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Compendium of Scottish Ethnology completed

Margaret A Mackay

Scottish Ethnology
With the publication this summer of An Introduction to Scottish Ethnology, edited by Alexander Fenton (1929-2012) and Margaret A Mackay, the fourteen-volume series Scottish Life and Society: A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology is now complete. Inspired by Hungarian models but going well beyond their scope, Sandy Fenton envisaged these publications, each dealing with a particular theme or institution within Scottish society, as a means of exploring those elements of Scottish history, language and culture which have shaped the identity of Scotland and Scots at local, regional and national level.

The volumes began to appear in 2000, published by John Donald/Birlinn in association with the European Ethnological Research Centre. The statistics are impressive: 3.5 million words, 10,288 pages, 433 chapters, 367 contributors, and 2,100 illustrations. But most significant is the range of research and expertise manifested in each, the work of seasoned scholars as well as others at an earlier stage in their careers.

Sandy Fenton's use of and commitment to Scots characterised his whole life. As a student he worked with David Murison on the Scottish National Dictionary and on graduating became a Senior Assistant Editor. In his subsequent roles in the world of museums as Assistant Keeper and then Director of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland and Board member of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland, he continued to support lexicography and lexicographers and to promote the study of the interrelationship of words and things. In each of the Compendium volumes there is an emphasis on relevant terminology, language use and regional variety. They thus provide a splendid resource for those with an interest in Scots and Gaelic. In An Introduction to Scottish Ethnology, which is intended as a handbook to the series as a whole and to the discipline of ethnology and the resources and methods for its study, there are chapters on Onomastics (name studies), Gaelic Language and Lexicography, and Ethnology and the Dictionaries of Scots.

An Introduction to Scottish Ethnology is available in hardback, paperback, and as an e-book.