I am very grateful to have been awarded a student bursary from the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF), to attend the Prehistoric Society’s Europa 2016 ’ Dynamics of Art, design and Vision in Iron Age Europe’ conference, held in Edinburgh in June 2016.
I am currently a second year PhD student in Queens University Belfast, examining and analysing the origins of Iron Age equestrianism in Ireland, with comparisons to Europe and Britain. This is a subject which has not been studied intensively in the past, so I was extremely keen to attend because of the quality of speakers, and their relevance to the era which I am researching. Initial trends within my research indicate strong links to Scotland, and I was eager to learn from regional specialists, but contained within the same period of history as my own work.
My expectations were exceeded in that the various papers presented both by early career researchers, and established professionals indicated areas of interest which I had not previously considered, as well as enhancing my understanding of existing data I have gathered. The themes of identity and connectedness of Iron Age peoples of Europe which occurred in most presentations were reinforced in the generous and collaborative spirit of the conference delegates. I was told of new finds of equestrian material in Scotland and England, which will add greatly to my thesis, as well as chatting about potential collaborations, and simply making friends across the archaeological world, which is vital for any student – it is a strange and sometimes very solitary career, and having like-minded friends makes the journey a little easier.
It is a rare opportunity to have that amount of ready knowledge open for discussion gathered in one room, and one which is invaluable for any student to experience. The addition of student membership of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, contained within the bursary, will also prove invaluable as the Society allow access to their databases and publications, which are incredibly useful research resources. I would strongly urge all serious scholars of prehistory to apply and avail of ScARF’s generous bursary schemes, as my experience of attending this conference was possibly the most positive experience I have had since entering academia. My grateful thanks to all who made it possible.
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology
Queens University Belfast
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