Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon

Sarah Jane is a lecturer in Archaeology and Project Officer with ORCA.

Sarah Jane’s interest in Orkney’s heritage dates back to her childhood as she was brought up in a family steeped in stories of Orkney’s folklore, history and culture. Sarah Jane completed a joint undergraduate degree in History and Archaeology from Glasgow University in 1998, after which she continued her studies there, completing a research masters on the topic of ‘Norse Castles in Orkney’ in 1999. In 2006 Sarah Jane was awarded a PhD in Archaeology from the University of the Highlands and Islands/Open University. As well as lecturing in Culture Studies and Archaeology at the UHI, she has worked as a Historic Scotland Tour Guide and an archive assistant in the Orkney Archive. Since having her children in 2007 and 2012, she now divides her work between the Archaeology Institute and private research and consultancy.

Research interests

  • Medieval Orkney in its North Atlantic context, focusing on the saga period, particularly interested in the development of the medieval landscape, including the lifecycles of townships and parishes, the development of the ecclesiastical and judicial landscapes. Also, interested in similar aspects of the changing landscape of the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Methodological interest in how best to interpret/recreate historic landscapes and mapping them successfully.
  • Historiography of Orkney, and the impact of antiquarian scholarship on subsequent perceptions of heritage and history etc., as well as its more general contribution to Orkney’s past.
  • History of song (and music) culture in Orkney.

Current/Recent Projects

  • 2016 - Pilgrimage in Orkney
  • 2008-2012 Researcher and administrator for the NPP Things Network Project.

Academic responsibilities

Part of the Archaeology Teaching Team at Orkney College. Lecturing for Masters Degrees: Dissertation (module leader); Early Medieval Archaeology of Scotland (module leader) and From the Vikings to VE Day: the archaeology of Scottish medieval and later society (module tutor). PAT for L8 Orkney students taking archaeology degrees.

External responsibilities and memberships

  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
  • Member of The Society for Medieval Archaeology.
  • Member of The Scottish Society for Northern Studies.
  • Member of Medieval Settlement Research Group.
  • Member of the Mapping the Historic Parishes of Scotland Research Group.
  • Member of the Viking and Medieval Archaeology Forum.
  • Member of the Orkney Maritime Archaeology Forum.
  • Co-ordinator of The Big Orkney Song Project legacy and archive.

Recent publications

Barrett, J. H. and Gibbon, S. J. (ed) (2015) Maritime Societies of the Viking and Medieval World, Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 37, Maney Publishing, Leeds.

Gibbon, S. J. and Irvine, J. (ed) (2014) New Orkney Antiquarian Journal Volume 7 Special Edition: John Rae 200 Conference Proceedings, Orkney Heritage Society.

Downes, J. and Gibson, J. with Gibbon, S. J. and Mitchell, A. (2013) Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site Research Strategy 2013-2018, Historic Scotland.

Gibbon, S. J. (2012) ‘The Church in the Orkney Earldom’ in H. Þorláksson and Þ. B. Sigurðardóttir (eds) From Nature to Script Reykholt, Environment, Centre, and Manuscript Making, Snorrastofa, Reykholt, pp.165-184.

Gibbon, S. J. (2012) ‘Orkney’s Things’ in O. Owen (ed) Things in the Viking World, Shetland Amenity Trust, Lerwick, pp.80-93.

Gibbon, S. J. (2012) Voices in Chorus songs and their stories from The Big Orkney Song Project, Northings Publications, Kirkwall.

Gibbon, S. J. (2011) ‘The New Year Song: A biography’, New Orkney Antiquarian Journal Volume 5, Orkney Heritage Society, Kirkwall, pp.33-35.


Email: sarahjane.gibbon@uhi.ac.uk
Tel: 01856 569328

Office Hours: Thursdays 1000-1100 for student enquiries; 1100-1200 for PAT enquiries