The recording of November’s monthly UHI Archaeology Institute research seminar, From the Cairns to Cata Sand: The history and archaeology of North Atlantic cetaceans, featuring Dr Vicki Szabo, from Western Carolina University, and our very own Dr Jen Harland.
This double-header talk starts with Vicki, who discusses her biomolecular work on whale remains.
Using a combination of ancient DNA and proteomics, Vicki has been able to identify fragments of whalebone to species, letting us explore past human-whale interactions across the North Atlantic region.
Jen then looks in more detail at the Cata Sand whalebone assemblage. Recovered from two pits in Sanday that were found to contain headless pilot whales, these are likely to date from the early 19th century.
The talk concludes with an exploration of the value of whales in post-medieval Orkney and Shetland, using historical and archaeological sources to explore the importance of shore-based, opportunistic whaling to the island communities.