Finding the right words

Cave painting.
Communication can be a complex business. Figure from the cave of El Castillo, Spain.

I love writing, I love playing with words to make them sound right and convey meaning. But I’ve become increasingly aware that the way I hear them inside my head, and the meanings I am trying to communicate, may not be same as the meanings and sounds received by those who read them. Continue reading Finding the right words

Difficult Decisions

Archaeological remains are fragile and have to be carefully managed. Sometimes there are hard decisions to be made. In Orkney, the Control Tower sits amidst the remains of the airfield at RNAS Twatt

Recent publicity about the road plans at Stonehenge have highlighted the difficult issues that face the archaeological manager in going about their job. I’m not going to comment on that particular case – there is plenty of online opinion Continue reading Difficult Decisions

Archaeology and the future

Wind turbines at Burgar Hill. Energy is now a recognizable component of the Orkney landscape.

An ongoing research project reminds us of the ways in which archaeology encompasses even the most recent and widest uses of material culture. Orkney Energy Landscapes is a collaborative project between The Archaeology Institute, Continue reading Archaeology and the future

Fun and Learning in the Ether.

The Mesolithic is a fascinating field of research: what is happening in Mesolithic studies across Europe? Conferences provide an important venue to share research. Reconstruction by Pipeline.

I love academic conferences. I find that people are divided into conference-goers and conference-avoiders. I am an unashamed conference-goer. I love mixing with people to whom I do not have to explain my weird interest in subjects that Continue reading Fun and Learning in the Ether.

Defining our terms

Farming landscape.
The field boundaries with which we are familiar are all modern constructs. Archaeological sites transcend them. Careful recording and terminology is necessary when we do fieldwork.

Sites are key to the work of an archaeologist. But what, exactly, do we mean by a site? It is a term that we use all of the time, but it has become so commonplace that we rarely stop to consider what we are talking about. It is worthwhile Continue reading Defining our terms

New Publication – Lithic Scatter Sites

Mesolithic Deeside.
This evocative image by Ali Cameron gives a good idea of the joys of fieldwalking a lithic scatter site. Mesolithic Deeside members at work fieldwalking the prolific sites along the River Dee in Aberdeenshire.

Lithic scatters are one of the most common archaeological sites relating to Prehistory. What are they, how to investigate them, how to manage them? All is revealed in this new guidance document written with Scotland in mind. Thanks to the many people who consulted on this and helped with information and images. Although the document was written for those working on Scottish material, hopefully it contains information that will be of interest to those elsewhere.

It is free to download from the ALGAO website

New Publication

The waterfalls in the gorges at the upper reaches of the River Dee in the Cairngorm Mountains. One of the spectacular locations of the work on Mesolithic activity reported here.

It is always good to see a piece of research come to publication. In this case it brings back memories of a wonderful trip into the Cairngorms around the time of my 50th birthday to have a look at the location of some Mesolithic finds that Continue reading New Publication

Lockdown Dreams

Fieldwalking groups such as Mesolithic Deeside, here photographed by Ali Cameron, have a real contribution to make with regard to picking up the tiniest signs of life in the past.

We have all had a strange summer this 2020. Dreams of fieldwork as we wander the lanes around our homes and peer into fields wondering what we might find there were the farmer to plough the land. With this in mind I was asked to write a wee guide to the joys of fieldwalking for Dig it Scotland. You can read it here.