Martina Reiterová, March 2020
Research stay at the University of Edinburgh (School of History, Classics and Archaeology)
Date of stay: 9th October 2019 – 1st December 2019
Dissertation Project: Revivalist Movements in the so-called Celtic Countries (Brittany, Ireland,
Scotland and Wales) at the Turn of the 20th Century and their Relationship to the Celtic Identity
In general, the main objective of my research is to explicate the process of formation of collective
representation at the turn of the 20th century in the so-called Celtic countries under the influence
of local revivalist movements. The goal of my research stay in Edinburgh is the study of primary
sources in the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and other archival institutions – such as the
University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections (CRC) – as indicated in my research
proposal to Anglo Czech Educational Fund. My intention is also to consult my research topic with
local specialists and to establish links with them to help in my future career.
During my research stay, I was primarily visiting NLS in order to study printed sources published
by (or connected to) An Comunn Gaidhealach, the Gaelic revivalist organisation, and more
importantly, to study the materials of the Archives and Manuscripts Collections of the NLS, mainly
the correspondence of members of An Comunn. This study of manuscripts turned out to be a more
time-consuming task than originally expected due to the fact, that I was not allowed to take photos
of the sources.During the last two weeks of my stay, I have discovered that the NLS is in possession
of the archives of An Comunn. I was not originally aware of the existence of this material, because
it was donated to the NLS very recently and the catalogue to this collection was not created yet.
For this reason – and the fact that I was not allowed to take pictures of the materials – I plan to
come back to Edinburgh at least once more in order to finish the study of these documents.
As regards the sources stored in the CRC, there were two very interesting archival collections,
both of which are potentially important for my research. First, The Carmichael-Watson Collection,
which consists of papers belonging to Alexander Carmichael, the most influential Scottish
folklorist of the second half of 19th century, and to his family members. Secondly, the Collection
of Professor Donald Mackinnon, which does not, unfortunately, contain personal archival material,
only lecture notes, and religious texts and songs. Even though I expected these collections to be richer in personal documentation, they nevertheless contained significant sources for my research.
In addition to collecting my sources, I had great opportunities to talk about my topic with various
scholars in the field, especially Rob Dunbar, the Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and
Antiquities in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures. Unfortunately, I did not manage
to visit scholars at other the University of Glasgow and the University of St Andrews due to above
Regarding other academic activities, I have been regularly attending a Seminar series1 of Centre
for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History (CSMCH), which is giving me an opportunity
to meet with other local scholars.
Overall, then, my stay in Edinburgh has brought an extra dimension to my dissertation project.
Not only have I widened my primary source base, I also have a better understanding of the
peculiarity of the Gaelic language movement in the broader European context of the second half
of the 19th century. This, combined with the student life experience and excellent study facilities
at Edinburgh, made this an extremely rewarding trip. I am very grateful for this opportunity.
1 “Seminar series”. History, Classics & Archaeology: Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary.
https://www.ed.ac.uk/history-classics-archaeology/modern-contemporary-history-centre/events-and-seminars/seminar-series (09 Nov. 2019).