Dr Nyree Finlay
- Senior Lecturer (Archaeology)
I am intrigued by how we make and remake meaning from found things and create understandings of the social through ‘stuff’. My research is grounded in prehistoric archaeology, material culture and artefact studies, with a particular focus on collection practice, lithic technology, and hunter-gatherer life-worlds. Currently I am working on:
- Collection work and material heritage archives
Exploration of the relationship between collection and avocational practice in collaborative contexts, including a new contemporary archaeological project: The Avocational Atelier. This builds on considerable experience of bringing various legacy and assemblage projects to fruition. This work includes The Archaeology of a Collection a monograph on the National Museum of Ireland Keiller-Knowles collection of over 15,000 pieces acquired in the 1920s and smaller studies of individual collectors.
- Lithic technology and practice
Theoretical and methodological approaches to lithic analysis studies, using life course approaches to consider stonecraft, skill and materiality. I have substantial practical lithic assemblage analysis experience, with an emphasis on detailed technological analysis, chaîne opèratoire studies and experimental replication. I have written specialist reports for over 85 archaeological projects.
- Personhood and archaeologies of infancy and the child
In my research and teaching practice I use anthropological and relational approaches to inform understandings of personhood, identity, constructions of otherness and difference through material remains. Theoretical work has considered approaches to relational personhood in hunter-gatherer archaeology and the intersections of age and gender. Previously I edited a ground-breaking volume on archaeology and disability. Recent theoretical work considers the interplay of material culture around life course transitions which builds on earlier research on the archaeological child and the liminal ambiguities around infant death. Ongoing writing projects are based on the materiality of contemporary infant loss memorials and explorations of home.
- Mesolithic and gatherer-hunter archaeology
A focus on mesolithic archaeology in Northern Europe in particular Scotland and Ireland (9000-4500BC), lithic technologies, methods and social theoretical approaches. Fieldwork projects as Principlal Investigator include The Colonsay Middens Project comprising survey and excavation of a shell midden site (2005-7, Finlay nd), the Scottish Mesolithic Geophysics Project (2002-2010) which championed alternative site methodologies (Finlay et al nd; Finlay and Allen 2008) and publication outcomes for key Irish mesolithic sites of Ferriter’s Cove and Lough Boora. Theoretical perspectives include writing on, gender, kids, the life course (Finlay 2015) and personhood (Finlay 2014).
Current Research Projects
- Ancestral Studies
A recent focus of both my research and teaching is my role as academic lead for Ancestral Studies – a portfolio of new humanities postgraduate courses starting in September 2017 and related research activity at the University of Glasgow. Seeking to redefine the future of ancestry work in the Anthropocene it addresses trans-temporal and interdisciplinary approaches to being and belonging in the past and present. My own research in this area is looking at ancestral artefacts and relational methodologies.
- The Avocational Atelier
Using contemporary archaeological techniques used in the recovery of Francis Bacon’s Reece Mews studio, this project is concerned with documenting the collecting practice of an avocational fieldworker on the Isle of Arran, Scotland who assembled a substantial heritage archive including significant archaeological lithic assemblages. Treating her abandoned artefact analysis table and intact workroom as an archaeological site, it used traditional and multi-media techniques to record this working environment and explore modes of engagement and analytical methodologies for future exhibition and publication outputs. It offers an intimate portrait of a female collector that informs understandings of 20th-21st century collaborative recreational research practices exploring intergenerational and entangled networks, object divestment and ancestral legacies.
- Lough Boora: post-excavation and publications
This on-going legacy publication project is working towards a co-authored monograph and related journal papers with Dr Michael Ryan for the National Museum of Ireland on his 1977 excavations at Lough Boora, Co. Offaly, Ireland which is a significant earlier mesolithic lakeshore site dated to with hearth features, knapping debris and bone spreads (Finlay and Ryan in prep, Finlay 2009).
- Royal Society of Edinburgh: Avocational Archaeological Atelier
- College of Arts Research Incentivisation fund: Avocational Atelier
- College of Arts Research Incentivisation fund: Ancestral Studies
- Learning & Teaching Development Fund: Evidencing Employability: e-portfolios for promoting professional practice
- British Academy: Colonsay Middens Project
- Society of Antiquaries of Scotland: Colonsay Middens Project
I am interested in supervising postgraduate students in areas relating to:
- Material culture: theory and practice
- Lithic technology and avocational collections
- Skill, chaîne opératoire and replication studies
- Gender and personhood
- Mesolithic studies and prehistoric archaeology
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow:
Dr Farina Sternke Apprenticeship and Skill in Palaeolithic Societies (2006-2008)
- Sheena Graham-George The Irish Cillini of the South West of Ireland (external supervisor, primary supervisor Gina Wall, Glasgow School of Art, 2017-)
- Rhona Ramsay The material culture of Gyspy/Travellers in Scottish museums: discovery, rediscovery and encounter (joint supervisor with Sally Foster, University of Stirling, 2016-)
- Marta Innes Scottish Bronze Age Food vessel corpus: a contextual re-evaluation (lead supervisor; additional supervision from Alison Sheridan, NMS and Kenny Brophy, 2015-)
- Patrick Jolicoeur Cultural Contacts and Exchange of Metal in the Eastern Arctic AD 700-1300 (second supervisor, lead supervisor Colleen Batey, 2014-)
- Andrew Gourley (History) Things Left Behind: Relics, Cult and Identity in 13thC East Anglia (primary supervisor Julia Smith, joint supervisor for 2015-6)
- Jonathan Trigg The Materiality of Great War Remembrance: tracing changes in commemorative practice (joint supervisor with Tony Pollard, 2009-)
- Morgana McCabe Liminal Faces and Places: the feared other in the archaeological landscape (joint supervisor 2009-2015)
- Dene Wright The Archaeology of Variation in Western Central Scotland during the Mesolithic Period (lead supervisor, 2008-2012);
- Natasja de Bruijn Obsidian exploitation, production and use in west central Sardinia(joint supervisor with Peter van Dommelen, 2002-2006).
I am programme convener for the Material Culture and Artefact Studies taught postgraduate degree and contribute to undergraduate and mainly postgraduate teaching in the Archaeology subject area within the School of Humanities including delivering residential field courses.
- Mesolithic Hunter-gatherer life-worlds
- Archaeology and Material Culture
- The Archaeology of Life and Death
- MSc Ancestral Studies: academic programme lead for new Humanities initiative
- MLitt Material Culture and Artefact Studies: programme convenor (hear me talking about this programme here )
- MSc Museum Studies (material culture and artefact strand)
- Material Culture in context
- The Process of Artefact Studies
- Lithic Analysis
- Critical themes in the display and reception of objects
- Independent Study Project
- Work placement
Qualifications and professional recognition
- Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2016-, Fellow 2013-6)
- Recognising Excellence in Teaching, University of Glasgow (August 2016)
- PGCE Academic Practice The University of Glasgow (2004)
My career in archaeology spans over 25 years. I have experience of both academic and commercial sectors including partnership working with museums, voluntary archaeological organisations and avocational researchers. After an undergraduate degree in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, I worked as a field archaeologist and finds specialist in the UK and abroad before undertaking doctoral research in 1993 at The University of Reading as part of the Southern Hebrides Mesolithic Project, followed by a year-long Historic Scotland funded post managing post-excavation studies. From 1997 I held a 3-year temporary full-time lecturing post at the National University of Ireland - University College Cork, before joining The University of Glasgow in 2000.
- External examiner: postgraduate research degrees at University of Worcester, National University of Ireland and University of Edinburgh;
- Archaeology Periodic Subject review external assessor, Reading University 2012;
- Evaluator on HEFCE FDTL5 Disability and Archaeological Fieldwork project 2007;
- AHRC Peer Review College (2008-2011), international grant reviewer and academic peer-reviewer;
- Contributions to Scottish Archaeological Research Framework as Palaeolithic-Mesolithic panel member and to local research frameworks for West Central Scotland and the Isle of Bute;
- Editorial Board member: World Archaeology, Scottish Archaeological Journal.
Knowledge Exchange and Public Engagement Activities
I am involved in a number of activities including evening talks to various local archaeological societies, open days, walks, public lectures, artefact handling workshops, kids archaeology programmes and Meet the Specialist events. I have also contributed to the creation of new educational learning resources and co-designed and delivered successful CPD workshop sessions for the archaeological sector. Specific examples of my public engagement work include;
- Contributing consultant for the Forestry Commission Scotland outdoor learning resource for Curriculum for Excellence 2: Wolf Brother’s Wildwoods: imagining Mesolithic life in Scotland’s forests and woodlands which features as a Writing and Publishing KE case study: ‘Collaborating with Forestry Commission Scotland towards an Outdoor Learning Guide’.
- Stone tool workshops and other public Meet the Specialist events in conjunction with the Discover Bute Landscape Partnership Scheme and Bute Museum
- Mesolithic Mayhem! a week-long themed event programme for Archaeology month, October 2013 working with children with special educational and social needs including object handling, performance and outdoor activities for local community partner organisationsBrandanii Archaeology & Heritage for Achievement Bute.
- Archaeological Finds Training Day, Glasgow University, February 2015, co-designed and delivered with the Chartered Institute for Field Archaeologists, attended by over 40 participants (PGT students, PGR students and field practitioners) with presentations and workshop sessions delivered with colleagues in Archaeology, the Hunterian Museum, Historic Scotland, AOC Archaeology and GUARD Archaeology Ltd.