Stuart Needham

Working on the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF) pt 3

Well into Friday afternoon now and I have been working on the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age panel are holding their workshop next month and we have been putting together a draft of the document to circulate beforehand. The Bronze Age as a whole has been given short shrift in research frameworks so far, normally divided up between an earlier Bronze Age tacked-on to the Neolithic period, and a later Bronze Age viewed as a precursor to the Iron Age. ScARF has decided to approach it as a period like any other (indeed, radiocarbon dating is starting to put a lot of sites into the Bronze Age, and commercial archaeology is uncovering a lot of settlement evidence recently). As well as co-ordinating the sections coming in, I have to organise the venue – we have gone for a location in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

My next task is to work on our Science in Scottish Archaeology panel report. This panel recently met and are fairly far on with their report. The panel itself is slightly unusual in that the majority of people on it would not describe themselves as archaeologists. All panels have involved people from other disciplines – including historians of various types, architects and environmental scientists – though this is the only one in which archaeologists are in the minority. We have a few sections and illustrations to organise, so I have to contact various people and get that underway. The panel documents will provide something of a ‘rough guide’ for those undertaking archaeological work, pointing to further sources of information, and helping provide a context for those making archaeological decisions. We’re also hoping that there will be interesting and relevant material for those in neighbouring disciplines.

The old school way of electing Fellows: put your hand in and drop a ball into either 'admit' or 'reject.' Things are done differently now!

With this done, I can have a quick visit to the newly refurbished museum. The Society offices are located in the same buildings that form the NMS, which is no accident – you can read more about their intertwined histories here. The Society itself was formed in 1780, we have around 3,000 Fellows (many from abroad), and actively promote research into Scotland’s past. As well as publications, the Society also has a lecture series (including the marathon 6-part Rhind lectures), funds research, runs conferences, and has a vibrant north-east section. The Museum also has a library, to which the Society sends books and journals that are received in swap deals for our Proceedings. As such it holds some interesting material that is difficult to find elsewhere. We are now recording and publishing our lectures – again, free to download. Recent highlights have included the annual Archaeological Research in Progress conference, jointly organised with Archaeology Scotland, and the 2011 Rhind lectures by Prof. Stuart Needham. The Society is also on Twitter: @socantscot and Facebook.

And so to the museum – which is really fantastic. The main hall is beautiful and incredibly light, even when the weather is overcast (which very occasionally happens in Scotland). The refurbished museum contains everything, from natural history to art to archaeology. Highlights include the first colour television and a cast of a T-rex skeleton. A lot of the Scottish material is housed in the Modern wing (the Early People’s gallery is a particular favourite) and both museums are linked. It is nice to be able to spend time in such an interesting space.

The main hall