CHAT 2016 postcard flier V3 Low res white

CHAT 2016 - Rurality

21st – 23rd October 2016

Orkney Theatre, Kirkwall

Archaeology Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands, Orkney College, Kirkwall, UK


Provisional Programme

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Hosting the conference in Orkney away from the usual metropolitan centres will offer CHAT a chance to experience rural areas by situating itself within one. Orkney is both rural and island, and a microcosm for wider issues. In the past and present Orkney is a gateway, a crossroads and a hub, typified by recent renewable technology test sites. In this sense, the edge-lands are for innovators both in the past and present, and are orientated towards the future. With superfast communications technology, the internet and increased mobility, the dominance of urban centres for popular culture and social interactions is eroding. Are we ‘all urban now’ or is rurality growing new modes of existence?

We have identified a number of sub-themes and questions:

  • Experiencing and experiences of rural areas: What are rural ‘ways of life’ and how can we think about these archaeologically? Rural areas as contested landscapes past and present. How is our experience of rural heritage sites (tourism) mediated through convention and control?
  • Agriculture, technology and landscape: What are the social and political economies, landscapes and materialities of the recent past and present in rural areas and islands? Can we re-theorise rurality in Historical and Contemporary Archaeology?
  • Movement and travel within and between rural areas: How do these mobilities evidence themselves in blurring the boundaries (land and sea), both socially and spatially, between rural, urban and island areas? What is the role and history of digital technology in rural development?
  • Ruralisation of the urban: Archaeologies of parks, wastelands, community gardens, theme parks, pseudo-rural landscapes and counter-urbanisation. How has urban design brought rural into urban?
  • Rural areas as innovators / future orientated: Renewable technology and the development of more sustainable ways of life. Boom-bust economies of the recent past. Are terms such as ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ still useful? How can we challenge concepts / assumptions of remoteness and marginality?


CHAT 2016 Orkney - Fieldtrips - (see Travel to CHAT map for locations)

Thursday 20th October (all day)

Alternative tour of West Mainland Orkney

Ok, so we start the fieldtrip at a large Neolithic stone circle, but the Ring of Brodgar is a focus for numerous issues to do with tourism, cruise ships, site management, landscape setting and energy. We then move onto the WWII Ness Battery overlooking the island of Hoy where wooden accommodation blocks survive with the wonderful mural of English country scenes survives in the canteen. A quick lunch stop in Stromness is followed by a visit to the Pier Arts Centre where a tour focuses on the themes of rurality and landscape amongst the leading collection of British Modernist art. This is followed by a tour of the EMEC renewable energy test site just around the coast where the Oyster wave device operated. The fieldtrip finishes off with a trip to Kirbister Farm museum where the smell of peat smoke from the central hearth will fuel us for the rest of the conference.

9:45 Meet outside The Shore Hotel, Shore Street (near the harbour and Orkney Ferries offices). We will be in 3 minibuses.

10:00 Mini buses leave

10:30 Ring of Brodgar stone circle in the UNESCO Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site

11:30 Ness Battery One of Britain’s best preserved wartime sites. Tour by Andy Hollinrake.

12:30 Stromness lunch stop

13:00 Visit to the Pier Arts Centre with tour of the gallery

14:00 Billia Croo renewable energy test site (with talk by Lisa MacKenzie and Catrin Sutherland of European Marine Energy Centre, EMEC)

15:00 Kirbister Farm Museum

17:00 Return to Kirkwall


Friday 21st October (morning)

Kirkwall Walk

10:00 Meet by the harbour slipway (‘Corn Slip’) on Harbour Street, Kirkwall (opposite Helgis bar). Tour of the historic town centre by Rod Rochmond.

11:00 Visit St Magnus Cathedral. Tour by custodian Fran Flett-Hollinrake.

12:00 Walk ends


Please note, Conference Registration is at the Orkney Theatre 11:00 – 13:00.

Sessions start at 13:00


Sunday 23rd October – 4-5pm 3M_DOI workshop (Torvhaug, upstairs bar, Bridge Street)

Planning your trip:

Come to Orkney, you know you’ve always wanted too! Book early to get cheaper deals and allow for extra time, we could have some weather. Why not come on the Wed/Thurs and leave on the Monday to take advantage of our fieldtrips? Check with us about accommodation in halls at


You can travel to Orkney by ferry from Scrabster and Gills Bay on the north coast of Scotland, and Aberdeen (Northlink , Pentland Ferries ), and air (Flybe operated by Logan Air ) from four major Scottish cities (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Inverness). It can be cheaper to fly from London with British Airways. Train then plane is a good option. It is best to allow a day for travel each way. Do contact us for travel advice.


Rooms in new halls of residence next to the venue will be available, check with us first about discounts. Kirkwall has numerous hotels, B&Bs and hostels see

More information will be available soon on the conference website. This will include detailed travel options and accommodation. A number of travel/accommodation bursaries will be available.

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