Ness of Brodgar monograph available to pre-order

The third volume in the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute research series is available to pre-order now.

The Ness of Brodgar – As it Stands provides a comprehensive and up-to-date account of the Ness of Brodgar excavations and is due to be released on November 18.

The full-colour book features contributions from University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute staff as well as specialists from around the world. The result is 27 chapters, each devoted to different elements of the site, its excavation and interpretation.

The Ness of Brodgar: As it Stands, edited by Nick Card, Mark Edmonds and Anne Mitchell, is published by The Orcadian, priced £35.99. To pre-order, click here.

A future in the past! All set for University Archaeology Day

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is among the organisations represented at the 20th University Archaeology Day tomorrow, Thursday, October 22.

Explore the possibilities for a future in the past! An archaeology degree can open doors to all kinds of careers, and at the University Archaeology Day you can find out everything you need to know about studying this exciting subject.

The online event is designed for prospective students, teachers and parents to learn about the degree programmes on offer across the UK, to discover the range of career opportunities that an archaeology degree can lead to, and to hear about some of the latest archaeological research.

Most of the country’s top archaeology departments will be represented, along with a range of organisations that promote the subject and employ archaeology graduates. There will also be a full programme of talks and activities covering application tips, careers advice, and a wide range of archaeological topics including some of the latest finds and cutting-edge research.

Archaeology is a very broad subject that combines arts, humanities and sciences and is great for developing a mixture of academic and practical skills. Come to the University Archaeology Day to find out what an archaeology degree can do for you!

For more details of studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, click here.

Viva success for UHI PhD student

Magdalena Blanz (right) with one of her PhD supervisors, Dr Ingrid Mainland, senior lecturer at the UHI Archaeology Institute.

UHI Archaeology Institute student Magdalena Blanz has passed her PhD viva examination.

Magdalena’s PhD thesis, Seaweed as Food, Fodder and Fertiliser in the North Atlantic Islands: Past, present and future opportunities, looked at the importance of seaweed to past and present island communities. Part of this, involved researching how the chemical and isotopic composition of skeletal material is changed by the consumption of seaweed and the impact of fertilising grain crops with seaweed.

Her PhD was funded by the European Social Fund and Scottish Funding Council as part of Developing Scotland’s Workforce in the Scotland 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.

But it is double congratulations to Magdalena, who also has a post-doctoral research appointment at Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science (VIAS), University of Vienna.

Funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the project is entitled Farmers without borders: Ecological perspectives on the spread of animal husbandry from the Mediterranean to southeast Europe (6500-5500 BC).

It deals with the interrelationships of environmental, biological and socio-cultural factors that enabled the spread of domestic animals in the Balkans, by analysing absorbed organic residues in pottery, stable isotope analysis of animal remains, statistical analysis of archaeological kill-off profiles and computational modelling.

If you are interested in postgraduate research at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, please get in touch by e-mailing studyarchaeology@uhi.ac.uk or see our guide page.

International research project looking at Northern Isles’ place in European trade networks launches next week

A major international research project investigating Orkney and Shetland’s place in the European trade networks of the 15th to 18th centuries launches next week.

Looking in from the Edge (LIFTE) is a three-year programme involving the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, the University of Lincoln and the German Maritime Museum, in Bremerhaven.

During the period under investigation, a system of trade gradually brought much of the globe within its influence. In Europe, it led to peripheral places becoming closely tied into continental European trade networks, transforming their largely subsistence and low-level trading economies to commercialised, surplus-producing ones. At the forefront was the Hanseatic League — an organisation of German merchants formed around 1150 and which expanded into the North Atlantic in the 15th century.

Although the league’s influence in Shetland has been extensively documented, less is known about its interests in Orkney and this will be an early focus of the project.

The University of the Highlands and Islanders Archaeology Institute research team involved in the Looking in from the Edge project. From the left: Paul Sharman, Dr Ingrid Mainland, Dr Jen Harland, Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon, Julie Gibson, Professor Neil Simco, (UHI Vice-Principal [Research and Impact]) and Professor Jane Downes (Director of the UHI Archaeology Institute). Dan Lee, Dr Siobhan Cooke and Anne Mitchell are missing from the picture.

The UK team is led by Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon, of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, who will work with Dr Natascha Mehler from the German Maritime Museum, who is leading the German team.

Dr Gibbon explained: “Tapping into the rich research that has already been carried out in Shetland, we’re looking to find out what was going on in terms of trade in Orkney. We know the Hanseatic League was prominent in Shetland but its impact on Orkney is little researched. Was Orkney sharing in that wealth? Who was trading with whom? What was being traded? Where were the trading centres?

“The project will give us an opportunity to look into the mechanisms of early modern trade and how the Northern Isles adapted to a changing economic world. How did this emerging international trade change the islanders’ way of making and trading their wares and products? What were the consequences of this rapidly changing and expanding world on the social and economic ways of life for the islanders?”

The Skaill multi-period farmstead, Rousay, Orkney, one of the archaeological sites forming part of the research project. (Picture: Bobby Friel/@takethehighview)

The UK team includes Associate Professor Mark Gardiner from Lincoln University and a University of the Highlands and Islands team comprising Dr Jen Harland, Dr Ingrid Mainland, Paul Sharman, Julie Gibson, Dan Lee, Dr Siobhan Cooke and Anne Mitchell.

Funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council and the German Research Council, a key element of the project is involving local communities and training volunteers in research methods from archaeology and history.

Research at the Orkney Library and Archive has begun, seeking historical documents for material directly or indirectly referencing trading operations. This, together with placename evidence and analysis of archaeological material from the county, will allow the researchers to identify and target potential sites for survey and excavation. The results will allow Orkney and Shetland’s connections to the wider economic realm of early modern Europe to be closely examined.

Leader of the German research team, Dr Natascha Mehler, from the German Maritime Museum, surveying the trading site at Gunnister Voe, Northmavine, Shetland, which was in use around 1600. (Picture: Mark Gardiner)

The online launch event on Tuesday, October 20, from 7pm until 8.30pm, comprises five short talks on aspects of trade in the North Atlantic — what we know and the project’s aims.

These will be followed by a question-and-answer session chaired by Dr Ingrid Mainland.

The programme for the evening is:

  • 1900–1905: Introduction (Dr Ingrid Mainland).
  • 1905–1920: The archaeology of trade in the North Atlantic (Dr Natascha Mehler, Dr Mark Gardiner).
  • 1920–1935: Historical sources for trade in the North Atlantic (Dr Bart Holterman).
  • 1935–1950: Looking ahead – the project research: archaeology (Paul Sharman).
  • 1950–2005: Looking ahead – the project research: history (Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon).
  • 2005-2030: Questions.

For details on how to access the launch event, click here.