Society of Antiquaries

A day managing the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

The day in the ScARF office begins with tea and the newest member of the team reading our old Day of Archaeology posts from 2012 and 2015 (if you haven’t read them, they can be found at and and finally . Since the last #dayofarch, the ScARF team has doubled in size and so now we are two people, making just over 1 full time post. This means that we can split ourselves easily between archaeology and museums work, as part of the plan for the future is to better integrate existing museum collections with trying to answer existing research recommendations, which so far have tended to be born out of pure archaeological thinking.

There won’t actually be much time for me to read #dayofarch posts today though, that will likely be a task for the bus home. Being part time means you have to use every office minute to its advantage and you often feel like reading blog posts and similar isn’t ‘real work’, even if they do have value! One I can read legitimately, though, is the post for today from Anna our Museums Officer at  Instead, today will mainly be about three things:

  1. Future Thinking on Scotlands Carved Stones – a major new panel report for ScARF
  2. The ScARF student network
  3. Admin tasks
Future Thinking on Scotlands' Carved Stones - a screenshot of the yet to be released resource

Future Thinking on Scotlands’ Carved Stones – a screenshot of the yet to be released resource

Firstly, getting the newest addition to the ScARF panel report family up online. Future Thinking on Scotlands Carved Stones ( ) is due for release at the end of next month and will mark the culmination of work by a group of over fifty people led by Dr Sally Foster, Dr Katherine Forsyth, Stuart Jeffrey and Susan Buckham. I didn’t contribute to the writing of the report, but my job was to advise on structure and to put the text and images online and link everything together, as well as to link to other existing ScARF sections where appropriate. This means some HTML work, as simply copying and pasting leaves a horrible proprietary mess in the code, and then some design work to fit the images into the text nicely. Very similar, in fact, to what I appear to have been doing for the 2012 #dayofarch post.  I’ve blocked off most of the day to work on Carved Stones because it needs focus and concentration so I can’t let myself get distracted by other ScARF bits at the same time.

Exciting as the work on the new stones panel is, I don’t have time to spend all today on it. It’s already made up the bulk of my work over the past three weeks. So, after a no-break-desk-lunch, I plan on quietly putting the stones to one side and begin the never-ending task of project admin. Mostly replying to emails, you do know archaeological project management is pure glamour, right? Some emails will be routine and won’t need much time spent on them, some I can see from the subject line are to do with new archaeological research so they will get marked to explore properly later, and recently it seems quite a lot are related to some of our upcoming panel meetings so I will be sure to answer them straight away.

Trowelblazer Lottie had planned on helping out for the day but instead despairs at the increasing amount of post it notes

Trowelblazer Lottie had planned on helping out for the day but instead despairs at the increasing amount of post it notes

After that block of admin, it will be time for some Friday Fun and telling the world about some of the work we have supported recently. Over the past few months, ScARF has provided student bursaries to attend archaeological conferences. In return, each student had to submit a short report to us about their time there as well as a promise that ScARF can use their research, if appropriate, to help update the framework questions and recommendations. The reports received so far can all be found at and cover a diverse range of topics including prehistoric beekeeping, iron age object deposition, re-evaluation of insular metalwork from Pagan-Norse graves, Medieval cetacean consumption and Iron Age equestrianism, so something for everyone! I have a few new reports to put up this afternoon from the 14C and Archaeology conference ( that recently took place in Edinburgh, so if science and archaeology is your thing then take a look at the reports section later today. After that, I need to write to all the bursary recipients and see if they want to take up the offer of Society Fellowship (you can find out more about that at ).

I plan on spending some time towards the end of the day working on my papers for the European Association of Archaeologists conference, which is at the end of next month. If you are interested, then ScARF and the Society have papers about digital publication and archiving in session TH3-11 , and open access in session TH3-03.   In a previous life, writing papers usually took place in the evenings and weekends. However, now I’m in my thirties and have responsibilities other than work, so paper writing has to take place during the working day. This is a good example of how, four years on from my first #dayofarch post, how I can/have to spend my day at work has changed even if some of the actual work is the same.

An aside: Writing this post has also made me realise how my views on working in archaeology have changed over the past four years since the first post. In those four years, I have had three different jobs (not all archaeological, and none until now more than a 12 month contract) and become a parent. Archaeology (and therefore work) used to be the all consuming thing in life, and I was quite happy to give all my hours/life to it (Hello Silchester!) but life happens and things change. Some of the best posts from previous years are those that truly reflect on what a job/career archaeology is about and how it is rarely a smooth ride (I particularly like,, and recently I think #dayofarch is a great way for people to reflect on archaeology as a career (whether they are already working in archaeology or not) and provides an invaluable and real insight to a world that, despite what some would have you believe, isn’t all Lego, Minecraft, or easy digging in the sunshine. </endrant>

The very last hour or so of the day of archaeology will be about planning the next few months. We are working in our plans for Orkney and Aberdeenshire museums visits as well as updating panel reports and working with commercial units to keep on top of the current archaeological picture in Scotland. This is the first time writing for #dayofarch that I’ve known I’ll still be working on ScARF for the next one, so I love the opportunity to really get stuck into the work and planning is a big part of that. It’ll be out with the diary, fix some dates and then head home – to read lots more #dayofarch posts en route!

Working on the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF) pt 2

Morning’s work done and after a quick lunch I now have a meeting with Stuart Campbell of the Treasure Trove Unit (TTU). The TTU is responsible for the identification and preservation of recently discovered and significant objects. They also co-ordinate the allocation of objects to public museums and set suitable market-value finder’s rewards where appropriate. The Treasure Trove website is the best place for more details and the legal background.

Discussing the document: Stuart about to volunteer his expertise

Finds reported through Treasure Trove comprise a considerable research resource and the potential it has to help us answer our questions regarding the past is something we have previously discussed. Today however, I’m talking to Stuart about his research interests, particularly in relation to the work of our Modern panel. We recently held a workshop through in Glasgow to discuss our draft report and got a lot of feedback on what we should include, and what we might edit down. All of our panels hold a workshop of around 25-40 people and it is a really useful way to get feedback. We’ve also found people are very willing to help address gaps that we might have, and today I’m discussing a couple of topics that Stuart might be able to help us cover.

After a good discussion and with Stuart volunteering to cover a few of the outstanding gaps in the report I head back to the Society offices. Everyone who contributes to ScARF gives their time and their work for free, and I’m constantly amazed at how much effort people put in. We had initially envisaged our series of reports as each being around 25,000 words long – this was then revised upwards to around 35,000. We keep on getting in really good work however, and in a variety of formats (databases, maps, date-lists, spreadsheets etc). As a result, we are developing a ‘wiki’ or online encyclopaedia in order to house the information from the reports, as well as all of the extra information that we had to edit down. Hopefully, we can keep this updated and streamlined so that it becomes a useful and used resource (not much worse than a dead wiki!).

Some of the Society’s publications

Early afternoon I was scheduled to meet with my line manager, Simon Gilmour, the Director of the Society of Antiquaries. He was called away to a funeral today however so I have a bit of time to focus on a couple more of the reports, and hopefully have the chance to have a quick look around the newly opened museum. Before I do, I thought I would highlight the work of the Society as a publisher. As well as publishing the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and the Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports (SAIR) we also produce a number of books. Our Proceedings and SAIR are both available online entirely for free – a real source of pride for the Society. I don’t have the number of times these resources are downloaded to hand, though over the course of a year SAIR is well into 6 figures, and the Proceedings into 7 figures. If my boss reads this, he may be able to update accordingly! Our publications cover a whole range of topics, with recent books on St Kilda, and on excavations of henge monuments by Richard Bradley.

My colleague Erin’s desk – publication is a busy business! (and the desk is always this tidy)

Writing about henge monuments reminds me that my next task is connected to our Bronze Age panel…