Art & Archaeology Research

Impact of art and archaeology in Orkney highlighted in new article

The impact of art and archaeology in Orkney is one of the case studies highlighted in the latest edition of British Archaeology magazine.
British Archaeology Cover

The impact of art and archaeology in Orkney is one of the case studies highlighted in the latest edition of British Archaeology magazine.

British Universities are subject to regular assessments of research quality and, since 2014, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) process has included an emphasis on “Impact beyond Academia” – how research is relevant to people’s lives.

Entitled Impacting heritage, landscapes & lives, the article concludes that “archaeology should be proud: the REF 2021 results, published in May 2022, confirmed UK university archaeology’s international high standing, with a particularly strong showing for impact”.

It highlights 12 of the 59 case studies submitted to REF, one of which is the UHI Archaeology Institute’s Art/Archaeology: Inspiring design & changing practice in Orkney’s creative industries.

Dr Antonia Thomas (left) and Georgie Ritchie recover a beautifully incised stone slab from Structure Seventeen at the Ness of Brodgar in 2015. (Ole Thoenies)
Close up of the incised stone. (Ole Thoenies)

The article explains:

Two of the Ola Gorie jewellery pieces inspired by the Neolithic decoration at the Ness of Brodgar.

Antonia Thomas’ research on Neolithic art at the Ness of Brodgar formed the basis for public art/archaeology workshops with diverse academics, creative practitioners and the wider Orkney community.

Daniel Lee’s creative mapping led to innovative collaborations with an Orkney-based fashion designer, linking art and archaeology and leading directly to the design, development and global marketing of three commercially successful new jewellery collections and one new contemporary fashion range.

Thomas and Lee, with Anne Bevan and Jane Downes, then developed further workshops with artists, archaeologists and the community. These supported training and CPD courses and created opportunities for community groups to engage with archaeology-inspired creativity.

Taken together, their art/archaeology activities support employment, encourage new ways of teaching, influence business practices and product development, and increase sales for rural businesses and Orkney’s creative industries.

Click here to download the full British Archaeology article.

The REF results saw the UHI Archaeology Institute placed 14th in the UK archaeology rankings, and second in Scotland. Over 80 per cent of its published research achieved the two highest classifications of “world-leading” and “internationally excellent”.

Dr Antonia Thomas leads the UHI Archaeology Institute’s Contemporary Art and Archaeology MA. Launched in 2020, the course links the fields of contemporary art and archaeology, encouraging students to take a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to artmaking and research-led creative practice.

If you are interested in the course, or want to discuss your options, email for more information.