CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 2818
TitleWilliam Douglas Simpson (1896-1968) historian and archaeologist: various papers
Extent10 boxes
Creator NameWilliam Douglas Simpson (1896-1968) Aberdeen University Librarian, historian and archaeologist
Administrative HistoryWilliam Douglas Simpson (1896-1968) was Librarian and Clerk and Registrar of the General Council in the University of Aberdeen from 1926 - 1966. He was born in Aberdeen on 2 Aug 1896, son of H.F. Morland Simpson, Rector of Aberdeen Grammar School, and graduated from Aberdeen University, MA 1919 (first class honours) and DLitt 1924. He was appointed Assistant in History there, 1919 - 1920, Lecturer in British History, 1920 - 1926, and later, held the honorary positions of Rhind Lecturer in Archaeology (1941) and Dalrymple Lecturer in Archaeology (1950, Glasgow). He was an exceptionally popular extra-mural lecturer.

He directed excavations at Kildrummy Castle, 1919 - 1939; Coull Castle, 1923; Kindrochit Castle; 1925 - 1927; Doune of Invernochty, 1935; Esslemont Castle, 1938; Dundarg Castle, 1950 - 1951; and Finavon Castle, 1952 - 1953, and wrote numerous books and articles based on this and other research, through which he became well known as an authority on the castellated architecture of Scotland and Scandinavia. He held several appointments in relation to this work, including chairman of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland; member of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland; secretary of the Third Spalding Club (1928 - 1956); member of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery Advisory Board and Scottish Records Advisory Council, 1938 - 1955. He received an LL D from Aberdeen University in 1960, and was awarded an OBE in 1954 and CBE in 1962.

For details of his work and list of publications see Who was Who, 1961 - 1970 , and A.T. Hall, A Bibliography of W. Douglas Simpson 1896-1968, in W.D. Simpson, . Dunollie Castle and the Brooch of Lorne (Aberdeen: Centre for Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, 1991). See also, appreciation and obituary in Aberdeen University Review 42 (1967-1968), 247 - 254; and 43 (1969-1970), 24 - 27
Custodial HistoryCertain volumes in GB 231 MS 2818 appear to have been used originally by other persons, including Dr Simpson's father, H.F. Morland Simpson, for note-making or collection of press-cuttings.
SourceBequeathed to the University by W.D Simpson in 1968
DescriptionPapers of W. Douglas Simpson (1896-1968), archaeologist and University Librarian. This collection of material in manuscript and typescript, with related printed matter, photographs, plans, etc. includes notes for, and drafts of, lectures, addresses, articles, pamphlets and books by W. Douglas Simpson, c 1919 - 1967. In addition to his work on Scottish archaeology, there is material relating to excavations at Mitford Castle, Northumberland, n.d.; material assembled for a biography (unpublished) of Field Marshal Lord Raglan (1788 - 1855), n.d.; material re. organisation and publications of the First Viking Congress (Lerwick, 1950), and the Second Viking Congress (Bergen, 1953); and material relating to castles at Marienwerder, Lochstadt, and other sites formerly in East Prussia, n.d.
ArrangementMS 2818: notebooks or manuscript volumes which contain material relating to more than one topic have been listed in order of date as far as known; they are followed by other papers in alphabetical order of subject or place; and by material added later, which had been originally shelved separately, including collections of photographs used, in some cases as illustrations for books or articles.
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialThe papers described above should be considered as complementary to the Simpson Collection (Sim). One of several named library collections maintained by the University, this valuable resource represents the working collection of W. Douglas Simpson (1896-1968). This is a comprehensive collection of his own works as well as inscribed copies from scholars in the same field. It consists of some 250 mostly interleaved and annotated copies of his own very numerous publications and related material, plus c. 150 pamphlets. There are also c 5500 glass lantern slides used in his lectures, c 1750 postcards, and large-scale plans of buildings, produced in the course of his investigations.

Several other collections with a similar field of interest (Scottish castles, architecture, and archaeology) are deposited in the University. They include: Papers of William Kelly (1861-1944), architect, comprising notebooks, sketch-books, photographs, lectures, relating to castles and other buildings (GB 231 MS 2380) and his Collection of papers relating to Glenbuchat Castle, Aberdeenshire, with letters to J.M. Bulloch (GB 231 MS 2195) Papers of Thomas Ross, architect, n.d., 1890-1921 (GB 231 MS 2820; GB 231 MS 2910; and GB 231 MS 3169). These papers contain some material from W. Douglas Simpson; and a number of pre-publication proof copies of items from the major MacGibbon and Ross publications will be found in the Simpson printed collection (Sim). Papers of Harry Gordon Slade, architectural historian, comprising plans, drawings, papers and printed articles, relating to the architecture of towns, villages, castles, stately homes and vernacular buildings, principally (though not exclusively) of the north east of Scotland, 1971 - 2001 (GB 231 MS 3127). Peter Rourke slide collection of Scottish castles, c 1960 - 1994 (GB 231 MS 3498). A much smaller collection than the Simpson Collection, but fully indexed, and comprehensive in its coverage of Scottish castles and fortified houses.

Several deposits accessioned in the University of Aberdeen institutional archive relate to W. Douglas Simpson's academic achievements, and to his work as University Librarian and Clerk to the General Council. These include: Gladstone Memorial Prize essay, 1919: The Political Value of the Principle of Nationality Considered, by W.D. Simpson (GB 231 MS U 214); Correspondence of General Council. (Simpson). 1949-54, 1955-57, 1961-64, 1965 (GB 231 MS U 450); Papers relating to the Dr. W. Douglas Simpson Portrait Fund, raised on his retirement from the posts of Librarian, Clerk of the General Council, and Registrar, 1966-67 (GB 231 MS U 627); 1-9-"University Charters" printed volume, University Commission with MS annotation (1827, etc) 1960 Centenary Celebrations correspondence between W. D. Simpson and W. S. MacDonald (GB 231 MS U 1035); Alumni enquiries (King's College Correspondence between W. D. Simpson & George Davidson 1959-66 (GB 231 MS U 1098).

See also, letters from W. D. Simpson to Osbert Guy Stanhope Crawford, 1941, 1951-56, deposited in Oxford University. (Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts: Reference: MSS Crawford) (NRA 21553 Crawford).
Publication NoteMost of the papers described above were used by W. Douglas Simpson in his extensive historical and archaeological publications. See A.T. Hall, A Bibliography of W. Douglas Simpson 1896-1968', in W.D. Simpson, . Dunollie Castle and the Brooch of Lorne (Aberdeen: Centre for Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, 1991), pp. 1-32. Full details of W. Douglas Simpson's publications held by Aberdeen University Library can be found via the Library catalogue.
Related RecordMS 2229
MS 2230
MS 2285
MS 2398
MS 2729
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