The Hebridean Explorer - Highland Tours from Inverness

John Alasdair Macdonald's PhD Research

John Alasdair Macdonald, The Hebridean Explorer, PhD Research

I came back to learning in my late thirties, signing up for a part-time Scottish History degree at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) – and it turned out to be one of my best life decisions! A decade later (which also included a Masters in British Studies) and I'm now working 'hopefully' towards a PhD. During the final year of the Scottish History degree and throughout the British Studies Masters, I became particularly interested in the post-Culloden period of Highland history from 1746 until the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 and I'm very fortunate that the Centre of History at UHI has given me the opportunity to continue my studies into this period through their PhD programme.

I think the best way I can offer a brief overview of my topic and research is to answer the most common questions I get asked by my family and friends:

Why are you doing this?
Learning and researching eighteenth century Highland history has become my hobby! Everyone has hobbies and this is mine – I genuinely enjoy the whole experience, especially getting lost in the research.

No, seriously... why are you doing this at your age?
Honestly, the first answer is the truth!

What are you researching?
The transformation of the Jacobite clans of the Gàidhealtachd (the Gaelic speaking Highlands) from 1746 to 1763.

Why?!!!!
I believe that the resilience, resourcefulness and adaptability of Jacobite Gaels in post-Culloden decade has been underestimated and downplayed.

How will you do this?
By exploring the social, economic, and cultural connectivity of these clans.

Eh...?
I believe that by researching the array of networks connecting the Jacobite Gaels, and by demonstrating the depth and expanse of these connections (from local to international), I can offer an interpretation of the Jacobite Gaels as more resilient, resourceful and adaptable than history has led us to believe.

And you really enjoy this?
Absolutely!