Conference to focus on history of coastal communities

FROM witches to Brora's salt industry, the history of Scotland's coastal areas will be the focus of an international conference in Dornoch next month.

View from Struie Hill in Ardross looking towards Ardgay and the Kyle of Sutherland.

Organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for History, ‘Firths and Fjords: A Coastal History Conference’ will feature expert speakers from around the globe.

Over 70 delegates and presenters will travel from across the UK and from Finland, Canada and America to attend the three day event.

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As well as a range of international themes, the conference will also explore local subjects such as Norse place-names in Gaelic speaking areas, Brora’s salt industry, the creation of air services in the Northern and Western Isles and witch belief in Scottish coastal communities.

Delegates will also have the opportunity to take part in social activities and excursions with whisky tasting at Royal Dornoch Golf Club, a ceilidh, music performances and a guided tour of Pictish sites on the Fearn Peninsula.

Members of the public are being invited to find out more about coastal history too.

An exhibition of local history groups and projects will be held at Dornoch Social Club, the main conference venue, over the course of the event.

Dr David Worthington, head of the University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for History, said: “Although we’ve organised some very successful conferences via the centre and the university previously, there has never been an academic gathering in Dornoch of this size or scale before.

“We’re really excited about that and also about the line-up of keynotes and other speakers who’ll be travelling from places near and far to speak and attend.”

Professor Isaac Land, an expert in Coastal History at Indiana State University, will be one of the speakers at the event.

He explained: “I am travelling from the USA to attend the Firths and Fjords conference because it is the first conference ever organized around the emerging field of coastal history. More than one billion people worldwide live in low-lying coastal regions that are especially vulnerable to climate change and many others live in heavily populated areas not far from the ocean.

“Coastal history can help us understand how we got to this point and may offer perspectives on where to go from here.”

Firths and Fjords: A Coastal History Conference will take place in Dornoch from Thursday 31 March to Saturday 2 April.

Support has been provided by Visit Scotland, the Highland Council, the Carnegie Corporation of New York; Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited, Beinn Tharsuinn Windfarm Community Fund / Dornoch Community Council and Edinburgh Sutherland Association.