Online seminar: The lost township of Broo – climate change or human agency in a coastal sand disaster?

Excavations of 17th century buildings at Broo Site II, Dunrossness, Shetland. (Picture: Gerry Bigelow)

Today, the latest University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute Research seminar considers geocatastrophe, using a lost Shetland township as an example.

About three hundred years ago, Broo was overwhelmed by windblown sand. The environmental catastrophe was probably not the first time that sand from the nearby Quendale Beach had caused problems, but this time the sand blew far inland and the community did not recover.

Through the history of Broo, the online seminar looks as the causes, processes and consequences of geocatastrophe.

The Shetland Islands Climate and Settlement Project (SICSP) has been investigating the causes, processes and consequences of the Broo geocatastrophe for over a decade. The coasts of Scotland and other parts of Europe offer many examples of archaeological sites and later monuments that have experienced comparable episodes of sand movements. Climate change has been proposed as a cause of these, sometimes catastrophic events, but other factors may also have played key roles.

The seminar, at 4pm on Friday, October 30, will be led by Dr Gerry Bigelow, emeritus associate professor of history, Bates College, Maine, and Visiting Reader with the UHI Archaeology Institute.

Dr Bigelow will discuss findings from the Broo research that contribute to understanding this environmental and historical phenomenon. In addition, the presentation will outline some of the challenges and opportunities that are involved in archaeologies of extreme events and buried landscapes.

For details on how to view the free online seminar, click here.

Introducing the forthcoming Ness of Brodgar book

Nick Card and Anne Mitchell of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute introduce the forthcoming interim monograph, The Ness of Brodgar: As it Stands.

The book, due for release on November 18, 2020, is the third volume in the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute research series and available to pre-order now.

Orkney’s first county archaeologist passes away

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Dr Raymond Lamb, Orkney’s first county archaeologist.

Raymond’s appointment in February 1979 marked a major advancement for archaeology in Orkney. He brought a wide-ranging knowledge of Orkney archaeology and had the prescience to recognise coastal erosion as its single greatest threat.

He established a Sites and Monuments Record for Orkney and augmented the number of sites known by carrying out field investigations and post-storm surveys. On Westray his surveys identified important new sites, such as Tuquoy, and documented the large number of sites which were at risk from erosion. The intensive programme of rescue excavation carried out in Westray in the 1980s was, in a large part, the result of his campaigning.

Raymond first visited Orkney in 1967, to assist in the five-year archaeological excavations at Skaill, Deerness.

His PhD thesis was a study based on his own fieldwork of promontory forts in Shetland. He visited all the inhabited and a few uninhabited islands of Orkney and was particularly fascinated by the many ecclesiastical sites scattered throughout the islands.

Our thoughts go to Raymond’s family at this difficult time.

Ness of Brodgar monograph available to pre-order

The third volume in the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute research series is available to pre-order now.

The Ness of Brodgar – As it Stands provides a comprehensive and up-to-date account of the Ness of Brodgar excavations and is due to be released on November 18.

The full-colour book features contributions from University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute staff as well as specialists from around the world. The result is 27 chapters, each devoted to different elements of the site, its excavation and interpretation.

The Ness of Brodgar: As it Stands, edited by Nick Card, Mark Edmonds and Anne Mitchell, is published by The Orcadian, priced £35.99. To pre-order, click here.

A future in the past! All set for University Archaeology Day

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is among the organisations represented at the 20th University Archaeology Day tomorrow, Thursday, October 22.

Explore the possibilities for a future in the past! An archaeology degree can open doors to all kinds of careers, and at the University Archaeology Day you can find out everything you need to know about studying this exciting subject.

The online event is designed for prospective students, teachers and parents to learn about the degree programmes on offer across the UK, to discover the range of career opportunities that an archaeology degree can lead to, and to hear about some of the latest archaeological research.

Most of the country’s top archaeology departments will be represented, along with a range of organisations that promote the subject and employ archaeology graduates. There will also be a full programme of talks and activities covering application tips, careers advice, and a wide range of archaeological topics including some of the latest finds and cutting-edge research.

Archaeology is a very broad subject that combines arts, humanities and sciences and is great for developing a mixture of academic and practical skills. Come to the University Archaeology Day to find out what an archaeology degree can do for you!

For more details of studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, click here.