Derek Smart

RCAHMS – Skills for the Future Trainees

The Skills for the Future trainees contributed to Day of Archaeology early as they were presenting a showcase of their work at an event at Edinburgh Castle on the 21st July and some will not be around on Day of Arch as they are taking a well earned holiday! Here the trainees explain what they’ve been working on over the past 6 months and their future plans.

On the day the trainees presented their work in various sections at RCAHMS including General Collections, NCAP and placements with Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland. The trainees; Dave, Nora, Craig, Kate, Bryony, Elaine and Tania have been with the Commission for 6 months so roughly half way through their placements here.

Dave Avery and Nora Noonan
‘Goings On in General Collections’
The last four months have seen us working with a wide range of archaeological and architectural material, the focus being on hierarchical cataloguing and best practice when re-housing archival material to ensure long lasting preservation. We’ve witnessed a major migration of RCAHMS records into a new database and have acted as guinea pigs in testing this new database, working closely with Collections staff to feedback our experiences. We’ve spent time in the National Collection of Aerial Photography digitising and centre-pointing as well as producing Feature pages for their website. We have really enjoyed working and learning from people from all over the organisation, the programme of work has been extremely varied and there is still half a year to go.

Craig Turner and Kate Cochlan
‘Mosaics, Documentaries and Field Trips’
We’ve been based for the most part in the NCAP department. We’ve undertaken a range of tasks via which we have slowly but surely familiarised ourselves with the photographic material in its varied forms – film, print and digital. We were lucky enough to be involved with the work preceding the Operation Crossbow documentary, broadcast on BBC Two in May, helping to digitise, centre-point and prepare the relevant imagery. Other activities have included learning about the surrogate copying process while working with All Scotland Survey material; receiving preservation and conservation training; learning about colour balancing and RAW image processing; going on field trips with the Survey and Recording department and spending time with the Collections department. We particularly enjoyed developing the Glasgow news item on the NCAP website – preparing snapshots of two geo-rectified aerial mosaics and writing accompanying feature articles. We’re both exited about the next stage of our training – working collaboratively to deliver a prototype package for a fresh and exciting new look for the NCAP website.

Bryony Jackson, Elaine Johnston and Tania Dron
‘French Verbs to Facial Hair’
We began our Education and Outreach work programme by developing resources for Scran – Features, Pathfinder Packs, and PDF supporting materials on themes relative to the Curriculum for Excellence. We were able to select out own languages, citizenships, battles, royalty, nuclear power, comedians, cannibalism and facial hair! We really enjoyed Scran’s variety and the opportunity to expand on our experiences of developing web content. Stepping from online resources to on-site activities, our three month placements with Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland started in April. This gave us the chance to develop the educational aspects of locations ranging across Scotland’s castles, museums and country houses.

Showcase Event

Some more photographs of the event itself in the Devil’s Elbow at Edinburgh Castle.










The Skills for the Future trainees can be followed on their

own blog at and Twitter page and by following the #SftF hashtag.


(Photography by Derek Smart RCAHMS)