Experts from around the world are gathering in Orkney this weekend for the third, and final, Scotland’s Island Research Framework for Archaeology (SIRFA) symposium.
The event runs from tomorrow, Friday, March 24, until Monday, March 27, and brings together a wide range of archaeologists and heritage-sector stakeholders to agree on gaps in knowledge and understanding of Orkney’s past.
The result will be a set of key research questions for the future of archaeological research across the Scotland’s islands.
The symposium has attracted huge interest and attention, with over 130 delegates signed up, representing local, regional and international experts and stakeholders from more than 36 different organisations. The event will include a series of workshops interspersed with fieldtrips to key archaeological sites and historic landscapes across Orkney.
It will be officially opened by Neil Gray MSP, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development. Mr Gray was born and brought up in Orkney and will be joined by Graham Bevan, convener of Orkney Islands Council (OIC) convener, at a private event hosted by the OIC on Friday evening.
The Orkney symposium follows one in the Western Isles in January 2019, and another in Shetland in September 2019. The resulting regional research framework for the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney will be set within the broader Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF).
Orkney county archaeologist Paul Sharman described the event as vitally important for Orkney and the future of its archaeological research.
“We have world-class archaeological sites and resources and everyone appreciates the value this brings to our islands. With the development of several national initiatives that seek to strengthen island communities, 2023 is great time to be thinking about where we want to be in next few decades with regard to Orkney’s archaeology.”
Professor Jane Downes, director of the UHI Archaeology Institute added: “I’m delighted that so many people have signed up for the SIRFA Symposium here in Kirkwall. To see so many active researchers and experts engaging in the project is excellent – it’s going to be an extremely interesting few days.”
Professor Neil Simco, UHI Deputy Principal (Academic and Research), said: “It is great to see UHI staff bringing this project to Orkney, via Shetland and the Outer Hebrides. With the recent UHI Islands Strategy, the university has reaffirmed its commitment to working with island communities, especially around heritage and culture which are recognised as key assets for Scotland’s islands.
“The UHI Archaeology Institute is active in all three of the island-based local authorities and SIRFA is a great example of what can be achieved by working across these island groups.”