Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon


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

 Sarah Jane Gibbon

I am a part time lecturer in the Archaeology Institute having been teaching archaeology in the UHI since 2008. My current research interests are in Christianity, maritime pilgrimage and community in the North Atlantic region, with particular focus on the maritime landscapes of the Northern Isles and the North of Scotland.

I was brought up in a family steeped in stories of Orkney’s folklore, history, archaeology and culture which inspired me to pursue a career in archaeology and history. I completed a joint undergraduate degree in History and Archaeology from Glasgow University in 1998, after which I continued my studies there, completing a research masters on the topic of ‘Norse Castles in Orkney’ in 1999. In 2006 I was awarded a PhD in Archaeology on the topic of parish formation in the Orkney Earldom from the University of the Highlands and Islands/Open University. As well as lecturing in Culture Studies and Archaeology at the UHI, I occasionally work as a specialist tour guide, an archive assistant in the Orkney Archive and have my own research and consultancy business. Since having my children in 2007 and 2012, I now lecture part-time in the Archaeology Institute.

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 as social history.

Current/Recent Projects

  • Maritime Pilgrimage in the North Atlantic, particularly the Cult of St Magnus.
  • 2008-2012 Researcher and administrator for the NPP Things Network Project.

Academic responsibilities

Part of the Teaching Team in the Archaeology Institute. 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 leader). UG: Historical Archaeology of the Highlands and Islands (module leader). UG & PG Dissertation supervisor. Personal Academic Tutor. Member of Orkney College LTQC.

External responsibilities and memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • 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.

Recent publications

Gibbon, S.J. & Moore, J. (2019) Storyways: visualising saintly impact in a North Atlantic Maritime Landscape. Open Archaeology 5, 235-262. Doi:10.1515/opar-2019-0016

Gibbon, S.J. (2018) With a good boat under me: St Magnus and the Ladykirk Stone. New Orkney Antiquarian Journal 8, 17-23

Lee, D.H.J. & Gibbon S.J. (2018) Mapping Magnus. Research Training and Community. Orkney Archaeology Review 3, 65-78

Gibbon, S.J. (2017) A Survey of Norse Castles in Orkney. In P. Martin (ed) Castles and Galleys: A reassessment of the historic galley castles of the Norse-Gaelic seaways. Islands Book Trust: Laxay, 226-248

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

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

Downes, J. & 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, 165-184

Gibbon, S.J. (2012) Orkney’s Things. In O. Owen (ed) Things in the Viking World, Shetland Amenity Trust, Lerwick, 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 5, 33-35


E: sarahjane.gibbon@uhi.ac.uk

T: 01856 569328

Academia: https://uhi.academia.edu/SarahJaneGibbon

Pure: https://pure.uhi.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/sarah-jane-gibbon(ff9db510-b717-4eb3-9b8e-0e7be3c8c5e7).html