In memoriam Dr Alasdair Ross


01 September 2017
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The team at History Scotland magazine were saddened to learn of the death of our Editor, Dr Alasdair Ross, on 26 August 2017 after a short illness.

The team at History Scotland magazine were saddened to learn of the death of our Editor, Dr Alasdair Ross, on 26 August 2017 after a short illness. 

When Alasdair took over the editorship in 2006, History Scotland was a small, rather niche publication with a relatively specialist audience. Under his leadership, it went from strength to strength, growing its circulation and vastly expanding its digital and social media reach. That History Scotland is today the premier publication in its field, keeping thousands of readers informed about the latest developments in Scottish history and archaeology, is owing in no small part to Alasdair’s work and determination.

Originally from Kincardineshire, Alasdair studied History and Celtic at the University of Aberdeen, and later completed his doctoral dissertation there on ‘The Province of Moray, c.1100-1230’. This thesis heavily informed his book, The Kings of Alba, c.1000-c.1130 (Edinburgh, 2011), which was described by the Scottish Historical Review as a ‘key reading’ of early Scottish history. His other published works covered a diverse range of topics, spanning from the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton (1328) to the editorial strategies of 19th-century historical clubs, but he was arguably best known for his research into medieval land tenure, particularly in the north-east, a topic on which he was the leading authority and which was the focus of his final book, Land Assessment and Lordship in Medieval Northern Scotland (Turnhout, 2015).

He was also an early enthusiast for the relatively young discipline of environmental history, which commanded much of his professional interest during his time at the University of Stirling, where he had worked since 2003 and where he was, additionally, much admired for his formidable grasp of palaeography (historic handwriting) and Scottish historical linguistics. On top of all that, he was a popular and enthusiastic teacher who guided countless undergraduate and postgraduate students through the complexities of the Scottish past.

A well-liked figure in the relatively close-knit world of Scottish academic history, Alasdair was also known for his determination to take history beyond the hallowed halls of the academy. He was a keen advocate of using field work to inform research (which, perhaps not coincidentally, allowed him to pursue his passion for hillwalking!), and he championed partnership between scholars, businesses, the public and third sectors, and communities. History Scotland benefitted immensely from his commitment to making history matter, as well as his great personal warmth and sense of humour. We are determined to carry on his legacy and make this magazine a fitting tribute to an outstanding scholar and a remarkable man.