Responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of the Society.

The Council of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is the Board of Trustees of the charity.  It is comprised of voluntary members who are all Fellows of the Society elected by the Fellowship during the Anniversary Meeting on the 30th November each year or co-opted by Council.  The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is also committed to achieving gender balance in the Council by 2020.

Law 11 states: “The Council shall consist of at least eleven Fellows elected by the Society, the Chairman of the North East Section ex officio, the Society representative of the National Museums Scotland (NMS) ex officio who is already a Fellow of the Society (nominated by the NMS Board of Trustees) and up to two co-opted persons appointed by the Council to fill a vacancy on the Council.  The total number of members of the Council shall not exceed fifteen at any time.”

As defined in the Laws, the Officers of the Council include the President, two Vice Presidents and the Treasurer.  The President is elected for a period of up to three years and may stand for a second term, subject to Law 16. The Treasurer is elected for one year and, again subject to Law 16, is eligible for re-election.  The term of office of the President and the Treasurer respectively may not exceed six years in total.  The Vice-Presidents are appointed by the Council from amongst the elected members of the Council. The Vice-Presidents are appointed for an initial term of up to three years and may be appointed for a further term of up to three years, subject to Law 16.

The Chair of the Aberdeen and North-East Section and a representative from the National Museums Scotland (NMS) are additional Ex Officio members of Council; the former is elected by Fellows in Aberdeen and North East of Scotland, and the latter nominated by the NMS.

President (elected for three years with year of election in brackets)

Ian Ralston, OBE, MA, PhD, DLitt, FSA, FSAScot, FRSE, MAE, MCIfA (2020)

Photo of Professor Ian Ralston

Prof Ian Ralston OBE FSAScot

Ian is Abercromby Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, University of Edinburgh.  He was raised in East Lothian and became a Fellow of the Society in 1969 as an Archaeology undergraduate at Edinburgh in Stuart Piggott’s department. He has been a Councillor and Vice-President (2007-10) of the Society, and was the first editor of its Monograph Series. He has worked in Scottish universities since 1974, first at Aberdeen, and then from 1985 at Edinburgh; he retired in 2019, having been Head of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology earlier in the decade. He was appointed to the Abercromby Chair of Archaeology – initially occupied in 1927 by Gordon Childe – in 2012 and is proud to have been the first Scot to occupy it. His visiting positions abroad have been at the Ecole normale supérieure, Paris, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest and the University of the South in Tennessee. He has lectured widely in Europe and in North America, often on Scottish topics.

Ian’s publications range over an extensive swathe of the archaeology of Scotland, covering all periods from the Mesolithic to the Early Historic, as well as the European Iron Age (his major excavations since the mid-1980s have been in France). In addition, he has written on the history of archaeology, and on aspects of cultural resource management – including works intended for the general public as well as more specialized contributions. Fuller details are available at

Ian established, and until recently chaired, the applied company CFA Archaeology and, with the late Alan Saville, developed the modern Code of Practice for Treasure Trove in Scotland. Over his career he has chaired both the Institute for Field Archaeologists and the predecessor of Archaeology Scotland. He has never been an ‘Ivory Tower’ academic.

Living in Kinross-shire with his wife and labrador he remains very much research-active. An Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland, written with an Oxford colleague, is almost complete.

Vice Presidents (appointed by Council for three years with year of appointment in brackets)

Barry G Ferguson MA(Hons) FSAScot (2015, appointed Vice President 19 December 2016, re-elected 2018)

Photo of Barry Ferguson

Barry Ferguson FSAScot

Barry is currently Director of Philanthropy & Partnerships at V&A Dundee, having been Development & Sponsorship Director at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, from 2002 to 2017.  After studying medieval and Scottish history at the University of Glasgow under Professor Archie Duncan, Dr Stuart Airlie and Professor Matthew Strickland amongst others, Barry worked in various student development, student recruitment, alumni relations and fundraising roles at the University of Glasgow, Abertay University and the University of St Andrews where he was Deputy Director of Development.  At St Andrews Barry was also privileged to serve on Dr Barbara Crawford’s Dark Age Studies Committee.  Whilst his interest and involvement in history is (very!) amateur, his professional experience in fundraising, alumni relations and marketing in the higher education and arts & culture sectors are proving useful in the delivery of the Society’s development.  Barry has presented at Institute of Fundraising and Arts & Business Scotland events and regularly delivers fundraising training for the Federation of Scottish Theatre.  He was appointed Vice President by Council Trustees on 19 December 2016.

Heather James MSc BA(Hons) PhD FSAScot MCIfA (2016, appointed Vice President 18 March 2019, re-elected 2019)

Dr Heather James, Northlight Archaeology

Dr Heather James

Heather runs Calluna Archaeology. She was a manager at Northlight Heritage specialising in Community Archaeology and has been working in Scotland since 1984 initially for the then Department of Environment, then later Strathclyde Regional Council Planning Department and Glasgow University Archaeology Research Division, before joining Northlight Heritage. She has experience in archaeological fieldwork throughout the UK, and in Italy, France, Jordan and Peru. She has directed several major projects resulting in publications, such as Excavations at St Ethernan’s Monastery, Isle of May, Fife 1992-1997 and A Fragmented Masterpiece: Recovering the biography of the Hilton of Cadboll Pictish cross-slab. She also directed excavations at Castle Craig broch as part of the University of Glasgow’s Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot Project. Most recently she has run the public engagement aspects of the Ulster Scots Archaeology Project, directed fieldwork and excavations in Argyll for Clan Macfarlane Worldwide and developed and managed Walking Back to the Future a heritage walk in Shettleston, Glasgow. Heather holds a PhD on the medieval rural settlement of Mid Argyll.

Treasurer (elected each year, first year of election in brackets)

Kenneth Aitchison MA(Hons) PhD FSAScot MCIfA (2020)

Dr Kenneth Aitchison PhD, FSAScot

Dr Kenneth Aitchison FSAScot

Kenneth is the Founder and CEO of Landward Research Ltd, a consultancy that he established in 2010 that works in the heritage, culture and international development sectors.

He is also currently CEO of FAME, the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers, the trade association for commercial archaeology companies in the UK and Ireland. Previously, he worked for the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists for nine years as the Head of Projects and Professional Development, and worked in archaeology in Scotland, England, France and different countries in south-west Asia before that.

He has been a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland since 1993.

A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, he was awarded his PhD by research publication in 2011 for work on ‘Supply and Demand in UK commercial archaeology from 1990-2010’. He also studied for a Masters in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Sheffield.

Members of Council (elected for three years with year of election in brackets)

Sharon Webb MBE BA(Hons) MPhil PhD FSAScot (2015, re-elected 2018)

Photograph of Sharown Webb

Dr Sharon Webb MBE

Sharon has been Director and Curator of Kilmartin Museum, Argyll since 2004 and in that time has taken the Museum from a major funding crisis to relative financial stability. The Museum and Café now employ over 30 staff and are supported by more than 50 regular volunteers. Now collecting and curating almost all the archaeology found in Argyll, the Museum also engages in active fieldwork. Currently, Sharon is also Project Director of Kilmartin Museum’s Redevelopment Project, which will transform the organisation by extending existing buildings and services. Over £6 million has been raised so far, and the project is set to begin its delivery phase in the Autumn of 2018. Sharon authored a book entitled In the Footsteps of Kings a guide to walks around Kilmartin, published by Kilmartin Museum Trust. She was an appointed member of the Museums Think Tank set up by Government in 2009 and is a committee member of the National Committee for Carved Stones in Scotland.  She has been Vice Chair of the Argyll and Bute Museums and Heritage Forum, and the Natural History and Antiquarian Society of Mid Argyll, helper for the Museums Young Archaeologists Club as well as previously curatorial advisor for a number of Museums in Argyll. Sharon is also the Curator of Archaeology for Campbeltown Museum, under a service level agreement with Argyll and Bute Council. She was awarded an MBE for services to heritage and archaeology in 2015.

Iain McDowall BA, MA(Hons), FSAScot, MRICS (2017, re-elected 2020)

Photo of Iain McDowall

Iain McDowall

Iain is a chartered surveyor currently working as the Director of Estates and a member of the senior management team at The Royal Parks in London. Iain studied history at Edinburgh University and has been a Fellow since 1983. Before becoming a surveyor Iain worked as a volunteer at NMAS. Since moving South in 2009 Iain has been a member of the Surrey Archaeological Society and has volunteered at the Woking Palace excavations. His 32 years experience in surveying include office acquisitions and management of a portfolio of office properties as well as advising organisations on all aspects of their property. This should assist the Society in the delivery of the accommodation aspects of its Vision and Strategy in the 2016-21 Strategic Plan.


Prof Hector MacQueen photograph

Prof Hector MacQueen

Professor Hector MacQueen LLB (Hons) PhD FBA FRSE FSAScot (2017, re-elected 2020)

Professor of Private Law at the University of Edinburgh and has also been a Scottish Law Commissioner since 2009 (his term in that office concludes at the end of March 2018).  As well as contemporary law and its reform, his research interests include legal history and Scottish history more generally, generally in the medieval period, but occasionally straying as far as the twentieth century, and always seeking a better understanding with a comparative approach.



Dr Deborah Lamb

Dr Deborah Lamb

Dr Deborah Lamb MA(Cantab) PhD FSAScot (2018)

From a degree in Classics at Girton College, Cambridge, Deborah qualified as a Chartered Accountant. She has been involved in archaeological excavation since her teens, and following her move to Shetland in 1982 she has worked on a range of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age sites in Shetland, Orkney and Caithness as well as engaging in experimental archaeology. After early retirement she completed a PhD in archaeology. She was an Honorary Research Fellow with the UHI 2008-2014, and carried out occasional tutorial work for Shetland College UHI, including VC teaching sessions, VLE development and marking for Culture Studies / Environment and Heritage. More recently she has served as external academic panel member for the approval process of a new CertHE. Her publications include archaeological articles in edited volumes and conference proceedings, as well as a wide range of book reviews for the ‘Shetland Times’.

Although she originally moved to Shetland to manage the Council’s oil money, her subsequent career with the Shetland Islands Council included several years as director of a major department before moving to the Town Hall to work in the Chief Executive’s office. Equipped with both management and training qualifications she now offers courses in business and management skills, and is a qualified tourist guide.

During the winter she works on post-excavation cataloguing of the finds from Old Scatness and in summer on local digs, latterly with the University of Aberdeen. Her other interests are sea kayaking and Fair Isle knitting.  Deborah was co-opted by Council Trustees in 2017 and elected in 2018.

Sam Mills MSc FSAScot (2020)

Photograph of Sam Mills, Trustee

Sam Mills FSAScot

Sam Mills is an independent archiving and heritage consultant. He is currently working on a four-year archival project for Kirkdale Archaeology, where he is responsible for managing the processing of all types of post-excavation material. He has previously worked for other membership organisations, where he managed the accounts and communicated regularly with members. He is interested in how archaeology and heritage can adapt and stay relevant to current events, and believes that an increase in diversity in the heritage sector is a key way of attaining this goal.


Manda Forster PhD FSAScot MCIfA (2020)

Dr Manda Forster

Dr Manda Forster

Manda Forster is the Director of Operations at DigVentures, a social enterprise specialising in community focussed archaeology and heritage projects. Working as part of a dispersed team, Manda relocated to the west coast of Scotland in 2017, having spent several years working at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Archaeology, followed by a stint at the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists promoting the work of the institute. Throughout her degree at Bradford University, Manda spent summers digging in Shetland, inspiring her to pursue a PhD researching early medieval trade in the North Atlantic, specialising in soapstone artefacts of Shetland, Greenland and Norway. Currently, Manda coordinates business delivery at DigVentures, as well as developing and managing projects in Scotland. Most recently, Manda directed investigations at Coldingham, working with community participants to look for evidence of an early medieval monastery in the centre of the village. Manda has a keen interest in post excavation processes and archives management, recently writing guidance for the management of digital data in archaeological archives in partnership with CIfA and supported by Historic England and the Archaeological Archives Forum.

Co-opted members of Council

Neil Curtis MA MLitt AMA FSAScot (elected to Section 24 April 2018)

Neil Curtis

Neil Curtis

Born in Glasgow in 1964, Neil Curtis came to Aberdeen in 1988 where he is now Head of Museums and Special Collections and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Anthropology. He studied Archaeology (Glasgow, 1986), Museum Studies (Leicester, 1988) and Education (Aberdeen, 1995).


Ex Officio members of Council

Chair of the Aberdeen and North-East Section (elected for three years with year of election in brackets)



National Museums Scotland Representative (nominated by the Trustees of the NMS)

Dr Stuart Allan FSAScot (appointed 5 July 2021)

Dr Allan is Keeper of Scottish History and Archaeology in the National Museums Scotland. His research interests include imperial military collecting and appropriation practices, material histories of the Enlightenment, the material culture of Scottish Romanticism, the culture of irregular warfare.

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