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 project aims to generate new understandings of the interrelationship between human community, Deep Time and landscape change by using an interdisciplinary approach that draws on Social Anthropology, Literature, Archaeology, Palaeoecology and Geology. The project team will work with Orcadian artist, Anne Bevan and our project partner, The Pier Arts Centre, to find innovative ways to investigate and represent time-depth 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 culminate in a public Festival of Deep Time, in April 2017, which will include an exhibition, and a series of public workshops, talks and field-trips, that will enable us to undertake further ethnographic fieldwork, by involving the community in a dialogue about perceptions of time-depth and landscape change.

‘Orkney: Beside the Ocean of Time’ contributes to the Science in Culture Programme by providing opportunities for public engagement with the effects of time on landscape change. It 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.