Spotlight on Prof. Roger Mason

Prof. Roger Mason

Prof. Roger Mason

Professor Roger Mason has been at St Andrews longer than he cares to remember. Born in Aberdeen, he went to Edinburgh University as an undergraduate and, intoxicated by inertia, hung around and did a PhD there as well. He might have remained there indefinitely had not the opportunity arisen to come to St Andrews as a postdoctoral fellow funded by Glenfiddich. His consequent intoxication with St Andrews was confirmed by the offer of permanent employment and his glacial progress through the academic ranks led finally to his elevation to Professor of Scottish History in 2005.

His doctoral and postdoctoral research was on the political culture of late medieval and early modern Scotland and, inertia again, this has remained the focus of his interests ever since. He has worked and published extensively on the Reformation period, editing the political writings of such distinguished St Andrews alums as John Knox and George Buchanan, while also exploring Scottish national identity as it developed from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries.


Mason John KnoxMason Scots and BritonsMason KingshipMason John Knox and the British ReformationsMason A DialogueRoger Mason Buchanan


He has a long-standing interest in Scotland’s relations with England, and teaches an honours module Debating Britain:  Anglo-Scottish Unionism 1521-1707 on this theme. He credits himself with having invented the East Lothian Question, but has thus far failed to convince anyone of its importance, let alone that he has the answer to it. However, his views on next year’s referendum will become appropriately opaque to anyone who happens to check out the next issue of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.

Professor Mason teaches at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum, and offers the very popular fourth-year special subject MO4807 The Marian Moment: Politics and Ideology in Mary Stewart’s Britain.

He has been keen to make Scottish history an integral part of any St Andrews history degree, if only to remind those who doubt it that St Andrews is in fact located in Scotland (somewhere between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, as it happens). He is equally keen that the general History degree should be seen as the School’s flagship degree, drawing on all the remarkable intellectual resources that History at St Andrews has to offer, while allowing students to range widely over time and space without ever leaving Scotland.

In 2007, enthusiasm triumphing over inertia, Prof. Mason found that he had founded the St Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research to act as a focus for the substantial community of staff and research students who are actively working on Scottish history in St Andrews.  Now that the Institute is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in the field, Prof Mason is standing down as director. However, rather than spending more time with his family (or least his wife and his dog), he will be writing a book for a prestigious series – the New Edinburgh History of Scotland – before the general editor’s failure to deliver his volume becomes even more embarrassing than it already is.

For more information on Professor Mason’s teaching and publications, see his staff page.

Prof. Colin Kidd wins Carnegie Grant for ‘Literature & Union’

Colin KiddProf. Colin Kidd has been awarded a Carnegie Larger Grant to fund a series of four workshops in St Andrews on the theme of Literature and Union.

The four workshops will explore the topics of ‘1603 and 1707: Literary Contexts, Consequences and Comparisons’, ‘Smollett, Johnson and the Literary Battle of Britain c. 1760-1776’, ‘Scott, Rosebery, and Literary Patriotism within the Union’ and ‘The Triumph of Nationalist Rhetoric from MacDiarmid to the Present’.

The Literature and Union workshops will lead to the publication of a volume of essays on Literature and the Union. Prof. Kidd‘s workshops are warmly welcomed to the programme of events hosted by the Institute of Scottish Historical Research and the new Institute of Intellectual History.

Dr Esther Mijers to take up Visiting Scholarship in the Institute of Scottish Historical Research

Esther Mijers

Dr Esther Mijers, lecturer in history at the University of Reading, has been awarded a visiting scholarship in the Institute of Scottish Historical Research during the academic year 2013-14.

Dr Mijers specializes in late seventeenth century Scotland and the wider world. Dr Mijers completed her PhD at St Andrews on Scottish students at Dutch universities and has since moved into both Atlantic and European history. As a post-doc at Aberdeen, she worked on a project called ‘American colonies, Scottish entrepeneurs and British state formation’, during which she became interested in the role of the Scots and other minor and non-dominant groups in the Atlantic.

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


Dr Mijers writes: “I am endlessly fascinated by periods of transition and change, like the later 17th century, and moves towards modernity. My new project looks at the life and career of William Carstares (1649-1715), nicknamed ‘The Cardinal’, the Presbyterian chaplain and adviser of William III, who is credited with being the father of religious moderatism and the Scottish Enlightenment. As an ISHR Visiting Scholar, I will be working on this and also hope to organize a colloquium on Scotland in the 1690s to set Carstares’ political career in a wider context. I am looking forward to being back in St Andrews.”

ISHR Visiting Research Fellow 2013-14 awarded to Prof. Elizabeth Ewan

Elizabeth Ewan ISHR fellowThe Institute of Scottish Historical Research is delighted to announce that its first ISHR Visiting Research Fellowship has been awarded to Prof. Elizabeth Ewan, University Research Chair & Professor at the University of Guelph.

Prof. Ewan received her BA in History from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada. While an undergraduate student, she spent her third year at St Andrews where her love of medieval Scottish history flourished and resulted in a lifelong career. She completed a PhD in Scottish history at the University of Edinburgh in 1985. Since then she has taught at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Victoria, and since 1988 at the University of Guelph, where she is University Research Chair in History and Scottish Studies. Her research interests lie in the areas of late medieval and early modern Scottish history, especially in social and gender history, the history of Scottish towns, and the history of crime. Her current research focusses on masculinity in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Scotland. Publications include Townlife in Fourteenth-Century Scotland, Women in Scotland c.1100-c.1750, The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, and Finding the Family in Medieval and Early Modern Scotland.

Prof. Ewan plans to complete two manuscripts while in St Andrews. The first is a biographical study of a late medieval Edinburgh woman, Alison Rough, executed for murder in 1535; and the second is a study of gender and interpersonal assault in Scottish towns c.1450-1600. Aside from her current research projects, Prof. Ewan will be carrying out primary source research on forms of masculinity in late medieval/early modern Scotland. In addition, she will be using the rich resources of the St Andrews University Special Collections for a chapter on social life in St Andrews in the Middle Ages, a contribution to a new volume on the history of medieval St Andrews.  Prof. Ewan also hopes to organise a workshop on Scottish gender history.

Institute of Scottish Historical Research Reading Weekend 2013

by Claire Hawes, senior postgraduate and organiser of the ISHR Reading Weekend

ISHR at Edzell Castle

ISHR visit to Edzell Castle

On 12-14 April the Institute of Scottish Historical Research held a very successful Reading Weekend at The Burn, near Edzell. The weekend  combined presentations of work from postgraduate students at all stages of their research with discussion of some of the current issues affecting the discipline of history in Scotland and beyond, and the chance for all members of the ISHR, and their guests, to get together and exchange ideas in a relaxed social setting.

ISHR MLitt Papers

M.Litt students prepare to give their papers, chaired by senior PG Claire Hawes

On Friday evening our Master’s students Piotr Potocki, Carol Bailey and Christie O’Brien shared their recent work and research plans with the audience, followed on Saturday morning by two PhD panels. Our first year students Liz Hanna and Amy Eberlin both gave excellent papers on representations of King Arthur in the Middle Ages, and Flemings in late medieval and early modern Scottish guilds respectively. This was followed by work presented by two of our more senior postgrads:  Malcolm Petrie, who talked about how the interactions between politics and public space affected Mayday demonstrations during the inter-war period, and Martyna Mirecka, who shared her insights into a case of mistaken identity regarding what has hitherto been assumed to be a statue of King John III Sobieski of Poland-Lithuania.

ISHR Reading Weekend Luke Wormald

ISHR Director Prof. Roger Mason introducing Luke Wormald of Historic Scotland

After an outing to Edzell Castle and Garden, Luke Wormald, Head of Review and Development for Historic Scotland, spoke to the institute about his organisation’s strategy for Scotland’s historic  environment, and the policy review which accompanies it, giving a fascinating insight into the workings of this important body and outlining the challenges and opportunities of engaging with history outside the academy. Our second day was rounded off in style by Darren Layne’s informed and articulate discussion of Open Access publishing, which sparked one of the most fruitful and thought-provoking debates of the weekend.  He outlined the thinking behind the recent Finch Report and facilitated a very helpful discussion around its practical implications.

Senior PG Laura Hedrick presenting her paper

Senior PG Laura Hedrick presenting her paper

Our final student panel saw three of our veteran PhD students present on their current research. Laura Hedrick began with an examination of the perception within other countries that Scots were impoverished, and the ramifications and realities of those perceptions in the period between the Reformation and the Union of Parliaments. Claire McLoughlin explored the question of who controlled Scottish trade in the early seventeenth century, and the relationship between the king, parliament and the Convention of Burghs in this context. Björn Nordgren then argued for the importance of the naval policy of Count Axel Oxenstierna to Sweden in the period 1635-43.

After lunch Dr Gordon Pentland, of the University of Edinburgh, discussed his current research on the theme of material culture and popular politics in nineteenth-century Scotland, looking at how the integration of objects, space and traditional narratives could be used by political movements to create an atmosphere of excitement which ideology alone was unlikely to generate.

Many thanks to all who contributed to making the weekend such a success!

Follow these links for more photos and the ISHR facebook group.

Call for Papers: Politics and the Public in Scotland, c.1300-2000


Thursday 13 June 2013 – Friday 14 June 2013

Parliament Hall, University of St Andrews

Call for Papers



The Institute of Scottish Historical Research and the School of History at the University of St Andrews are pleased to announce a two-day Conference exploring the changing relationship between the Scottish public, the political process, and those who sought to represent the public in the political sphere from the late medieval period until the present.

The Conference will feature keynote addresses from:

Scottish parliament 1680s

Dr Steve Boardman (University of Edinburgh)

Dr Karin Bowie (University of Glasgow)

Professor Richard Finlay (University of Strathclyde)

Submissions are welcomed for individual papers addressing the conference themes.


Papers may address matters including, but certainly not restricted to:

  • The nature and forms of public political engagement and popular political practice.
  • Competing perceptions of the public within political discourse, and the importance of, and tensions between, oral and print cultures in shaping such perceptions.
  • The changing importance and role of public opinion within the political sphere.
  • Contested notions of the ‘public’ as a socio-political category, including the use of gender, race, religion and class to define both the composition of the political ‘public’ and to construct a legitimate ‘public’ opinion.
  • Cultural representations of the political public.
  • Transnational influences and comparative studies.

crown 1Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words (including your name, institutional affiliation and contact details) to by Friday 1st March 2013.  Papers should be no longer than twenty minutes in length.

Proposals are especially welcome from postgraduate and early career historians. Further details can be found here.


The conference is supported by a facebook group. Join it at

Call for Applications: ISHR Visiting Research Fellowship in Scottish History 2013-14

The Institute of Scottish Historical Research at the University of St Andrews invites applications for the ISHR Visiting Research Fellowship in Scottish Historical Studies, to be taken up during either semester of the academic year 2013-14. The fellowship may last between one and five months, with preference given to applicants requesting a longer residency.


Seal matrix of the University of St Andrews

The Institute of Scottish Historical Research was founded in 2007 under the directorship of Professor Roger Mason, and draws together the excellence and expertise of nearly twenty historians of Scotland, including Prof. T.C. Smout, the Historiographer Royal for Scotland.

The ISHR provides an intellectual and social focus for staff and a thriving community of postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers working on all periods of Scottish history from the early Middle Ages to the present. The Institute hosts a number of events throughout the year attracting delegates and speakers from all over the world, including a fortnightly research seminar series, workshops and conferences with an emphasis on new discoveries and directions in historical enquiry. For example, in October 2012 the ISHR hosted ‘The Politics of Counsel and Council Workshop, 1400-1700’ with speakers from across the UK. Workshops and events in AY2013-14 are currently in preparation.

Parl Project

Launch of the results of the Scottish Parliament Project

The Institute has several major collaborative research initiatives under its auspices. Past projects have included the Scottish Parliament Project and the History of the Universities Project. Ongoing and current projects include the Scotland and the Wider World Project, and the Scotland, Scandinavia and Northern Europe Database, and most recently the Scotland and the Flemish People project which commenced in AY2012-13.


Scotland & the Wider World Project

The Fellowship is open to any academic in a permanent university post with research interests in any aspect of Scottish history in any period. It covers the cost of return travel to St Andrews from the holder’s normal place of work, together with a substantial subsidy towards accommodation while the holder is resident in St Andrews.

The Fellowship carries with it no teaching duties, though the Fellow will be expected to take part in the normal activities of the ISHR during their stay in St Andrews. For more information on the Institute please visit the ISHR website at You will also be invited to lead a workshop, give a research seminar paper or other suitable activities depending on the length of your stay. Fellows are provided with computing facilities and an office in one of the School of History buildings. The university library has an exceptional collection for Scottish historians, including vast electronic resources and excellent holdings in the Special Collections department. Major national libraries and archives are within easy travelling distance, as are the university libraries in Dundee, Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

You should send a letter of application by 30 March 2013, together with an outline of the research and/or writing in which you will be engaged during your time in St Andrews.  You should also enclose a CV, together with the names of two academic referees, who should submit their references by the closing date. All correspondence should be addressed to the incoming Director of the ISHR, Dr Katie Stevenson, by email to or by mail to School of History, St Katharine’s Lodge, The Scores, St Andrews, Fife, UK, KY16 9AR.

The closing date for applications is 30 March 2013.

Further enquiries may be addressed to the incoming Director Dr Katie Stevenson ( or to other staff in the ISHR.