CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3759
Alt Ref NoM.R. Drawer Sim, Sim MS and A-Y.
TitleWilliam Douglas Simpson, historian and archaeologist: collection of archaeological, monumental and architectural plans
Date19th Century - 20th Century
Extent12 boxes, 4 folders, 12 rolled plans: 14 linear metres
Creator NameDavid MacGibbon (1831 - 1902), architect and artist
John Claude Nattes (c.1765 - 1839), draughtsman and artist
Thomas Ross (1839 - 1930), architect and artist
William Douglas Simpson (1896 - 1968), historian and archaeologist
James Cromar Watt (1862-1940), artist, jeweller and architect
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 August 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 LLD 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.

David MacGibbon (1831 - 1902) was born into a family heavily connected to the building industry in Edinburgh. In 1861 he started his own practice on George Street in Edinburgh where he provided space for the Architectural Institute of Scotland's library and meeting room. He was elected Architect for the Edinburgh Architectural Association in 1880 and was a principal shareholder for the Leith's Heritages Company. After a tragedy that killed one of his sons and injured his daughter, MacGibbon moved his family to the Riviera. During his time in France he undertook many drawings and sketches which he finally published as 'The Architecture of the Riviera' in 1884. The University of St. Andrews conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on MacGibbon in 1889 but he was too ill to attend the ceremony. His health continued to decline and he died in 1902.

Thomas Ross (1839 - 1930) started his working relationship with MacGibbon as his assistant in 1862. Together MacGibbon and Ross produced 'The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland' which became the comprehensive survey of Scottish architecture prior to the restoration. Ross was a founding member of 'The Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland' which was established in 1908. In 1910 the University of Edinburgh awarded him a Doctor of Laws and in 1918 the Royal Scottish Academy elected him Honorary Academician and Professor of Antiquities. During his time at the commission Ross became friends with William Douglas Simpson and it is because of that friendship that he gifted a collection of his works to Simpson and the University of Aberdeen.

John Claude Nattes (c. 1765 - 1839) was a topographical draughtsman, a watercolour artist and teacher of 'drawing and perspective' to the gentry. In 1786 Nattes published his first volume of prints titled 'Seats of the Nobility and Gentry'. He was commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks in 1789 to record the buildings of Lincolnshire, which resulted in over 700 drawings. (DNB)

James Cromar Watt (1862 - 1940) was a Scottish artist, jeweller and architect. He was educated at the Aberdeen Grammar School then articled to the city architects W & J Smith. It was during this time with Smith's architects that Watt undertook his award winning drawings of Kings' College Chapel. Later on in his career Watt assisted with the completion of Bishop Elphinstone's memorial and was given an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen in 1931.
Custodial HistoryThe material in the collection has been created by various individuals and then collected together by William Douglas Simpson.
SourceThe material has been deposited with the archive by William Douglas Simpson in groups on the following dates: January 1937, August 1939, September 1956 and July 1965. These dates are indicated on the library stamp which is present on the majority of the items in this collection.
DescriptionThis collection was the research collection of William Douglas Simpson. The collection contains the research material that Simpson gathered to inform his many publications and his own illustrations which he incorporated into his publications.

The subject matter of this collection reflects Simpson's own research interests which focus on architecture, archaeology, historical sites and monuments. A large proportion of the material relates to castellated architecture especially in the North-East of Scotland.
Geographically most of the collection relates to the Aberdeenshire however there items relating to the whole of Scotland, England, Ireland and across International locations including France, Germany and Norway.

Many of the works are in Simpson's own hand but the collection includes works by William Kelly, David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross. These materials were acquired by Simpson directly from Kelly and Ross who were both great friends of Simpson and shared his passion for the build environment. There is a significant series of images from the David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross partnership including some of David MacGibbon's original drawings which were used to illustrate his work 'The Architecture of Provence and the Riviera'.

The diversity of the authorship and subject matter lead to the many formats and media found in this collection, which include sketches, tracings, paintings, plans, maps and drawings. Many of the drawings are architectural, showing floor plans, elevations and measurements.
ArrangementThe collection is in its original order which was arranged geographically. A limited number of items have been moved when their location was originally attributed incorrectly or where there is no location indicated, all alternative reference numbers have been maintained to ensure the reconstruction of the original position of the item within the collection.

The arrangement is as follows:
Scottish sites and monuments
English sites and monuments
Welsh sites and monuments
Irish sites and monuments
European sites and monuments
Research Materials (sites which do not refer to a specific location or an unknown location, these may be relocated if locations are traced.)

Please note when accessing materials please quote new and former references (where they exist) (i.e. MS 3759/1/1/1 and A1/39).
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsPlease note when accessing materials please quote new and former references (where they exist) (i.e. MS 3759/1/1/1 and A1/39).
Physical DescriptionPlease note that due to the variety of media and format within this collection there are items which are fragile and not fit for production or require special handling.
Related MaterialSIM collection: 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.

MS 2380: Papers of William Kelly, architect, comprising notebooks, sketch-books, photographs, lectures, relating to castles and other buildings, 1805 - 1944
MS 3859: William Kelly, architect: collection of photographs, plans, prints and sketches, 19th century - 20th century
MS 2820: Thomas Ross, architect, architectural historian and author: notes on Stirling, 1911 - 1914
MS 3169 and MS 2910: Thomas Ross, architect, architectural historian and author: papers, c. 1890 - 1921
MS 3498: Peter Rourke slide collection of Scottish castles, c. 1960 - 1994
MS 3127: Harry Gordon Slade, architectural historian: papers, 1971 - 2001
Publication NoteFor a complete bibliography of William Douglas Simpson's publications see: Simpson, William Douglas, Dunollie Castle and the Brooch of Lorne: Dunollie, Oban, Argyll., Aberdeen : Centre for Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, 1991. With a bibliography of W.D. Simpson’s publications compiled by A.T. Hall.
MacGibbon, R., 'The architecture of Provence and the Riviera', Edinburgh, 1888
MacGibbon, R., Ross, T., 'Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, from the twelfth to the eighteenth century, Edinburgh, 1887
Related RecordMS 2229
MS 2230
MS 2285
MS 2398
MS 2729
MS 2968
MS 3042
MS 3442
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