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Home | Books | Other Publications | West Highland Notes & Queries | Links | West Highland Research | Join the Society

The Society of West Highland & Island Historical Research, which was founded in 1972, aims to encourage research into the history of the West Highlands & Islands of Scotland and to make this research available to the general public

Its main publication is West Highland and Islands Notes & Queries. THESE ARE ONLY AVAILABLE AS ELECTRONIC COPIES - PAPER COPIES ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE. 

Over the years some of the most distinguished and knowledgable historians have contributed to West Highland Notes & Queries, sometimes to try out a theory but always to enhance our knowedge of the west Highlands and Islands.  Others, not necessarily professionals,  have contributed to see if anyone can help out with their question. All have added a depth to this extraordinary archive which goes back forty odd years.

Subscribers are encouraged to add to this archive of knowledge. If you are doing research, and you want to find out if anyone knows anything more about your subject, write an article. If you think you know the answer to a Query, write a Reply. And if you have done some original research and welcome others to read it, write a Note.  All contributions, from historians and interested amateurs are very welcome, and the Editor will add them to an issue of West Highland Notes & Queries when he has space.

All we ask is that your contributions are not too long and you follow the style of the existing copies. 

There is a wealth of other material available: in particular we would commend our 'glossy' booklets about the area, all written by historians about the west Highland and islands.  See the 'other publications' section of this website.




James Petre (Hon. Editor)

Ronald Black

David Caldwell

Hector MacQueen

Rob McGhee

Secretary: Lavinia Maclean-Bristol

e-mail: [email protected]

The Society’s Headquarters is at Breacachadh Castle, Isle of Coll, Argyll, PA78 6TB.




Ronald Black (Raghnall MacilleDhuibh) was trained in Celtic Studies in Glasgow and Dublin, following which he held a research assistantship in the National Library of Scotland and lectureships in Celtic in the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. He is Gaelic editor of The Scotsman and author or editor of numerous books and articles, including anthologies of Gaelic verse, folklore collections and a new edition of Johnson and Boswell's tour of the Hebrides. He is currently working on a study of the Campbells in the eighteenth century.

Dr David Caldwell After graduating with a degree in archaeology from Edinburgh University Dr Caldwell spent 38 years working for the National Museums of Scotland, latterly as keeper of two of the curatorial departments – Scotland and Europe, and Archaeology. He has a strong interest in the history and archaeology of the West Highlands and Islands. From 1990 to 1997 he directed excavations at Finlaggan, Islay, and has published extensively, including A Historical Guide to Islay, Jura & Colonsay (2001 and 2011); Islay The Land of the Lordship (2008); and (with M A Hall and C M Wilkinson) The Lewis Chessmen Unmasked (2010, 2011). He is President of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, Convenor of Publishing for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a trustee of the Finlaggan Trust and a director of Fife Cultural Trust (a body responsible for running the libraries, museums and theatres in Fife)

James Petre:  A number of James Petre’s recent works relating to West Highland and island matters, have been published recently – in Historical Research, the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and in SWH&IHR’s Notes & Queries. Current research projects include Tiree and Roxburgh Castle. He works occasionally with the Centre for History, UHI in Dornoch. His other principal historical interest is Crusader Cyprus on which he has written extensively.

Hector MacQueen FBA, FRSE, has been a member of the Edinburgh Law School staff since 1979, having also taken his LL.B and Ph.D at Edinburgh. Appointed to the Chair of Private Law in 1994, he was Dean of the Law School 1999-2003, and Dean of Research and Deputy Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science in the University 2004-2008. He has been a Scottish Law Commissioner since September 2009.  Professor MacQueen's research and teaching focus on three major areas: (1) the history of law (in which the history of Celtic law is a particular interest); (2) the private law of obligations; and (3) intellectual property.  His university website is

Rob McGhee: Rob's Coll family (MacFadyen) are possibly the oldest blood on the island, dating back to 1590 or so. Further, they have always had close ties with The MacLean. Now retired, Rob worked for various public companies, before setting up Argyle Consulting Ltd with colleagues some 20 years ago. His main area of interest was taxation and trusts, and Rob is both a graduate and honouree fellow of Glasgow university.

Aonghas MacCoinnich is a lecturer in Celtic History at the University of Glasgow. He has published on various aspects of the history and culture of Gaelic Scotland, 1400-1700. Recent publications include an article, ‘Maritime dimensions to Scotland’s Highland Problem, 1540-1630’ (2019) and a monograph, Plantation and Civility in the North Atlantic World. The case of the Northern Hebrides, c.1570-1639 (2015).


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