CHAT 2016 Conference Videos Go Live

The Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory (CHAT) conference hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute in Kirkwall was a great success. Now the papers are available as video presentations.

The theme was Rurality and the papers are now publicly available on YouTube via the Recording Archaeology channel. The videos and playlists are searchable, and the links for each session are below:

The original conference links:

Many thanks to Doug Rocks-Mcqueen and Ben Lewes of Landward Research Ltd for sponsorship and production of the videos, and to Recording Archaeology for hosting.

CHAT conference was a great success

A big thank you to all those delegates who made the CHAT 2016 conference such a great success.

Last weekend saw the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute host CHAT 2016 (Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory) where 70 international delegates discussed a range of interdisciplinary papers from archaeologists, anthropologists, geographers, historians and artists – exploring archaeologies of rural places.

Delegates arrived from all points of the compass including the US, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Greece, China, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, UK and of course Orkney.

35 papers were presented in addition to a varied programme of films, field trips, presentations, workshops and films including a world premier of Jasper Coppes’ new 16mm film `Flow Country` and Mark Jenkins film `The Imaginary Worlds of Scapa Flow`. A blog of the making of the film is also available here.

If you missed any of the papers or are interested in seeing the presentations, the conference has been filmed in collaboration with Landward Research Ltd and videos of the papers will be made available online soon.

Next year, CHAT will be held at The University of Amsterdam from 3rd-5th November 2017.

Abstracts of papers available here chat-2016-orkney-rurality-abstract-booklet-v1

“Many, many congratulations on organising a terrific event. I really enjoyed and valued the experience – much to think about” Delegate via e-mail.

“Thank you so much for a wonderfully lively trip to Orkney. Thanks for putting together such a well-curated conference. Everything fitted together perfectly. I have many highlights, from the inclusion of the journey which served to break down barriers on arrival as well as give a flavour of terrain, space, time; to the last session (Rural Futures) which I was so fortunate in chairing. I’d also highlight Jobbe Wijnen’s really striking paper on local resistance in his hometown to its selection as a the site of a refugee camp, the films and fringe, the fantastic field trip, wonderful new people  – and of course, reacquainting with old CHATters. So thanks Dan, and your team for a very special CHAT. And everyone else for bringing it together.” Sefryn Penrose (Chair, CHAT committee)

CHAT 2016 Conference Call for Papers

CHAT 2016 V3 CFP A4 poster (2)CHAT 2016


21st – 23rd October 2016

Orkney Theatre, Kirkwall

Archaeology Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands, Orkney College, Kirkwall, UK

CALL FOR PAPERS 30th Nov 2015 (closes 17th April 2016)

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?

We welcome proposals for papers, posters, films and installations that respond to the conference theme and follow the above or alternative lines of enquiry. As always, proposals from disciplines outside archaeology are welcomed. There will be a small exhibition space available in the theatre foyer for posters, installations or alternative presentations, and we are happy to discuss such contributions.

Please send proposals (up to 300 words) to no later than 17 April 2016.


It’s a shame to come so far and not see anything! So, we’re laying on fieldtrips on the Thursday, Friday morning and Sunday afternoon (details announced soon). We hope these will inspire debate and take the conference to the islandscape.

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


You can travel to Orkney by ferry from Scrabster and Gills Bay on the north coast of Scotland, and Aberdeen (Northlink , Pentland Ferries ), and air (Flybe operated by Logan Air ) 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.


Rooms in new halls of residence next to the venue will be available, check with us first about discounts. Kirkwall has numerous hotels, B&Bs and hostels see


More information will be available soon on the conference website. This will include detailed travel options and accommodation. A number of travel/accommodation bursaries will be available.

CHAT – Contemporary & Historical Archaeology in Theory

See the CHAT website at for regular updates

Conference enquiries: