Postgraduate Research

UHI Archaeology Institute research highlighted at Highland Archaeology Festival

A substantial Neolithic settlement at the north-western end of the Ness of Brodgar is one of hundreds of new archaeological sites outlined in a new book from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute.

Dr Scott Timpany, a lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Island Archaeology Institute, will present a talk next week as part of the ongoing Highland Archaeology Festival.

Scott’s presentation, Recent Palaeoarchaeology Work in the Highlands, focuses on the use of plant remains to answer research questions and explain vegetation changes over time.

The talk will be streamed online, using Microsoft Teams, on Tuesday, October 6, at 7.30pm. Although free to access, pre-booking is required at

On Thursday, October 8, from 7.30pm, three UHI postgraduate students will take the stage to outline their ongoing research.

In “The archaeology of whisky smuggling: searching for things that weren’t meant to be found!”, PhD student Darroch Bratt will discuss the archaeology of whisky smuggling as well as the way trade, legislation, economics and community impacted and changed the archaeological footprint of what became a pillar of the Scottish economy.

PhD student Jasmijn Sybenga’s talk, “Seeing the woods for the trees: a palaeoecological investigation of native woodlands to inform present and future woodland conservation management strategies in Northern Scotland”, outlines her research into three areas of peatland in Caithness and Sutherland.

Pollen grains viewed through the microscope (x400) – tree pollen of alder and hazel can be seen in this photo. (Picture: Dr Scott Timpany)

Using pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs and microscopic charcoal, Jasmijn is seeking to identify the types of woodland previously present against today’s woodland survey of Scotland, causes for the demise of these woodlands and evidence of past woodland disturbances, such as those caused by people and climate.

The results of the work are modelled against predicted climate change to identify what native woodland and tree types offer the best chance for establishment through re-afforestation of these areas.

“Out of the Round: a palaeoecological investigation into human-environmental interactions of hut circle communities in Gairloch, Wester Ross”, from MRes student Hannah Genders Boyd, focuses on the Bronze and Iron Age communities who occupied the hut-circle (roundhouse) sites in the area around Gairloch.

One of the hut circles at Achtercairn, in Gairloch. (Picture: Dr Scott Timpany)

Palaeoecological analysis is being undertaken to investigate the interactions between local communities in this area and their environment – in particular evidence of economy, such as pastoral and arable farming and whether any shifts in these can be detected, together with evidence for metalworking from elevated charcoal and heavy metals input into the peat bog the core was taken from.

The project will look at how these communities adapted to changing climate and whether occupation of the area occurred in relatively short bursts of time or over a longer duration.

These talks should be booked at