SSNS Confers Honorary Membership on Three Distinguished Members

SSNS Confers Honorary Membership on Three Distinguished Members


The Society is delighted to announce the appointment of John Baldwin, Barbara Crawford, and Margaret Mackay as Honorary Members of the Society.

The Scottish Society for Northern Studies is delighted to appoint John Baldwin, Barbara Crawford, and Margaret Mackay as Honorary Members. All three have been committed and invaluable contributors to the work of the Society for well over a century between them, each having served as President, as well as being exemplary contributors to their own fields of interest.

John Baldwin

John Baldwin’s dedication to SSNS has been a crucial element to the organisation’s success over the decades, as he took on several guises to become an integral part of the Society’s fabric. As a prolific conference organiser and editor of a number of associated volumes, he is indeed a weel-kenned face! In his life outside of the Society, John was a research assistant at the National Museum of Antiquities before becoming Educational Advisor for Lothian Region Department of Education for much of his working life. John’s interests are wide-ranging, generally encompassed within Scottish Material Culture; his papers on fowling and fishing traditions maintain strong currency. He has served on the Society’s committee for many years in a variety of roles, and was President from 2011 until 2013.

Former President Colleen Batey offered her own reflections on John: ‘I was invited to speak at my first ever conference in Caithness for the Society in 1979, on the subject of my PhD research on Freswick Links. The welcoming nature of the Society, and the encouragement of John in particular, ensured that this was a great experience. Since that time, we have enjoyed numerous discussions and I have always come away feeling I have learnt something. John is always generous with his considerable knowledge.’

Barbara Crawford

Professor Barbara Crawford is an Honorary Reader in History at the University of St Andrews, having spent over thirty years as a Lecturer in the Department of Mediaeval History. Although she retired in 2001, she has actively continued to pursue her research into the history and archaeology of Scandinavian settlement across Scotland and the North Sea world.

She notably led the excavations at ‘Da Biggins’ on Papa Stour in Shetland. The Society’s current president, Richard Oram, worked alongside her and spoke highly of his experiences during the dig and his PhD, which was co-supervised by Barbara. He especially noted Barbara’s contribution towards a ‘positive community that she built within the postgraduate group in St. John’s House at St. Andrews in those days (1983-7 for me), when three of us (out of nine) were her PhD students. Barbara really strived to help us bond and created opportunities for us to work – and get paid! – on various projects which she had. I supervised for her on Papa Stour and did some of the post-excavation drawing work for her. Some of the most memorable things were the big social gatherings which she organised – and still does – where we were all invited out to Kincaple, usually to meet with visiting “big names” in the Norse or Early Medieval England history and archaeology world. It was a great introduction to some scholars with whom I later worked in various ways or who influenced my thinking’.

Barbara was invited by the Society to deliver the 2013 Hermann Pálsson Memorial Lecture.

Margaret Mackay

Dr Margaret A. Mackay was the Director of the School of Scottish Studies and of its Archives at the University of Edinburgh until her retirement. She remains at the University of Edinburgh, now as an Honorary Fellow in Celtic & Scottish Studies. Her interests focus on the early history of the School of Scottish Studies and those who played a significant role in its foundation in 1950-51 and subsequent development, having herself arrived at the institution as a student in 1967. Margaret’s research has also focused on recording and interpreting the journeys and experiences of Scots migrants to Canada; being from Saskatchewan herself (with Scottish parents), she was able to provide a uniquely personal experience to her research. Her work with the Society continues today, as Margaret was invited by the Society to deliver the 2017 Hermann Pálsson Memorial Lecture.

Margaret’s colleague, Gary West, was delighted to speak about her, saying:  ‘Margaret has been at the forefront of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh for many decades, having served as Director of the School of Scottish Studies, Director of the European Ethnological Research Centre, and latterly as an honorary fellow of Celtic and Scottish Studies. Her breadth and depth of knowledge is vast, and her generosity of spirit and readiness to make things happen are little short of legendary! One of her most valued traits is to bring people together – there must be many projects which have taken off and initiatives which have come to fruition because Maggie was the person who put the key people in touch with each other in the first place! She stands at the heart of so many connections which stretch across the world – and that is a very fine thing indeed.’


The Society offers its congratulations to all three Honorary Members, who were formally appointed at the AGM on 21 November 2020.

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