The Dewar Team


The Dewar Team


Michael Ansell is our Communications Officer, responsible for publicising the project through social media. Brought up in the Glenkens, Galloway, after attending Aberdeen University (Geography) he worked in marketing and general management in Scotland, England, Singapore and Manila before returning home to work in the forestry sector. A place-name enthusiast, he has had several papers published. He co-organised a conference on Galloway: The Lost Province of Gaelic Scotland in 2018 and co-edited its proceedings, see ‘Our Publications’ page. He is now working on a conference on the Gaelic Heritage of Carrick (Maybole, 14 Sept. 2024).      
Black, Ronnie, director, translator and general factotum to The Dewar Project. Retired lecturer in Celtic Studies, has published various books which have led logically to it, especially The Gaelic Otherworld (Birlinn, 2008) and The Campbells of the Ark (John Donald, 2017).

Chris Dracup is co-director of the Dewar Project with special responsibility for editing the Gaelic text. Retired lecturer in Psychology, student of Gaelic for 50 years culminating in an honours dissertation on the first Gaelic poem ever printed – John Carswell’s Adhmad Beag.


Dziadowiec, Ryan. Compiler of ‘themes index’ to the Dewar Project. He is a Pole born in Scotland who has learned Gaelic to fluency since he started learning it as part of his Celtic Studies degree at the University of Glasgow; his undergraduate dissertation was on the Dewar Manuscripts. He is working on a PhD with Coventry University entitled “Dùthchas: Locating and Nourishing the Roots of Scotland’s Land Reform Revolution”.


Furness, Sue. Coordinator of place-names gazetteer for John Dewar’s Perthshire and Loch Lomond. I live in Tarbet, near Arrochar, where I work as a freelance editor of biomedical papers. After happily abandoning history and languages at school, a love of the natural landscape has since led to a fascination with the ruins that cover it and the people who lived in them. Organising a couple of community heritage projects around Arrochar led me to discover the stories of John Dewar. The ‘Gaelic Place Names of Arrochar Parish’, produced by volunteers, was an unexpected highlight of one those projects. Sadly, I speak no Gaelic.


Gaffney, Sue. Transcriber. My home is on the Cowal Peninsular, an area rich in evidence of past occupation much featured in John Dewar's accounts. I am interested in all aspects of local history and archaeology and never more happy than when exploring the hills and glens of this beautiful country.

Guilford, Carl. Transcriber. Retired CPS social worker. Learned Gaelic via SMO’s distance-learning grammar courses, enabling enjoyment of reading it. Former president of Clan Campbell Society (North America) and happy to be of assistance to Mac Cailein Mòr and the Argyll Papers Project.  
Johnstone, Sandy. Transcriber for John Dewar’s Inveraray, Mid Argyll and Knapdale and checker of transcripts. Retired manager in the IT industry, worked for many years in many countries and languages in Europe. On retirement decided that it was finally time to get Gaelic up to speed, through many courses from SMO. Divides time between south England (for health, not choice) and Netherlorn, so trying to place Dewar’s stories using local context.  

Peter Lawrie investigates Perthshire place-names for us. After Inverness Royal Academy and St Andrews University (science) he taught in Kenya, then joined the Ministry of Defence as a programmer. He ran an IT department for a Dundee manufacturing company for 25 years, then his own IT business until retirement in 2020. He graduated MA in humanities with history from the Open University in the 1990s, then MPhil from Dundee University for a dissertation on the Clan Gregor. He has been vice-chairman of the Clan Gregor Society for many years and edits their Newsletter. He has been attempting to learn Gaelic and is determined to get there eventually with some help from Chris Dracup.

Lodge, Janet. Transcriber and checker of transcripts. Formerly lecturer in Modern Languages. Took up Gaelic on retirement.  
MacAilpein, Tòmas. Putting together the transcriptions for John Dewar’s Kintyre and due to commence on compiling a place-name gazetteer for the same volume. A Glasgow Gaelic speaker with roots in John Dewar country! Works for the Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic, University of Glasgow. Completed a PhD thesis (2017) on Islay Gaelic cultural history. Co-edited a reference book (2021) on the 20th-century periodical Gairm. Interested in Gaelic literature, folklore and history from below.  

MacDougall, Fiona. Transcriber. Fiona is a Gaelic speaker from Oban who currently works for Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, based between Argyll and Edinburgh.  She has a background in heritage conservation and archival work.  Fiona is especially interested in Gaelic folklore collections, local history and socio-linguistics.

Malcolm, Neill. Transcriber. I was born in 1937 and spent most of my professional life as a doctor in Canada. I returned home to Argyll in 2006 and became interested in local history and archaeology, writing articles for the Appin Historical Society and helping with digs on Lismore and in Glencoe. In 1963 I bought a copy of The Dewar Manuscripts and have been waiting for volume two ever since. My knowledge of Gaelic is restricted to place-names and colours.  

McAlister, Lynn. Transcriber. Studied history at the University of Aberdeen, now working as a reference librarian and professional genealogist. Experienced copy editor, proof-reader, transcriber and onomast. A Macalister clan historian, she has spent years studying the history of Kintyre and Knapdale.


Nate McIlhaney is a security professional from the US State of Nebraska, and had the honour of being the first transcriber on the Dewar Project. Along with providing open-source research and networking skills, he was the main transcriber for the Islay, Jura and Colonsay sections, and has also transcribed the 1751 Valuation of Argyll for us. Additionally, Nate has contributed to West Highland Notes and Queries, his research has been mentioned in the Derry Journal and he has been quoted in Smithsonian Magazine. He is currently conducting a Somerled investigation based on revelations found in one of the Dewar MSS.


McWhannell, Dr Donald C. Transcriber. Retired Chartered Engineer and amateur historian, has had various items published relating to Maritime History, the Highlands and Galloway.


Andy Morrison provides genealogical research on Dewar’s informants. He lives in Merseyside, England, but his forebears were from Wigtownshire and Kintyre. He has been studying Highland history and genealogy for over 45 years. He has compiled an extensive pedigree of the Lochaber area (from genealogies given to the family of Braes historian Anne McDonnell by D. C. McPherson) and a near 50-volume ‘Index of Highland Surnames’. He has worked for Lord McDonald in his hotel in Skye, for a shipping office, for the Civil Service, for Royal Mail, and now for an energy company. He has studied Gaelic, and loves waulking songs.

Renton, Ronnie. Transcriber. Retired deputy head master of a secondary school, convener of the Education Committee of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies and interested in Gaelic literature for many years.
Shields, Carol (not the novelist). Transcriber. Retired physics teacher. I did a degree in Gaelic Language and Culture after retiring from teaching. When I heard about the Dewar project I thought that doing some transcribing would be an interesting and useful way to apply my language skills. It has been very interesting and also very pleasing to see the Project make good progress. I’m glad to have been able to contribute to that.   

Sneddon, Dr Duncan. Transcriber. I am Lecturer in Celtic at the University of Edinburgh, having previously taught at the University of Aberdeen and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and worked as a research assistant for the Harvard University project, The Fionn Folklore Database.  My first degree was in Celtic and Scottish History (Edinburgh, 2012), followed by an MSt in Celtic Studies (Oxford, 2013) and PhD in Scottish History, on Adomnnán's Vita Columbae (Edinburgh, 2018).  My main interests are in medieval history and hagiography, and Gaelic and Scots literature and folkloreespecially the Ossianic ballads.


Stroh, Silke. Transcriber, translator and editor. While her main specialisation is in anglophone literary and cultural studies, she also does research on Gaelic literature. Holds a PhD from Frankfurt University and a post-doc qualification (Habilitation) from Muenster University (Germany), where she is still based. Specialisms include political poetry, national and ethnic identity, and (on the Dewar project) Lochaber and the north.

Wardrop, Ken. Transcriber and translator for John Dewar’s Arran. Retired from economic development and resumed Gaelic studies after a 40-year break. Interest in Gaelic and Highland history reinforced by lifetime of hillwalking. Now enjoying a focus on Dewar’s Arran.  

Wotherspoon, Irene. Identifying places on the ground for the Perthshire and Loch Lomond gazetteer. M.A., M.Litt. University of Glasgow, 1969, briefly taught there, then in England for ten years. Resumed at Glasgow University as an editor of The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, which won the Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award, 2009. Still an honorary research fellow (publications record not updated). 2006–2009 cataloguer in Scots for Tobar an Dualchais. Contributor to the Gaelic Place Names of Arrochar Parish published in connection with the Hidden Heritage community archaeology project at Arrochar. Now more time for sailing.

We also gratefully acknowledge the help of the following over the years (in transcribing and other roles), as well as of those who prefer to remain anonymous:
Bauer, Valerie
Ann Bray
Burke, Gerry
Campbell, Roderick
Davies, Sally
Dunbar, Rob
Fatzinger, Danielle
Liddell, Maureen
Maclean-Bristol, Seonaid
Macleod, Jane
McNaughton, Drew
MacThòmais, Greg
Marquis, Steve
Marrison, Elizabeth
Wiseman, Andrew
Wolff, Andreas

If you think you have a contribution to make to the Dewar Project, we would be happy to hear from you. The work of basic transcription and translation is now done, but we are still looking for volunteers to help in the following three ways:

  • local knowledge – intimate acquaintance with the landscape, place-names, history or traditions of one of the areas covered by the project
  • photography – our books and website will contain photographs of specific sites mentioned by Dewar, many of them remote and difficult of access, such as deserted settlements, battlefields, rocks, mounds, wells and caves, so we are keen to enrol the help of amateur photographers who live in or near the areas covered by the project.
  • speleology – over fifty caves feature in Dewar’s stories, in all parts of the area he covered. Some of them are well described, some are well known in the community, others are only vaguely located. The challenge is to identify them, explore them safely, confirm or deny the accuracy of what Dewar says about them, and photograph them, inside and out. See Gallery page for an example.

Knowledge of Gaelic is not required for any of these tasks.