‘Our Islands, Our Past’ Conference

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute Conference – ‘Our Islands, Our Past’

Click here for Our Islands Our Past Registration Form Download

Click here for full details of the conference programme

This conference is intended to contribute to the Scottish Government’s ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ agenda, initiated by the Local Authorities of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, which stresses the different status and needs of island areas, and plans to enshrine the concept of  ‘island-proofing’ in legislation through an Islands Bill.

We will examine the distinct individual islands’ identities, and collective traits and traditions through the traces of past communities, and we will expand this to thinking about islands and island communities more widely. The conference forms part of the celebrations of the Scottish Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and presents an opportunity to think about the future of the Islands’ archaeology and heritage, in the face of environmental, political and economic uncertainties. This conference also forms part of the development of a regional research framework for the three islands groups, with priorities for research feeding into a new research strategy.

Since moving on from thinking about islands as research laboratories, and with enduring perceptions of isolation and marginality, there remain issues that are particular to islands as discrete entities, such as islanders’ concepts of themselves as bounded communities, fragile communities, and the undoubted enhanced role of imagined communities in an island context. There are also issues of magnification and exaggeration that seem to manifest themselves to extremes in an island context, ranging from political discourse to monumental architecture.

We welcome contributions that engage critically with Scottish islands’ archaeology as well as comparative islands perspectives and aspects of recent and contemporary archaeology, and we also encourage multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary contributions.

Research themes include:

  • Migration
  • Abandonment
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Islands and identities
  • Future islands, future archaeologies
  • Materials and resources
  • Travellers and voyagers
  • Boundedness and permeability
  • Island utopias
  • Connectivity and communications
  • Fragility, sustainability


The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is also hosting a Student Conference which all are welcome to attend. This conference is designed to give Archaeology students an opportunity to present research, which has been undertaken as part of their studies, to a wider audience. The Student Conference will also include presentation, poster and roundtable discussion sessions for students to promote themselves and their work, together with opportunities to take part in interactive talks on the overall Archaeology Programme and with Archaeological Professionals on future employment aspirations.

The venue is the St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall 9.30am – 4pm on 15 September 2017.

Photograph: By kind permission Jim Richardson