Was Iron Age normal or weird?
The 2015 Shetland Museum and Archives Memorial Lecture will be held at the beginning of next month.
The lecture, entitled “Reassuringly normal, or seriously weird? Iron Age Shetland reconsidered in the light of Old Scatness”, will be given by Noel Fojut in memory of Shetland scholar John Stewart.
A new publication, Old Scatness Volume 2: The Iron Age Broch and Village. The volume was edited by the Bradford team led by Steve Dockrill and Julie Bond together with Shetland archaeologist Val Turner.
Dr Fojut kindly co-authored with Dr Turner a forward to the volume. Due to illness Dr Dockrill and Dr Bond were unable to attend the launch.
Mr Stewart was born in Whalsay in 1903. Following an education in the isles and at Aberdeen University, he taught in Aberdeen for many years but his passion was the language and history of Shetland.
His research and book on Shetland place names remains one of the most authoritative texts on the subject. His other notable publications include the 1956 Outline of Shetland Archaeology, in addition to a long series of broch-articles for the Shetland News in 1935.
In the lecture, Dr Fojut will look at what we now understand about Iron Age Shetland in the light of Old Scatness, and whether Shetland is fully in the northwest European mainstream or out on a unique insular limb, a debate which has been going on for a long time in relation to more than one archaeological period. He will draw on the recent and not-so-recent work of other researchers in the field too.
Dr Fojut has long-standing connections with Shetland, and indeed Old Scatness. He first came to Shetland in 1974 as an undergraduate at the University of Aberdeen and like many other visitors fell in love at first sight. As a result, he went on to do his PhD at Glasgow University on Shetland’s brochs, graduating in 1980.
During that period he also worked with Alasdair Whittle on the Scord of Brouster project and followed in Mr Stewart’s footsteps by writing a short guide to Shetland’s archaeology, which was published by the Shetland Times Ltd.
Joining Historic Scotland, Dr Fojut spent many years as the area Inspector for ancient monuments for Shetland, among other places, and was involved in helping to create the post of Shetland archaeologist in 1986. He was connected with Old Scatness from the start of the project, in early discussions and later in guiding it towards scheduled monument consent and helping to secure funding.
He has never lost his passion for Shetland, its archaeology and especially the brochs.
The lecture will also mark the official launch of Old Scatness Volume 2 which contains a paper about the state of broch studies before the Old Scatness project began, which Dr Fojut wrote jointly with Drl Turner.
The new book will be on sale following the lecture, on Saturday 5th December at 7.30pm, and Dr Turner will be on hand to discuss the publication.