Society for Medieval Archaeology Student Colloquium, University of Exeter, November 2019
In November 2019, I attended the Society for Medieval Archaeology’s (SMA) Student Colloquium, which was held at the University of Exeter, in order to present a conference paper based on my most recent research. This was a highly successful conference that brought together postgraduate students and academics working within the Medieval period from a variety of different countries and disciplinary backgrounds. The three days of presentations and workshops demonstrated the vibrancy and breadth of this research area, with a range of presentations concerning topics such as fieldwork results from monasteries in the North of the Netherlands to blacksmithing and its associated cosmologies in India.
Both my recently completed Masters thesis and a significant part of my current PhD research have a strong focus in the Medieval period, predominantly through an examination of the Viking Age and Late Norse chapel sites in the North Isles (Yell, Unst and Fetlar) of Shetland, as well as case studies from the mainland. This formed the basis of my conference paper that discussed Norse conversion and Christianity in this area of the Norse North Atlantic, and the ramifications that these fieldwork results may have for the traditional narratives of Norse conversion between 995-1000 AD.
The SMA Student Colloquium was a perfect opportunity to share my research aims and preliminary results with a varied and knowledgeable audience, and gain some insightful feedback from this process from scholars who work with similar material from different regions. Although this conference did not focus on Scottish archaeology in particular, presenting a paper at such a well-attended event allowed me to emphasise the importance of the Scottish material with regards to this period and specific area of study. Furthermore, what I have learned from the methodologies and results of others may be applicable to my own research, and as a result may inform my analysis to produce a more accurate and holistic view of Norse Christianisation and conversion in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland. Additionally, I was very proud to receive the ‘Best British Research’ award at the conference, and I firmly believe this is a testament to the incredible nature of the archaeology we are so lucky to have here in Scotland.
Finally, I would like to thank both the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF) and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland for providing me with the Student Bursary to attend the SMA Student Colloquium. I am exceedingly grateful for the appreciation of the importance of attendance and participation in such events for students and early career researchers shown by the funding bodies mentioned above.
Scott McCreadie, PhD student, University of Glasgow