Bateman was born in Edinburgh. She studied Celtic at Aberdeen University and completed a PhD in medieval Gaelic religious poetry. She then went on to teach Gaelic at the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Her Gaelic poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies such as Other Tongues (1990) and Twenty of the Best (1990). She has also translated Gaelic poetry into English in An Anthology of Scottish Women Poets (1991) and The Harp's Cry (1993). Her 1997 collection Aotromachd agus dain eile/Lightness and other poems - her first to have facing English translations - movingly deals with the fragility of love and human relationships. She lectures at Sabhal Mór Ostaig, Scotland's only Gaelic college, on Skye, and is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at St Andrews University.