Major Contributors

Major Contributors

The main purpose of this website is to preserve and share the cultural traditions of Scotland’s people, and those who imparted their knowledge, songs, stories, and other lore to our collections are here called ‘contributors’ in recognition of their central role. They come from all over Scotland, though in the main they belong to rural areas, islands and small villages, rather than cities and towns, as these areas tended to actively maintain or preserve knowledge of local traditions and ways of life more readily.

The contributors also come from a variety of backgrounds, but were all sought out and recorded by fieldworkers because they either stood out as ‘tradition bearers’ – people of exceptional skill and knowledge who actively engage in sharing their traditions within their communities – or had a great deal of knowledge about everyday living traditions, be they working practices, descriptions of foodways, or other information.

The contributors listed below are merely a handful among the thousands to be found on our website, but they each exemplify the richness of Scotland’s traditional culture and are good starting points for new visitors to explore.

Rev. William Matheson

Rev. William Matheson was an extremely gifted academic whose role in the rediscovery of traditional Gaelic songs has ensured that they will be preserved for generations to come.
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Ray Fisher

Ray Galbraith Fisher was a Scots singer born in Glasgow to a musical family of seven children, several of whom also became well-known singers in the Scottish folk revival. Their father John was a singer in the Glasgow Police Choir and their mother Marion, a Gaelic speaker and singer who grew up in Barra and Vatersay.
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Nan MacKinnon

Nan MacKinnon (Nan Eachainn Fhionnlaigh) was a tradition-bearer from the island of Vatersay whose remarkable memory, enthusiasm, and love of the Gaelic oral tradition has ensured that her wealth of knowledge has been preserved and shared with future generations.
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Kate MacDonald

Kate (Ceit) MacDonald (Bean Eairdsidh Raghnaill) is one of the most celebrated Gaelic tradition bearers of the 20th century, having long been lauded for her rich repertoire of Gaelic song. Raised in a South Uist family which was steeped in the Gaelic oral tradition, she had an astonishing memory for Gaelic songs, and the recordings of her carried out by the School of Scottish Studies are among the finest examples of Gaelic song on the Tobar an Dualchais website.
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Duncan Williamson

The Scottish Traveller Duncan Williamson is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s greatest traditional bearers. Although primarily known for his vast store of traditional tales and for his dynamic storytelling, Duncan also had a significant repertoire of songs, tunes and Traveller lore, and was a skilled jew’s harp and harmonica player. After gaining wider attention during the folk revival, Duncan’s recognition increased greatly through his collaboration with his second wife Linda, with whom he published many collections of traditional stories.
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Donald Sinclair

Donald Sinclair (Dòmhnall Chaluim Bàin) is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s greatest tradition-bearers of the twentieth century. With almost 1,500 recordings of him on the Tobar an Dualchais website, his recordings are a vivid testimony of life in the islands in the late 19th and 20th centuries and leave us a precious legacy of Gaelic oral tradition for generations to come.
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Catherine Dix

The Tobar an Dualchais website features many excellent examples of local baird baile, and among some of the most interesting and extensive examples are the recordings of Catherine Dix (Ceit an Tàilleir) of the Isle of Berneray (Sound of Harris). Her trenchant wit, humour, and unique talent for composing and recalling hundreds songs, stories and poems almost instantaneously give a fascinating insight into her life, and into the life of a Gaelic-speaking community in the mid-20th century.
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Betsy Whyte

Betsy Whyte, born Betsy Townsley, was a Scottish Traveller associated with the area around Brechin and Montrose in Angus, who became best known through her autobiography, 'Yellow on the Broom', published in 1979. The book captured the public's imagination with its illustration of growing up as a Traveller girl in Perthshire and Angus between the First and Second World Wars. It was arguably the first popular account of the Traveller experience, a part of Scottish society which had often been omitted from the historical record.
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Angus MacLellan

Angus MacLellan (Aonghas Beag mac Aonghais ’ic Eachainn ’ic Dhòmhnaill) was well-known in the community, and he is widely acknowledged to be one of the last Scottish Gaels on record capable of reciting the epic tales both from the Finn and Ulster Cycles, tales which can be traced back almost a thousand years to medieval Irish manuscripts.
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