Dr Martha McGill

Postdoctoral Fellow
Martha McGill

Sep 2016 - Jun 2017

Home institution

University of Edinburgh



Martha McGill completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2016, with a thesis entitled ‘Ghosts in Enlightenment Scotland’. Her research interests are in Scottish religious culture, natural philosophy and folklore from the Reformation to the early nineteenth century. She has tutored and lectured on early modern and modern Scottish history, as well as tutoring early modern European history.


Angels in Early Modern Scotland

This project will explore ideas about angels in early modern Scottish society. Firstly, I will look at how angels were theorised, with particular reference to theology and natural philosophy. Discussions of angels reflect changing ideas about the nature of the soul and spiritual entities, and can be used to judge the impact of Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment philosophy. Secondly, I will consider how angels were experienced by the early modern Scottish folk. Angels adorned churches and gravestones, and accounts of angelic apparitions circulated despite the kirk’s disapproval. This half of the project will draw broader conclusions on the relationship between popular and elite society, and the extent to which the Reformation transformed the religious culture of the folk. The project as a whole will feed into a current scholarly debate about how ideas of the supernatural evolved as Scotland moved from the Reformation to the Enlightenment.