The plenary session - NMS Research Repository
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The plenary session



The Scottish Wetland Archaeology Project (SWAP) was initiated in 1998 in response to John Coles’ energetic encouragement of the Scottish delegates to the Dublin WARP Conference. Over the following years, SWAP members and others have worked on wetland materials and projects, leading to the hosting of the 11th International WARP Conference in Edinburgh in September 2005, which was attended by delegates from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, as well as those from Britain and Ireland. This conference came at a significant time for wetland studies in Scotland and its significance for us was highlighted by the attendance of the Scottish Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Patricia Ferguson MSP, who announced that Historic Scotland would be tasked with re-evaluating the nation’s wetland archaeology. That re-evaluation is now underway and significant projects will roll out over the next five years. The timing was also significant in that the conference came on the eve of the UK’s signing of the European Landscape Convention, raising hopes that with new landscape designations it might at last prove possible to preserve wetland sites as significant elements in cultural landscapes rather than as incidental inclusions in nature reserves. The conference just preceded the publication of the first book wholly dedicated to the theoretical framework of wetland archaeology (Rethinking Wetland Archaeology by Van de Noort & O’Sullivan) and two papers by the authors of that book introduce a new level of intellectual analysis to the topic. Finally, and perhaps more significantly, the conference came at a time when the preoccupation with wetland archaeology as a ‘separate’ discipline is being supplanted by the need to integrate the evidence from wetland sites into mainstream archaeology, which, ironically, means dryland archaeology. In addressing wetland landscapes, the proceedings of this conference not only bear witness to a risorgimento in Scottish wetland studies but intro-duce, or re-introduce, wetland sites as elements in the cultural landscapes of the world, brought theoretical considerations into full focus for the first time and contributed to the maturation of the relationship between wet and dry archaeology. If that is not sufficient to justify these proceedings, the range, quality and interest of the papers published here quite certainly does.


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8 Jan 2019
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