Integrating Linked Data into the Carmicheal Watson Project

During the Linked Data Focus project we have been integrating Linked Data into a range of EDINA services. In this post software engineer Neil Mayo summarises how we have brought Linked Data to the 19th Century through our work on the Carmichael Watson project. But first a bit of background to this work…

Alexander Carmichael was a pioneering folklorist documenting the people, traditions, stories and culture of Gaelic-speaking Scotland. His most famous work focuses on the Hebrides, the famously beautiful but remote archipelago of islands off the west coast of Scotland. These are diverse environments and small communities whose equally diverse traditions and songs are captured in Carmichael’s Carmina Gedelica.

The Carmichael Watson Project website is an attempt to catalogue, digitise, transcribe and translate Alexander Carmichael’s notoriously eccentric hand written notes. The site creates new opportunities for scholars to understand his published work in the wider context of his lifelong research notes. However the role of place is so central to the notes and traditions recorded by Carmichael that being able to add further location information presented an excellent opportunity to further contextualise his work.  Linking the records of the cultures of people living in the Hebrides to a specific and modern sense of place – through maps and images – allows those investigating the texts to get a real sense of the relationship between songs, traditions and stories and the places that inspired or cultivated them.

Image of a Carmicheal Watson catalogue record showing linked data around places mentioned in the text (click through to access the record).

Image of a Carmicheal Watson catalogue record showing linked data around places mentioned in the text (click through to access the record).

So, how did we do that? Well on every catalogue page describing a catalogue entry, we incorporated linked data links for the place names, based on their longitude and latitude. There are links (where possible) to:

– Geo data and localised photos on Geograph
– Flickr photos within 2000m
– Location on Geonames map
– Map of nearby places on Geonames

An example can be seen at “A Toast” from Carmichaels 1883 notes:

and a rather over the top one (listing all the places in a single notebook) in item Coll-97/CW89 from 1887:

Additionally, on the A-Z listing of places, we have embedded linked data in the HTML, using ontologies from:

– Ordnance Survey:
– GeoRSS:
– W3C Basic Geo:

You can see the linked data in this page, for each level of each place (separated by a pipe |):

We would love to hear your thoughts on this use of Linked Data – please just leave us a comment below. And if you have any questions or comments on the Carmichael Watson Project itself then please do contact the team at: