I grew up on the edges of the Atlantic, in Derry City, but decided to look out over a different body of water while continuing with my education. I made my way, via two years in Dublin, to Aberdeen where I graduated with a BA (Hons) in History in 1996 and a PhD in History in 2001. After working for three years at the University of St Andrews I felt the average rainfall level in the east was not substantial enough so I moved back west to join the University of Strathclyde in 2005. In 2019 I was fortunate enough to be appointed to the University of Stirling where I can contemplate both water and hills.
My interests increasingly lie in those communities that live at the intersect of land and sea, communities and areas often regarded as 'peripheral' to mainstream political, social and economic development. Having recently completed a monograph on processes of plantation by land and sea around the North Channel region, my attention is now focused on island communities within the archipelago and the interplay between local, regional, national and supra-national while also exploring customary legal practices on land and sea.
Divisional / Faculty Contribution
Learning and Teaching Officer for History, Heritage and Politics Learning and Teaching Officer for History, Heritage and Politics
Event / Presentation
23 February 2021: invited to speak at University of Aberdeen joint RIIS and EMSC seminar.
26 November 2020: invited to speak at University of St Andrews Scottish History seminar series
27 February 2020: invited to speak at to Ayrshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
20 November 2018: invited to speak to Bute Museum and Natural History Society, Rothesay, Bute.
13 October 2018: invited to present at ‘Re-thinking the Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland: A Conference in Honour of Roger A. Mason’, Parliament Hall, University of St Andrews.
9 July 2018: presented a lecture on ‘The Statutes of Iona’ at St Giles Cathedral as part of their Exploring Gaelic lecture series.
Conference organisation and presentation
14&15 June 2018: co-organised and hosted the conference ‘Scotland and the Wider World’ celebrating the career and historical contribution of Professor Allan I. Macinnes. At this conference I also presented my own research ‘Island empire? James VI & I and the Isle of Man in an archipelagic context’. These conference contributions will be published as an edited volume in 2021-22.
11 October 2017: ‘Living on the edge? Early modern maritime communities of the Atlantic archipelago’, a paper presented to the School of Humanities research seminar autumn series, University of Strathclyde.
31 October 2017: chair and interviewer for the early modern History panel as part of the Historical Conversation series, organised and hosted by University of Glasgow’; the early modern panel (and my interviewees) were Professor Keith M. Brown, University of Manchester, and Roger A. Mason, University of St Andrews.
28 February 2017: presented a version of ‘James VI and I and the ‘dark corners’ of his realm’ to Celtic and Scottish Studies seminar series, University of Glasgow.
20-21 October 2017: ‘Living on the edge: a Highland Scot community in Ireland’, presented an invited plenary paper presented at a two-day symposium on ‘The Communities and Margins of Early Modern Scotland’; a conference organised by postgraduate students from a number of Scottish universities.
26&27 September 2017: a participant speaking on ‘the state’ at ‘Tyrannous Constructs or the Tools of the Trade?: the use and abuse of concepts in Medieval History’, Cohen Quad, Exeter College, Oxford, a follow-up to the symposium held in Dublin in 2016.
14&15 April 2016: presented a plenary lecture at the first International Postgraduate Port and Maritime History Conference, at the University of Strathclyde.
30&31 May 2016: a participant at ‘Tyrannous Constructs’, a symposium held at Trinity College Dublin hosted by Drs Peter Crooks (TCD) and Jackson Armstrong (University of Aberdeen).
3-5 September 2015: co-hosted with Professor Michael Brown (University of St Andrews) a three-day conference ‘Lords and Lordship hip in the British Isles c.1300 – c.1600’. This brought together academics from across UK and Ireland.
20 March 2014: presented my research to the Scottish History seminar series, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh.
24 May 2014: presented my research at an interdisciplinary workshop, hosted by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh on ‘Identity, Independence and Interdependence’.
4 June 2014: presented my research at the Donegal Diaspora conference held at Letterkenny hosted by Donegal County Council.
Examiner External and internal examiner for a number of MRes and PhD thesis at various institutions including Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and Stirling.
External Examiners and Validations
External Examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate taught level in the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy (for History), University of Aberdeen (1 October 2017 to 30 September 2021)
External Examiner for medieval and early modern History, History and Politics division, University of Stirling (while employed at University of Strathclyde)
External Examiner for Medieval and Early Modern Scotland, c.1100-1707 (Distance Learning/OU History), University of Dundee
External Examiner for BA (Hons) Scottish History, North Highland College, Dornoch, University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute
Other Academic Activities
Member of Advisory Board for Routledge Encyclopedia of the Renaissance World Member of Advisory Board for Routledge Encyclopedia of the Renaissance World
Member of the Committee for British Academy's Records of Social and Economic History series Member of the Committee for British Academy's Records of Social and Economic History series
Membership of Editorial Board for Journal of the North Atlantic Membership of Editorial Board for Journal of the North Atlantic
Economic and Social History Pathway Rep for Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences Economic and Social History Pathway Rep for Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences (and was ECSH Pathway Rep for a number of years during my previous employment at University of Strathclyde).
Short-term fellowship (one month), Huntington Library, San Marino, California
Ernestine Richter Avery Fellow (short-term: one month), Huntington Library, San Marino, California
National Maritime Museum Caird Short-term Research Fellowship (two months)
Fellow, Royal Historical Society Fellow, Royal Historical Society
Fellow, Higher Education Academy Fellow, Higher Education Academy
My research has focused primarily on connections between Scotland and Ireland within a wider archipelagic context during the early modern period. I am currently finalising a monograph that explores plantation by land and sea, c.1550-c.1625, and engages with the social, political, economic, environmental, maritime and confessional factors at play. The focus is on the communities that exist at the interface of land and sea, their interaction and integration within a geographic region defined by a body of water. My interests in local communities and in maritime and environmental factors have developed and will come to the fore in my forthcoming research project that focuses on insular communities of the archipelago. In addition, I have collaborated with colleagues in fisheries and marine science to explore the sustainability of fishing in historic and contemporary contexts. This has (much to my own initial horror) stimulated a desire for greater mathematical knowledge in order to utilise regression modelling more fully within my own research.
Jones P, Cathcart A & Speirs DC (2016) Early evidence of the impact of preindustrial fishing on fish stocks from the mid-west and southeast coastal fisheries of Scotland in the 19th century. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil, 73 (5), pp. 1404-1414. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsv189
Cathcart A (2014) A Spent Force? The Clan Donald in the aftermath of 1493. In: Oram RD (ed.) The Lordship of the Isles. The Northern World, 68. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, pp. 254-270. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004280359_013
Cathcart A (2009) Scots and Ulster: the late medieval context. In: Scotland and the Ulster plantations Explorations in the British settlements of Stuart Ireland. Dublin: Four Courts Press, pp. 62-83. https://www.fourcourtspress.ie/books/archives/scotland-and-the-ulster-plantations/
Cathcart A (2008) 'Inressyng of kyndnes, and renewing off thair blud': the family, kinship and clan policy in Sixteenth-Century Scottish Gaeldom. In: Ewan E & Nugent J (eds.) Finding the Family in Medieval and Early Modern Scotland. Women and Gender in the Early Modern World. Abingdon: Ashgate Publishing, pp. 127-138. https://www.routledge.com/Finding-the-Family-in-Medieval-and-Early-Modern-Scotland-1st-Edition/Ewan-Nugent/p/book/9780754660491
I currently offer the a semester 5 module:
Scotland's 'Highland Problem' in the sixteenth century
a semester 6 module:
Islands in the Sea: the maritime world of the Atlantic archipelago
and a special subject:
Plantations in Ulster, c.1550-1620.
In addition I contribute to teaching on the semester 1 Scottish History module; and the semester 3 module Reputations.
I am willing to supervise undergraduate and PGT dissertations and currently supervise a number of PhD students.