George Geddes (RCAHMS) – Highland

George Geddes, RCAHMS

George Geddes, RCAHMS

Highland ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Highland ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

George Geddes, an Archaeology Survey and Recording Project Manager at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) explains the archaeology of Croick in the Highlands.

The ruinous and mutilated remains of an Iron Age Broch stand in the glebe lands on the riverside at Croick. Few visitors cross the wall from the churchyard to visit them – the remains are difficult to ‘read’, having been robbed and rebuilt over two millennia. The church itself, built to one of Thomas Telford’s designs, stands testament to a period of violent change in the surrounding landscape, when many of the tenantry were forcibly removed. During 1845 a number of evicted families took shelter in the churchyard and etched their names in the beautiful windows providing a lasting memorial to an event that must have been truly traumatic for the people involved. Nowadays, the church is a serene and peaceful place to visit and a visitor noted that they were ‘moved to tears’ by the display. What place then, to help one think about social progress, inequality and change, not only in the 19th century (so recently in one sense), but also in the Iron Age when movements of people and power may have been every bit as dramatic.


Aerial view looking along Strath Cuileamach with the church, manse and remains of the broch in the foreground, taken from the SE. Copyright RCAHMS (DP024749)

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

You can also contact the local authority Historic Environment Record (HER) for more information. In this case contact details are:

Ian Scrivener-Lindley

HER Officer / Historic Environment Team / Highland Council

Planning & Development, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, IV3 5NX

T: 01463 702503

HER: http://her.highland.gov.uk/



A Highland view from Edinburgh

Like a number of other archaeologists, I haven’t been working within archaeology for a some months now. I was fortunate that following finishing my degree studies, I was working continuously – in some form or another – right up until Christmas last year. Since then I’ve been seeking gainful employment outside the archaeological world always with the hope of getting back into it. Jobs have been applied for, interviews taken, rejections accepted… Still, I’m a determined individual and accept that while it may take some time, I will be employed within archaeology again. I believe that with enough time, effort and blind faith, my determination will pay off. Though it may worth asking me in a year’s time if I still see this the same way…

So, this ‘day in the life of’ will be slightly different as I’m not – strictly speaking – an archaeologist, merely someone who wishes to be one (again). I live in Edinburgh, Scotland and in many respects it is a fantastic place to be situated as an archaeologist. There is an abundance of commercial units, government agencies and fantastic museums all of which provide great opportunities and resources for interested parties of all kinds – whether students, professionals or others. Indeed, it’s these ‘others’ that I’m interested in as an archaeologist. I see archaeology as a discipline breaking down into 3 basic (and, yes, exceptionally generalised) categories: academic, commercial and public. Now, I don’t really agree that there should be a separate branch of archaeology called ‘public’. I think that all archaeology should be public. This is an attitude that not everyone agrees with and an attitude that is very difficult to fulfil within the commercial and academic sectors. Happily, however, the importance of public archaeology is increasingly being realised and evermore funding and resources being given towards it. For anyone reading not immediately familiar with what ‘public archaeology’ means, it is a democratic approach to studying our past: ensuring the transparency, accessibility and opening up of archaeology to everyone. Community involvement and support is absolutely critical to this.

My own interest stemmed partly from what I was learning at university and my frustrations with hitting a brick wall of grey literature at seemingly every turn, and partly the fieldwork I undertook as part of my degree studies. I consciously chose sites that were varied, working with a wide variety of individuals and an equally as wide variety of subject matters. While I didn’t realise it at the time, my interests were drawn towards projects where there was a degree of community involvement and within cultural landscapes with which I identified (silly me thinking it’d be just the archaeology drawing me to a place!). These landscapes are the Scottish Highlands, or more specifically the Gaidhealtachd – the Gaelic-speaking Highlands. As a native Gaelic-speaker myself and having been brought up in the Highlands perhaps somewhat inevitably a significant part of my fieldwork experience has been in this area.