Professor Donna Heddle MA (Hons), PhD, FHEA, FSAScot, FRSA


Professor of Northern Heritage

UHI Head of Research Environment & Culture

Director of Institute for Northern Studies

Head of Cultural Heritage

Institute for Northern Studies
University of the Highlands and Islands

Scott's House,Grainshore Road,

e: Email
d: +44 (0)1856 569247

Full research profile on the Research Database RD.jpg


Professor Donna Heddle is Director of the UHI Institute for Northern Studies. She has won awards for course development and design. Her research interests are Scottish and Northern Isles cultural history, Renaissance language and literature, and cultural tourism. She has led and is currently leading several national and international research and training projects involving cultural tourism, including a project in Vanuatu. Donna led the very successful 2008, 2014 and 2021 Research Excellence Framework submissions from UHI in Area Studies, which in 2021 came 1st in Scotland overall and 1st equal in the UK for research impact. She was awarded a Personal Chair by UHI in June 2013 and was Chair of the UHI Tourism Group from 2017 to 2022. 


  • David Masson Scholarship, University of Edinburgh (1993 and again in 1994)
  • Faculty Teaching Fellowship, University of Edinburgh (1994)
  • SCRAN award for online VLE and module development (2002-3)
  • Times Higher Education Supplement Award for Most Imaginative Use of Distance Learning (2005)

Professional and statutory body memberships:

  • Member of Institute of Teaching and Learning 2003  
  • Fellowship of Higher Education Academy 2007    
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 2016    
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Arts 2018

Research interests

Prof. Heddle’s main research interests are the creation of new paradigms in Scottish and Northern isles studies, small island studies, Scottish language and literature in a European context, and Scottish cultural history. She is the author of a number of publications in these areas and is currently leading several national and international research and cultural tourism projects involving the North Atlantic rim and the South Pacific. She is at present working on Scots-Nordic balladic synergies; the underpinning philosophy of Northern Studies; the Huguenot influence of Du Bartas on the poetry of the Scots Court under James VI; aspects of cultural tourism, and geophysical and metaphysical correlations in historical depictions of Orkney. She is also working on a history of Highlands and Islands literature. She is particularly passionate about locative research - in the communities, by the communities, for the communities.

Professor Donna Heddle


Academic Responsibilities content

Academic Responsibilities

Academic Responsibilities

Prof Heddle is Programme Leader for MLitt Scottish Heritage.

She is Module Leader for the following MLitt modules:

  • Scotland’s Story I: Language, Literature and Landscape
  • Writers and Place
  • A Tour of the Highlands
  • Dissertation module for all MLitts.

She is Module LEader for the following BA (Hons) Culture and Heritage modules:

  • Golden Mead and Burning Hearts
  • Highland Journeys
  • Interdisciplinary Project
  • Dissertation (Culture and Heritage)

UHI Committee memberships:

  • Academic Council
  • Arts, Humanities and Business FBOS member
  • Humanities and Gaelic SNC member
  • Orkney College Senior Staff Committee and LTQC
  • Convenor of the UHI Research School in Language, Culture and Heritage 2004
  • UHI Research Committee Vice Chair 2004-9
  • UHI Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee
  • UHI Arctic Strategy Group
  • REF Managers Group
  • Staff working group, UHI Programme Board
External Memberships content

External Memberships

External Memberships

  • AHRC, Leverhulme and British Academy project reviewer
  • Board member of the Scottish Museums Council (later Museums Galleries Scotland) 2004-10
  • Board member of Museums Galleries Scotland 2013-
  • Secretary (2010) and Chair (2011) of the MLA International Scottish Studies group
  • Member of the Universities Council for Modern Languages (Scotland)
  • Member of LLAS Scottish Advisory Board
  • UHI catalyst, panel D, Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities
  • Member of the Universities Committee for Scottish Literature
  • Adviser to the Education and Culture Committee, Scottish Government
  • Member of the Cross parliamentary Working Group on Nordic Countries
  • Adviser and contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary on Scots and Nordic lexis
  • Peer reviewer and reviewer for Scottish Historical Review, Scottish Language, Weather, and Language and Intercultural Communication
  • Guest editor for Journal of the North Atlantic
  • Publications Board member, Brepols North Atlantic World series
  • Trustee, Scottish International Education Trust
  • Saltire Book Award judge
  • Editorial assistant of the literary magazine Cencrastus 1993-9
Publications content



Scholarly edition

John Stewart of Baldynneis’ Roland Furious; A Scots Poem in its European Context, BRILL Intellectual History Series, 2007.

Edited volume

Northern Heritage, UHI Press, Inverness, 2006


2020 "Bolstering Bólstaðir: Norse placenames in Lewis in context", in Between Islands, ed. by A  Macdonald, Acair, pp 58-68.

"Upon the Utmost Corners of the Warld: Orkney in Early Maps and Literature", in Plumb, Sanmark and Heddle (eds.), What is North? Imagining the North from Ancient Times to the Present Day, ed. by Oisin Plumb, Alexandra Sanmark, and Donna Heddle, Brepols, pp 15-35

2019  "Norse Noir: Sagas and Sources", in Vikings and the Vikings: The Norse World(s) of the History Channel Series, ed. by Paul Hardwick and Kate Lister, Jefferson: McFarland, pp 25-46.

“John Stewart of Baldynneis: The Scots Renaissance Missing Link?”, European Journal of English Studies, 18, 1, p60-72 12p

“Alexander Montgomerie” The Literary Encyclopedia, in press

“So, no sweet talk, then? : the love poetry of Earl Rognvald Kali Kolsson”, Rognvald 850 book edited by Donna Heddle in press

“Stormy Crossings? : Scots- Scandinavian balladic synergies”, The Journal of the North Atlantic (JONA), Special Volume 5, Proceedings from the 2011 St Magnus Conference Kirkwall, Orkney, forthcoming, 2013

“'The North Wind Doth Blow': a new agenda for Northern Scottish Studies”. Anglistik: Journal of International English Studies 23. 2. 12,

“Norse Force: The Centre for Nordic Studies at UHI”, Orkney Antiquarian Journal, October 2012

“The Norse element in the Orkney dialect” in Millar, Robert McColl (ed.) 2010. Northern Lights, Northern Words. Selected Papers from the FRLSU Conference, Kirkwall 2009

“Glimpsing your true love at Halloween”, Mimir’s Well: Notes from Nordic Studies column, The Orcadian, October 2010

“The Writers’ War: Fortress Orkney”, Fortress Orkney website 2010

“Voices of the West” , Northwords Now, Spring issue 2009

“The sociocultural effects of aviation in the Northern Isles”, chapter, Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, vol. 8, Birlinn Books, 2009

“The Language of the Gutters?”, Living The Fishing, UHI Press, Inverness, 2007

“Clouston - the Writer of Fiction”, chapter in J. Storer Clouston, The Spy in Black, ed. M. MacDonald, AOP, 2007

"Susan Ferrier". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 June 2007

"Walter Kennedy". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 June 2007

"Sir David Lindsay". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 May 2007

“Facets of Death and Life”, a review of the work of Iain Crichton Smith and Edwin Morgan, Cencrastus 51, pp 43-44

6th International DIVERSE conference proceedings, Multimedia blended network learning: A Culture Studies case study, Glasgow Caledonian University 2006

“The History of the Northern Periphery”, chapter in Northern Heritage, UHI Press, Inverness 2006

“The aims of the new Centre for Nordic Studies”, Orkney Heritage Society Newsletter2005

“On the borders of this massive round”, Sib Folk News 32, 2004

“John Stewart of Baldynneis: ane maist perfyt prentes”, chapter in Odd Alliances: Scottish Studies in European contexts, ed. Neil McMillan and Kirsten Stirling, Cruithne Press, Glasgow, 1999.

Selected Reviews:


Scandinavian Scotland - Twenty Years After: The Proceedings of a Day Conference held on 19 February 2007.
Edited by Alex Woolf. Pp. 168.
ISBN: 9780951257371.
St John's House Papers No. 12: St Andrews, 2009. £14.00. Scottish Historical Review. Volume 92, Page 148-149 DOI 10.3366/shr.2013.0142, ISSN 0036-9241, Available Online April 2013 .

SCOTLIT, issue 42 - 2012

Skald: Viking Poems, Ian Crockatt Koo Press 2009

Scottish Historical Review, Volume 89 (1): 98, Edinburgh University Press - April 2010

St. Magnús of Orkney: A Scandinavian Martyr-cult in Context. By Haki Antonsson. Pp. viii, 272. ISBN: 9789004155800. Leiden: Brill Academic Press, 2007.

The Early English Settlement of Orkney and Shetland. By Graeme Davis. Pp. xi, 132. ISBN: 9781904607755. Edinburgh: John Donald, 2007.

Blaeu's Orkneys and Schetland: The Orkneys and Schetland in Blaeu's Atlas of 1654. Edited by James M. Irvine. Pp. 64. ISBN: 9780954457129. Ashtead: James M. Irvine, 2006.

Scottish Studies Review Autumn 2005, Review of Benjamin Cook and Peter

Todd (eds), Subjects and Sequences: Margaret Tait Reader (London: Lux, 2004).

Selected Talks & Conferences content

Selected Talks & Conferences

Selected Talks & Conferences

Keynote speaker

"Northern Heterotopias"

4th Annual Aboriginal and Northern Studies Conference, University College of the North,

4-5 June 2009, The Pas, Manitoba, Canada

“The Lost Glen: Neil Gunn and Cultural Space”

Light in the North: Neil Gunn Conference, Dunbeath Trust, 10 November 2007, Dunbeath, Caithness

Invited speaker

“The Grand March: Marriage Customs in the Northern Isles” British Festival of Science, University of Aberdeen, 9th September 2012

“The placenames of Caithness and the application of bilingual policies” Highland Council, 31st January 2012

“Where is Orkney? Orkney in its early physical and metaphysical context”, The First Congress of the World Literature Association, Beijing 30 June- 3 July 2011 Peking University, in association with World Literature Association

"Landscape and Identity in Communion", School of Landscape Architecture,Edinburgh College of Art, 22nd Sept 2010.

“Living the Fishing?: the Scots Herring Girls” Between Leith and Lerwick: Academic workshop, University of Edinburgh, 6th March 2010, Edinburgh, sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh

“Placenames and Poetry” Rhythm and Rhyme workshop, Year o Orkney Dialect, Orkney Heritage Society, February 2010, Orkney

“The North wind doth blow ….” A New Cultural Agenda for the Northern Isles” Royal Society of Edinburgh Conference: The Life and Culture of the Highlands, September 2009 RSE, Edinburgh

“The Centre for Nordic Studies; a new integrative research concept” Worldwide Universities Network Nordic Gathering, July 2009, University of Sheffield

“Supporting our international future: cross-sector partnerships to promote languages in Scotland”, Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies and the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World 1st December 2008, University of Edinburgh

“New Maps, New Communities” panel speaker Skills Building for the Future Legacy Conference, 14th November 2008. Culloden Visitor Centre

“The language of the Gutters?” Travels and Travails of the Scots Herring Girls Conference, June 2007, SMO

"The languages of the Highlands and Islands and language revival policy" Cross Parliamentary committee on language and culture, 3rd October 2006, Holyrood,

“Multimedia blended network learning: a Culture Studies case study” 6th International DIVERSE conference, Glasgow Caledonian University, 5th-7th July 2006

“Clan Gunn: the origins in the North and the Diaspora in the south” International Clan Gunn Gathering, April 2003, Orkney

Conferences organised

Women’s History Network Conference, May 2013, Orkney

9th Triennial International Conference of Forum for Study of the Languages of Scotland and Ulster, 21-25 July 2009, Orkney College

Looking at Shetland Outside the Box: The Meeting of Nations and the Creation of Shetland Culture 7th - 10th May 2009, Shetland Museum and Archives. Organisers: CNS and Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen

Rognvald 850 - a commemoration of the death of Earl Rognvald, Rognvald 850 committee, 19th September 2008, Orkney College

Voices of the West Minority Languages Conference I and II in association with the Minority Languages Song for Europe competition, 21st June 2008 and 20th June 2009, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness.

Society for Northern Studies annual conference, April 2004, Orkney College

Association for Scottish Literary Studies Annual Conference, May 2003, Orkney College

Conferences chaired

Old Maps and New - Where Culture and Social Enterprise Meet, Centre for Health Science, Raigmore, 12th-13th November 2010 - proceedings on web. Major conference involving the heads of cultural agencies across Scotland. Was presented jointly by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Creative Scotland.

Rognvald 850- a commemoration of the death of Earl Rognvald, 19th September 2008, Orkney College

Voices of the West Minority Languages Conference in association with the Minority Languages Song for Europe competition, 21st June 2008 and 20th June 2009, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. This went out on BBC Alba in 2009 and was attended by Mike Russell, Minister for Culture at the time, who used the occasion for a press release on Scots.

Society for Northern Studies conference, April 2004, Orkney College

Association for Scottish Literary Studies Annual Conference, May 2003, Orkney College

Conference sessions chaired and organised

Modern Language Association Convention, “Exploring Scots”, Seattle, 5-8 January 2012

Inaugural St Magnus Conference, UHI “The Norse Isles?” Orkney, 14-15 April 2011

The Twelfth International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Scottish Language and Literature  “Norse Literature” University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh July 2008

Modern Language Association Convention, MLA “Patterns in Time: The Scottish Nordic Synergy” Chicago, December 2007

Public Lectures

“Here sails the sea-brave”: The Vikings as Navigators, Museum nan Eilean online series , 19th November 2020

“The Declaration of Arbroath: the most important document in Scottish history?” 6th April 2020. Across the USA by Zoom etc. And again in December 2020

“Bolstering Bólstaðir: Norse placenames in Lewis in context” Faclan festival, Stornoway 31st October 2019

Grand Tour of Orkney Lecture Tour (10 dates and venues) December 2015- February 2016.

Hakon Hakonsson Memorial Lecture Viking Festival, Largs, 3rd September 2015

Inaugural Professorial lecture “From the Fury of the Norsemen, good Lord, deliver us?” UHI Inverness and by VC, November 2013

Northern Horizons lecture “Caithness: The Well at the World’s End” Wick, 25 June 2013

Timespan public lecture ‘“From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord, deliver us?”; re evaluating the Norse legacy in Northern Scotland’ Timespan, Helmsdale 21st June 2012

Celtic Connections UHI Inaugural Lecture “Selkies, shapeshifters, and sex: Scots ballads and the supernatural”, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow 1st February 2012

CNS Public Lecture “Viking Navigators” 21st July 2011 in Orkney and 22nd July 2011 in the Shetland Museums and Archives

UHI Public Lecture, Executive Office “The North Atlantic Ocean: a key cultural space?” Inverness, 22nd April 2010

“The Myriad Voices of GMB” George Mackay Brown Fellowship Memorial Lecture, 16/4/10, Pier Arts Centre, Orkney

“Imagining Scotland: Evaluating our Cultural Icons" UHI lecture by VC 13/8/09

“The poetry of Sorley Maclean” UHI lecture by VC 29/4/04 

PhD students content

PhD students

PhD students

  • Catherine McCullagh “Curating Heritage for Sustainable Communities in Highly* Vulnerable Environments: The Case of Scotland's Northern Isles”
  • Lynn Campbell "The Role of the Kirk in Orkney, 17th - 19th centuries"

Previous PhD students

  • Jill de Fresnes "The lives of the herring girls 1900-1950" completed 2010
  • Tom Rendall "The effects of inmigration on Orkney dialect" completed 2011
  • Angela Watt " The Cultural Significance of Scalloway in Shetland and the Norseman’s bias" completed 2012
  • Silke Reeploeg “Nordic Regions of Culture: Norway and Scotland - Intercultural links, regionalization and communities of narrative after 1770” completed 2016
  • Jane Blair MacMorran “The Fiddle Style of Ron Gonella” completed 2017
  • Gillian Beattie Smith "Women Travel writers in 18th Century Scotland" completed 2017
  • Marc Chivers “The History of the Shetland Boat” completed 2017
  • Lydia Crow “Orkney Folklore and Identity” completed 2018
  • Anne Artymiuk “Today’s No Ground to Stand Upon: The Life and Poetry of George Campbell Hay” completed 2019
  • Rebecca Ford “Words and Waves: a dialogical approach to discourse, community, and Marine Renewable Energy in Orkney” 2022


  • Andrea Freund "Runic writing in the Viking diaspora: expression of a Norse identity?"
  • Ersev Ersoy “Social Reality and Mythic Worlds: Reflections on Folk Belief and the Supernatural in James Macpherson’s Ossian and Elias Lönnrot’s Kalevala”. Dept. of Scandinavian Studies, University of Edinburgh, November 2011
  • Lesley Riddoch “Hutting in Scotland and Norway”, University of Strathclyde, December 2019

Suggested PhD Topics

Professor Heddle is happy to discuss individual projects in the general areas of Highlands and Islands language, literature, heritage, cultural tourism, and Scottish cultural history.