About us

Previously…Scotland’s History Festival is history like you’ve never heard it before…

We celebrate history from around the world, and promote engagement with history as it’s happening in Scotland. We especially welcome interpretations that bring critical, ‘hidden’ history to light.

Through fascinating programming, we aim to get people thinking about history – and how it shapes our present and our future. Engagement with history means challenging it, proposing ideas, being the devil’s advocate, and sharing ideas. We showcase many different interpretations of issues by presenting grotesque, surprising, and little-known stories.

In order to be ‘our’ historians, speakers and workshop facilitators could be passing through, visiting, living, publishing, studying, or researching in Scotland. Previously…’s historians are people who are intrigued by the past: enthusiasts, such as researchers, writers, presenters, staff and students from universities, art and cultural institutions, or avid attendees of events and lectures and historical tv programmes. 

Non-academics are welcome; they are often the un-coverers of hidden history who can tell of their ‘lived-experiences’. Although our main focus is historical eras, we throw light on history from all time periods: we define ‘the past’ as events occurring from human’s earliest times up until yesterday.

Previously... 2019

Took place 21-4th November 2019 in the gorgeous Institut Français Écosse on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Our theme was ‘Oor French Connections’, spearheaded by the formidable Marie de Guise.

Thank you to the IFE for hosting and to all our speakers and guests!

Our speakers really make Previously… special. Our 2019 programme featured:


  • ‘Satan and the Scots’ – Dr Mikki Brock
  • ‘The Scottish History Behind the Game of Thrones’ – David C. Weinczok (aka @TheCastleHunter)
  • The Physix – Dr Siân Hickson
  • It was 20 Years Ago Today…from 1999 to the Present – Dr Gerry Hassan and Dr Richard Finlay, in conversation
  • To Make and Save Money: Sugar and Slavery in 18th century Jamaica – Alastair Learmont
  • Bringing up the Bodies: A Potted History of Preserving Human Remains – Cat Irving
  • Remembering Partition – Dr Anindya Raychaudhuri
  • Medieval Sex Lives – Dr Gillian Jack
  • The Forgotten Women of the French Revolution – David Mountain
  • The Gaelic Songs of the Herring Gutters – Meg Hyland
  • The Rise and Fall of the City of Money – Ray Perman
  • Why is Scottish DNA so Complicated? – Dr Bruce Durie


  • From Family History to Published Book – Pam Wardell and her book A Very Private Affair: A Soviet Dissident’s and his ‘English Wife’.


  • On a Mission: The Adventures of Mary Slessor – Sir Tom Devine and cast

Guided Walks:

  • Edinburgh New Town – Alastair Learmont
  • Morningside Cemetery – The Friends of Morningside Cemetery
  • Warriston Cemetery – The Friends of Warriston Cemetery
  • Dean Cemetery – Caroline Gerard
  • Dean Village – Caroline Gerard

With ENORMOUS thanks to the following organisations for their support of Previously… 2019.


Top image: Portrait of Mary of Guise (1515 – 1560), Queen of James V of Scotland and mother of Mary, Queen of Scots c. 1537 by Corneille de Lyon. Collection:  Scottish National Portrait Gallery