Scotland & Ireland
Beginning in the mid nineteen nineties we embarked on an extensive field research initiative in Scotland, with an emphasis on Ayrshire in the south-west of Scotland, and a focus on farming families.
This work in Scotland was expanded into County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland from the year 2000 onwards, with particular reference to the descendants of the Scots Presbyterian migrants who came from Scotland in the Plantation of Ulster instigated by King James VI of Scotland as a means of securing political control and giving land to settlers from Scotland and England. Here also our focus has been on farming families, within Eastern Donegal. Donegal is divided between these Ulster Scots people and Irish people historically pushed westwards to coastal areas in the Plantation.
We study language issues in both Scotland and Ireland, focusing on Lowland Scots and Ulster Scots language forms.
Our work has also branched into contemporary issues of politics, European Union policies, especially the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and questions of conservation and heritage in relation to farmlands. (See our co-edited book Landscape, Heritage and Conservation: Farming Issues in the European Union, Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern eds., Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press.)
We also have a personal and biographical interest in Scotland, as explained below.
We often find that we are writing our manuscripts and essays while “in the field” or as Visiting Scholars in various institutions around the world, including Scotland and Ireland. We have for some years been writing in a small place, Catrine, near to Mauchline and Kilmarnock, in Ayrshire, Scotland. We have also written much while staying in Carnowen near Convoy and Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland. (Stewart, Strathern Publications)
We have been visiting these and other research areas in Scotland and Ireland for many years. In Scotland there is a long time-frame of connection and history for both of us. For one of us, AJS, Catrine and Sorn are the places where some earliest years were spent, looked after partly by an eldest sister, Margaret, and an aunt (mother’s sister, Elizabeth, always known as Betty), as well as his maternal grandparents. Ancestral roots run at least four generations deep in this part of Ayrshire. These roots provide multiple connections with local farms and families throughout the surrounding countryside. One such farm is Blacksidend, whose steading is on a dominant hill that overlooks Catrine, Sorn, and many other places. It is a hillside farm, backing onto the great grassy-gray mass of Blacksidend hill behind it, and surrounded by a small number of in-bye fields that can be exploited for pasture and hay-making. We have described the Blacksidend Hill in our book Minorities and Memories Survivals and Extinctions in Scotland and Western Europe (Strathern and Stewart 2001: 83-85, Carolina Academic Press) Other farms in the area include Blackbriggs, Blindburn, North and South Blairkip, Brocklar, Kenstey, and Whiteflat, as well as Mossgiel, High and Laigh Tarbeg, and Blairmulloch. Names of this kind are the very stuff of local landscapes and history.
Scotland Photographic Collection
Photos from Scotland are drawn from two different kinds of sources. A series of historical black and white photos date from the early twentieth century, with images of villages and agricultural life in Ayrshire, Scotland, Another series , of color photos, date mostly from the early twenty-first century , and give impressions of landscapes, farms, and people from Ayrshire and elsewhere.