Research

It is our quest for knowledge that leads us to undertake research projects.

Research and teaching go hand in hand and we are keen to demonstrate to students the breadth of our professional offering.  Not only this, but original research is an integral part of taught degrees with students expected to undertake their own projects as part of their qualifications.

Undertaking research is also an important part of enhancing our researchers’ continuing professional development and is an important part of our college work. Dr Andrew Jennings, of the university's Centre for Nordic Studies is based at Shetland College UHI, and college staff have been involved in archaeological landscape research.

The Centre for Rural Creativity supports research and knowledge exchange in the creative industries in remote and rural areas, established in 2015 with the support of Shetland Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Creative Scotland. Based in Shetland College UHI the Centre undertakes interdisciplinary research and acts as a focal point for the university’s teaching, knowledge exchange and engagement with the creative industries.

Research into archaeological landscapes

Shetland has one of the best-preserved prehistoric landscapes in Britain.

Islesburgh

In the North of mainland Shetland, at Islesburgh (near Mavis Grind) Dr Simon Clarke, Head of Heritage, has been investigating the relationship between the Neolithic tomb, settlement and enclosure, and the natural setting.

Islesburgh Enclosure from North

"The tomb seems to mimic the shape and orientation of the enclosure, its facade analogous to the shoreline, its central chamber correlating to the position of the Neolithic house."

The idea that tombs represent houses of the dead is long established, but the completeness of the surviving evidence at Islesburgh allows subtler meanings to be explored.

Mavis Grind, just to the east, joining Northmavine to the rest of the Shetland Mainland, would have been an important route way in the Neolithic, not only by land but also as a place of portage where boats could be dragged from the North Sea to the Atlantic without a long detour to the north or south.

This act probably also carried powerful symbolic meanings, ‘crossing over’ being an obvious metaphor for life and death.

Islesburgh Tomb from North-West

“Different parts of the landscape offer very different views to Sullom Voe and the North Sea in one direction and the open Atlantic in the other. These locations and the vistas they offered were probably used in the construction of complex mythologies and ceremonies associated with burial rites, which are being investigated by means for detailed digital photography."