In the spirit of the holidays and the end of the year, I have decided to join the general masses and create a top 10 for HARP this year. It’s been a great year for us, with lots of wonderful students and new opportunities. We are hoping that we will continue to grow and expand in the coming year, with new projects, tours and research. I hope that you and yours are enjoying the holiday season and are looking forward to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017. Here are my top 10 memories from HARP 2016!
1. 1st bioarchaeology field school in Cyprus. This year we were able to run our first bioarchaeology school at the Lemba Archaeology Research Centre in Cyprus with three very enthusiastic and interested students. We had a wonderful time working at the Lemba Archaeology Research Centre and with our colleagues at the Paphos Museum.
2. Recording Craig settlement. The Jacobites, Clearance and Scots project is always one of my favourite projects, and this year we had such a good time recording the settlement site of Craig on the Atholl Estates. The site commands an absolutely beautiful view and the standing remainsof the 18th century settlement are really impressive.
3. Another highlight for me this year was the insight into the vegetation by one of our participants on the Jacobites, Clearance and Scots project. Victoria is a biochemist by training and her experienced eye at the settlements and along the survey of Wades’ Roads was able to pick out non-indigenous plants and tell us about the previous land-use of an area. This kind of landscape analysis is quite unique and combines a specialist understanding of archaeology and botany.
4. Visiting Killiecrankie. We hadn’t had a chance to visit Killiecrankie in 2015, but this year, we got a great talk by one of our students, Kieran, who has been studying the Jacobite uprisings. This battle site is really very picturesque and when taken alongside the history of the uprising there, it becomes even more evocative of a location. The image of a hoard of half-naked Highlanders charging down the hillside is one that is sure to make an impression.
5. Dr Kate from Global Archaeology at Kildavie. Kate Leonard, a fellow Canadian, was able to come and join us at Kildavie this year which was really great. Kate has had a super exciting year of archaeology and travel, moving around to a new country and new archaeological experience each month. Check out her website here: www.globalarchaeology.ca She was really great to work with and made a rather rainy season a bit easier.
6. Kildavie excavation. This was a memorable one… compared to previous seasons where we have had lovely, sunny and warm weather… this year was a bit wild, weather-wise. Moments that stick out: the tent snapping and nearly blowing away, rain coming sideways, the last day winds which nearly blew us away! Not to mention the rather precarious convenience on the top of the hill in the tent. Our student team was awesome! Resilient and enthusiastic, they worked so hard in all weather and really made some great progress on the excavation.
7. Skalia skeletons. While the excavation at the Chalcolithic through Middle Bronze Age site of Kissonerga-Skalia is not strictly speaking a HARP project, withso many HARP employees working there, it feels like it is! And for me, nothing is better than getting the chance to excavate a skeleton (especially in the sunshine of Cyprus). This year, we had some Chalcolithic skeletons in the north east corner of the site come up during excavation by Paul Croft and his team which were quite interesting and will be part of the bioarchaeology field school next year.
8. Kildavie report. Ian has put together the excavation report for the work done at Kildavie over the last three years of work. This is a preliminary report, and it’s been a lot of work, bringing together all the paper work and drawings from the last few years. It is really neat to see the synthesis of the work; each context sheet contributes to the overall understanding of the site or area. It really shows how important it is to look at the bigger picture, but how each little piece or context helps create this big picture.
9. Working with Archaeology Scotland. Ian has worked with Archaeology Scotland in the past, and this year I was able to help out on a project in Motherwell, to the south east of Glasgow, looking at the preservation of a small cemetery within a nature reserve. This was a chance to work with groups of individuals who do not typically engage with archaeology and history, and I really enjoyed it. We cleaned and made notes about the grave stones, and it was really interesting to see how people became engaged and invigorated by the thrill of identifying and reading old grave stones.
10. The Real Outlander Tours. By far and away, this is the most exciting thing for me. Building off our Jacobites, Clearance and Scots field school, Ian and I are planning to run tours for those with an interest in archaeology and Jacobite history. Spending the time putting together the tour and realising not only how much work we have done in the Perthshire area, but also how interesting this time period is, and how much of an impact it has had on the face of Scotland today, is really inspiring. I really can’t wait for these tours! For anyone interested: www.therealoutlander.uk
That’s it from me for this year. I am looking forward to 2017! We have a great programme of field schools ahead – both the Bioarchaeology and Introduction to Archaeology courses in Cyprus are fully booked, and we are looking forward to our first ever Lithics course in collaboration with Carole McCartney. We still have some spaces available on the Jacobites, Clearance and Scots project in June, and we are still trying to determine when Kildavie will be running. The Real Outlander tours will be running in May/June and September and we still have some spaces available. Hopefully 2017 will be the biggest year yet for HARP! Have a very Happy Holidays!!