Dr David Worthington


Reader, Head of the Centre for History

Dr David Worthington is an historian of Scottish (and wider British and Irish) connections with central Europe (c.1500-c.1700). He researches and publishes also on the history of the firthlands of mainland northern Scotland from within a Coastal History context. He completed his PhD in the Department of History, University of Aberdeen, in 2000, and, prior to taking up his position at UHI, held the following posts: Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (2001-2002); Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen (2005-2007); Visiting Professor on two separate occasions at Polish universities, in the cities of Kielce (2004-2005) and Wrocław (2007-2008). Having arrived at the Centre for History as a lecturer in July 2008, he led on the development and launch of both the university's first joint honours degree, and on four online masters programmes. Dr Worthington has been head of the Centre since 2011, and was awarded a readership in 2015.



Dr Worthington's main research focus is on Scottish (and wider British and Irish) ties with Poland and other parts of early modern Central Europe, while, in recent years, he has researched and published also on Coastal History, with particular reference to the Moray Firth. Emerging from that, in spring of 2016, he hosted the Firths and Fjords conference here in Dornoch, the first ever Coastal History conference, and the biggest ever academic gathering to have taken place in the town.

Dr Worthington welcomes proposals from current or potential research students in all of the following areas: 

  • Scotland and central Europe in the early modern period
  • Early modern cultural and coastal history of the north of Scotland
  • Sport in the Highlands (c.1500-c.1750)
  • British and Irish emigration and travel in the early modern period
  • Scottish-Polish historical connections
  • 'Central Europe' in early modern history





British and Irish Experiences and Impressions of Central Europe, 1560-1688 (Ashgate: Aldershot, 2012) (see the Routledge website for the book, which contains extracts from numerous reviews as well as a review from the English Historical Review, an online review from H-Net and another from Seventeenth-Century News)

Scots in Habsburg Service, 1618-1648 (Brill: Leiden, 2003) (see the publisher's website for the book as well as reviews here and here)

Edited Volumes

The New Coastal History: Cultural and Environmental Perspectives from Scotland and Beyond (Palgrave MacMillan: London, 2017) (see the publisher's website

British and Irish Emigrants and Exiles in Europe, 1603-1688 (Brill: Leiden, 2009) (see the publisher's website, and a review from The International Review of Scottish Studies.

Selected Journal Articles

'The Settlements of the Beauly-Wick Coast and the Historiography of the Moray Firth', The Scottish Historical Review, 95(2), (2016), pp.139-163 available via the journal website (and institutional repository)

'Ferries in the Firthlands: Communications, Society and Culture Along a Northern Scottish Rural Coast (c.1600-1809)', Rural History, 27(2) (2016), pp.129-148 available via the journal website (and institutional repository)

‘"Unfinished Work and Damaged Materials": Historians and the Scots in the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania (1569-1795)', Immigrants & Minorities, 20(10) (2015), pp.1-19 available via the journal website (and institutional repository)

'"All our Dear Countrymen"? British and Irish Expatriates East of the Rhine as Recorded in the Triennial Travels of James Fraser of Kirkhill (1634-1709)', Britain and the World, 6(1) (2013), pp. 48-63 available via the journal website (and institutional repository)

'A Northern Scottish Maritime Region: The Moray Firth in the Seventeenth Century', in The International Journal of Maritime History, 23(2) (2011), pp. 181-210 available via the journal website (and institutional repository)

‘Migration and Diaspora in European history prior to 1650: The Scottish and Irish Cases’ in Kultura, Historia, Globalizacja, iii (2008) [available online]

‘The 1688 Correspondence of Nicholas Taaffe, Second Earl of Carlingford (d.1690) from the Imperial Court in Vienna’ in Archivium Hibernicum, Journal of the Catholic Record Society of Ireland, lviii, (2004), pp. 174-209 [available via JSTOR and through journal website]

‘Towards a Bibliography of the Irish in the Holy Roman Empire, 1618-48’, in Archivium Hibernicum, Journal of the Catholic Record Society of Ireland, lvi, (2002), pp. 206-27 [available via JSTOR and through journal website]

Selected Chapters in Edited Volumes

‘“Men of Noe Credit”? Scottish Highlanders in Poland-Lithuania, c.1500-1800’ in T.M. Devine and David Hesse eds., Scotland and Poland: Historical Encounters, 1500-2010 (Edinburgh, 2011) pp. 91-108.

‘Leslies in Central and Northern Europe During and After the Thirty Years’ War’, co-authored with Steve Murdoch, Alexia Grosjean and Paul Dukes in Ivo Barteček, Miloš Kouřil and Zdeněk Šamberger eds., Ad Honorem Josef Polišenský, 1915-2001 (Prague, 2007) pp. 350-369.

‘Aspects of the Literary Activity of the Irish Franciscans in Prague, 1620-1786’, co-authored with Mícheál MacCraith OFM., in Thomas O’Connor and Mary Ann Lyons eds., Irish migrants in Europe after Kinsale, 1602-1820 (Dublin, 2003), pp.118-34.

‘“On the High Post-Way between Vienna and Venice”: The Leslie Family in Slovenia’ in Polona Vidmar ed., Zapuščina rodbine Leslie na ptujskem gradu (Ptuj, 2002), pp. 81-6.

‘Alternative Diplomacy? Scottish Exiles at the Courts of the Habsburgs and their Allies, 1618 to 1648’, in Steve Murdoch ed., Scotland and the Thirty Years’ War, (Leiden, 2001), pp. 55-71.



Dr Worthington led the development and launch both of the university's first ever joint honours programme, and, more recently, of several online masters-level programmes for international delivery, at UHI.

He is Module Leader for:

  • Scots in Poland, Poles in Scotland'
  • Fourth-Year - ‘Lordship, Colony, Kingdom: Ireland, 1300-1700’; ‘The Seventeenth Century in the Highlands’
  • MLitt - ‘Darkness, Division and Discord? The Highlands, 1603-1707’; 'Sport in Highland History'.

Additional activities

Additional activities

Current plans include collaborative work focusing on the travel memoir, biographical and autobiographical sources relating to the northern Highland scholar and minister, James Fraser of Kirkhill (1634-1709), and another project looking at memory relating to Scottish emigrants in late medieval and early-modern Poland (this connects also with the Facebook page, Scottish-Polish historical links / Związki historyczne Polski i Szkocji and its Twitter equivalent Scottish-PolishLinks). Dr Worthington's work on sport in the Highlands and a further project - involving public talks, teaching, research and publications - on the Coastal History of the Moray Firth, overlap. This is most apparent with respect to the Royal Dornoch Golf Club / UHI Development Office-funded Royal Dornoch PhD Studentship which commenced in September 2013 and regarding which, he was the main research supervisor and director of studies for Wade Cormack, the studentship holder.

In spring of 2016, he hosted 'Firths and Fjords' the first-ever Coastal History conference and the biggest and most ambitious academic conference ever to have taken place in Dornoch. It was a community-focused event which explored historical communities situated along adjacent, or near adjacent littorals, attracted considerable media and press activity, aided by extensive use of the #firths2016 hashtag. This inspired the development of the 'Firths and Fjords' blog and website, the 'Firths and Fjords' Facebook page, the 'Moray Firth History' Facebook and Twitter pages, and will lead to further publication, public lectures and knowledge exchange in this area, from a comparative perspective. 

Coasts are the location where people's engagement with (and capture of) the Atlantic Salmon has been most profound. In October 2017, he became lead supervisor for Jane Thomas, holder of an ESF-funded PhD studentship exploring historical and archaeological evidence for the commercial and cultural position of salmon in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, c.1500-1800.    

Within UHI, Dr Worthington sits on:

  • Research Committee (Member)
  • Subject Network Committee for Humanities & Gaelic (Member)

Externally, he is a member of the Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Poland, a Peer Assessor for both the Carnegie Trust and for the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities (SGSAH), a member of the editorial board for Northern Scotland, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen.