Dr Antonia Thomas

Lecturer in Archaeology content

Lecturer in Archaeology

Antonia Thomas




UHI Research Database Profile

Scopus ID

Research Interests

My focus is on the relationship between Art and Archaeology in its broadest sense, from the interpretation of prehistoric visual culture, to the intersections between contemporary art practice and the archaeological imagination. My professional background is in heritage and archaeology, with experience spanning community development and regeneration, museum curation, commercial archaeological fieldwork, and higher education teaching. My broader research includes various aspects of visual and material culture, such as stone-carving and sculpture, vernacular buildings, prehistoric art and architecture, graffiti and mark-making, museum studies, and conceptual art.

This experience has allowed me to develop and lead a unique MA Contemporary Art and Archaeology at the UHI. This programme is unique in the UK in both its interdisciplinary approach and its use of novel digital pedagogies allowing it to be delivered entirely online. It currently attracts both local students, and those from across the UK, Europe and the USA. Creative engagement at all levels in archaeology remains at the core of my research and practice, and I also run several accessible summer schools linking art practice with archaeology. Outside of teaching, my own practice explores collaborative and creative approaches to archaeology, and I have undertaken a number of cross-disciplinary art / archaeology projects and residencies.

Academic Responsibilities

Programme Leader MA Contemporary Art and Archaeology


Antonia teaches across both Archaeology and Visual Arts programmes and currently contributes to the following modules:

  • Archaeology of the Highlands and Islands (SCQF 11)
  • Art and Archaeology: Contemporary Theory and Practice (SCQF 11) Module Leader
  • Art and Environment (SCQF 11)
  • Artefacts and Technology (SCQF 11)
  • Contemporary Art and Archaeology in Practice (SCQF 11) Module Leader
  • Cultural Heritage Management (SCQF 11) Module Leader
  • Final Project in Contemporary Art and Archaeology (SCQF 11) Module Leader
  • Research Skills and Methods (SCQF 11) Module Leader
  • Sustainability: Past and Present (SCQF 10)

Current PhD students

Helen Garbett, PhD Creative Practice: ‘The Human-Limpet Project: An art-based investigation into human and limpet entanglements over time’.

Research Supervision

I am interested in supervising postgraduate taught and research students in the following subject areas:

  • Links between Contemporary Art and Archaeology
  • Contemporary and Creative Archaeologies
  • Contemporary Archaeology and Heritage Management
  • Mark-making and inscription, including graffiti and rock art

Knowledge Exchange

Lead author of REF2021 impact case study “Art/Archaeology: Inspiring design and changing practice in Orkney’s creative industries

External Responsibilities and Memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Panel Member, UKRI Interdisciplinary Assessment College
  • Editorial Board, BAR Contemporary and Historical Archaeology Series
  • Member, British Academy Early Career Network
  • Member, Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network
  • Trustee, Orkney Natural History Society Museum (Stromness Museum)

Publications (selected)

Thomas, A. in press, expected 2024. ‘Contemporary Art, Archaeology, and Plastics’. In Geneviève Godin, Þóra Pétursdóttir, Estelle Praet and John Schofield (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Plastics. London: Routledge. 

Thomas, A. in press, expected 2024. ‘Contemporary Art and Archaeology: Interdisciplinary Pedagogy and Practice in the Digital University’. In G. Moshenska (ed.), Teaching and Learning the Archaeology of the Contemporary Era. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Brind, S., Harold, J., Hale, A., Lee, D. & Thomas, A. 2022. ‘Points in the Ambience – Travels with Archaeologists and Artists in Orkney’. The Drouth (January 2022).

Bishop, R.R., Gröcke, D.R., Ralston, I., Clarke, D.V., Lee, D., Shepherd, A., Thomas, A., Rowley-Conwy, P.A. & Church, M.J. 2022. ‘Scotland’s first farmers: new insights into early farming practices in North-West Europe’. Antiquity, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2022.107

Thomas, A. 2021. ‘“Survival Tools of the Anthropocene”: Islandness and Resilience in Saoirse Higgins’ PapØY-cene’. The Drouth (November 2021).

Thomas, A. 2020. ‘Art in Context: The Decorated Stone Assemblage’. In N. Card, M. Edmonds & A. Mitchell (eds.), The Ness of Brodgar: As it Stands, pp.132-149. Kirkwall, Orkney: The Orcadian Bookshop Ltd. Available here

Thomas, A. 2020. ‘Duration and representation in archaeology and photography’. In L. McFadyen & D. Hicks (eds.), Archaeology and Photography: Time, Objectivity and Archive, pp.117-137. London, Bloomsbury. http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350029712.ch-007

Thomas, A. 2019. ‘Image and process in an architectural context: decorated stonework from the Ness of Brodgar’. In A. Jones & M. Diaz-Guardamino (eds.), Making a Mark: Image and Process in Neolithic Britain and Ireland, pp.142-163. Oxford, Windgather. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvjz80kw.19

Thomas, A., Lee, D., Frederick, U. & White, C. 2018. ‘Beyond Art/Archaeology: Research and Practice after the ‘Creative Turn’’. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 4(2), (2017), 219-229. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.33150

Thomas, A. 2016. ‘Art and Architecture in Neolithic Orkney: Process, Temporality and Context’. UHI Archaeology Institute Research Series: 1. Oxford, Archaeopress. 274pp. Available here

Thomas, A. 2014. ‘Creating contexts: between the archaeological site and art gallery’. In A. Cochrane & I.A. Russell (eds.) Art and Archaeology: Collaborations, Conversations, Criticisms, pp.141-155. New York, Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-8990-0_11

Farrell, M., Bunting, M. Jane, Lee, D.H.J. & Thomas, A. 2014. ‘Neolithic settlement at the woodland’s edge: palynological data and timber architecture in Orkney, Scotland’. Journal of Archaeological Science 51, 225-236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.05.042