Engaged Archaeology @ University of Glasgow

Engaged Archaeology is what we do at the University of Glasgow. We define this as research, practice and collaboration that explores how archaeology can be beneficial to society, through engaging with the heritage and education sectors, the general public and local communities, and researchers and practitioners from other disciplines.

Our ethos stems from our belief that archaeological sites, methods, material culture and ways of thinking, and our contemporary society, are mutually dependent on one another. Archaeology can and should resonate beyond archaeology. This approach combines elements of what are more commonly known as public archaeology and community archaeology, alongside leadership and partnership working within and beyond the heritage sector, advocacy, and engagements with media, social media and popular culture.

Engaged archaeology is based on collaborations and co-production, and so our research both entails working with others, but also undertaking and disseminating research that impacts beyond the academic sector. This process is very much two-way, our research based on listening, engaging and working towards the needs of a broad range of social groups.

We have established long-term collaborations within the heritage sector in Scotland for instance, with our research underpinning and helping to shape guidance, policy and research frameworks as well as significant contributions to Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy. Our staff also work in international heritage contexts, such in Kurdistan, where the Sirwan Regional Project is working with local communities to build capacity and enhance heritage skills, and Cyprus, where the Pathways to Heritage project has been exploring co-production of heritage and research with a village community. Engagement with industry is also an important strand of what we do, in particular in the fields of digital heritage and augmented reality, and heritage interpretation.

Working with schools and the education sector in Scotland is an important strand of activity, with our research for instance being used to create unique resources to be used in schools, in collaboration with teachers, Education Scotland and colleagues in History. We work with schools and school teachers to celebrate their local heritage through creating resources, leading fieldtrips and working with teachers.

We actively explore how archaeology contributes to community regeneration, wellbeing and sustainability, and how we can use the past in the present to inspire people, and work with communities to shape their future. Projects in places such as Govan, Clydebank, Bute, Dunning, Iona and Tiree demonstrate a longterm commitment to a place, an aspiration to contribute to transforming the future of urban and rural places through celebrating their past, and a desire to increase participation in archaeology and the benefits that go with this – social connections, transferable skills, exercise and enhanced wellbeing.

Finally, an engaged archaeology also means reflection on our practice as a discipline, and so improving the effectiveness of public and community archaeology by developing innovative approaches and techniques is a key research aim.

This engaged research is a distinctive body of research and practice that draws on a long Glasgow-tradition of public archaeology and leadership in the heritage sector that goes back half a century.

Recording a stone pile in Chailluz, France

Engaged Archaeology tile 700x300