Neil received a Carnegie Vacation Scholarship in 2015, while studying Archaeology at University of the Highlands & Islands, where he is currently working on his Carnegie-funded PhD.
What were the topic and objectives of your Vacation Scholarship research?
The research was on the flagstone roofing material recovered from the late Neolithic site at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney. The research looked at what understanding could be gained from the recorded material to better understand the architecture of these unique buildings.
Why is this subject important?
This is the first time that stone roofing material in this state of preservation has been found on a late Neolithic building in Britain and possibly northern Europe. The roofing material gives an insight into how the buildings would look and what the experience of being in an around the buildings would be.
What were your findings?
The flagstones had collapsed into the building in a way that reflected the roofing construction. The stones got smaller as they moved towards the ridge of the roof, which is how this material is still used in the similar flagstone roofing in Orkney. From this, the huge size of these unique buildings can be understood in three dimensions rather than just as a floor plan.
What have you gained from the scholarship?
Experience working on an internationally-important research project meant I have got to work with some of the leading archaeologists in Britain. It gave me experience of undertaking research independently, which has been an invaluable skill going forward. As an undergraduate, I used this data to produce my honours dissertation, meaning I went into my final year already ahead. Since graduating I have continued to work on this project, leading to the publication of a monograph chapter
, coming in mid-November 2020, and a proposed in-depth co-authored peer-reviewed paper.
What advice would you give to future applicants?
I would encourage everyone to go for this scholarship if they can. Make sure you have the support of your lecturers and there are clear parameters to the project. The time will fly by, so having clear and achievable objectives is important. I found it useful to work on a project I knew could become my dissertation, but even if you don’t do that the skills learned will set you up well for your final year and into whatever you do after you graduate.