Archaeology Institute

A vibrant centre of world class archaeological research at the University of the Highlands and Islands

Nordic studies - presearve and interpret nordic culture for future generations

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is centred on the Orkney Mainland, but also has  research and teaching staff in both Shetland and the Western Isles.

The Institute is unique within Scotland, in that it combines teaching, academic research, and commercial applied research and consultancy. The commercial arm of the institute, ORCA and ORCA Marine, provide professional archaeological and heritage services to Northern Scotland - providing everything from archaeological excavations and evaluations, through to heritage consultancy services, marine archaeological investigations and geophysical survey. This unique partnership sees the Institute’s academic staff working alongside the  ORCA and ORCA Marine staff with regards to teaching and research, providing our students with an unparalleled experience of practical and applied archaeology, as well as facilitating world class archaeological research in both Northern Scotland and the wider world.

The Highlands and Islands has particularly rich and diverse archaeological heritage - from Neolithic stone-built settlements, tombs and stone circles, to Iron Age brochs, Pictish and Viking settlements and burials, historical archaeology such as the clearances to remains from the First and Second World Wars - situated in landscapes which are distinctive and often fragile.

However, although the Institute carries out internationally significant research within the Highlands and Islands region, we also work much farther afield – with  current research projects ongoing in Easter Island, Nepal and Tanzania.

Our research themes cover:

  • Scottish Archaeology
  • Monuments, artefacts and cultural identity
  • Landscape and environment
  • World Heritage Management
  • Archaeology and sustainability

Our current projects include:

  • Wilder Being: Creation and destruction in the littoral zone
  • "Heart of Neolithic Orkney" World Heritage Site Geophysical Survey
  • Ness of Brodgar
  • Hoy and South Walls landscape Investigations
  • The Gearrannan Project
  • Translocation; Excavating the Highland Clearances
  • Rapa Nui Landscapes of Construction Project (in collaboration with UCL)
  • The Natal Landscape of the Buddha (Nepal) (in collaboration with Durham University)
  • My Place, Our Heritage
  • The Windwick Bay Field Project


Key information and contact details

You can find more information at the Archaeology Institute website.

For detailed information on research staff, publications, activity and equipment at this centre please use the UHI Research Database.

Institute Director: Prof Jane Downes

T: +44 [0]1856 569320

Programme Leader: Dr Ingrid Mainland

T: +44 [0]1856 569323

Orkney College, Kiln Corner, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1QX
Shetland College, Gremista, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0PX