6th International St Magnus Conference

The Northern Isles and the Arctic. Environment, Heritage and Tourism, 18-20 April 2024 content Cliffs on a sea front with crashing waves

The Northern Isles and the Arctic. Environment, Heritage and Tourism, 18-20 April 2024

The Northern Isles have long had an intimate connection with the Arctic. In the Middle Ages they were part the same polity Norgesveldet along with Iceland and Greenland. In the 19th century explorers like the Orcadian John Rae pioneered new routes across the Arctic, while whalers from the isles frequented the Davis Straits hunting the whale and interacting with the indigenous population. Currently, their geographical position provides justification for Scotland to regard itself as the most northerly non-Arctic nation. The Scottish Government’s Arctic Policy was launched in Orkney in 2019 highlighting the centrality of the islands to Scotland’s Arctic ambitions. The Institute for Northern Studies UHI with its involvement in the University of the Arctic carries out Arctic research, exploring these deep and abiding connections. This conference seeks to share knowledge of, and celebrate the Northern Isles relationship with the Arctic, past, present and future.


Conference Venue is the Shetland Museum & Archive in Lerwick. The address is Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0WP

Directions: Shetland Museum & Archives - Google Maps

Shetland Museum & Archives website: Shetland Museum & Archives | Home (shetlandmuseumandarchives.org.uk)

Registration starts at 8.30am on the 18 April and 9am on the 19 April.

If you have any questions, please get in touch at ins@uhi.ac.uk or on 01856 569300

Student Travel Bursaries content

Student Travel Bursaries

Student Travel Bursaries

We have two travel bursaries of £250 for any students attending our conference. Please email ins@uhi.ac.uk with your application of a 1000 word essay about the how you will benefit from attending the conference.

'Polar North' Exhibition at Shetland Museum and Archives content

'Polar North' Exhibition at Shetland Museum and Archives

'Polar North' Exhibition at Shetland Museum and Archives

In association with the 6th St Magnus Conference theme of 'The Northern Isles and the Arctic. Environment, Heritage and Tourism' the conference hosts Shetland Museum and Archives have an exhibition, 'Polar North' 8 March to 19 May 2024. This exhibition will show work by Scottish Contemporary artist Lesley Burr exploring her response to her 2019 Arctic artist residence to the Friends of Scott Polar research institute in the Canadian Arctic Alongside Lesley's artwork will be a display of Arctic artefacts from Shetland Museum Collection. A book is available to accompany the exhibition.

Polar North by Lesley Burr | Shetland Museum & Archives (shetlandmuseumandarchives.org.uk)

Conference Programme content

Conference Programme

This is the final version of the conference programme.

18 April Morning Session 8.45am to 1.30pm content

18 April Morning Session 8.45am to 1.30pm

18 April Morning Session 8.45am to 1.30pm

8.45am Registration

9.00am Welcome Address by Professor Jane Lewis, Principal UHI Shetland

9.30am 'Frozen in' Brian Smith, Shetland Museum and Archives.

Going to the whaling at Greenland was an opportunity but dangerous in various ways for young Shetland men during the 19th century. On dry land Shetland businessmen profited from it as well. The paper discusses their experiences.

For about 55 years I have been researching and writing about the history of Shetland, and sometimes Orkney. I'm currently writing about the history socialism in Shetland from 1885-1950; the career of a factor on the Zetland estate here in the 1770s; and merchants in Shetland from c.1690 to 1720.

9.50am 'Some Lessons Learnt: British Seaman's kit on nineteenth century Arctic voyages' Carol Christiansen, Shetland Museum and Archives.

The loss of the Franklin expedition after 1845 marked a watershed moment for British exploration in the Arctic. It signalled to British officers and crews to take stock of the perils faced by previous venturers and re-think clothing and personal equipment. Standard navy-issue clothing was not sufficient, but institutional change was slow. Unlike Canadians and Americans exploring the Arctic, the British were reluctant to abandon their uniforms and adopt more suitable gear, although crewmen from Shetland and Orkney appeared to be better equipped than the average British able-bodied seaman. The diaries of captains in search of Franklin’s men noted what worked and what didn’t during their own voyages to help their colleagues for future expeditions. The experiences in the Arctic, especially following Franklin’s demise, led the British navy to improve conditions for their crews by providing better clothing and kit. But prejudice remained in adopting the dress of native peoples to avoid frostbite and death.

Carol Christiansen has been Curator and Community Museums Officer at Shetland Museum and Archives since 2006. She received her doctorate in Archaeology with a specialism in textiles from the University of Manchester in 2003. Her research on Shetlandic, Scottish, and Nordic archaeological and historical textiles has been published widely. She is the author of Taatit Rugs: the Pile Bedcovers of Shetland (2015) and Shetland Fine Lace Knitting: recreating patterns from the past (2024).

10.10am 'Can the Aurora Borealis be heard? Shetland Perspectives in an International Debate, 1880-1940' Fiona Amery, Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

This paper discusses heightened interest in the potential audibility of the aurora borealis during the First and Second International Polar Years (IPYs) of 1882–3 and 1932–3. Galvanized by a growing volume of local accounts expressing belief in the elusive noises, written by the inhabitants of the Shetland Islands, northern Canada, and Norway, auroral researchers of each era were determined to establish the objectivity of auroral sound. There was considerable speculation within the auroral research community as to whether the apparent noises were imagined or illusory, connected to discussions about the possibility of low-altitude aurorae. The anglophone auroral sound debate primarily played out within the official reports of IPY expeditions, the journal Nature, and a Shetland Island newspaper. Clement J. Williamson, an amateur astronomer and resident of Scalloway, was one of the few non-professional voices of authority on the matter in the twentieth century, corresponding with some of the leading scientists of the day, including Sir Oliver Lodge and Professor Carl Størmer. This overlooked episode complicates our understanding of the modes of knowledge creation in open, outdoor ‘wild’ spaces in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by revealing a faith in the corporeal senses, interactions with folklore and poetry and the significant role of lived experience.

Dr. Fiona Amery is a Research Fellow at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. Fiona completed her MPhil and PhD at the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Cambridge, where she traced the nineteenth and twentieth century history of auroral science. She won the 6th Annual Royal Society Notes and Records essay prize for best early career essay in the History of Science in 2021. Her postdoctoral research focuses on the construction of atmospheric analogues in the late nineteenth century, which artificially produced such phenomena as the aurora borealis, St Elmo’s fire and lightning.

10.30am 'Before Mass Tourism: Readers’ Fictional and Factual Journeys to the Orkney and Shetland Islands in the 1820s' Jochen Petzold, Universität Regensburg

As late as 1868, Mrs Edmonston gives the following assessment of the Shetland Islands in her preface to The Young Shetlander: “The locality where he was born and brought up is peculiar and little known, even in these days of incessant travelling.” Indeed, viewed from London, the islands of Orkney and Shetland were far away, in a remote corner of Britain. However, the islands had been the object of actual and fictional travellers for a long period of time.

The main focus in this paper will be on the early 1820s, which saw the publication of two fictional accounts of the islands, William Combe’s humorous Tour of Doctor Prosody, in Search of the Antique and Picturesque, through Scotland, the Hebrides, the Orkney and Shetland Isles (1821) and Walter Scott’s romance The Pirate (1821). The latter was partly based on (or inspired by) notes he had received from Alexander Peterkin, which were in turn published in 1822 as Notes on Orkney and Zetland – and which gave rise to a response, Walter Traill’s Vindication of Orkney (1823). Hence, while maybe not exactly at the centre of attention, the remote region became easily accessible to readers throughout the United Kingdom (and certainly Scott’s novel was widely read). My analysis will scrutinize the representation of the islands, how they are made familiar to a (mainly English) readership and simultaneously portrayed as distant or even other to England.

Jochen Petzold has mainly studied at the University of Freiburg (Germany), where he optained both his Ph.D. (on South African literature) and his Habilitation (on the speech situations of poetry). In 2008 he was awarded a two-year Marie Curie grant and worked at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, examining the representation of natural sciences in Victorian juvenile magazines. In April 2010 he was appointed Professor of British Studies at the University of Regensburg, continuing his research interest in Victorian popular culture – but his last book was an introduction to the life and works of South African Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer.

10.50am Questions and then Tea & Coffee

11.20am 'The Northern Route: Dr John Rae and the telegraph', Fleur Ward

In the mid-19th century, major telegraph infrastructure was installed in the Atlantic Ocean to connect North America and Europe. A direct route was installed between Newfoundland and Ireland. However, it was a fragile connection, often damaged and in constant need of repair. The investigation into an alternative northern telegraph route linking Shetland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland is little researched. It was intended that this telegraph route would cross land and sea, linking islands and regions across the North Atlantic and Arctic. In 1860, Orcadian Arctic explorer Dr John Rae was employed in a survey of land conditions across the intended telegraph route. This presentation will focus on Dr Rae’s personal observations of the communities, environment, topography and terrain of the route. Through this presentation, Dr Rae’s credentials as an arctic explorer who relied on the local knowledge of indigenous people will be investigated. The outcome of Dr Rae’s survey and how this exploration led to his involvement in further survey work in arctic regions will be examined. This presentation will highlight that Shetland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland have a shared history and historical relationships as a strategic region for telecommunication development.

Fleur Ward gained her PhD in Island Studies from the Institute for Northern Studies, UHI in 2023. Her PhD was titled “Exploratory mapping of digital connectivity and island governance: a comparative study of the Scottish archipelagos and Irish islands”. The thesis explored and mapped digital connectivity in rural island contexts; aimed to understand island communities, their relationship with digital connectivity and the governance framework they were operating within. Dr Ward also holds an MLitt Orkney and Shetland Studies from the Institute for Northern Studies (UHI), and a Masters in Cultural Heritage from Deakin University, Australia.

11.40am 'The Jolly Tars – Lerwick and the Greenland whalers' Brydon Leslie

The Greenland whaling industry was certainly lucrative for the town of Lerwick during the nineteenth century. Business was booming and money was being spent. But was all as good as it would appear to be? Walter Scott set sail from Leith in July 1814, heading north to Orkney and Shetland having joined a ship belonging to the Commissioners for the Northern Lighthouse Service. His diary entries provide us with some rather interesting observations: “When we were in Zetland there was a considerable bustle at Lerwick by the arrival of several ships from the whale fishing; and had it not been for a handful of military in Fort Charlotte, there is no saying how far the jolly tars might have carried their frolick.” He makes a further point that, “Lerwick will suffer most severely if the Fort is not occupied by some force or other; for between whisky and frolic, the Greenland sailors will certainly burn the little town.” Other testimonials of the time vividly describe similar scenes: the riotous whalers, reeling drunk and mad with gin, and the purveyors of liquor, who, together with the shopkeepers and local girls, were attentive to ensure the sailors were spending their hard-earned cash. The annual whalers which frequented the port at Lerwick represent an important link connecting the Northern Isles with the Arctic. In my paper I will explore and recognise a colourful aspect of our shared history that is perhaps often overlooked.

I’m a graduate of the UHI having achieved a MLitt degree with distinction in Orkney and Shetland Studies back in 2011. I was a student of what was then called the Centre for Nordic Studies. I am currently employed by Shetland Islands Council.

12.00pm 'Lord Dufferin – the Fateful Tourist' Guðrún Björk Guðsteinsdóttir, University of Iceland

In 1855, the Danish Crown ended the isolation that it had imposed upon Iceland for centuries by terminating the prohibition of foreign vessels in its waters. Among the curious tourists who used the opportunity in the following year to sail to Iceland for a visit were Prince Napoléon-Jérôme Bonaparte and Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. In 1857, Lord Dufferin published Letters from High Altitudes, his epistolary account of his journey, accompanied by an Icelandic guide/interpreter, sailing from Oban, via Stornoway to Iceland, eventually successfully navigating through Arctic ice north of Iceland and Norway, before returning to Scotland. Engaging, well written, informing, the book gained immediate popularity, going through numerous reprints to this day.

Twenty years later, when Lord Dufferin had become the successful Governor General of Canada, he made a permanent impact in Icelandic history when his advice facilitated Icelandic emigration to Canada, which became the main destination for Icelandic migrants in the late nineteenth and into the twentieth century. This paper will argue that Dufferin’s interest in, and knowledge of, Iceland was not only inspired by his fascination with the country, but that his interest and understanding were also entangled with his strong identification with his Scottish roots, as suggested by his efforts to introduce his Icelandic tour guide to the “Saga of Clan Campbell”, as well as by his comparisons between the history, lore, and nature of Iceland and Scotland.

Gudrun Björk Gudsteinsdottir is Professor of English and Head of the Faculty of Languages and Cultures at the University of Iceland. Her main areas of interest include cultural politics, fantasy, short story and adaptation studies. She was General Editor of the NACS Text Series published by the Nordic Association of Canadian Studies and edited a few volumes in the series. Her publications are primarily on writings in Icelandic and English by the Icelandic diaspora in North America, including a book of short stories by W. D. Valgardson, David Arnason, and Kristjana Gunnars that she translated into Icelandic (2023).

12.20pm to 1.30pm Questions and then Lunch

During the Lunch break Kathryn Wren will be showcasing and available for discussion about her collaborative music project on the Artic Edgelands.

18 April Afternoon Session 1.30pm to 5.10pm content

18 April Afternoon Session 1.30pm to 5.10pm

18 April Afternoon Session 1.30pm to 5.10pm

1.30pm 'Planning a future for the past; The spaceport and Chain Home radar site at Lamba Ness, Unst' Simon Clarke, UHI Shetland

RAF Skaw on Lamba Ness in Unst, Shetland was once the northernmost Radar station in Britain’s WWII Chain Home early warning air defence network. In 2012 the site was granted statutory protected status as a Scheduled Monument – giving it the same legal protection as the Iron Age brochs of Mousa and Clickhimin (Shetland’s first scheduled monuments, inscribed 1882). In spite of this legal protection the site has been selected for development of Britain’s first vertical launch rocket site (rather grandly styled as a spaceport). This is a significant economic development for Unst, which it is hoped will create up to 90 jobs when the site is fully operational. Nevertheless the decision is a controversial one. The site of the former RAF Skaw was protected precisely because it was a single phase development, created on a green field site and not overlain by later Cold War bases. Building substantial launch facilities over the site, will not only have destroyed some features, but also complicates the interpretation of the site to an interested public in the future. On the other hand potentially many more visitors will be drawn to the site because of its newfound notoriety as a space launch site. This paper will explore the dilemma that economic development, though often desperately needed (both locally and at a national strategic level), inevitably impacts on the survival, accessibility and visual amenity of heritage resources. Where should the balance lie between these competing priorities and who should decide?

Simon Clarke is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, with an interest in all periods and in its management as a heritage resource. Lived in Shetland for 26 years.

1.50pm 'Heritage, Tourism and Change in Longyearbyen', Laura Ferguson, Scottish Association for Marine Science, UHI

This paper focuses on the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Longyearbyen, the dynamics of the social and environmental changes impacting it and needs and options for the conservation and sustainable tourism exploitation of it. Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in the High Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard, was originally established as a company town for the Arctic Coal Company but has since evolved into a modern town with a thriving tourism industry and strong science and education base.  The town has much cultural heritage, particularly relating to the mining industry. The paper includes findings from interviews with people connected to heritage in Longyearbyen and a survey of residents that explores the contribution of mining heritage to place identity and heritage development for residents and tourists. Key issues to emerge include disjoint caused by the image of the Arctic wilderness, uninherited heritage, the difficulty in capturing and preserving intangible cultural heritage, rapid change and how to include the perspectives of residents to develop heritage that balances local benefits and tourism.

I am a social sciences academic specialising in environmental social science, with a strong background in policy and governance. I have particular regional expertise in the Arctic, Scotland and Ireland. In addition to my social sciences work, I have a scientific/engineering education in GIS and in water resources engineering. I currently work for the Scottish Association for Marine Science. I am also the ECR Representative for the Scottish Arctic Network.

2.10pm 'Living on the Edge? – Shetland and the HerInDep Project', Andrew Jennings and Andrew Lind, Institute for Northern Studies, UHI

Despite having a strong economy and higher-than-average living conditions, initial results from Scotland’s 2022 census suggest a 1.2% decline in Shetland’s population – to 22,900 – from 2011. Meanwhile, Scotland as whole saw an increase of 2.7%. Indeed, in stark contrast to Shetland, the neighbouring Orkney Islands recorded a population increase of 3%. Shetland’s decline has primarily been attributed to migration which, combined with the islands’ aging population and the declining influence of North Sea oil, has caused concern that the archipelago is undergoing a significant socio-economic transition linked to depopulation.

As part of the AHRC-funded project ‘HerInDep: Heritage in Depopulating European Areas’, Institute for Northern Studies team members Andrew Jennings (PI) and Andrew Lind (CoI) are exploring the current state of heritage in Shetland and the potential impact which ongoing demographic issues may present. The team are also interested in evaluating the opportunities which Shetland’s heritage might offer to offset or even reverse the impact of depopulation on local communities.

This paper will provide an overview of the team’s ongoing research and the comparative approach which the HerInDep project will enable. It is hoped that by utilising case studies from across Europe, the project will be able to provide local stakeholders with the support they need in order to ensure that local voices are heard, and heritage is safeguarded.

Andrew Jennings is an Associate Professor in Island Studies at the Institute for Northern Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands. Dr Jennings has particular research interests in the Early Medieval History of the Scottish Islands, with an emphasis on place-names and the Vikings, and Island Studies, with a particular focus on the islands of the North Atlantic and the Baltic.

Andrew Lind is an early modern historian and lecturer at the Institute for Northern Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands. Andrew was a department lead on review of the UHI’s 2020 Islands Strategy and is interested in the ways in which history and heritage inform modern identities and understandings of the past

2.30pm Questions and then Tea and Coffee

3.00pm to 4.00pm Panel Session: 'Circular Reflections from the Northern Isles to the Arctic: Exploration, Empire, and Environment', Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir, University of Iceland, Lizanne Henderson, University of Glasgow and Monica Germanà, University of Westminster

This panel seeks to offer some thought-provoking reflections on the close relationship between the Northern Isles and the Arctic, investigating key historical moments and their cultural connections, as well as the echoes of colonialism in today’s critical and aesthetic responses to such shared past and current preoccupations.

3pm 'Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Arctic: Sealing, Whale Hunting, and Masculinity' Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir, University of Iceland

On 29 February 1880, Arthur Conan Doyle and his shipmates aboard the Greenland whaler the Hope from Peterhead sailed into Lerwick harbour for a stopover to enlist Shetland men for a whaling trip north. After a brief sojourn in Shetland, they continued onwards and spent the next five months in the Arctic. In his capacity as ship surgeon, Doyle kept a journal while onboard the whaler, and later described his journey north in magazine articles and his memoirs, as well as drew on it in some of his short fiction. This paper discusses Doyle’s writings about his experiences onboard the whaler, in particular his journal and some of the many drawings he included there of the scenes he encountered. It shows how these texts and images reflect prevalent nineteenth-century (anthropocentric) ideas regarding hunting animals in the Arctic, especially sea mammals like seals and whales. In addition, it outlines how the Arctic is for Doyle a space full of invigorating manly energy, demonstrating how his depictions of the thrilling “sport” of hunting whales and killing seals are inherently linked with ideals of masculinity.

Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Iceland and holds a Ph.D. in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow. Her main research interests are in historical fiction and contemporary Scottish literature. She has published on Scottish writing, historical novels and fictional representations of the Tudors and Stuarts in literature and film. Her current research is focused on women’s historical fiction and rewritings of women’s history, representations of the Arctic in Scottish literature, and Scottish women travellers in Iceland.

3.20pm 'From the Northern Isles to the Inuit Nunangat: Communicating Stories of Nineteenth Century Scottish Arctic Explorers' Lizanne Henderson, University of Glasgow

The distinctive role of the Scots during the nineteenth century search for the Northwest Passage is slowly being recognised. This paper has been framed as a thought piece and asks how should the story of Scottish Arctic exploration be communicated? What academic, popular or creative formats should such communications take? Whose voices dominate and whose are more opaque? Has the legacy of colonialism made this more challenging, if not impossible without attracting criticisms of imperialism? Discussion of these questions and more will consider the story of Orcadian John Rae, Inuit viewpoints, and recent developments at Hall of Clestrain.

Lizzanne Henderson is a Senior Lecturer in History and Programme Director of MSc Sustainable Tourism and Global Challenges, School of Social and Environmental Sustainability, University of Glasgow (Dumfries Campus). A cultural historian of the Scottish witch-hunts, Scottish exploration, Arctic studies, and human-animal studies. Works as resource staff on expedition ships throughout the UK, North Atlantic and Arctic regions. Monograph, 'Witchcraft and Folk Belief in the Age of Enlightenment: Scotland, 1670-1740' was winner of Katharine Briggs Book Award 2016 and is currently preparing another monograph '(Super)natural Animals in the Age of the Stewarts to the Age of Enlightenment'. Other projects include 'Picturing Polar Bears: Past and Present Semiotic and Iconic Perceptions of Ursus maritimus', recently showcased at COP26 Glasgow, also working on 19th century Scottish Arctic explorers and their engagements with the natural world.

3.40pm 'Colonial Bonds and Cultural Heritage: Echoes from a Haunting Past in the works of Jessie Kleemann and Roseanne Watt' Monica Germanà, University of Westminster

This paper explores the complicated sense of belonging in the landscape of Greenland and Shetland that emerges from the contemporary multimedial works of Jessie Kleemann and Roseanne Watt respectively. Responding to different historical traditions and environments, the examined works - which include a selection from Kleeman’s art installations, performances and poetry (ORSOQ (2012), Arkhticós Dolorôs (2019), Running Time (2023)), and Watt’s poetry collection Moder Dy (2018) and film poems - share, nevertheless, stylistic experimentation which, using language at once visceral and elusive, articulate the uncanny recurrence of colonial and cultural pasts into the present, exposing the joint challenges of environmental and cultural wounds embodied in the landscapes the two poets write from and for.

Monica Germanà is Reader in Gothic and Contemporary Studies at the University of Westminster. Her most recent publications include The Scottish Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion (2018), co-edited with Carol Davison and short-listed for the Allan Lloyd Prize, Bond Girls: Body, Fashion, Gender (Bloomsbury, 2019), shortlisted for the Emily Toth Award, and a special issue of Gothic Studies on Haunted Scotlands (March 2022). She has recently produced a three-part podcast on the Inuit legend ‘Skeleton Woman’ for the Haunted Shores Network and is the co-organiser with Dr Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir (University of Iceland) of Ice and Water: Ice and Water // Circular Thinking on Cultural and Environmental Sustainability, a Two-Day Interdisciplinary Event (Reykjavik, 23-24 May 2024).

4.00pm Questions

4.10pm to 5.10pm Roundtable Discussion: 'From one Coast to Another: Northern Islands & Arctic ‘In/Tangible’ Blue Heritage and Shared Socio-Ecological Belonging'

Panel Organiser and Chair: Giulia Champion, University of Southampton

Speakers: Monica Germanà, University of Westminster, and Madeline Potter, University of Edinburgh.

This roundtable is sponsored and organised by members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded project “Scottish Shores: Gothic Coastal Environments”. For the past year, the project has been exploring how Scottish littoral spaces are represented from within and outside of Scotland. This transdisciplinary project focuses on re-valuing the coasts and understanding their role in political, cultural and socio-ecological contexts. Grounded on the transdisciplinary and collaborative ethos of the project, this roundtable proposes to present brief talks from each speaker to then invite the audience to participate in a broader discussion on the roundtable focus on Northern Islands and Arctic ‘In/Tangible’ Blue Heritage and Shared Socio-Ecological Belonging.

Giulia Champion will first introduce the roundtable and speakers. In this introduction, Champion will discuss definition of ‘In/Tangible’ Blue Heritage and their role in tourism and (just) green transition in a time of climate crisis exacerbated by extractive industries. Champion will focus on the use of heritage in energy transition narratives and practices in Shetland. Then, Madeleine Potter’s presentation will focus on fractured bodies and environments across Orkney and the Arctic in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, to explore the role of literature in framing the region from without. This is followed by Monica Germanà’s discussion of overlaps in the maternal spaces associated with the marine environments of the North and the Arctic with a focus on Orcadian legends of the ‘Sea Mither’ and the Inuit corpus related to the legend of Sedna, providing a context on internal heritage hi/stories. Finally, Dr Major’s intervention will focus on the significance of historical beliefs and values about fresh water for present day community management of place and environment on the Scottish islands. This concluding talk will focus on spirituality and water in relation to environmental management and technologies.

Giulia Champion is a Research Fellow (Anniversary Fellowship) at the University of Southampton. Her project investigates different communities’ engagement with and representations of the coast and seabed through culture, science communication and policy. It interrogates how these may influence marine governance and the concept of Ocean Justice, with a particular focus on “in/tangible” underwater cultural heritage and the current development of the mining code by the International Seabed Authority. In 2022, she was a Green Transition Fellow at the Greenhouse at the University of Stavanger. She volunteers for the International Commission of the History of Oceanography and is a co-convenor for the Haunted Shores Network and the Reading Decoloniality Group, and a collaborator on the Ecological Reparation Project. Her work has been published in journals including Green Letter and The Journal of Energy History.

Monica Germanà is Reader in Gothic and Contemporary Studies at the University of Westminster. Her most recent publications include The Scottish Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion (2018), co-edited with Carol Davison and short-listed for the Allan Lloyd Prize, Bond Girls: Body, Fashion, Gender (Bloomsbury, 2019), shortlisted for the Emily Toth Award, and a special issue of Gothic Studies on Haunted Scotlands (March 2022). She has recently produced a three-part podcast on the Inuit legend ‘Skeleton Woman’ for the Haunted Shores Network and is the co-organiser with Dr Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir (University of Iceland) of Ice and Water: Ice and Water // Circular Thinking on Cultural and Environmental Sustainability, a Two-Day Interdisciplinary Event (Reykjavik, 23-24 May 2024).

Madeline Potter is an early career teaching and research fellow in the literature of the long nineteenth century at the University of Edinburgh. Her research explores the intersections between 19th-century Gothic literature and theology, with a particular focus on monstrosity. Her first academic monograph, Theological Monsters: Religion and Irish Gothic is forthcoming with University of Wales Press. With chapters of Charles Robert Maturin, J.S. Le Fanu, and Bram Stoker, the monograph theorises the concept of the theological monster, and analyses it as an unexpected vehicle for divine epistemology. As part of her work on the ‘Haunted Shores’ network and the ‘Scottish Shores’ project, she has cultivated a research interest in the ecoGothic, concerned particularly with how monsters’ bodies inhabit landscapes, but also the theological and ecological implications of depictions of monstrous landscapes in 19th-century Gothic literature. This line of research has led to the first ecoGothic reading of Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, published in Gothic Nature Journal, and a forthcoming chapter on Le Fanu’s use of landscapes to produce a monstrous re-enchantment of the world.

5.10pm Questions

19 April Morning Session 9.30am to 1pm content

19 April Morning Session 9.30am to 1pm

19 April Morning Session 9.30am to 1pm

9.30am 'Cruise visitation to Orkney – a “paradox of plenty”?', Annie Thuesen

Areas rich in raw materials have often found this to be a mixed blessing, as the extraction of such resources too often lead to environmental, economic and socio-cultural destruction – a phenomenon referred to as the “paradox of plenty”. It has its parallel in tourism, where destinations rich in the “raw materials” of tourism – good weather, sandy beaches, abundant cultural heritage – may in the absence of careful management experience visitation levels that have adverse impacts on local environments, economy and communities.

In recent decades, this issue has become a hot topic in connection with cruise destinations, both due to a significant global rise in cruise tourism (from 13mio. cruise passengers worldwide in 2004 to 28.5mio in 2018), and because the destinations are often smaller islands vulnerable to outside influences given their small-scale economies and fragile ecosystems.

The focus has mainly been on warm-water islands, but challenges have equally been felt in cold-water destinations such as the Orkney Islands. Cruise visitation to Orkney has quadrupled since 2013, and this presentation will consider some of the adverse impacts which this significant rise has had on Orkney already and may be expected to have in future if the current trajectory continues. It will also consider a range of means through which those impacts may be alleviated to make tourism work better for the destination and its sustainable development.

Annie was awarded her PhD from the UHI Institute of Northern Studies in 2022, with a thesis discussing how heritage tourism to the Orkney Islands could be made more sustainable. She continues to explore this matter in an applied fashion through her work in St Magnus Cathedral, one of Orkney’s biggest heritage attractions.

9.50am 'Exploration of Hidden Stories of Shared History Through Digital Storytelling: Challenges and Opportunities', Stephanie Findlay

Digital storytelling has received global acknowledgment within the heritage and museum sector. The opportunities to educate, share collections, connect people with their own stories and shared histories are limitless. It is an excellent method for the communication and interpretation of the past in a cultural heritage. Historic Environment Scotland’s John Rae Project which aims to accurately document properties and collections in 3D demonstrates the important role digital techniques have for monitoring conservation but also the part it can play in making heritage accessible and allowing for improved interpretation.

Scotland and the Arctic have deep roots dating back centuries. Scotland’s proud tradition of Arctic explorers who voyaged throughout the region and names of some of these Scots can be found in locations of the Arctic toponymy. Often when discussing the history of these explorations it is often imagined as the work of exceptional individuals in extraordinary circumstances. Although hidden stories such as support of indigenous local communities and intermediaries such as interpreters and guides are often overshadowed. Through digital storytelling there is the potential to create an accessible experience which can be used as a method to explore these hidden stories as well as connected objects, archives and archival photographs. An important aspect in doing so would be connecting people with displaced objects between both Scotland and the Arctic.

A strong argument for advocating and creating a digital storytelling experience on this shared heritage would be the potential it has to forge a stronger cultural relationship through shared heritage. This paper would seek to explore the ways in which digital storytelling could be used as a method for exploring the shared histories between the Arctic and Scotland and reasons why this should be considered as an opportunity for exploring hidden stories of this shared heritage and challenges in doing so.

Stephanie Findlay graduated from University of Stirling with a MSc in Heritage specialising in Digital Heritage. Her research interest is in Digital storytelling techniques and how these can be used to interpret cultural heritage and shared heritage between peoples.

10.10am Questions and Tea and Coffee

10.40am 'Fading Histories, Uncertain Futures: Cultural Heritage Preservation in Svalbard Amidst Climate Change and Tourism Challenges' Anne-Cathrine Flyen and Atle Wehn Hegnes.

Cultural heritage in Svalbard faces a precarious future, as it grapples with the impacts of climate change and the pressures of tourism. The region's oldest remnants, harking back to the epochs of European whaling in the 17th to 18th centuries and Russian fur trapping from the 18th to 19th centuries, are at particular risk. These sites have experienced significant deterioration, with only a few original structures left standing. Many historical graves, relics of both periods, now rest perilously close to the shoreline, having already succumbed to the relentless erosion of the sea. These subtle remnants often elude recognition as culturally significant, and unintentional contributions to their degradation come from tourists and guides alike.

The effects of climate change compound the challenges facing Svalbard's cultural heritage. Geological and biological degradation is accelerating, and this deterioration is expected to intensify in the years to come. The Arctic, especially Svalbard, is experiencing a much faster temperature rise compared to the rest of the planet, amplifying these issues.

This paper presents findings from multiple research projects that delve into the consequences of burgeoning tourism and escalating natural degradation on Svalbard's cultural heritage and environments. It also delves into potential measures to preserve these invaluable heritage assets. Moreover, the paper explores how research-based knowledge emanating from these projects can underpin the management of cultural heritage in the Arctic and proposes pathways for sharing this knowledge among Arctic nations.

In a world where climate change and tourism are redefining Svalbard's cultural heritage, this paper emphasizes the significance of comprehending, conserving, and championing these historical sites, imparting lessons and insights with relevance not only for the region but also for the worldwide endeavour of heritage conservation.

Anne-Cathrine Flyen is an architect and defended her PhD thesis titled 'Polar Cultural Environments Under Pressure: A Study of Human Wear and Natural Degradation in a Changing Climate' on April 12 this year. As a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, Flyen has participated in major national and international research projects primarily focused on the climate effects on cultural heritage. Much of her research has been concentrated on cultural heritage and environments in polar regions, industrial cultural environments, and wooden cultural heritage.

A.C. Flyen's research primarily concentrates on investigating the processes of degradation observed in cultural heritage sites and cultural environments, stemming from both natural occurrences and human activities. She has actively participated in numerous national and international research endeavors dedicated to comprehensively understanding the ramifications of climate change on cultural heritage sites and cultural environments. Recently, she defended her doctoral dissertation entitled "Polar Cultural Environments Under Pressure: A Study of Human Impact and Natural Decay in a Changing Climate"," incorporating comprehensive case studies from the Svalbard region.

11am 'Turning the Tide on the Trash: Tackling Marine Litter - A Comparative study of Shetland and Svalbard' Jack Dyce

Climate change is a key concern, globally, but particularly impacting on northern lands, especially the High North, yet also with wider implications. And changes in climate are closely, inextricably, interlinked to the problem of pollution, and, for archipelagos, islands and coastal regions, maritime litter and damage. Shetland and Svalbard are both archipelagos, the latter within the Norwegian realm, and the former part of Scotland/ UK. Both enjoy significant degrees of governance autonomy, with differing constitutional arrangements; in the Norwegian case primarily exercised through a gubernatorial appointment by central government with very limited local government; and the Scottish by an islands authority established under an Act of (the UK) Parliament: their capacity then to respond to environmental issues is both a political and a constitutional question. Beyond formal government action, third sector agencies and grassroots political action contribute to resolving damage and threats and challenges. Their geographies include coastal land and waters, seas and sea floors, bringing harvestable resources, but giving rise to impact concerns. Both might be said to be “remote” and “small” places but do these factors relate to the global? Svalbard is “Nordic” in political culture with an ostensibly green eco-critical awareness, while sitting at a geopolitical crossroads – is this particularly apparent in their approaches to environmental issues? Both have histories of exploitation of “dirty fuel” resources – oil and coal – but what was distinctive in this, and what legacies remain to be managed? In both locations, tourism makes a distinctive contribution to local and national economies; how does this relate to environmental policies? Ecological resilience depends upon governmental policies/actions but coherence is achieving and maintaining this is not consistent. What part do differing political cultures and governance processes have on commitment and capacity to respond to these issues?

Jack Dyce is an emeritus professor in Nordic theology in a theological college in Scotland. His PhD Glasgow and MLitt Aberdeen were both on the Danish cultural figure NFS Grundtvig but he has a broad interest in Nordic studies, particularly in crime fiction, in nationalism from an ethnocultural perspective, and in eco-critical studies. His most recent studies with UHI were for postgraduate diplomas with distinction in Viking and in Island studies.

11.20am  'Mapping, monitoring and mitigating the climate change threat to heritage from Shetland to Svalbard' Ellie Graham

Climate change, with increasing temperatures, differing precipitation, decreasing permafrost, more frequent and severe storms, sea level rise, reduction of sea ice, floods, accelerated erosion, avalanches and changing vegetation, is most acutely experienced in the high altitudes. These changes increase the risks of geo-hazards that threaten coastal heritage sites, environments and cultural landscapes, and the threat is exacerbated by the previously undisturbed nature of much of the heritage in Scotland’s Northern Isles, the Arctic and the sub-Arctic. 

This paper will bring together current research into at-risk heritage in these areas to document threatened sites and model future climate change impacts, developing and applying a range of methodologies to map, manage and mitigate loss. Our interdisciplinary approach combines archaeology, architecture, remote sensing, geography, coastal geomorphology, quaternary geology and climate science. Results are used to undertake site- and landscape- scale risk assessment, prioritise sites, to better understand the threat to heritage as well as to map climate-driven change on the coast more widely. Moreover, local communities are actively engaged to capture local knowledge and heritage values, and to facilitate ongoing citizen science site monitoring.  

Ellie Graham is an archaeologist specialising in coastal archaeology threatened by climate change, currently writing up her PhD, which examines sites around the Scottish coast using drone surveys to monitor erosion impacts. Also working on SIRFA, the archaeological research framework for Scotland's islands, where she's writing the resource assessment for Orkney.

11.40am to 1pm Questions and Lunch



19 April Afternoon Session 1pm to 5.10pm content

19 April Afternoon Session 1pm to 5.10pm

19 April Afternoon Session 1pm to 5.10pm

1pm to 2pm Panel Session: Women’s travel-writing on Iceland in the first decades of the 20th Century

Emily Lethbridge, Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, Hannah Armstrong, University of York and Zachary Melton, Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

In this session, we propose to present new research on published and unpublished early 20th Century women’s travel-writing in English about Iceland. Travel-writing on Iceland is an established area of research but hitherto, the voices of women who travelled to Iceland and wrote about their experiences have not been given consistently due attention. Current work aims to redress this situation using frameworks borrowed from cultural geography, reception studies/medievalism, travel-writing studies, and gender studies. In the papers that make up this session, a range of women’s perspectives on Icelandic cultural landscapes will be introduced. The panel is organised by the ongoing Icelandic Research Council-funded project Kvennaspor: Unearthing and Foregrounding Women in Icelandic Saga Landscapes (PI Emily Lethbridge, see https://arnastofnun.is/is/frettir/two-research-grants-arni-magnusson-institute).

1pm 'May Morris and Bertha Phillpotts: New Views of Early 20th-century Iceland and Icelandic (Heritage) Landscapes' Emily Lethbridge, Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

1.20pm 'A Sceptical Pilgrim: An Academic's Account(s) of her Time in Iceland' Hannah Armstrong, University of York

Hannah Armstrong is a third year PhD researcher in the Department of English and Related Literatures at the University of York. Her thesis centres on nineteenth to twenty-first century depictions of islands of the North Atlantic, with a particular interest in the literary reception of their Norse medieval heritage.

Her first academic publication, which examined the contemporary use and depiction of Icelandic landscapes, appeared last year in Boydell & Brewer’s 'International Medievalisms' (2023), edited by Mary Boyle.

1.40pm 'Travel and Temperence: American Women in Iceland at the Turn of the Century' Zachary Melton, Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

2pm Questions

2.10pm 'Places outside the Cultural Mainstream' Mark Smith, Shetland Museum and Archive

Near the beginning of the Icelandic Book of Settlements, the author lists the centres of power when Iceland was discovered. We learn who the Pope was, the names of European Emperors and Kings, and the segment ends by declaring that Sigurd the Mighty was Earl of Orkney at the time.

The next paragraph contains a series of sailing directions for people travelling from Norway to Iceland. Landnámabók tells us (if the right course has been steered) where Shetland and Faroe will appear, and goes on to show how to reach Greenland. In contrast to the illustrious list that opens the chapter, this paragraph describes a voyage through the periphery of the Norse world. Sailors got to Iceland and Greenland by sailing away from where Kings and Earls were found.

Using this ancient linking-together of Shetland, Faroe, Iceland and Greenland as a starting point, this paper seeks to explore what the islands’ continued status as peripheral places has meant for creative artists in more recent times. The paper will consider various novels and artworks, including novels by Halldór Laxness, Jane Smiley and William Heinesen, and films about Shetland by Jenny Gilbertson, to interrogate how the positioning of these places outside the cultural mainstream has allowed artists to create idiosyncratic and distinctive local cultures.

Mark Smith holds a PhD from the University of Glasgow. His doctoral thesis became the book 'The Literature of Shetland' in 2014. He has also published two collections of poetry, and his writing has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. He has worked in the Shetland Archives for 18 years.

2.30pm 'Faroe and Shetland – sister archipelagos or distant cousins?' John Goodlad

Examining the changing socio-economic and cultural relationship between Faroe and Shetland over time, my presentation will address all five themes of the conference.

During the Viking period both island groups shared a common culture and economy when they were part of the Norgesveldet polity. This changed dramatically when Shetland became part of Scotland in 1469. Instead of looking east and north, Shetland began to look south to Scotland.

Despite several centuries of increasing Scottish influence, there remained a surprising degree of Norse cultural and linguistic continuity. This was rediscovered during the nineteenth century by the Faroese linguist, Dr Jakob Jakobsen whose research in Shetland recorded the remnants of Shetland Norn. Less well known were the strong economic, social and linguistic bonds that were forged by Shetland fishers who caught cod around Faroe from 1850 to the early twentieth century. From a Faroese perspective these fishing links with Shetland transformed their society from one based on subsistence agriculture to a modern commercial economy based on fishing.

Both island groups then diverged again. Based on their successful fishing industry, and the granting of Home Rule in 1948, the Faroese population continued to grow while that of Shetland declined. By the late twentieth century there was a growing interest within Shetland in political autonomy with the Faroese example often used as a template.

There is currently much that links Faroe and Shetland. If Scotland becomes an independent country, some argue that this will provide the opportunity to achieve political autonomy for Shetland. Both economies remain highly dependent on seafood – bringing both problems and opportunities. How large the tourism sector should be allowed to grow is an interesting question facing both archipelagos. Climate change and how Faroe and Shetland can contribute towards net zero is another fascinating contemporary issue.

2.50pm Faroese sea- and fishermen and workers as part of the Nordic, British and German maritime labour market mainly in the 1950-60's, Erland Viberg Joensen, University of the Faroe Islands

Since the late 19th century and throughout the whole 20th century Faroese seamen and fishermen have been part of the maritime labour market abroad. These movements are a tradition. Just a few years after the Home Rule Act in 1948 the Faroese economy collapsed in the early 1950's. The fishing fleet diminished drastically and once again the maritime work force in huge numbers had to seek abroad for employment either part of the year or on a permanent basis. All these sailors and female workers in the fishing industry outside the Faroes were a relative surplus of the labour force on the islands well into the 1960's. In addition, the 1950's were a decade of a huge net migration to mainly Denmark and continued well into the 1960's. Do the Faroes share the same history with societies like Orkney and Shetland and what characterized the Faroes as a society with semi-independency, a new beginning when the Faroes went into a modernisation process.

Associate Professor in History. From 2003 to 2022 holding positions as a curator. Main research interests in social and cultural and maritime history as well. Industrial and business history is of importance and related to maritime history, as the Faroes from the end of 19th century were transformed to a fishing and maritime society. From 2011 to 2022 head of the conservation project, The Whaling Station við Áir, Faroe Islands National Museum. Ph.D. dissertation: The Dockers of Tórshavn (2003).

3.10pm 'The commercial connection between Shetland and the Faroe Islands in the 19th century' Erling Isholm, University of the Faroe Islands

The Danish kings trade monopoly in the Faroes was the biggest obstacle for the modernisation of the Faroese society in the late 18th and long into the 19th century. Young, well-educated public officials were the driving force in this modernisation process, and some of them looked to Shetland and asked, how it could be, that the population of Shetland was four times bigger than the population of the Faroe Islands.

The well-known voyage of governor Pløyen in 1839 was done to find out, if the Faroes could learn something from their neighbours. But this Faroese interest also made Shetlandic businessmen realise, that there might be new opportunities in the Faroes. The company Hay & Ogilvy made an offer to the governor, that they could start a fishing industry in the Faroes.

The Faroe Islands were not new to Hay & Ogilvy, because they had been fishing in the Faroes before. When the monopoly trade was finally abolished in 1856, the Hay company was quick to try to set up a herring business in the Faroes. In this paper we look at these attempts to establish commercial connections between the Faroes and Shetland and ask, if the lack of success was caused be the Faroe Islands belonging to the Danish kingdom, while Shetland was part of the British Empire.

Erling Isholm is an associate professor in history at the University of the Faroe Islands. He main research is on the modernisation of the Faroe Islands in the first half of the 19th Century. His phd. thesis was about the role, that government officials played in transforming tha society from the ancient agrarian society into a more modern society based on the fishing industry.

3.30pm to 4pm Question and Tea and Coffee

4pm 'Did Fimbulwinter Eradicate Shetland’s Picts?' Allen Fraser

Norse mythology tells us that Fimbulwinter is the harsh winter that precedes the end of the world, and puts an end to all life on Earth. It is said to be three successive harsh winters without any intervening summers. Over the last decade or so, evidence from Arctic and Antarctic ice cores, seabed sediments and tree rings, as well as contemporary writings, have been fed into climate models. From these models researchers now believe that the myth is likely to be a memory of a real climate disaster that began in 536 AD.

This paper considers the cause and effects in Pictish Shetland of a catastrophic climatic downturn across Europe that began in the 6th century AD. This long 'volcanic winter', caused by the outpouring of material into the atmosphere from multiple extra-tropical and tropical eruptions, is evaluated. Known as the Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA), its devastating effects continued to affect the British Isles, Scandinavia and Europe throughout the 7th century. The impact on the vulnerability and resilience of Shetland’s Late Iron Age Pictish population from this, the severest climate downturn in the past 2500 years, is considered. It is highly likely that the population fell below a sustainable level and that the islands were deserted. By the time the first Norse landed on Shetland’s shores, Shetland had been rediscovered and occupied only by a few small Papar enclaves.

Meteorologist, Geologist and Shetland Tour Guide. Obtained BSc Hons in Earth Sciences from the Open University. Worked for the UK Met Office in climatology and weather forecasting for 34 years. After early retirement from the Met Office wrote Shetland’s application to become a European Geopark, then set up a Tour Guiding business specialising in Shetland Geology, Landscape, Natural and Human History.

4.20pm ''Ultima Thule' and the Arctic Experience', George Broderick, Universität Heidelberg

This paper will consider three aspects: 1. The name 'Thule' itself, 2. Its association with Shetland, and 3. The Pliny's three island names of Dumna, Bergos and Berrice from where Thule could be reached. The story of 'Ultima Thule' is generally well known, especially in Shetland where the motto of the town of Lerwick bears the note from Tacitus Dispecta est [et] Thule '(And) Thules was sighted'. But what might not be so well known are the details of its alleged visit by the Greek explorer Pytheas c.325 BCE and the ultimate belief of its reference to Iceland. In discussing this the circumstances of its association with Shetland as part of an apparent propaganda initiative by the Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE) in association with Agricola and the Roman fleet, and the reliability of Flavian co-ordinates in the matter. In addition, the three island names mentioned by Pliny (Gaius Plinius Secundus 23/24-79 CE), namely Dumna, Bergos and Berrice, from where Thule could be reached will also merit some discussion. Finally, a brief summing up of the details of the various comments relating to Thule by Pytheas making clear the geographical position of Thule will be made.

I am responsible for the teaching of Celtic Studies in the University of Heidelberg (by Mannheim) in the Department of Classical Studies.

4.40pm 'A truly Northern Saint – Magnus in the Arctic regions', Jenny Murray, UHI

Much has been written about the Cult of St Magnus and the cathedral dedicated to him in Kirkwall, Orkney, but what of the other areas further north where he was revered? Can we find material evidence of St Magnus veneration in Shetland, Faroes and Iceland? Using ecclesiastical materiality as evidence this paper will explore Christian veneration in the North Atlantic archipelagos using this developing approach to studying medieval church archaeology and the Cult of Saints (Eade 2015).

The paper will discuss the surviving archaeological material relating to the Cult of St Magnus. The Cathedral built and dedicated to him in the mid-twelfth century by his nephew Earl Rognvald was the heart of the diocese of Orkney, which included within its jurisdiction Shetland and probably Caithness. His popularity spread north to Faroes and Iceland over the following centuries, with Icelandic lawbooks showing that a relic of Magnus was sent to a church there in 1298. In Faroes we will discuss the cathedral dedicated to St Magnus at Kirkjubøur which still holds his relic, and the amazing collection of wooden church furniture which still survives today.

By reviewing standing architecture and pieces of church furniture curated in various local museums this paper will explore the veneration of St Magnus in the North Atlantic asking how is he remembered in each community? Can we still appreciate surviving memories of him in our landscape today?

I am a Shetlander with a passion for history and archaeology. Having spent over 20 years as a nurse I undertook took a Cultural Studies BA Hons with UHI in the early 2000s and it was life changing! Changing career I secured a iob at the 'new' museum and am now 20 years later the curator responsible for archaeology. I have continued with my studies gaining an MLitt in Orkney and Shetland studies and an MPhil in Museum and Gallery studies. I am currently in the 3rd year of my PhD UHI researching the material legacy of the cult of Saint Magnus in the North Atlantic. My research over the years has included Shetland's Iron Age rituals, prehistoric pottery and church history.

5pm Questions

5.10pm Final Comments and Conference Close

Saturday 20th April 2024 6th St Magnus Conference Day Tour content

Saturday 20th April 2024 6th St Magnus Conference Day Tour

A Shetland Mainland Experience with Dr Andrew Jennings historian and Dr Simon Clarke archaeologist. £60 per person including lunch. Limited spaces!

Coastal view of Shetland

Lerwick to Scalloway the old capital, centre of the Shetland Bus during WW2 and present fishing centre, with its castle built for Earl Patrick Stewart ‘Black Patie’ in 1600.

Then to Burra Isle via Trondra to the fishing community of Hamnavoe, transformed by a bridge in the 1970s.

Next we head to Tingwall, through the valley to Shetland’s old Thing Site, a centre of administration during the Viking and Norse period in Shetland.

From Tingwall we head to the Waast Side and its little visited Neolithic and Bronze Age landscapes, including Stanydale Neolithic Temple, this involves a short walk to a mysterious structure from the past, and the Scord of Brouster Prehistoric Houses, built by Shetland’s earliest farmers.

Next we head north to Voe and Brae, across wild countryside to Shetland’s second largest settlement, which developed during the oil era.

From Brae we head to Northmavine and Eshaness, across Mavis Grind, the narrowest stretch of land between the Atlantic and the North Sea, to the rugged, granite peninsula of Northmavine, a focus of Shetland’s UNESCO Geopark, and the volcanic landscape and cliffs of Eshaness, frequently features in the TV series Shetland.

The we head east to Sullom Voe and the extraordinary Viking Wind Farm, representing Shetland’s industrial present and its sustainable energy future.

Then south through Pettadale to Lerwick, where our final stop will be Clickimin Broch, a fortification from the Iron Age.

Travelling to Shetland content

Travelling to Shetland

Travelling to Shetland

You can travel to Shetland either by ferry or you can fly from all major cities in Scotland.

The main ferry service is daily between Aberdeen and Lerwick and is operated by Northlink Ferries. The crossing takes about 12 hours on a direct overnight sailing. The boat has lovely cabins and reclining chairs, so it is extremely comfortable. It is a roll-on/roll-off ferry so you can come over to Shetland with your vehicle. This allows you to bring more with you and to buy lots of gifts on the island to take home, without having to worry about luggage weight restrictions.

If, however, you do not have strong sea legs and the weather forecast is not favourable, then we strongly advise that you travel with the necessary medication to make your crossing comfortable.

If it is not a direct sailing, you will call into Kirkwall in Orkney as part of your journey. This gives visitors the opportunity to include a stopover in Orkney as part of their holiday. Kirkwall is a delightful town and has many great restaurants and small shops to explore as well as breath-taking scenery, which is just a short drive outside of Kirkwall itself.

Flights to Shetland are operated by Loganair. You can connect to Sumburgh, Shetland or Kirkwall, Orkney from all four of the major Scottish cities: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness. Generally, the flight times are an hour or just slightly longer. You will need be at the airport an hour before departure.

There are a few car rental companies in Shetland and a hire car is the best option for getting around Shetland. There is also a bus service between Sumburgh Airport and Lerwick and other routes throughout Shetland. Buses are not as regular as what you find on the Scottish Mainland so it would be best to consult the Zettrans website for further details.

Call for Papers content

Call for Papers

Call for Papers

Call for Papers for 6th St Magnus Conference 2024

*****Deadline extended to 1 November 2023****

The Institute for Northern Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands, would like to welcome abstracts for panel sessions, papers and poster proposals for the 6th International St Magnus Conference, which will be held in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, 18-20 April 2024.

The theme of the conference is The Northern Isles and the Arctic: Environment, Heritage and Tourism.

The Northern Isles have long had an intimate connection with the Sub-Arctic and Arctic. In the Middle Ages they were part of the same polity Norgesveldet along with Iceland and Greenland. In the 19th century explorers like the Orcadian John Rae pioneered new routes across the Arctic, while whalers from the isles frequented the Davis Straits hunting the whale and interacting with the indigenous population. Orcadians also played a huge role in the Hudson Bay Company. Currently, their geographical position provides justification for Scotland to regard itself as the most northerly non-Arctic nation. The Scottish Government’s Arctic Policy was launched in Orkney in 2019 highlighting the centrality of the islands to Scotland’s Arctic ambitions. The Institute for Northern Studies UHI with its involvement in the University of the Arctic carries out Arctic research, exploring these deep and abiding connections. This conference seeks to share knowledge of, and celebrate the Northern Isles relationship with the Arctic, past, present and future.

In line with this theme, we welcome submissions on the following topics:

  1. Shared Histories – Exploring the historical relationship between the Northern Isles, Sub-Arctic and the Arctic.
  2. Changing Environments - The impact of Climate Change on the Northern Isles, Sub-Arctic and the Arctic.
  3. Preserving and Promoting Culture & Heritage - What lessons can we share?
  4. An Extractive Industry? - The Impact of Tourism on the Islands in the North.
  5. Northern Synergies – How will the relationship between the Isles, the Sub-Arctic and the Arctic develop in future?

However, this is not an exclusive list.

Initially, the Committee invites proposals for multi-paper panel sessions. However, individual papers will also be considered.

We would hope to receive panel titles and abstracts, of no more than 300 words, no later than 1 September 2023 *****Deadline extended to 1 November 2023****. All proposals should be emailed to ins@uhi.ac.uk. Conference registration will open on 1 October 2023, please see our conference website for this and all other information.

Contact details:

Institute for Northern Studies,
University of the Highlands and Islands
Scott’s House
Grainshore Road,
Kirkwall, KW15 1FL
Orkney, UK

Tel: (+44) (0)1856 569 300

E: ins@uhi.ac.uk

W: www.ins.uhi.ac.uk


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