About CHAT 2016


Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory (CHAT) Conference

21-23 October

Registration closes 7th October


Place: Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland

Venue: Orkney Theatre, The Meadows, Kirkwall

Host: University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute

Info: http://chat-arch.org/

Enquiries: archaeologyconference@uhi.ac.uk

Download a registration form and draft programme from the CHAT website (http://chat-arch.org/ ). Registration closes 7th October. We have a great line up including themed plenary sessions, film night and 3M_DO discussion. We also have exhibitions, installations and videos in the theatre foyer, and poster presentations.

Download final programme here: chat-2016-final-programme-v4-280916


Hosting the conference in Orkney away from the usual metropolitan centres will offer CHAT a chance to experience rural areas by situating itself within one. Orkney is both rural and island, and a microcosm for wider issues. In the past and present Orkney is a gateway, a crossroads and a hub, typified by recent renewable technology test sites. In this sense, the edge-lands are for innovators both in the past and present, and are orientated towards the future. With superfast communications technology, the internet and increased mobility, the dominance of urban centres for popular culture and social interactions is eroding. Are we ‘all urban now’ or is rurality growing new modes of existence?

We have identified a number of sub-themes and questions:

  • Experiencing and experiences of rural areas: What are rural ‘ways of life’ and how can we think about these archaeologically? Rural areas as contested landscapes past and present. How is our experience of rural heritage sites (tourism) mediated through convention and control?
  • Agriculture, technology and landscape: What are the social and political economies, landscapes and materialities of the recent past and present in rural areas and islands? Can we re-theorise rurality in Historical and Contemporary Archaeology?
  • Movement and travel within and between rural areas: How do these mobilities evidence themselves in blurring the boundaries (land and sea), both socially and spatially, between rural, urban and island areas? What is the role and history of digital technology in rural development?
  • Ruralisation of the urban: Archaeologies of parks, wastelands, community gardens, theme parks, pseudo-rural landscapes and counter-urbanisation. How has urban design brought rural into urban?
  • Rural areas as innovators / future orientated: Renewable technology and the development of more sustainable ways of life. Boom-bust economies of the recent past. Are terms such as ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ still useful? How can we challenge concepts / assumptions of remoteness and marginality?


Fieldtrips: Why not get here a bit early?

Thursday 20th (all day) – Alternative tour of Orkney West Mainland (free, book on registration form)

Friday 21st (am) – Kirkwall walk (free, no booking required)

Planning your trip:

Come to Orkney, you know you’ve always wanted too! Book early to get cheaper deals and allow for extra time, we could have some weather. Why not come on the Wed/Thurs and leave on the Monday to take advantage of our fieldtrips? Check with us about accommodation in halls at archaeologyconference@uhi.ac.uk


Travel information, getting to Orkney:  http://visitorkney.com/getting-here .

You can travel to Orkney by ferry from Scrabster and Gills Bay on the north coast of Scotland, and Aberdeen (Northlink http://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/ , Pentland Ferries http://www.pentlandferries.co.uk/ ), and air (Flybe operated by Logan Air http://www.flybe.com/ ) from four major Scottish cities (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Inverness). Train then plane is a good option. It is best to allow a day for travel each way. Do contact us for travel advice.


Halls accommodation (Papedale Halls of Residence) is nearly full, so best check with us first for availability (archaeologyconference@uhi.ac.uk).

Kirkwall has numerous hotels, B&Bs and hostels see http://visitorkney.com