the Reformation has been so great that insufficient now survives for a detailed understanding of the pre-Reformation Scottish parish church. It is certainly true that relatively few parish churches still in use appear to be of predominantly medieval date. Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly clear that a majority of parish churches survived the Reformation, although many were subsequently rebuilt or abandoned. The purpose of this project is to determine if more historic fabric at Scotland’s parish churches of medieval foundation – whether still in use or abandoned – has survived than might appear on first sight (Picture: see, for example, the perilous state of St Michaels parish church on the Black Isle, Easter Ross).
In order to assess how far this might be the case, a one-year pilot study was conducted in the two dioceses of Dunblane and Dunkeld with the financial support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, in which the architecture of the churches and the documentation associated with them were closely examined. Such a precisely defined study permitted investigation of a sufficient number of parishes of varying size, wealth and type of location to allow the project research techniques to be refined and tested, and to determine if a larger project covering all thirteen Scottish dioceses might be viable.
The results of the project were deemed to be highly productive and, with the further generous support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, work is now moving on to consider the churches in the interlocking dioceses of St Andrews and Brechin.
The principal questions that are being addressed in the course of this project are:
In this on-line corpus each site has an entry in which the historical and architectural evidence is set out, together with a bibliography of the principal sources of information and extensive illustrations of the existing structures. In addition, conclusions drawn from the information gathered in the course of the pilot project at the individual sites across the dioceses of Dunblane and Dunkeld are offered in a series of appendices. In due course these will be restructured to take account of the information brought together for the dioceses of St Andrews and Brechin.
The Modern British History Network was started in 2007 to provide a broad-based forum for current research in modern British history, supporting the work of postgraduates and established scholars. The Network covers political, social, economic, cultural, religious and intellectual history from the late eighteenth century to the present day. Its gatherings are particularly designed for members of the Scottish universities and the northern English universities, although all historians are very welcome. Conferences have attracted delegates from across the UK and from overseas.
The venture began as, and remains, a co-operative effort between the Universities of Stirling and Strathclyde, with David Bebbington of Stirling and David Brown of Strathclyde coordinating the events. Juliette Pattinson took over as the Strathclyde coordinator in 2012. The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland has given generous support to our activities, enabling us to provide bursaries for postgraduate students attending our events.
The Network hosts an annual Conference on Modern British History each June. Main speakers have included Sir Brian Harrison, former editor of The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Keith Robbins, formerly Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, Lampeter, and Professor Peter Hennessy, Baron Hennessy. Other speakers have been drawn from members of staff of British universities, but equally postgraduate students have given papers and members of the public with academic interests have contributed. Part of the value of the occasions has been the scope for interaction between different categories of people with similar interests. In most years there have been over thirty papers. These conferences, which have attracted around sixty attendees each year, have been held at the universities of Strathclyde, St Andrews, Dundee and Stirling.
In addition the Network has convened a range of spin-off events: Postgraduate Symposium, Stirling, 2009; Material Culture and Modern British History Symposium, co-hosted with Glasgow Museums, 2009; Symposium on Migrants and the Making of Modern Scotland, Glasgow, 2009; Postgraduate Research Seminar Series: From the Sources to the Discourses, co-hosted with the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare, 2010-11; Colloquia on Religion and Society, Edinburgh, 2010 and 2011. Each has provided a forum for informal contact as well as a number of stimulating papers.
The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 (RPS) is a fully searchable database containing the proceedings of the Scottish parliament from the first surviving act of 1235 to the union of 1707. The culmination of over ten years’ work by researchers from the Scottish Parliament Project, including Stirling's Alastair Mann, the online edition seeks to make this key historical source freely available to all in a technologically advanced and user-friendly format.
The inclusion of new parliaments and conventions of estates, committee records, parliamentary minutes and additional material makes the online edition the most comprehensive record of Scottish parliamentary proceedings ever available. All the sources which make up the proceedings of the pre-1707 Scottish parliament are fully cited and an extensive editorial apparatus included, enabling for the first time a proper understanding of the many and varied sources which make up Scotland’s parliamentary record. A parallel translation of the original Latin, French and Scots text into English and the standardisation of place and personal names, where identifiable, enables keyword searches on an infinite number of subjects, with direct links from the modern translation to the original manuscript record.
To access the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland site, follow this link: http://www.rps.ac.uk/
If you are interested in teaching about the history of the Scottish Parliament, why not make use of the five tailor-made workshops complete with images, suggestions, and other resources available at: http://scotparlhistory.stir.ac.uk/.
The project is publishing a multi-volume documentary edition of the papers of Francis Bernard, governor of colonial Massachusetts between 1760 and 1769. Edited by Colin Nicolson (University of Stirling), the Bernard Papers will provide five volumes of transcribed manuscripts for the study of colonial Massachusetts and the American Revolution, followed by a calendar volume of Gov. Bernard's entire collection.
The project aims to understand how and why imperial officials in the American Colonies struggled to implement British colonial policy in the face of an incipient revolutionary movement. It provides research materials for historians investigating transatlantic connections, political behavior, and ideology, and reveals the disintegration of British imperialism in Massachusetts before the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775.
Established in 2000, the Bernard Papers is funded by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. In 2011 the editor was awarded a Research Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) to complete research for the project. The AHRC evaluation described the Bernard Papers project as "an outstanding proposal meeting world-class standards of scholarship, originality, quality and significance."
Colin Nicolson. ed., The Papers of Francis Bernard, Governor of Colonial Massachusetts, 1760-69, 6 vols. (The Colonial Society of Massachusetts: Boston, 2007-).
Volume 1 (1759-63) was published in 2007, covered the early years of Bernard’s administration, 1760 to 1763, with letters ranging over the salient problems attendant to the governance of empire as the French and Indian War drew to a close. Contents. Sample.
A critical edition “equal to the best of those compiled by the various projects that have brought the papers of John Adams, George Washington, and other founding fathers to light.” Prof. William Pencak in The New England Quarterly 82 (Mar. 2009), 175-178.
Volume 2 (1764-65), published in 2012, reveals in considerable detail how far imperial administration and colonial government in the post-war period were shaped by the onset of American opposition to British taxation, which climaxed in violent resistance to the Stamp Act during 1765. Contents. Sample.
Volume 3 (1766-67), published in 2013, examines the governor's response to the revitalization of colonial opposition in 1766 and its escalation following the introduction of the Townshend Acts in 1767.
Volume 4 (1768-69) will cover the waning years of Bernard’s administration, when the governor controversially persuaded the British government to intervene by sending regular troops to Boston to keep the peace.
Volume 5 (1770-74) covers mainly the period 1769-72 and Bernard's correspondence with his successor as governor, Thomas Hutchinson. While Hutchinson reported on events in Massachusetts, Bernard responded with advice and suggestions, and generally kept Hutchinson up to date on British politics. Bernard prepared several papers for the British government that had some bearing on policymaking in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
Volume 6: The Calendar. The last volume, as planned, will be a calendar of documents spanning Bernard’s life and career and will make a full report of all extant and non-extant texts.
Lest Scotland Forgets is a history and heritage project which aims ultimately to create (by 2018) a digital catalogue of all forms of memorialisation of Scotland’s contribution to the Great War (1914-18).
This will involve not simply recording familiar parish monuments – those memorial crosses and statues, often with lists of names of the fallen, which are used to commemorate Armistice Day (at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month each year); the project will also seek to identify and record all other forms of physical memorial or act of memorialisation of the Great War, from 1918 through to the present day: this may include plaques and monuments erected in and by regiments, societies, clubs, schools, employers, councils and churches etc, but also commemorative buildings, gardens, furniture, charitable funds, bursaries and scholarships, hospital wards, concerts, paintings, music, poetry, prose and ceremonies. In other words we aim to produce a database of the full range of types of memorialisation of the Great War, from ‘artistic’ to ‘utilitarian’.
The first major public exhibition derived from this project was 'The Stirling 100' which ran from November 2012 to February 2013.
‘A Stirling 100’ is the pilot project for Lest Scotland Forgets, which aims to encourage greater awareness of the human cost of the Great War (1914 -1918) and how it is remembered.
‘A Stirling 100’ has taken photographs of all the parish memorials to the Great War located within the boundaries of the current Stirling district. The project took 100 names at random from the Stirling parish memorials and compiled biographical information about the fallen servicemen, gathered through archival sources and local newspapers, including the Stirling Observer.
Project Director Dr Michael Penman said: “Now that the last of the war veterans has passed away and the 100th anniversary of the conflict looms, we want to demonstrate – to anyone interested in researching memorials and the fallen of the war – what can be done from home and in local archives”.
The results of this work was displayed at an exhibition A Stirling 100 which was launched at the Pathfoot Building at the University of Stirling (November 2012 – February 2013 )and is soon to be on display at other museum venues around Scotland.
Raploch in the 1980s
This was a series of related research projects which centred upon the Rowntree Trust funded project, ‘Neighbourhood Identity: effects of time, location and social class’. This ran from 2005 till 2008 at Stirling and was directed by three investigators, including Dr. Jim Smyth, Senior Lecturer in History and Politics and two colleagues in the Faculty of Social Sciences. The intellectual origins of the project arose primarily from previous work on housing management and social identities and Smyth’s previous work on the lives of the urban poor, and his utilisation of research methodologies cutting across history and sociology, in particular record linkage and oral history.
The general research on ‘Neighbourhood Identity’ and its dissemination, in particular the final report which was published electronically by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has had a significant impact on the academic literature and has been cited in numerous reports by official and voluntary organisations.
The Ochils Landscape Partnership (OLP) area occupies the northern section of Clackmannanshire roughly from the River Devon up into the Ochil Hills, and from Blairlogie Old Kirk in the west to Muckhart in the east. The area, focusing on the southern escarpment of the Ochil Hills and the Hillfoots villages (Muckhart, Dollar, Tillicoultry, Alva, Menstrie and Blairlogie), contains a diverse landscape comprised of rugged glens, rapid water flow, meandering streams, carseland, peaks, upland grazing, natural sponges, planted and ancient woodland, designed landscapes and small built-up areas.
The Ochils Landscape Partnership, comprised of nineteen local organisations, aims to increase access to the hills and glens of the Ochils, improve the quality of the rivers, and restore parts of the historic built landscape. The project provides opportunities for community involvement and volunteering to tell the story of the area's cultural, social and industrial heritage. It aims to enhance the lives of people in the Hillfoots and also to increase visitors to the area.
The £2.26 million project, which runs until 2014, is a landscape partnership scheme with the lead funder being the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project has also been funded by EDF Energy, Clackmannanshire & Stirling Environment Trust, Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust and Clackmannanshire Council, with contributions from Stirling University and National Trust for Scotland on specific projects. Dr Alasdair Ross of History & Politics has been involved in this project since 2009 and sits on the executive committee of the OLP.
Together, the OLP and the Centre are providing bursaries for four Centre M.Res students to undertake research on various aspects of the landscape and environment of the OLP area.
This pilot project explored the value of combining the environmental record with traditional documentary evidence by examining the historical relationship between metal mining and metallurgical activities, pollution and occupational and public health using the abandoned lead mine site at Tyndrum, located in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park (see image): Open cast work and rock waste, Tyndrum Lead Mine.
Abandoned metal mining sites have unique histories. There were core similarities across the British industry in terms of extraction and the processing and smelting of ore, but within these common elements there was much variety in size, productivity, developmental strategies, patterns and length of operation, financial organisation, managerial practices and technological advances. This lack of uniformity across the industry raises fundamental questions for the study of post mining landscapes. Did some mines and/or particular periods in their history have a greater environmental impact? Is it possible to differentiate between individual contributions from mining, ore dressing and smelting to the total contamination load? What were the consequences of technological innovation? If there is was relationship between lead contamination and particular periods and/or activities at a mine, is it also possible to discern a similar correlation with ill health amongst the workforce and the local population?
Methodology: A combination of traditional archival research, record linkage and industrial and geo-archaeological techniques, including GIS, micromorphology, ICP-MS, IRL-OSL and 210Pb dating, were used to construct three detailed histories one for mining and metallurgical activity, one for lead concentrations, patterns of distribution and date of deposition, and one for the health of the workforce and local population from the original lease of the mineral rights in 1730 through to 1930. Comparison between these histories offered the potential to relate both specific activities and/or distinct periods in the history of the mine, together with adverse health events to pollution levels by date of deposition.
Brief Summary of Results: Mining and metallurgical activity at Tyndrum has left in its wake a substantial legacy of physical dereliction and chemical pollution. Clear relationships have emerged suggesting that lead values varied according to organic content of the soil material, topography, particle size and disturbance of the wastes. The dressing of the ore in preparation for smelting consistently produced the greatest concentrations of lead pollution. Pollution values at Tyndrum appear to correlate strongly with ore productivity rather than a particular period or activity in the history of its operation. Despite exposure to high lead levels, particularly at the dressing floors and a shared water supply between the mine and the local settlement until the early twentieth century, the relationship between pollution and production did not follow through strongly into health in terms of occupational and environmental poisoning.
Combining the environmental record with archive material and directing and shaping the ‘science’ to fit the historical research agenda has facilitated a much deeper and richer understanding of the relationship between lead pollution, mining activity and health that neither discipline in isolation could have achieved. For example, the record contained in the soil material bridged the gap when the documentary evidence was sparse or non-existent, whilst detailed historical accounts of activity on the site tied into the environmental record sheds light on the formation of soil material dominated by industrial origins and human influence. This integrated approach offers a future model of assessment that can be generalised to other industrial practices and geographical locations both nationally and internationally.
For further information contact Dr. Catherine Mills firstname.lastname@example.org
The project examines historic occupational and environmental lead poisoning amongst the labour force and adjacent population at Leadhills mine in the Scottish southern uplands (see image: Wilson Shaft Lead Mine, Leadhills). Particular emphasis is placed on identifying the historic health risk factors specific to the mining environment at Leadhills comparative to the lead mining venture at Tyndrum.
The study extends the recent historical and geo-archaeological study of the historical relationship between mining, pollution and health at Tyndrum which suggested that surface labour at the dressing floor were regularly exposed to lead concentrations around one thousand times higher than established background levels. Yet in contrast to Leadhills, and also the wider English and Welsh lead mining industries, there are very few recorded incidents of either chronic or acute lead poisoning, and little evidence of concern for grazing livestock. Leadhills mine was highly productive raising an average of 2, 000 tons of lead ore annually across its period of operation, compared to the 424 tons produced during Tyndrum’s peak years of operation. Accordingly, lead pollution values were around 100 times greater at Leadhills than at the Tyndrum site. The comparatively lower values may potentially explain the absence of poisoning amongst Tyndrum’s workforce. It is possible that poisoning amongst Tyndrum’s workforce was simply not recorded and symptoms may have been lost amongst the background noise of general ill-health and poor living conditions rather than absent. Lead poisoning is notorious difficult to diagnose; symptoms of mild chronic exposure are vague and non-specific, such as gastro-intestinal disturbance and headache. There were, however, working practices and social conditions at Tyndrum that may have reduced occupational and environmental exposure to lead.
These distinctive conditions include the absence of women and large numbers of children at the ore dressing floor which is in contrast to wider British context. Children are particularly susceptible to poisoning and exposure in women often causes gynaecological disorders. Studies of English and Welsh metal mines suggest a marked deterioration in occupational health with the introduction of steam power and continuous working. The venture at Tyndrum, in contrast, was wholly reliant on water power up until the early twentieth century. Hard frosts and floods in winter and drought in the summer months coupled with the need to cut hay and peat for around two months every year produced a seasonal pattern of operation. This may have limited exposure to the contaminated environment and allowed the body time for recovery. Finally there is the question of the miners’ diet. Diet is implicated in the bioavailability of lead. Absorption by the gut is hindered by a high intake of calcium and iron and the community at Tyndrum may well have effectively consumed a ‘protective’ diet’ that primarily consisted of dairy products alongside oatmeal, other grains and kale. The presence or absence of these variables needs to be established at Leadhills before any further conclusions can be drawn.
The study focuses on four key themes in Leadhills history of operation: these include employment practices; patterns of working and sources of motive power; diet and social conditions. Although the research is primarily historical, some environmental investigations are planned to supplement existing studies into the presence of lead compounds and their toxicity at the dressing floors at both the Tyndrum and Leadhills mine sites. The ore worked across the British industry was primarily lead sulphide (galena) which has a relatively low bioavailability and less likely to result in acute toxicity. It was not unknown, however, for miners to encounter pockets of other compounds such as lead carbonate (cerussite) which is soluble in water and readily breaks down into a fine powder that can be easily inhaled. The apparent differences in incidence of historic poisoning between the two sites may also be simply explained by the presence of differing lead compounds. The adoption of an integrated approach will enable a quantitative, as well as an historical assessment of occupational risk to be made between the two sites.
For further information contact Dr. Catherine Mills email@example.com
The environmental transformation and aftermath of the shift from an agricultural to an industrial based economy in Britain has been traditionally explored against a backdrop of increasing urbanisation. It is recognised that the metropolis is intrinsically linked to its rural hinterlands by material flows of energy, resources and waste and the space between cities and the ‘countryside’; the ‘edge lands’, have recently come under increasing scrutiny. Public perception and understanding of post industrial landscapes, particularly in North America and in relation to the extractive industry, has attracted vigorous debate. Yet the growth and decline of heavy rural industries, particularly mineral exploitation, and the development of associated infrastructure, such as transport networks and settlement expansion, and its impact on the environment, related health risks remains largely overlooked. Historic and contemporary perceptions of place and value, principally in terms of heritage and community identity vis-a-vis barren wasteland remains understudied in the British rural context and arguably perpetuates the popular notion of ‘a green and pleasant land’ outwith the city boundaries.
Image: the site of the second marquis of Breadalbane’s sulphuric acid works at Tomnadashen, South Loch Tayside
The project adopts a unique interdisciplinary approach that combines geoscience with traditional archival research, record linkage, and oral testimony to explore the process of rural industrialisation and decline from 1700 to 2000. At the heart of the study is the historic Campbell family estate of Breadalbane located north and east of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park in the southern Scottish highlands. The estate offers the study distinctive geographical boundaries in which a wide variety of industries, such textiles, mineral extraction, transport and chemical production were developed from the early eighteenth century as the Campbell’s began to increasingly view their lands as a commercial enterprise.
Crippled by debt and an increasing tax burden in the aftermath of the Great War, the estate was broken up and sold. Although now obscured by an emphasis on the iconic highland landscape, traces of the estate’s industrial legacy still remain as hidden pockets of dereliction and contamination. These small scattered wastelands which have often escaped remediation by virtue of their small size and remote location, offer opportunities to both understand the historic processes and legacies of industrialisation in a rural context.
There are several studies of the earls’ of Breadalbane as landowners in relation to wider socio-economic changes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but industrial decline and the environmental impact, associated health risks, both historic and contemporary, and cultural legacies of these processes, are largely absent from any discussion. This study will begin to plug these gaps in knowledge.
The project will establish the extent of industrial activity within the Breadalbane estate and by adopting the integrated methodology piloted at the Tyndrum sitehttp://www.stir.ac.uk/cehp/projects/lead-legacy/ and link these activities both to environmental changes, the health and wellbeing of the historic workforce and contemporary local populations, and their impression, knowledge and experiences of the remains of these long vanished industries to which they owe their origins. Whilst firmly grounded in the industrial history of a small Scottish landed estate the project has much wider resonance. It will both highlight the hidden environmental legacy of rural industrialisation which when considered cumulatively has national and international implications and will speak directly to contemporary debates on the remediation and conservation of post industrial landscapes.
The project is an ambitious outreach collaboration between Biological and Environmental Sciences and History and Politics, with the Ochils Landscape Partnership (OLP), the Stirling University Art Collection, primary schools within the OLP’s catchment area and undergraduate student volunteers from across a variety of academic disciplines. The key aim of the project is to explore the industrial history of the river Devon and the unrealised environmental and associated cultural legacies during Scotland’s period of economic and social transformation in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The Devon rises in the Ochils and enters the river Forth at Cambus some sixteen miles from its source. It has previously been the focus of the development of best practice in sustainable flood management: The River Devon Project: Slowing the Flow, http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/river_devon_leaflet_a.pdf, and more recently the OLP’s By the Banks of the Devon,http://www.ochils.org.uk/banks-of-the-devonwhich emphasises improving the quality of habitat and the recreational appeal of the river and its tributaries. Although the river offered a potential transport route, powered mills, supplied water to a variety of industries and played a significant role in the shaping the communities along its corridor, its industrial, environmental and cultural history has not yet been told.
Pupils from five primary schools within the OLP’s catchment area will piece together the industrial history of a specified section of the river Devon closest to their school premises based upon primary source material, particularly historic maps and images that will be located by the student volunteers. This will be followed by an exploration of the physical landscape and soil sampling to assess the environmental impacts of the industry. The primary school children will finish off their activities with an exercise in creative writing on what life or work in the historic industry might have been like and their perceptions of the post-industrial landscape. The school children’s work, along with some of the historical materials, images of the day and the results of the soil analyses will be publically displayed by the University Art Collectionhttp://www.artcol.stir.ac.uk/. The objective here is to provide a lasting and tangible link between the individual schools through the physical landscape of the Devon corridor.
Industrial Devon offers the opportunity to gather data on public perceptions and understanding of industrial dereliction, notions of barren wasteland vis-à-vis the cultural values of heritage, identity and place, from a unique perspective. More generally the project facilitates both community engagement with the local environment and its industrial heritage and a deeper understanding of the forces that shaped the spaces in which we all live, work and play.
For further information please contact Dr. Catherine Mills: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Contemporary Portuguese History Research Centre was first launched in September 1998, as a means of using the global reach of the internet to provide a store of translated primary and secondary source material on the political and social history of the Portuguese Republic (1910 to date). The management board of the Centre comprises internationally-recognised scholars from British, American and Portuguese institutions. Since 2014 it has been part of the University of Stirling's Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
We provide accurate English-language translations of primary and secondary material on the political history of the Portuguese Republic, and place that material in its domestic and international context with articles, features, timelines and background information written by specialists in the field. This includes texts, images, videos and sound recordings.
We organise meetings, seminars and conferences and we also provide information about new publications, research projects and conferences, including issuing calls for papers.
Our next big project is to organise a third international conference looking at Southern Europe and the First World War, to be held at the University of Stirling.
For further information contact Dr. Diego Palacios Cerezales: email@example.com
Current web address: