Scalan Mills, Art and Archaeology: exploring interdisciplinary methods

Scalan Mills are an ‘A’ listed Historic Environment Site, located on the north edge of the Cairngorm massif, in a post-industrial and rural landscape. Over many years, the interior walls of the threshing mill became inscribed with grafitti which now forms an intense visual surface covered with drawings of wild and domestic animals, weather reports, and other written text, the earliest from 1784. 

Susan Brind, Jenny Brownrigg, Dr Gina Wall (The Glasgow School of Art), Birthe Jorgensen, (Independent Artist), Dr Alex Hale (Historic Environment Scotland)  

Initial research questions:

– How might our understanding of landscape be enriched by reading this place as a site of inscription which correlates with the archaeological concept of palimpsest?

– How might this rendering of place respond to an interdisciplinary methodology which deploys archaeological fieldwork, site writing and practice-as-writing (photography, performance, spatial practice) to engage with the landscape as archive?

Interdisciplinary research methods:

– Reflexive research methods including participatory group work, spoken word and performance;

– Active response to the site – ‘reflection-in-action’;

– ‘Reflection-on-action’ methods, following the field trip.


– Collaborative archaeological plane table survey

– ‘Site and Sight’, Community workshop at Scalan

Data gathering work in the form of workshop participant audio recordings have contributed to the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Landscape Partnership Oral History Project archive. 

Conference presentation, 3 November 2019 to the Contemporary and Historic Archaeology in Practice conference London:  ‘Exploring triangulation: Archaeology, Art and a third space for imagining and speculation’

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