Seminar on Wednesday 16 November 2022

Archaeology Research Seminar

in the Boyd Orr Lecture Theatre 222

Dr Antonia Thomas, University of the Highlands and Islands
From pollution to innovation: the archaeology of plastics in Orkney

Chair: Kenny Brophy

All welcome (no need to register)

The speaker will be remote, but the seminar will be livestreamed as usual.

From the modernising impact of plastics on island life in the early 20th century, to the devastating levels of plastic pollution seen today, the story of plastics in Orkney is a microcosm of the global rise and fall of this most problematic of materials. But there are other stories to be told too; such as the vernacular creativity seen in local responses to waste plastics, and the emergence of innovative reuse and recycling enterprises in the islands. Several contemporary artists in Orkney use or repurpose plastic waste into their work, providing a further perspective on the long history of plastic material culture in the islands. With plastics increasingly forming the focus of contemporary archaeology projects, and major art and design exhibitions, I am interested in how Orkney’s plastic story might contribute to these discussions, and what this tells us about wider stories of landscape, material culture and identity.


Antonia Thomas

First published: 10 November 2022