Mediaeval St Andrews App Wins Further Funding

Mediaeval AppThe Mediaeval St Andrews App project team, led by Computer Scientist Dr Alan Miller, has been awarded a University Teaching Development Award to help fund a key development phase.

Smart phones and tablets are becoming ubiquitous and have the functionality to add a new dimension to learning. They typically contain GPS, a high resolution screen and connect to the Internet. The Mediaeval St Andrews App will enable the synthesis of scene and discourse to provide a new tool for teaching and learning. It will enable learners to concurrently explore the physicality of St Andrews and access location specific research.

For each point of interest on the trail text, images, audio and video will combine with the physicality of the location to provide an engaging learning experience. There will also be links to online digital resources, which index relevant scholarly research.

This project will draw upon research being undertaken in the schools of HistoryArt Historyand Classics. It will also make accessible early work by the project team on images and video of reconstructions of St Andrews Cathedral, St Andrews Castle and St Salvator’s Chapel. The National Library of Scotland has kindly granted permission to make use of the Geddy map of St Andrews, the earliest holistic depiction of town.

The App will be freely available to students and to the general public.

Re-posted with generous permission from the Mediaeval St Andrews blog.

Call for Applications: Donald Bullough Fellowship for a Medieval Historian

Leaves 72v-73r of the “St Andrews Psalter” (St Andrews msBX2033.A00), with full border decorations and illuminationsThe St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies invites applications for the Donald Bullough Fellowship in Mediaeval History, to be taken up during either semester of the academic year 2014-15.

The Fellowship is open to any academic in a permanent university post with research interests in mediaeval history. The financial aspect of the fellowship is a subsidy (up to £3000) towards the cost of travel to St Andrews and accommodation during your stay.

Previous Fellows have included Dr Christina Pössel, Professor Cynthia Neville, Dr Ross Balzaretti, Dr Marlene Hennessy, Professor Warren Brown.  The fellowship is currently held by Dr Edward Coleman.

The Fellowship carries with it no teaching duties, though the Fellow is expected to take part in the normal seminar life of the mediaeval historians during their stay in St Andrews. Weekly seminars, held on a Monday evening, run from September – December, and February – May. You will also be invited to lead a workshop on your chosen research theme during your stay. Fellows are provided with computing facilities and an office alongside the mediaeval historians in the Institute. The university library has an excellent collection for mediaeval historians.

You should send a letter of application by the advertised closing date, together with a scheme of research for the project on 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 be asked to write by the closing date. All correspondence should be addressed to

The closing date for applications is 31 March 2014.

Further enquiries may be addressed to the Director, Professor Simon MacLean ( or to colleagues in the Institute.


Spotlight on Angus Stewart

Angus Petra TreasurySquare (2)

Dr. Angus Stewart at Petra

Dr Angus Stewart has been a Lecturer in Middle Eastern History in St Andrews since 2007, having been a Teaching Fellow in Mediaeval History, and then a Senior Teaching Fellow, from 2001. However, his association with St Andrews goes much further back: having graduated with an MA (Hons) in Mediaeval History (1994), he went on to obtain an MLitt and then a PhD (2000) here, under the supervision of Professor Hugh Kennedy (now at SOAS in London).

By training as a mediaeval historian, in his postgraduate work and afterwards Angus has turned to look at the Near East and its connections with the wider world. His research is based on material produced in a variety of different traditions. He has made especial use of the extensive Arabic literature originating in the Mamluk Sultanate, the empire that controlled Egypt, Syria and the surrounding territory, from the middle of the thirteenth century to the early sixteenth century. The Mamluk sultans and their ruling elite frequently originated as slave soldiers, brought in from the pagan lands to the north of the Islamic world, and it was perhaps this position as outsiders that led them to be keen patrons of, amongst other things, historical works. Angus has used this material, alongside sources produced by Armenians and Franks (people of Western European origin) in the region, to shed light on Mamluk relations with their neighbours and rivals. A study of the Mamluk dealings with the Armenian kingdom centred on Cilicia was published as The Armenian Kingdom and the Mamluks: War and Diplomacy during the reigns of Het‘um II (1289-1307) (Leiden, 2001).

Detail of Nativity icon from the monastery of St Catherine's, Mount Sinai

Detail of Nativity icon from the monastery of St Catherine’s, Mount Sinai

A key theme in Near Eastern affairs in this period was the arrival of the Mongols and the creation of a Mongol state in the region, the Ilkhanate, based in Iran. One theme of Angus’s research in recent years has been the interaction of the Ilkhans with others in the region, and he has worked on the Armenian relationship with the Mongols, and their role in Ilkhanid diplomacy with Western Europe. He has also become interested more widely in the theme of nomadic society on the steppes and its interactions with settled peoples. His research is increasingly informed by the study of more than just ‘historical’ texts; he has become increasingly interested in the art and architecture of the period, and has also worked on more ‘literary’ material such as tales. One avenue that he is exploring in his current research is the relationship between the Muslim rulers of the region and the states created by the Crusaders; he is especially interested in the Mamluk dealings with these Franks of Outremer.

These interests are reflected in the teaching that Angus carries out in the School of History. He contributes to teaching at all levels: he has been co-ordinator of various sub-honours modules in Mediaeval History, and is currently co-ordinator of MH2002, “Introduction to Middle Eastern History”; his Honours courses include ME3162, “The Mediaeval Castle”, and ME4855, “Crusaders, Mongols and Mamluks: West and East in the mid-thirteenth century”; he also contributes to MLitts in Mediaeval, Iranian and Middle Eastern History. He was for many years the School’s Disabilities Officer, and was also Chair of Arabic and Middle East Studies from 2007 to 2010.

The gatehouse of the citadel of Aleppo.

The gatehouse of the citadel of Aleppo.

Angus has enjoyed travelling in the Near East. He has given papers at conferences in Istanbul, Aleppo and Damascus, and has also led a tour party around some of the sites of eastern Turkey.

For the last three seasons Angus has been vice-captain of the university’s Staff and Postgraduate Cricket Club, and in each year they have been champions of their division in the Strathmore and Perthshire League.

Second year students at the University Library’s Special Collections

UGs in special collections Jamie PageOn 2 December, thirty-five students of the sub-honours module ME2003: Europe in the High Middle Ages enjoyed a day of sessions dedicated to viewing manuscripts from the St Andrews University Special Collections‘ extensive collection. The sessions, organised by Muniments Archivist and Deputy Head of Special Collections Rachel Hart and Dr Jamie Page, allowed students to handle original mediaeval material, including a volume of Augustine’s works written in St Andrews ca. 1190, a fourteenth-century Roll of Kings discovered recently in the attic of a professor of the University, and fifteenth-century commercial documents from Germany and Italy recently acquired at auction. Participants also retraced the steps of their forbears by leafing through textbooks of philosophy penned by early students in St Andrews – though were glad not to be facing the oral disputations endured by their fifteenth-century predecessors.  Regular updates on activities taking place in Special Collections are posted on the departmental blog, Echoes from the Vault, also accessible via the newly-launched website.

Vacancy: Professor in Mediaeval History

The School of History is seeking to appoint a Professor of Mediaeval History specialising in any historical field, geographical region, and chronological period within the Middle Ages.

Applicants should show evidence of outstanding productivity and quality in their own research. They must also have displayed a high quality of teaching at university level, including an ability to bring imagination to tutorials, seminars and lectures. They will be expected to contribute fully to the research, teaching, and administration of the School. Further information on the University and the School of History can be found at the University website. To discuss this post informally candidates might also wish to contact the Head of School, Professor John Hudson.

Closing Date:  19 December 2013

Further particulars and how to apply can be found here.

Caroline Shenton’s The Day Parliament Burned Down wins Political Book of the Year

Mediaeval History graduate Caroline Shenton (MA, 1989) has been awarded the Paddy Power and Total Politics Political Book of the Year 2013 for her book The Day Parliament Burned Down published with Oxford University Press (2012). Dr Shenton is Clerk of the Records in the Parliamentary Archives at Westminster and below she describes what inspired her to investigate the 1834 fire that demolished the Palace of Westminster and the records held there. Dr Shenton writes a blog about her work as an archivist, historian and appearances in the media.



Vacancy: Teaching Fellow in Mediaeval History

Les_Très_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_octobre_detailThe School of History is seeking to appoint one 17-month Teaching Fellow in the history of late Mediaeval continental Europe (c. 1100-1500). This position is created by the award of an AHRC Early Career Fellowship to Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker. Applicants should have teaching experience at university level and should normally hold an examined PhD on any aspect of the history of late Mediaeval continental Europe.

This teaching fellowship will start on 9 January 2014, or as soon as possible thereafter until 8 June 2015 on a full-time, fixed-term basis.

Further particulars and how to apply can be found by clicking here.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to the Chair of Mediaeval History, Dr Tim Greenwood,, or the Director of Teaching, Dr Bernhard Struck,
Closing Date for Applications:  28 November 2013

Three St Andrews History students shortlisted in The Undergraduate Awards

Undergraduate Awards logoThree St Andrews History undergraduates have been given awards in the highly commended category of the Undergraduate Awards and have been shortlisted for the overall 2013 Undergraduate Award. The School of History congratulates Nadia Knifton (Mediaeval History), James McDonald (Scottish History) and Peter O’Boyle (Mediaeval History) on their achievements.

The Undergraduate Awards is a prestigious and international academic awards programme, which is wholly pan-discipline. It aims to celebrate and support the world’s brightest and most innovative undergraduate students by recognising their best coursework and projects.

Winning a place on the shortlist means that Nadia, James and Peter were in the top 10% of all entrants to the Historical Studies category, which received 3,771 submissions from 182 institutions across 25 countries. The winner of the category will be announced on 20 September and will be flown to Dublin to receive their prize from the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

We wish Nadia, James and Peter the best of luck!

St Andrews Historians Run Edinburgh Marathon for Charity

Marathon 2013

Members of the School of History ran the Edinburgh Marathon relay challenge last weekend (26  May) to raise money for MS Scotland – the sixth year in a row the Medievalists have done this. It was a glorious day with a real festival atmosphere.

There were two teams – one led by James Palmer with postdoc Fernando Arias, Neil Montgomery, and postgrad Roberta Cimino, the other led by Justine Firnhaber-Baker with postgrads Kimberley Knight-Ford and Will Eves. The route was divided into four legs, starting in Edinburgh city centre and winding through Holyrood Park down to the Forth, past Musselborough Race Course, out into the countryside and then back to Musselborough for a much needed rest! The teams managed impressive times of 3hrs 44mins and 3hrs 40mins respectively.

For the second team this was a particular achievement because a last-minute withdrawal meant that Kimberley ran two legs consecutively, of 8.4 miles and 5.6 miles! She also did so faster than James and Fernando managed running the same legs individually.

The teams want to raise to £1000 for MS Scotland, a charity chosen because of a former student of Mediaeval History who has Multiple Sclerosis. They are still only half-way to their target but there is still time to sponsor them retrospectively – either contact them directly or donate online at, where you can add ‘gift aid’. Any support is much appreciated!

Call for Papers: Politics and Texts in Late Carolingian Europe, c. 870–1000

Monday 8th – Tuesday 9th July 2013, University of St Andrews

We are pleased to announce a call for papers for a two-day conference entitled ‘Politics and Texts in Late Carolingian Europe, c. 870–1000’, hosted by the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies. This conference will explore the relationship between political authority and textual production in the later Carolingian world.

In recent years, there has been substantial re-evaluation of traditional methodological approaches to all kinds of early medieval texts, from narrative histories to documentary sources. Historians have increasingly taken stock of the interdependence of textual aspects such as audience, reception, dissemination, authorial agenda and the relationships between cultural and political elites. This reappraisal has inspired renewed interest in earlier Carolingian political history. However, the so-called ‘post-Carolingian’ world of the tenth century has yet to be thoroughly investigated on the same terms. How did texts produced in the late ninth- and tenth-century political climate differ from those of the preceding century? Is it possible to refashion the traditional political narrative of late Carolingian fragmentation and decline by reassessing the foundations on which this very narrative has been constructed? Our intention is to draw together recent work on the theme of political discourse in the written sources of this period. We hope to provide an international forum for established academics, early career researchers and postgraduate students working on political culture and the functions of texts in the late Carolingian world.

Eight invited academics will offer papers on the conference themes. We invite proposals from postgraduate and postdoctoral scholars for 20-minute papers on any topic related to the interaction between politics and texts in this period.

The conference will include lunches, refreshments, wine reception, and an optional conference meal. We expect to be able to contribute towards speakers’ accommodation and travel expenses.

For details on the confirmed programme, registration and other information, please visit our website:

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to either of the conference organisers, Roberta Cimino ( or Ed Roberts ( The deadline for submission is 1st February 2013.