Barbara Crawford
Barbara Crawford

Dr Barbara Crawford

M.A., Ph.d., F.R.S.E., F.S.A., F.S.A. Scot., Member of the Norwegian Academy

Honorary Reader





Barbara Crawford is Honorary Reader in  History at the University of St. Andrews having spent over thirty years as a teacher in the Dept. of Mediaeval History. Since taking early retirement in 2001 she has continued to pursue her interdisciplinary researches into the history and archaeology of the Scandinavian settlements in Scotland, and contacts across the North Sea  in the Middle Ages.
 Recently-completed research projects are

i) THE ‘PAPAR’ PROJECT which was funded by The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, and is an inter-disciplinary comparative study of all the places in northern and western Scotland which have the element ‘papar’ (Old Norse for ‘priest’) incorporated in the name, such as Pabbay and Papay, Paible and Papil. The results of this study are accessible on the web-site

ii) THE CULT OF ST. CLEMENT IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND AND SCANDINAVIA which investigated the popularity of the cult in Scandinavia and the reasons for the many Clement churches in East Anglia. This resulted in four articles and a book (The Churches dedicated to St. Clement in Medieval England. A Hagio-geography of the Seafarer’s Saint in 11th century North Europe. Scripta Ecclesiastica Tome 1, Serie Supplementaire a Scrinium. Revue de Patrologie, d’Hagiographie Critique et d’Histoire Ecclesiastique, St. Petersburg, 2008).

iii) THE MEDIEVAL LOG-TIMBERED HOUSE (stofa) EXCAVATED ON PAPA STOUR was reconstructed on the site of the excavation in 2007-8, and is now a significant addition to Shetland’s Norse heritage. Several publications have resulted from this experimental reconstruction:
Barbara E. Crawford and Beverley Ballin Smith, 2008. ‘The stofa reconstruction on the island of Papa Stour, Shetland. From historical research and archaeological investigations to cultural asset’ in C.Paulsen and H.D. Michelsen, eds., Símunarbók. Heiðursrit til Símun V.Arge á 60 ára degnum, (Tórshavn) ,42-57

Barbara E. Crawford, 2009. ‘The “stofa” Project at the Biggins, Papa Stour, Shetland’ in Living Crafts, edd. Falk, E. and Wallin Weihe, H-J.,(Hertervig Akademisk,Stavanger), 128-37

Barbara E. Crawford, 2011. ‘The Biggins stofa, a Colonial Feature of North Atlantic Society’, in S.Sigmundsson ed. Viking Settlements and Viking Society, Papers from the Proceedings of the 16th Viking Congress, Reykjavik, 31-49

Past Research activity

Dr. Crawford’s doctoral research was a study of the history of the earls of Orkney-Caithness and their relationships with the kings of Norway and Scotland from the late Norse period until the pledging of the islands to Scotland in 1468.  An interest in archaeology was then developed to form part of an inter-disciplinary approach to Norse studies, as part of which the site a royal Norwegian farm on the island of Papa Stour in Shetland was excavated in the 70s and 80s.

The report of that excavation The History and Excavation of a Royal Norwegian Farm at the Biggings, Papa Stour, Shetland (1999) by Barbara E.Crawford and Beverley Ballin Smith was  published jointly by the Norwegian Akademi and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in the Society’s Monograph series (no.15). A volume of Conference papers  Papa Stour and 1299 , edited by Barbara E.Crawford (The Shetland Times-2002) resulted  from a Conference commemorating the 700th Anniversary of Shetland’s first document and the completion of the Papa Stour excavations. This brings together papers by Scandinavian, Scottish and Polish historians and archaeologists. It was also published in Norway as a volume of the academic journal Collegium Medievale (2002, vol.15).

The same multi-disciplinary approach underlay the innovative study Scandinavian Scotland (Studies in the Early History of Britain. Leicester Univ. Press, 1987, now out-of-print) and a book of essays which she edited on the place-names of Norse settlement  (Scandinavian Settlement in Northern Britain. Leicester Univ. Press, 1995).

The doctoral thesis on ‘The Earls of Orkney-Caithness and their Relations with the Kings of Norway and Scotland 1158-1470’ (St. Andrews Ph.D 1971) has now been re-written and much extended, and recently published as The Northern Earldoms. Orkney and Caithness from AD 870 to1470 (John Donald imprint at Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2013)

Dr. Crawford initiated the successful series of Day Conferences at the University of St. Andrews which have focused on ‘Dark-Age’ Scottish themes - again with a multi-disciplinary content- and edited the papers  which have been published as:

Scotland in Dark-Age Europe, (St. Andrews. St. John’s House papers no.5, 1994): Scotland in Dark-Age Britain (St. Andrews. St. John’s House Papers no.6,  1996): Conversion  and Christianity in the North Sea World, (St. Andrews. St. John’s House Papers no.8,1998) (all out-of-print): The ‘papar in the North Atlantic: Environment and History  (St. Andrews. St. John’s House Papers no.10, 2002), still available from (Price £14+£2.00p&p) plus more recent Dark-Age Studies publications.

Dr. Crawford is a Member of the Norwegian Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was a Commissioner of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland from 1991-2001, chaired The Treasure Trove Advisory Panel for Scotland from 1993-2001, and was President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland from 2008-2011. She was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to history and archaeology, and has recently been awarded an Honorary Professorship at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

As Honorary Director of the Strathmartine Centre for Scottish History (an independent charitable trust established by the late Dr. Ronald Cant before his death in 1999, for supporting research and education in Scottish History) (, Dr. Crawford has been instrumental in encouraging  many different Scottish history research projects. In particular she initiated the raising of funds in aid of the project led by The Strathmartine Trust to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the founding of St. Andrews University by commissioning a statue of the University’s founder Bishop Henry Wardlaw. The statue by Fife sculptor, David Annand, stands in St.Mary’s College Quadrangle and was unveiled by the University Chancellor, Sir Menzies Campbell, on June 30th, 2013.


Ongoing Research:

Involvement in the Norwegian ‘Skattlands’ project which brings together research into the history of the North Atlantic countries which were brought under the rule of Norway in the middle ages has resulted in contributions to four publications, with a fifth and final volume due to be published late in 2014.

The excavation of the log-timbered house (stofa) at the Biggins, Papa Stour, Shetland has developed into a project on such prestigious buildings which have survived in Norway, Faeroe and Iceland, and a book is being prepared which brings the Biggins material up to date with the latest research.