Western Isles Symposium was a great success

Barpa Langass

In the second week of January, Dr Rebecca Rennell of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute organised Scotland’s Island Research Framework for Archaeology (SIRFA) first research symposium.

The symposium itself was hosted in Lochmaddy, North Uist in the Western Isles with the purpose of bringing together a wide range of stakeholders in order to identify and discuss research gaps, opportunities and priorities for archaeological research across the Western Isles. The event was the first of three annual SIRFA project symposia; Year 2 will focus on Shetland, Year 3 in Orkney.

In its first few months of operation, SIRFA has proved to be very successful with The Western Isles Symposium surpassing all expectations by attracting over 80 delegates , with a further 25 individuals indicating their support and desire to input to the project as it progresses.

The delegates represented a diverse range of stakeholders including professors, lecturers and research staff and post-graduate students from 15 different universities, local community and third sector groups and national heritage organizations (see Figure 1 for breakdown). Key note speakers included Niall Sharples from Cardiff University and Mike Parker Pearson of UCL.

Figure 1: Delegates attending the SIRFA Western Isles Symposium by sector


The four day event was structured around thematic and period-based workshop sessions, public lectures and fieldtrips to Baile Sear, Lioncleit and Barpa Langass. Delegates were asked to live tweet from the event and
if you want to catch up on the events and the discussion you can follow the conversation at #SIRFA2019

“SIRFA involves working with a range of stakeholders to identify gaps in current knowledge and agree where archaeological researchers should focus their attention now and in the future,” stated Dr Rebecca Rennell, “The expectation is that local and national bodies overseeing archaeology, as well as funders of archaeological research, will require that all research across Scotland’s islands reference and respond to the priorities outlined in this framework. It is therefore a significant piece of work and one that will direct and shape the future of archaeological research in the islands.”

The event was funded by Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and CnES.

3 thoughts on “Western Isles Symposium was a great success

  1. Christine Cleal 25th January 2019 / 5:00 am

    As a Hebridean in exile, I am so pleased by, and proud of the achievements of the Archaeology Institute which is changing perceptions of the Islands. It was interesting that 25% of those attending seem to be local enthusiasts.

    • seanlisle1 25th January 2019 / 6:21 am

      Many thanks Christine for your kind comment. Yes it is good to see the local people so involved in the project. Regards Sean.

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