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Orkney: Beside the Ocean of Time


Project description

How do individuals and communities understand Deep Time? A relatively short-term perspective is dominant in contemporary societies as they face the complicated ongoing consequences of landscape change on every aspect of the human life, from agriculture and provision of food and energy to the protection of natural or cultural landscapes. A more holistic and deeper knowledge is required. This 18-month project aims to generate new understandings of the interrelationship between human community, Deep Time and landscape change using an interdisciplinary approach, in which five Early Career Researchers with backgrounds in Social Anthropology, Literature, Archaeology, Palaeoecology and Geology, will work together to find innovative ways to investigate and represent timedepth in landscape, using Orkney as a model. The project will develop and pilot an interdisciplinary methodology that will enable new insights into Orkney's rich literary, geological, palaeoenvironmental and archaeological heritage, which is coupled with contemporary concerns over coastal erosion and the political and economic importance of energy generation.

The project will address three main research questions:

  • How do communities respond and adapt to landscape change?
  • What is the time-depth of people's engagement with place?
  • How do we make Deep Time visible?

Responding to the challenge of understanding human engagements with the time-depth of landscape change requires the combined insights of Arts, Humanities and Sciences. Researchers will combine their expertise to undertake interdisciplinary fieldwork on Orkney. Working together with our project partner, the Pier Arts Centre (Stromness), and in collaboration with a local artist, we will explore creative ways of communicating and representing the results of the fieldwork, making Deep Time visible. This will enable community dialogue about the ways in which the lived environment of Orkney has been, and will continue to be shaped by human and natural activities, in the deep and near past, the present moment, and perhaps most significantly, the as yet, undetermined future.