June 2017
Newsletter #21

Marvellous Museums!

In the last couple of months, the ScARF project has been back in both Orkney and Aberdeenshire visiting our museum project partners. 

In May, the Finds Research Group held their annual summer meeting and conference in Orkney, with a tour of the museum and their store forming a central part of the conference. It was great to be there in the company of so many finds specialists and have the chance to explore the newly revamped Viking and Medieval galleries. 

This month, Anna also returned to work with the museum team at Aberdeenshire Council in Mintlaw. This was a great chance to work with their curator, Fiona, and discuss in depth the research potential of the collections. Anna also visited the Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead - while it's easy to get lost in the museum stores in Mintlaw, it's important to remember the varied permanent displays and all the objects held at other local museums! The Arbuthnot has some great displays of objects relating to the whaling industry, quite different to the agricultural displays in the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum in Mintlaw.

As well as working with objects, Anna's time in Mintlaw was also spent discussing ways in which the ScARF Museums project can bring tangible benefits to those museum staff without specific archaeological knowledge as well as archaeologists who might not be familiar with the ins and outs of museum work.
Keep checking back on the ScARF website and future newsletters for the outcome of our discussions.

All objects featured here are in the care of either Orkney or Aberdeenshire council museum services

OASIS Workshop

The rescheduled OASIS workshop took place on the 26th June. It was attended by 13 people from across the heritage sector, including commercial units, HER's, museums and the third sector.

Peter McKeague (Historic Environment Scotland) gave a great overview of what OASIS is and how it is used in Scotland as well as possibilities for the future. Paula Milburn (Archaeology Scotland) talked about the plans for using the revamped OASIS form as a portal to enter Discovery and Excavation Scotland (DES) information. Finally, Tim Evans (Archaeology Data Service) showed the audience some mock ups of the new OASIS form, talked about the testing phase, plans for training, and kicked off some interesting discussion on how people can get involved with trialing the new system.

Development work has already started and it is expected that the build phase will be looking for testers around Spring 2018. If you are interested in getting involved with testing the new OASIS form, then please get in touch with Tim through emailing

New Zooarchaeological Reference Resource launched

A team from the University of York are leading a Historic England-funded project to create a central online database of zooarchaeology reference collections.The 'National Zooarchaeological Reference Resource (NZRR)'  will create a central online database of British reference collections.

Image © The University of York, photographer Luke Spindler.

Designed in consultation with zooarchaeologists from all sectors, this resource will allow users to find suitable specimens along with location, contact and access policy details.Please take a look, try out some queries, and let the project know what you think. Comments on the search interface are particularly welcome as are comments from those outside the UK. If anyone knows of similar initiatives in other countries the team would be very glad to hear about them!

Currently, the only Scottish reference collection is from the University of Edinburgh Zooarchaeology Laboratory but the project wouldn't mind other Scottish institutions and collections getting in touch!

Find out more about the project and view the database

Upcoming Events

Association for Environmental Archaeology Autumn Conference 2017

This conference (to be held at the University of Edinburgh) seeks to explore the grand challenge and agendas for environmental archaeology that confront its methods, approaches, contributions and relevance, including (but not limited to):

  • the ways in which the discipline can contribute to the major research foci of archaeology
  • advances in method, and integration of methods, that are permitting more robust and nuanced insights in these areas
  • approaches to modelling and testing past socio-ecological relationships, and exploring issues of cause and effect in these systems
  • the ways in which environmental archaeological research is relevant and contributes to the contemporary world

The organising committee invites oral and poster presentations that examine these themes. They are particularly keen to encourage comparative research that show how regional case studies can make essential contributions to globally-important questions, or indeed help to shape them and set new agendas for research. Proposals for papers and posters are due by Friday 29 September 2017.

Highland Archaeology Festival/Fèis Arc-eòlais na Gàidhealtachd!

Booking is now open! This annual conference highlights recent archaeological discoveries and research in the Highlands and allows you to browse displays from local groups and organisations. it will take place at the Highland Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on the 14th and 15th October 2017. 

The programme can now be viewed by following the link below. The varied topics include:
  • Regional archaeological research frameworks
  • The community excavation of an 18th century inn complex
  • Clachtoll Broch
  • A discovery from Massacre Cave, Isle of Eigg
  • The Skye Ecomuseum and recent excavations at a Mesolithic site in Staffin
  • Linking the archaeology of south Inverness: an overview of fieldwork on the Inverness West Link Road development
  • Build and burn: new approaches to performing prehistory
  • A rough guide to building archaeological chronologies: radiocarbon dating and Bayesian modelling in the Scottish Highlands;
  • Developments of dendrochronology of the Highlands;
  • Dating artefacts by typology, association and parallels: case studies from medieval archaeology
  • Recent excavations at Smelter’s Cave, Rosemarkie
  • Those enigmatic features: excavations at Dun Mhurchaidh, Ardnamurchan
  • Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence: a first glimpse of the Iron Age in Strathspey
  • Excavations at Swartigill, Caithness
  • Woodlands under the waves: investigating submerged forests in the Northern and Western Isles
  • The excavation and survey of a probable Bronze Age cist and associated cairn in Strathnaver, Sutherland
  • Scotland’s Rock Art Project
  • New light on old stones: recent discoveries at Kirkmichael on the Black Isle 
Bookings must be made by Tuesday 11th October 2017.
View the programme and book a place
Copyright © 2017 Scottish Archaeological Research Framework/Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, All rights reserved.

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