Alex Morrison holds a significant spot in the history of archaeology at the University of Glasgow, serving as a vital figure in the recognition and establishment of the value of Scottish rural settlement studies, including Highland crofting culture. During the early stages of his career, academics tended to belittle the remains left by Gaelic society as mere "folk studies," but now these artifacts are recognized as a crucial part of the Scottish national narrative.
Alex Morrison was born in Stevenston, Ayrshire, and left school at the age of fourteen to begin working as a telegraph boy. He was awarded a Co-op scholarship to Loughborough College, Leicestershire, while working with the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Company, which inspired him to pursue a degree at Glasgow University. He was one of the first students to study archaeology at the institution and won the class prize upon graduating in 1964. He started his academic career as a lecturer in Glasgow’s fledgling archaeology department the following year.
Many students at Glasgow owe their introduction to Scotland’s earliest inhabitants, the hunter-gatherers, to Morrison, as well as Scotland’s last peasants, whose post-clearance remains continue to be a significant characteristic of the Highland landscape. His extensive survey work in Dunbeath, Caithness, was ground-breaking and recorded a range of new archaeological sites, from ancient cairns to the remains of post-medieval settlements. He retired in 1997 but continued to teach for five more years, keeping the torch burning for rural studies until the vacancy was filled.
Morrison’s most prominent publication was his textbook, Early Man in Britain and Ireland (1980), which became a standard resource in the field. He served as president of the Glasgow Archaeological Society between 1997 and 2000 and was the editor of the Glasgow Archaeological Journal between 1984 and 1997, contributing to both publications. He also sat on the committees of the Auchindrain Trust and the Dunbeath Preservation Trust and took on an excavation project at St Kilda when invited by the National Trust in the mid-1990s.
Alex Morrison had a passion for music and humor, delighting in good company and amusing stories. He enjoyed a diverse range of musical genres and was skilled at playing the piano, guitar, and Jew’s harp. Morrison possessed an incredible memory for poetry and song. Unfortunately, his later years were impacted by ME, leaving him with a lack of energy and mobility. However, he was extremely fortunate to have a long and happy marriage to Sigrid, who survived him along with their sons, Michael and Christopher, and two grandchildren, Zodie and Johann.