ScARF Student Bursary Report: Gavin Douglas

Scotland’s Island Research Framework for Archaeology (SIRFA) Symposium, Shetland 20th – 23rd September 2019

First and foremost I would like to show my appreciation to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland for giving me the opportunity take part in the Scottish Islands Research Framework for Archaeology (SIRFA) hosted by Shetland Amenity Trust in Lerwick. My interest in attending was to broaden my insight into archaeology in the areas and almost as importantly have the chance to meet and speak with professionals in the field. I am not an archaeologist but my PhD I am currently undertaking is on the conservation or archaeological structures having the exposure to the knowledge base available was incredibly useful and insightful. Throughout four very busy days there was a lot of opportunity to gain knowledge on a host of different subjects and not just during presentations as throughout the workshops a lot of information and views were imparted from numerous different and sometimes opposing points of view. The most pertinent sessions to my research on Prehistory and the Iron Age were full of discussion which as well as widening my awareness of the subject conflicted some of my previously held points of view, which although challenging was most useful.

Gavin and other attendees visiting the Neolithic factories at North Roe during the SIRFA Symposium

What was most enlightening was the feeling that everyone had the opportunity to engage or be involved whether they were from an archaeological or historian background or just and interested member of the public and there seemed to be very little barriers to challenging long held views and historic ‘facts’ that now seem on a less stable foundation. This resonates quite deeply with a number of queries being brought to the surface in my research so having the exposure to this gives me a much broader sense of the questions as well as some answer.

The field trips were of a nicely varied nature and whilst the visit to Mousa Broch (Yes it definitely is a broch) was a highlight the chance to visit Old Scatness along with Steve Dockrill and Julie Bond for the first time they had been to site in 10 years stood out for me.

Gavin Douglas, PhD Candidate, Stirling University