Greetings from the Northern Isles

Hello everyone! I am Neil Ackerman and am going to be running the SGSAH blog for the next six months.

Firstly, a big thanks to Chiara for the last six months of excellent and thought-provoking posts. Also, thanks to the SGSAH team for their support in getting things all set up for me.

I guess I should probably kick this off by introducing myself. I am a first-year PhD Student at the University of the Highlands and Islands. The university itself covers a large area of Scotland through various colleges around the Highlands and Islands. I am based at Orkney College and doing my PhD with the Archaeology Institute. The PhD is looking at the architecture of Neolithic houses (5800 – 4400 years ago) across Scotland. This Late Stone Age period is well known for its stone circles and monumental tombs; however, the types of housing and the experience of domestic life is not as well understood.

Test pitting with Mesolithic Deeside on a riverbank site in Aberdeenshire

I am intrigued as to what the next six months will bring. Will I ever get back into my office space and be reunited with my books? Will my children get back to school and nursery? Will we have a functioning society? I have some thoughts on things I would like to focus on during my time running the blog but given the continued uncertainty I am sure there will be all sorts of unexpected things to discuss.

One of the things I am hoping to focus on with this blog is the experience of PhD students who live and/or work in rural areas of Scotland. Being based on Orkney I have some thoughts on the pros and cons of this, which I will build upon in the following months. I am also excited to hear about the experiences of others who live rurally and/or are carrying out fieldwork in rural areas.

One of the perks of living and studying in Orkney: beautiful scenery on your doorstep

While that is one subject that I am keen to explore with the blog, I want you to feel that this blog is as much yours as it is mine and for it to be a discussion rather than me just droning on. One of the things I am excited about in this role is hearing a diverse range of experiences and subjects from my fellow PhD students.

Please do then get in touch with me if there is anything you want to write about or a theme that you are keen to see explored. Also feel free to comment and have discussions on the posts themselves, so long as you all play nice! Should you want to get in touch with me about anything to do with the blog I can be contacted by email ( or get in touch via Twitter (@sgsahblog). You are also of course more than welcome to just sit back and enjoy the posts!

Would you like to write a blog for us? Email

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