Creating ‘a valley of voices’ with Hoy Heritage Centre

Rackwick, Hoy. (Rebecca Marr)

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is part of a new Orkney community project to produce a series of podcasts celebrating the heritage of the island of Hoy.

The Hoy Heritage Centre initiative will create five podcasts – audio journeys that will take in different areas in Hoy and feature landmarks, local lore, archaeology, and flora and fauna.

The Hoy community will be involved in the gathering, generation and recording of the content, which will include archive and newly made audio recordings together with specially commissioned music. The downloadable podcasts will add to the experience of visitors to Hoy while remote listeners can journey through imagined landscapes.

Dan Lee, lifelong learning and outreach archaeologist with the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, has worked with the Hoy community over a number of years and his knowledge of the area has added greatly to the resources at Hoy Heritage Centre.

He explained: “Hoy is full of stories, and with the community we plan to let the landscape speak. Archaeology can be about the Dwarfie Stone, but it can also be about more recent activity such as the audacious 1967 BBC outside broadcast of the Old Man of Hoy climb. It is the layers of time that we will be building up in this creative audio project.”

The path from the Old Man. (Rebecca Marr)

The five connected audio journeys will comprise:

  • Moaness Pier to Hoy Kirk Heritage Centre.
  • The old road to Rackwick through the valley.
  • The road via the Dwarfie Stane.
  • Rackwick.
  • The Old Man of Hoy.

Each podcast will be approximately ten minutes long. They will be available to download from the Hoy Heritage website, supported by an interactive map and links to discover more about particular topics.

Track to the Dwarfie Stane, Hoy. (Sigurd Towrie)

Filmmaker and editor Mark Jenkins will be making new recordings with the community and weaving the audio journeys together, while musician and composer James Watson will compose and play new music for the project.

Hoy heritage officer Rebecca Marr said: “Like many visitor centres this past year, Hoy Heritage Centre has had to close to the public. This has had a significant impact on us, but this is a great opportunity during these difficult times to lift spirits and allow people to experience the magic that is Hoy.

“Whether people use the podcasts to accompany their walks in Hoy or whether they travel from their armchair, sharing heritage by hearing local stories from local voices will make their journey a real experience.”

View to the Hoy hills. (Rebecca Marr)

Hoy residents living in the parish, or those who have homes in the parish, are invited to get involved by telling their stories, sharing tales or voicing up newspaper clippings. Contact Rebecca at hoyheritage@btinternet.com

The project has been funded by Museums and Galleries Scotland.

Finfolk and The Odyssey: a perspective on the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Worlds

Francesca Meneghetti is an archaeology and literature student at Orkney College UHI. Last semester, she wrote this essay for Dr Ragnhild Ljosland’s Tradition, Custom and Belief module, in which she compared the Finfolk legends of the Northern Isles to Mediterranean beliefs as portrayed in The Odyssey.

FIG.1: In many Shetlandic tales, finfolk took on the appearance of marine mammals. Their furry skin was a magic device, through which men could gain control over finwomen (Kickingereder 2008, Dunnigan 2011). Finn brides made good housewives, although characterized by a melancholic longing for the sea; they could regain freedom by getting ahold of their stolen seal skin. Credit: unknown artist.

The sea and its dwellers, whether these are the products of nature or belief, constitute a body of entities people have interacted with since the ancient times, in a fundamental encounter with the other and the unknown. Such a confrontation fundamentally contributed to new perspectives on the human experience and was often imbued with symbolic significance, giving life to a rich body of oral and written narration concerning the marine world.

In this way, the sea became the place of the preternatural, where reality and imagination met, while the theme of the journey by sea became a fundamental anthropological motif. These cultural processes often bore significant implications in terms of identity and perception of self, detectable in the texts available to the contemporary reader. This research project proposes a parallel between literature concerning the Finfolk and The Odyssey.

The early-modern folklore of the Northern Isles will be compared to that of Archaic Greece, bringing the North Sea and the Mediterranean world close to each other in a narrative universe where disguise, magic, and shrewdness dominate. The comparison will focus on the themes of identity and deception, formulated through sight and hearing, and of travel, as encounter with the other, both as individual and place.

“There are frequently Finmen feen here upon the coafts, as one about a year ago on Stronfa… his boat is made of feal-skins, or fom kind of leather, he alfo hath a coat of leather upon him, and he fitteth in the middle of his boat… and when in a ftorm he fees the high furge of a wave… he hath a way of finking his boat, till the wave pafs over…” (Brand 1701:758).

When John Brand, a minister of the Church of Scotland, visited Orkney at the beginning of the 18th century, he noted the presence of so-called “Finmen”, foreign seamen equipped with unusual gear and boats, capable of blending with the sea. Although these figures are surrounded by an aura of mystery, their characterization is human, strongly distinct from that of “fea-creatures having the likenefs of men and women… fea-monsters, mermen and mermaids” (Brand 1701:789, Grydehøj 2013).

A similar account was given a few years earlier (Wallace and Sibbald 1883), when James Wallace wrote of “these men which they call Finmen… sometym sailing sometym rowing up & dooun… [they] drive away fishes from the place to which they come.” (Wallace 1684:26-27).

As pointed out by Westaway (2020), between the 17th and the 18th century, there was a spike of reports of encounters with Finmen in the Northern Isles. These early-modern records of figures oscillating between the mystical and the mundane represent an encounter with alterity rooted in historical events, that yet because of a narrative instability, was quickly adorned with fantastic motifs. From there, popular folklore revolving around the sea as the source of preternatural creatures was reinforced, enriching the distinctive mythos of Orkney and Shetland (Westaway 2020). In this way, finmen were a product of a “fabulous transmogrification” (MacRitchie 1890:2) of foreign people approaching the archipelagos, with all probability coming from modern Scandinavia, into mischievous creatures of the sea, protagonists of tales of travel, abduction and imprisonment.

The perception of finfolk in the Northern Isles, based on an interplay of alterity and mimesis between people and the sea (Westaway 2020), developed along two routes.

In Shetland, the figures of the finman and finwoman were often interchangeable with that of the selkie (FIG.1). In Orkney, a more demarcated distinction between selkies, merfolk, and finfolk was developed instead (FIG.2). The latter was a sea-abiding community characterized by an astute mind and versed in magic, often maintaining unfriendly relationships with humans.

According to the Orcadian tales, finfolk had two homes: the underwater city of Finfolkaheem, at the bottom of the North Sea, and Hildaland, an idyllic island invisible to mortal eyes, where human captives were brought to marry (Muir 2014).  Finfolk, selkies, and merfolk constituted a cosmos founded on shapeshifting, magic, and deception. While in Shetland Finfolk were subjected to sugar-coated domestic slavery sealed by an imposed wedding, in Orkney they were the ones implementing such a treatment for humans.

FIG.2: In Orcadian folklore mermaids are daughters of the finfolk, songsters who charm men in the hope of preserving their beauty. They do not have a seal skin but a tail embroidered in silver and gold that they can discard onshore (Muir 2014). If mermaids marry finmen instead, they become repulsive finwives, sent on shore to make money with their healing abilities. (Dennison 1891). Credit: John Bauer.

Finfolk appear to be unreliable figures, their disposition ever-changing as the element they belong to, moved by convenience and profit, and gifted with impressive cunning. However, there are tales of mortals capable of outdoing these creatures in shrewdness, such as those of The Fetlar Finnman (Tullock 2014) and The Fin Folk and the Mill (Muir 2014).

In the latter, an old beggar frees a village from the scourge of a group of finmen regularly sacking the Mill of Skaill. She does so tricking a finman into believing a false name, and then hurting him so that when asked who did that to him, he would reply “Myself in the mill”. Aware of the power she would grant the finfolk by revealing her identity, the old lady adopts a cunning strategy, becoming a master of disguise.

The same stratagem is adopted by Odysseus in his encounter with Polyphemus, the feral cyclops. When told “δóς…μοι τεòν οΰνομα” “give me your name” by the cyclops, Odysseus replies “Οΰτις εμοί γ’όνομα” “Nobody is my name” (Di Benedetto 2010:524).

Once again, the protagonist of the tale conceals his identity so that when Polyphemus is asked by the cyclopes who blinded him, he replies “It’s Nobody’s treachery” (Rieu 2009:120) (FIG.3). It must be noted that in Greek “oΰτις”, meaning “nobody”, is synonym with “μήτις”, as they both constitute the negation of “τίς”, “somebody”. However, μήτις can also be translated into “guile”, unveiling a further word game and another layer of cunning attributed to both the protagonist and the author of the epic poem.

What prevents the ninth book of The Odyssey from achieving the happy ending of the Orcadian tale, is Odysseus’ arrogance, which brings him to boast about his victory and reveal his name to Polyphemus after escaping from the cave. This will enable the giant to curse Odysseus and prolong his journey back to Ithaca. The idea of identity as a vehicle of power can therefore be found in both stories.

FIG.3: Odysseus and his companions blinding Polyphemus with the scorching trunk of an olive tree. Archaic pottery, Archaeological Museum of Argos. Credit: unknown.

Although the blinding of Polyphemus is a culturally-specific response to the violation of sacred social conventions of archaic Greece, the motif of the purposeful obstruction of sight is a cross-cultural one, that can be observed in Orcadian folklore as well.

In The Blinding of Tam Scott, Orkney’s storyteller Tom Muir (2014) describes how a sailor is blinded by a finman through the use of a magical powder, after having helped him to get to Hildaland. Here, the blinding is functional to the protection of the island’s location and the identity of the finfolk.  However, if we were to look at this tale with the eyes of Odysseus, it could be argued that Tam Scott is blinded by the finman because he, just like Polyphemus, violated the sacred rules of hospitality, repeatedly asking the stranger his name: “What’s your name?” “A close tongue keeps a safe head” (Muir 2014:75).

Nonetheless, sight and knowledge can be impeded in many other ways: a popular literary device is that of the mist, or fog, blurring the surroundings and altering perception. This is present both in Orcadian accounts of Hildaland and in the Homeric description of the islands Odysseus stumbles upon. However, if knowledge and awareness are interpreted as fundamentally regulated by sight, there exists a character capable of defying such definitions: Teiresias, the Theban seer.

FIG.3: Odysseus and his companions blinding Polyphemus with the scorching trunk of an olive tree. Archaic pottery, Archaeological Museum of Argos. Credit: unknown.

Teiresias makes his appearance in the eleventh book of the Odyssey, which narrates Odysseus’ descent in Hades (FIG.4,5) (Podlecki 1967).

There, the shadow of the prophet is summoned by the hero and predicts to him the possible outcomes of his journey: “If you… fix your mind on returning home, there is some chance that all of you may yet reach Ithaca…but if you hurt [the sacred cattle of Helios] … then I predict that your ship and company will be destroyed” (Rieu 2009:143).

A significant academic debate was raised around the Book of the Dead: nowadays, it is believed to contain the traces of an ancient, pre-Olympic religion (Rossi 2015). Within the process of stratification of cultures that took place in the long redaction of the poem, the “προφήτης” “inspired interpreter” (Montanari 2013:2077) becomes a key figure.

FIG.5: Detail, Teiresias emerging from the ground just before the consultation. Credit: unknown

Teiresias is “αυτοδίδακτος” “he who needs no teacher but himself” (Montanari 2013:443),the chosen possessor of a social and cultural memory that cannot be learnt, of a “σοφία” “knowledge” (Montanari 2013:2553) that is divine, and that saves the values of a society from the abyss of the past. In this titanic process of formation and transmission of social and cultural identity, sight is not a requirement: Teiresias is blind.

On his journey to Hades, Odysseus goes beyond the thresholds of the human world, pushing himself to the realm of death (Torres 2014). Here, mist and fog wrap the hero in a space of liminality between worlds. In The City Under the Sea (Muir 2014), young Arthur Dearness follows a beautiful mermaid to Finfolkaheem, in the depths of the ocean, to marry her.

In a curious analogy, both heroes descend in an underworld, whether this is a metaphorical or a physical one, and experience the otherness of existence: Odysseus with the shadows of the dead, Arthur with the finfolk. However, Arthur, contrarily to Odysseus does not choose to cross the barriers between worlds but is forced to do so, spellbound by the voice of the finwoman. As if he represented an Odysseus who indulged in the charming songs of the sirens, and consumed by them, forgot his family in Ithaca (Segal 1994), Arthur is lost in the deep waters of the sea, without the memories of his loved ones to guide him back home.

In this tale, the songs of the mermaid cause the annihilation of self. It is the external intervention of family and magic that saves the boy: aunt Marion sends a black cat to Finfolkaheem to establish a communication between the two worlds. The furry messenger manages to free Arthur step by step “…the cat had broken a powerful spell…” (Muir 2014:66), allowing his return to shore.

In other Orcadian tales, a shapeshifting black cat is kept by finwives, to communicate with their relatives in Finfolkaheem (MacRitchie 1890, Jennings 2010). The motif of the godly messenger, the mediator between worlds, protector of the hero, is present in the Homeric poem as well: Hermes, winged herald of the Olympians, repeatedly comes to Odysseus’ aid, carrying out the will of Zeus and Athena.

In Aea, Hermes advises the man on how to break Circe’s spells: “Where are you off to now, poor fellow? … I will save you and deliver you from trouble… I will tell you exactly what to do” (Rieu 2009:132). Later on, after Odysseus has been trapped on Calypso’s island for seven years, Hermes refers to the nymph the wish of Zeus, bringing the hero’s imprisonment to an end: “It was Zeus who sent me…he says that you have here a man…and now Zeus bids you to send him off without delay” (Rieu 2009:65).

Calypso’s lair is the embodiment of the locus amoenus: “the cave was sheltered by a copse of alders and fragrant cypresses…a thriving garden vine, with great bunches of grapes…from four separate springs four crystal rivulets were channeled… and in soft meadows… iris… flourished” (Rieu 2009:64). 

A similar characterization is that of Hildaland, the magic floating island with rich cornfields, green hills, sleek cattle, and singing streams (Marwick 2011). The outstanding difference between the two is the characters’ attitude towards the idyllic imprisonment. While Odysseus perceives it as a mutilation of those relations that fundamentally contribute to his identity (Murnaghan 2011), stories of abductions operated by the finfolk reveal a much lighter attitude to captivity, such as narrated in Hildaland (Muir 2020). The sweetness of escapism in a world where everything is better, even when this implies the revocation of freedom, in Orcadian folklore is at times embraced.

FIG.6:  Despite the island being “a spot where… even an immortal visitor must pause to gaze in wonder and delight” Odysseus “[sat] disconsolate on the shore… tormenting himself with tears…he desired to…come to his high-roofed house and his native land once more” (Rieu 2009:64-66).

In conclusion, although finfolk tales and The Odyssey were developed in distinct cultural and historical contexts, they both constitute narratives of selfhood, sharing an interest in people’s interaction with the sea and the mysterious entities in it concealed.

Whether these interactions happen on a heroic or domestic scale, they can bear both wonderful gifts and great danger, relying on magic and cunning as tools of deception, formulated through appearance and voice. To overcome such trials, protagonists have to master the senses of sight and hearing, becoming experts of cunning, deceit, and disguise. In such a way, a cathartic process starts, prompting the protagonists’ identity into a new fluidity, symbolized by the journey by sea.

The otherness the heroes of these tales have to confront can take many shapes and forms, challenging and reinforcing the protagonists’ awareness of self. Although such a quest can be completed, a great prize is at stake: identity, in its individuality as well as in its communal dimension.

More than once, external help, whether this comes from family or a divine force, is granted to the hero to support their journey back home, the conclusion of the quest of self-discovery.

REFERENCES

Interested in studying archaeology? Orkney is the place to be

Holly excavating at The Cairns in 2015, alongside site director and UHI Archaeology Institute lecturer Martin Carruthers. (Tim Winterburn)

After graduating from the University of the Highlands and Islands with a BA (Hons) in archaeology in 2016, Holly Young returned to the UHI Archaeology Institute in 2019 to undertake a Masters…

Holly in Structure Ten at the Ness of Brodgar. (Jo Bourne)

Since a fairly young age I have always had an interest in history and archaeology.

Hailing from the Scottish Borders, I moved to Orkney after finishing High School due to the excellent skills of the UHI rep at our university fair, who said that if you wanted to study archaeology, Orkney was the place to be.

Since then, any mention of my course, and where I study, has been met with a similar comment.

Studying archaeology in Orkney is a one-of-a-kind experience due to the outstanding quality of the resources available as well as the sheer quantity of it. The Archaeology Institute is a great place to study as the tutors are able to offer a lot more help, one-on-one, creating a real sense of support. During my time in Orkney, I developed a real enjoyment of Scottish prehistory.

After graduating from my undergraduate degree in 2016, I went on to work for Cotswold Archaeology for three years. This gave me the opportunity to not only experience the archaeology you don’t get in Orkney, i.e the Romans, who are just everywhere down there, but gave me the chance to travel to parts of the UK I would have been unlikely to visit otherwise.

I was based in Gloucestershire but stayed in Suffolk for ten months while working on a large pipeline job for a windfarm. It was a great experience – not only excavating new archaeology but also to the way that commercial archaeology works in comparison to more research-based excavations.

Excavating at the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney, in 2019. (Jo Bourne)

I left CA in 2019 to come back to Orkney to do my masters degree. Since then I’ve found a new passion, which is the study of marine molluscs. Their exploitation and appearance in archaeological contexts is so often overlooked and undervalued in archaeology so it’s been a total joy to unpick the shell assemblage from The Cairns excavation in South Ronaldsay and to see just how much information can be recovered from this unassuming resource. Also, let’s face it, shells are cool!

I’m now currently in the process of applying to do a PhD to continue the work I’ve done in the course of my Masters.


If you want to know more about studying archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, email studyarchaeology@uhi.ac.uk  or see our website

Adrian Challands – ‘a gentle man who will be missed greatly’

The late Adrian Challands during archaeological work at the Stonehall Neolithic settlement in Firth, Orkney.

The late 1980s was a thrilling time for archaeology in Orkney. The late Adrian Challands played a key role in this archaeological revolution and continued to do so in Orkney for many years.

Sadly, Adrian passed away during the evening of Christmas Day 2020. He was a unique, irreplaceable character – a geophysicist, an archaeologist and a gentle man who will be missed greatly.

Among the notable discoveries of the 1980s, field-survey had detected a new Late Neolithic “village” at Barnhouse, which lay within a few hundred metres of the Stones of Stenness. This was an exciting time as the only other Neolithic settlement on Mainland Orkney, of similar date, was Skara Brae. In addition, Barnhouse was the first settlement to be discovered next to a stone circle in Britain.

As part of the Barnhouse investigations, a wider archaeological project was running in Stenness. Part of this was an extensive landscape geophysical survey – using an electrical current to detect buildings, pits and ditches beneath the surface – to find other Neolithic remains between Barnhouse and the Stones of Stenness. This survey was led by Adrian Challands, who had pioneered particular geophysical techniques in large surveys of areas in the Fens of eastern England.

One of the main aims of the survey around the Stones of Stenness was to locate the lost stone-hole of the famous Stone of Odin – a holed-monolith that played a major role in Orcadian folklore and tradition.

Unfortunately, the standing stone had been demolished in December 1814, by the tenant farmer, one Captain MacKay, who went on to attack the Stones of Stenness. Only by the swift action of the local Substitute Sheriff Alexander Peterkin prevented the entire destruction of the Stones of Stenness. But for the Stone of Odin, the intervention was too late.

Clipping from The Orcadian newspaper of July 14,1988, showing the socket hole of the Odin Stone, with Adrian standing at the edge of the trench.

After being broken up, the Odin Stone remains were taken to the farm of Barnhouse where the holed section served as an anchor for a later horse mill.

Adrian spent weeks carefully surveying the field in which the Barnhouse Settlement and the Stones of Stenness lie. All this work resulted in a rather unclear dot-density plot of the area showing sub-surface archaeological features. In fact, for most of us it was difficult to see anything in this plot but Adrian was convinced that some of the darker areas represented the socket holes of missing standing stones.

Working with a small team, Adrian removed the ploughsoil from one of these “dark areas” and, amazingly, revealed the tops of two large oval pits! Excavation confirmed one was clearly a stone-hole as the impression of a large stone was visible at its base – the location of the Stone of Odin had been re-discovered.

Adrian (left) carrying out a magnetic susceptibility survey at Stonehall, Firth.

After this initial work, Adrian’s specialism in geophysical survey was much in demand, both for large-scale surveys and the much smaller analysis of excavated Neolithic house floors. Consequently, he was involved in a number of important archaeological projects from the late 1980s to the present. In particular, Adrian, often accompanied by his wife Norma (an accomplished archaeologist in her own right) worked at the excavations of the Stonehall, Crossiecrown and Wideford Hill Neolithic settlements, between Finstown and Kirkwall.

His archaeological geophysical surveys also included well-known sites such as Maeshowe, where he discovered stone-holes of standing stones now removed, and the Ring of Brodgar where he was able to show the stones (many now missing) increased in number towards the two entrances. This revealed the stones that made up the stone circle were erected at a frequency to exaggerate their number towards the two entrances and impress those entering the great ring.

Reconstruction of the Ring of Brodgar, with the missing stones confirmed by Norma and Adrian Challands (pictured with Prof Jane Downes at the entrance) in 2008, restored.

At the famous Knowes of Trotty Bronze Age barrow cemetery Adrian undertook a very difficult survey – in heather and boggy ground – and discovered a number of new burials and surprisingly located an early Neolithic house which was subsequently excavated. Adrian also undertook geophysical survey on several other Bronze Age burial cemeteries, notably Linga Fiold, and these surveys have contributed greatly to our understanding of cremation in the Bronze Age.

Adrian loved Orkney and its fabulous archaeology and he not only made a huge contribution to its archaeology over the last 30 years, but also formed many friendships during the annual visits to the isles and long periods of fieldwork. Working on site he would often have his magnetic-susceptibility equipment with him – a device resembling a large hoop on a stick that was always known as “Ade’s brain scrambler”.

Adrian with his ‘brain scrambler’ at Stonehall, Firth.

He was always cheerful, charming, well-spoken, kind and a real pleasure to be around. He brought a smile to your face when he entered the room. Indeed, those who knew him will testify to his singularity and good humour – Adrian could quite easily be mistaken for a Victorian gentleman!

A favourite Adrian story revolves around a talk by Professor Colin Richards, in which a slide of a Neolithic settlement had been inserted into the projector the wrong way around. As Adrian was walking down the aisle he was stopped by Johnny Meil, who said: “Here beuy, yin’s backside-foremost.” To which Adrian replied, with a smile: “No, it’s Skara Brae.”

While his passing is immensely sad, one cannot help but smile when thinking about him. He had that effect on people.

Jane Downes, Tom Muir and Colin Richards

Thumbs up from archaeology students in annual satisfaction survey

UHI Archaeology Institute lecturer Martin Carruthers (left) with postgraduate students. (Tim Winterburn)

Students have given their experience with the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute a definite thumbs-up.

The 2020 National Student survey shows that overall satisfaction for undergraduate archaeology students was 92.3 per cent. The Scottish average was 85 per cent.

Meanwhile, the 2020 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey revealed that student satisfaction was 88 per cent compared to a Scottish average of 78 per cent.

Welcoming the survey findings, director of the UHI Archaeology Institute, Professor Jane Downes, said: “The positive survey results are great news and testament to the hard work and dedication of the Archaeology Institute’s teaching staff.”

Mairead Morgan, a fourth-year BA (Hons) archaeology student said: “The teaching staff have been so encouraging and supportive, and their enthusiasm has both encouraged and inspired my own interest in archaeology.”


If you want to know more about studying archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, email studyarchaeology@uhi.ac.uk  or see our website

Fitting study around work, from anywhere in the world…

Ailsa at work in the field.

Ailsa Westgarth is a project manager at a commercial archaeology company with offices in Scotland and England. She is currently undertaking an MLitt in archaeological studies, fitting her course work around her day job.

Thanks to the wonder of 1990’s television that was Time Team, I knew from the age of 12 that I was going to be an archaeologist and that’s exactly what I did. I’m pleased to say I still have the same passion for the subject I did back then!

After studying archaeology at University of Bradford, I started work in developer-led archaeology. My commercial career has given me the chance to work all over the UK on a wide variety of types of site and periods. I’ve been lucky enough to work on sites on Hadrian’s Wall, excavate mammoth tusks and handaxes in Norfolk, find a “lost” late Saxon burial ground in Oxfordshire  and a Mesolithic flint scatter in Cumbria among many others.

I decided to study at UHI because I wanted to improve my knowledge of Scottish archaeology, having mainly worked in England, and I loved the fact I could fit in my studies around work, log in from anywhere in the UK, while getting to choose to take modules based on some of my interests.

I really don’t think I could choose a favourite period so the MLitt Archaeological Studies has let me learn more without trying to choose one area of study.

I was really nervous enrolling and worried about studying and writing essays for the first time in 18 years, but everyone in the department was really helpful and supportive – happy to give advice and feedback to help me build confidence in my abilities.

I’m part way through my second year and the department has been amazing, helping support me in my studies around my move back to England and into a project manager role.

Studying at UHI has also really helped with my day job, in ways I didn’t expect! My general writing and understanding of research skills have really improved and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the digital analysis module and look at the ways I can use digital techniques and datasets to supplement the data gained in the field.


If you want to know more about studying archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, email studyarchaeology@uhi.ac.uk  or see our website