This webpage explains the nature of the data on this website and the visualizations that allow you to interact with them graphically.

Click a section title to go directly to it:


There are three kinds of data items in this project:

  • Items representing people involved in literary production (Gaelic and English)
  • Items representing texts and subtexts (constituent parts of larger volumes or collections)
  • The relationships between (a) literati and texts, and (b) between texts and their constituent subtexts

It should be noted that there is not always an absolute, one-to-one correspondence between people, texts and relationships as understood in scholarship, on the one hand, and the digital model of those entities in this project. Data should be seen as a means of making a simplified representation of those entities visible and accessible to an end-user: the actual literary forms and relationships are much more detailed and nuanced in reality than has been attempted in this demonstration project.

For example, there is currently no attempt to model conceptual narratives or “ur-texts” – for example, a hypothetical archetype of the Táin Bó Cuailgne, of which there are many distinct textual variants and documentary attestations. Thus, while some  version of the Táin  “floating” in oral tradition (ethereal and hence difficult to model) is likely to have been an influence on Macpherson, a variant attested in a late-17th-century manuscript (found later in Scotland) is instead pointed to as a source of borrowings.

The only exception to this is the Text entry for “Fenian Cycle in Gaelic Culture.” This is mean to represent the pervasive presence of and knowledge about this genre in Gaelic literature, both in oral and written form.


People are currently characterized by the languages they spoke/wrote and their lifetimes (e.g., birth to death). Although English forms of personal names are the default “standard” in this data set, native Gaelic name are also provided if the person had one. There is a link to webpage about the person, if any exists.

The people included in this data set are currently limited those who were authors, scribes, transcribers, editors, and translators of Ossianic texts – particularly a key core who were closely associated with James Macpherson and his texts.

People may be added to the data base in the future who were intermediaries between these figures.


Texts are current characterized by the language is which they were written, by the date(s) when they were written (sometimes “fuzzy” dates), and the location where they were written (if this is known). If the text can be found online, the URL to it is given in the data.

NOTE: Gaelic texts from the Book of the Dean of Lismore, edited by Donald Meek, are in a members-only website and require permission to view.

Texts may be added to the data base in the future which extend the Ossianic textual legacy of interconnections backward and forward in time, particularly to earlier forms of these Gaelic tales and to instances of Macpherson’s influence on anglophone texts in the nascent Romantic movement.


These represent the ways in which People and Texts can be associated, and the roles that each can have in the relationships between them:

  • Attribution: A text (in Role 1) has some relationship to a human agent (in Role 2). The human roles can be Author, Editor, Scribe, Transcriber, or Translator.
  • Compilation: A smaller text (in Role 1) has been incorporated or integrated into a larger volume or set of texts (in Role 2).
  • Borrowings: A later text (in Role 1) has been influenced by, or borrowed from, an earlier text (in Role 2) in one of several possible ways: Structure, Phrasal, Names, Motif, or Thematic.
  • Variants: A later text (in Role 1) is a variant of an earlier text (in Role 2).
  • Translation: A later text (in Role 1) is a translation of an earlier text (in Role 2).

Each Relationship represents exactly one connection between two entities: if there are multiple relationships between the same two entities, they will need to be represented by multiple Relationships.


This webpage contains only brief notes about the visualizations specific to the Ossian “Exhibit”: you can find a comprehensive guide to using the Prospect visualization front-end on the Prospect website. Click the Help Tour button at the top-right corner for a brief “tour” of all of Prospect’s controls.

The drop-down menu near the top-left corner of the screen controls which visualization you are viewing and controlling. Each of these represent the data in specific ways:


A simple textual view of most of the raw data.


A chronological view of People (by their lifespans) and Texts (by the date when they were composed or transcribed).


A geographical view of where texts were composed or transcribed. Note that each site that has a visible marker contains multiple texts, given that many individual subtexts were produced at the same place by a single figure.

Network Graph

The Network Graph displays all of the entities (People and Texts) and all of the Relationships between them. As there are many connections between entities, the web of connections is initially fairly dense and convoluted. The Network Graph becomes more useful and interesting in combination with a Filter, especially the Relationship and Roles Filter. For example:

The view above shows the Network Graph when Relationship is set to Compilation: in other words, each of these connected subgraphs is a set of texts that belong together (manuscript collections, volumes, etc).

The view above shows the Network Graph when Relationship is set to Borrowings: in other words, these connections represent intertextualities of various sorts (click on a connection link for the details).

Text Connections

The Text Connections visualization allows you to select a single entity (whether a Person or Text) and see the relationships that connect it to other entities, for some number of degrees of separation (3 by default, although you can change that).

For example, James MacGregor has been selected from the list of entities on the left in the visualization above. He is one degree of separation from the Volume (a compilation of texts) for which he was scribe; this Volume, in turn, consists of the individual subtexts shown on the next ring; each of these influenced Macpherson’s Ossianic texts, which are shown on the outmost ring.