University student volunteers explore the Spirit of the Highlands

Issued by High Life Highland

From the potato crop, to nuclear power, Bealach na Bà, and the Jacobites - four volunteer students from University of the Highlands and Islands have been scouring the archives to find stories showcasing the Spirit of the Highlands.

On behalf of The Highland Council, High Life Highland tasked students Hugh Gosling, Janet Bryer, Katherine Davidson, and Caitlin Jackson, all studying at the university’s Centre for History, with finding three different stories from the Highland Archive Centre as part of the Spirit of the Highlands project.

Katherine Davidson, 21, is a fourth year BA (Hons) history student and works part time as a retail assistant.

Originally from Glasgow but now living in Inverness, she said: “Records and documents amaze me, holding hidden stories, showcasing the people of the past’s lives through their own words.

“Living in the Highlands for the last three years has allowed me to immerse myself in its history and has become a favourite pastime for me to explore. Therefore, when the possibility came to work with and shape how this colourful history would be told to future generations, it was something I could not pass.”

Fourth year history BA (Hons) history student, Caitlin Jackson, 24, works as an office assistant on a farming estate.

Originally from just outside St Boswells in the Scottish Borders, Caitlin is studying at Perth College UHI, and said: “Volunteering with The Spirit of the Highlands project gives me the incredible opportunity to gain first-hand experience in archival research as well as gaining insight into how such a wide scale public history project can function and engage with the wider community.”

Hugh Gosling, in his second year studying for a BA in history at the university, said: “When I saw the call for volunteers I jumped at the chance.

“From the first time I visited the Highlands and every day since, I feel the spirit of the Highlands everywhere, and I think it's a fantastic idea to focus on this aspect of what is a very special place. The redevelopment of Inverness Castle looks amazing.”

Janet Bryer added: “I was enthusiastic about getting involved in the Spirit of the Highlands project having been on a tour of Inverness Castle.

“It has given me the opportunity to put into practise the skills I had learned during my study on the MLitt History of the Highlands and Islands at UHI and to develop them further.

“Visiting the archives has given me the chance to reflect on how the history of the Highlands and Islands can be curated to the benefit of all. In turn, this is already reflecting back into my studies.”

The Spirit of the Highlands project will see the transformation of Inverness Castle, supported by £15 million Scottish Government and £3 million UK Government investment through the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal.  

It will create a gateway for Highland tourism, contributing to reinvigoration of tourism across the area and providing much needed investment for the industry to aid the recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The project will support economic growth throughout the Highland area, creating a sustainable, viable and must-see attraction that will celebrate the spirit of the Highlands. 

The Inverness and Highland City Region deal is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and University of the Highlands and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.

The project is looking for stories from anyone across the Highlands to include in Spirit:Autobiography, that will encourage people to explore further and find out more about this extraordinary area.

For more information and to take part, visit


6 Dec 2021