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Telling Scotland’s Story

3 February 2013

Experts from a wide range of disciplines are pooling their skills and knowledge in a bid to piece together a comprehensive record of Scotland’s past. Archaeologists, historians, scientists and specialists in climatology and the natural sciences hope that by bringing their research and data together in one place, they’ll be able, eventually, to map out the history of Scotland in its entirety.

They’ve produced a graphic novel-style guide - Telling Scotland’s Story - illustrated by the Scottish comic artist Sha Nazir of Black Hearted Press and written by RCAHMS Communications Manager James Crawford, to explain the project.

Collaborating for the first time through The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF), this research community expects to uncover new stories of Scotland’s past and solve mysteries that have continued to elude explanation. People who work across completely different fields and time periods will add their own pieces to the jigsaw through a new website –

Led by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, with funding from Historic Scotland, ScARF is working with a wide range of leading experts studying every period of Scottish history from earliest times up to the present day, including archaeologists and historians from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), National Museums Scotland and Historic Scotland, commercial archaeology companies, university academics and local authority archaeologists.

Telling Scotland’s Story features a series of surprising and unusual stories about Scotland uncovered by the latest research and presented in the style of a graphic novel. Commenting on the guide, Robin Turner, Head of Survey and Recording at RCAHMS said: “The comic-style guide has the potential to engage a wide audience, especially young people, with what is really exciting about archaeology. Our own expert staff, and many others from across the sector, are coming together to identify what we already know about Scotland’s past, and also, crucially, what we do not. This story of the nation is changing fast as new technologies are applied and new discoveries are made.”

Sha Nazir, the artist who worked on Telling Scotland’s Story said: “Graphic art is a perfect way of presenting key moments in Scottish history. Visual storytelling was one of the first methods our earliest ancestors used to communicate thoughts and ideas – think of prehistoric cave paintings or Egyptian hieroglyphics. You could say that comic books and archaeology have been linked together from the start. The new stories emerging from the research were a wonderful inspiration for me as an artist.

Launching the research framework and the guide, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said: “The creation of this strategic research framework for archaeology is an excellent example of collaboration across the historic environment sector. The work draws on the Society’s extensive network of fellowship and beyond. I recognise the power of the historic environment to inspire, to educate, and to enhance our lives in many different ways.  By providing information in a different format, targeting a different audience, I hope this publication will also whet the public’s appetite for using ScARF and its outputs.”