Update: All available places have now been filled. Thank you to all interested parties who have been in touch.
The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is looking for volunteers interested in a new project researching early trade in Orkney.
The research is part of the international Looking in from the Edge (LIFTE) project, which is looking at the Northern Isles’ place in European trade networks of the 15th to 18th centuries. The Hanseatic League — an organisation of German merchants that expanded into the North Atlantic in the 15th century – was at the forefront of these networks and although its influence in Shetland has been extensively documented, less is known about the league’s interests in Orkney. And this is where the volunteer researchers come in.
A major element of LIFTE is involving local communities and training those interested in research methods from archaeology and history. So, from March until the end of May, the Archaeology Institute is running a virtual volunteer group that can be joined by anyone with access to a computer and the internet.
Each volunteer will be allocated an online resource to search for references to anything trade-related, e.g. Orkney merchants, shipping, trade, cargoes, burgesses, storehouses etc, and a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet template to record their findings.
Fortnightly group meetings online will allow the researchers to discuss their findings in an informal “show-and-tell”. Co-ordinators Anne Mitchell and Sarah Jane Gibbon will also be on-hand to answer questions and to see what nuggets of information have been unearthed.
At the end of the research period, the volunteers’ data will be collated to provide an overview of Orkney trading operations, which will then be incorporated into the project’s publications and exhibitions.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the German Research Council, 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.