Chairman's Introduction

In 2008 a proposal was placed by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland before Historic Scotland, whereby the Society of Antiquaries would, with financial assistance, draw upon its extensive network of Fellowship and knowledge to compile a Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF). This would establish a datum of achievement in 2012 and attempt to sketch out the Research Questions that are visible now as we approach the next five years; enabling future research to be appropriately and economically directed.

The arrangement was made with Historic Scotland through the good offices of Malcolm Cooper, then Chief Inspector in the organisation.

The matter was placed in the hands of a Steering Group in order that it could establish the project, appoint the Project Director, and oversee, on behalf of the Society of Antiquaries, this ambitious project towards the projected first phase completion date in November 2012. The Steering Group comprised the following individuals (and the organisations with which they were professionally affiliated at the time of joining):

  • Dr Stephen Carter, BA, PhD, MIfA (Headland Archaeology Ltd)
  • Dr David V. Clarke BA, PhD, FSA, FSAScot (in 2008, Keeper of Archaeology, National Museums Scotland)
  • Professor Stephen Driscoll BA, MSc, PhD, FSAScot (University of Glasgow Archaeology Department)
  • Dr Shannon Fraser MA, DipPostEx, PhD, FSAScot,MIfA (National Trust for Scotland & Convenor of the Society’s Research Committee)
  • Julie Gibson BA, AIfA, FSAScot (Orkney Islands Council Archaeologist and University of the Highlands and Islands, ALGAO: Scotland)
  • Dr Simon Gilmour MA, PhD, FSA, FSAScot, MIfA (Director of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland) who acted most nobly as amanuensis to the Group
  • Diana Murray MA, FSA, FSAScot, MIfA (Secretary (Chief Executive) of the RCAHMS)
  • A representative of Historic Scotland: (Dr Noel Fojut, BSc, PhD, FSAScot, MIfA / Roderick McCullagh BA, DipArchSciFSA, FSAScot / PeterYeoman BA, FSA, FSAScot, MIfA)  
  • Dr Brendan O’Connor BA, DPhil., FSA, FSAScot (Treasurer of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)
  • Professor Ian Ralston OBE, MA, PhD, DLitt, FRSE, FSA, FSAScot, MIfA (University of Edinburgh Archaeology Department)
  • The late Ian Shepherd MA, FSA, FSAScot. (Aberdeenshire Council Aberdeenshire & Convenor of the Society’s Research Committee)
  • Robin Turner BA, FSA, FSAScot, MIfA (formerly National Trust for Scotland, latterly RCAHMS)

The Steering Group was chaired by Professor Roger Mercer (Universities of Edinburgh and Durham, and formerly Secretary of the RCAHMS, and, in 2008, President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland), and appointed Dr Jeff Sanders MA, PhD, FSAScot as its Project Manager in 2008.

Since 2008 it has, as the outcome of much discussion, overseen the appointment of nine specialist panels under co-chairmen (Palaeolithic & Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman (in conjunction with Iron Age), Medieval, Modern, Marine & Maritime, and Science in Scottish Archaeology).  It has again ensured that each panel is supported by a substantial group of “critical friends” to whom they can refer and who have been generous with their time and expertise.  Each panel has met on several occasions, held workshops, drafted many thousands of words, and reviewed and revised various drafts. Only travelling expenses have been paid towards this extraordinarily generous effort. Many organisations have been most munificent in allowing free access by the project to their staff and facilities. Thanks are also due to the many individuals who contributed time and expertise to the production of the web resource, illustrations and other technical requirements.

From the very outset of the project it has been understood that the preparation of this account (where we are) and this prospectus (where we would like to be) are exercises that can only be conducted under two conditions:

  1. complete openness with participation and contributions from all informed sources; and
  2. the cumulatory and interactive discussion in a collegiate fellowship that has characterised every stage of the work.

It is important that the outcome be seen in that spirit, as an interim statement. The work of revision, updating, and, if necessary, contradiction must begin immediately, thus leading, hopefully, to a full revision of this text within five years.  No text will be discarded - replaced versions will be archived.  It is intended that the progress of archaeological enquiry in Scotland will be completely accessible, now and in the future, and that all revisions of panel reports will appear as numbered revisionary versions, with archived earlier versions available online.  These statements will be supported by an on-line wiki resource into which the main text and any supplementary material will be indexed for easy access, reference, and comment.  The management and maintenance of the on-line resource will remain the responsibility of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

I know that the Steering Group would wish me to thank on their behalf the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of scholars, working archaeologists, and related specialists who have worked so hard to produce this survey and the aspirations and ambitions enumerated here. Their names are listed at the outset of each Panel Report.   Special thanks are also due to Georgina Brown, Susan Casey, Peter McKeague, Keith Stewart and Gary Wales (all from RCAHMS) for invaluable help, advice, illustrations and the construction of the web resource. The Steering Group would wish me to thank Jeff Sanders, Project Manager, and Emma Jane O’Riordan, latterly his assistant, for their quite extraordinary dedication, sheer hard work, and diplomatic skill in the practical business of bringing this vast piece of work together.   I would wish to replicate those sentiments and also thank the Steering Group itself for long, enthusiastic yet organised and entirely helpful debate about the way the project was to go, and  went, forward.  Every branch of science has made colossal strides in the last 50 years and so has Archaeology.  Archaeologists in Scotland, and everywhere, wish everyone to enjoy the achievement and to share in its excitement and in its extension. 

Roger Mercer OBE, MA, FSA, FRSE, FSAScot, HonMIfA