Research PG

School of Geosciences


Born in the north of Scotland, Alistair is a mature student who originally studied Physics, Zoology, Geography, Geology and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen, resulting in a BSc in 1973. After working in various mainly marine industries, Alistair then studied for a Postgraduate Diploma in Offshore Engineering, at Robert Gordons, which was awarded in 1979. He then worked 35 years in the offshore oil industry where he specialised in Well Evaluation, Well Construction, Drilling and Completion.

Alistair has keen interests in sailing, fishing, field sports and an active interest in high latitude exploration with many years sailing experience in Scotland and Norway and several expeditions sailing to the High Arctic and the Antarctic.

Alistair returned to academia in 2012 to study for an MSc in the Archaeology of the North, with his Thesis being An Archaeology of Coastal Salmon Fishing.

With strong interests in the sea and specifically the coastal intertidal area, Alistair embarked in 2017 on a self funded part-time PhD studying the Archaeology of Intertidal Fish-traps in the North of Scotland. This is considered to be an under researched subject with an archaeological inventory of over 500 intertidal fish-traps included in HES Canmore, but with little detailed research has been performed to date with only 2 fish-traps scientifically dated.

Alistair's primary research objectives are:-

  • Develop a  gazetteer of intertidal fish-traps in the research area and explore differences in construction compared to other areas.
  • Establish the distribution of intertidal fish-traps and adjacent settlements, centres of power, large estates and significant ecclesiastical centres in the research area.
  •  Explore if intertidal fish-traps represent an expression of social organisation and community size.
  • Explore the relationships between ownership of the fish-trap and those who did the fishing.

Alistair is due to complete his studies by late 2022.


  • BSc Pure Science 
    1973 - University of Aberdeen 
  • Postgraduate Dip Eng Offshore Engineering 
    1979 - Robert Gordons 
  • MSc Archaeology of The North 
    2014 - University of Aberdeen 

Research Overview

Landscape, Coastal, Intertidal, Fish-traps, 

Current Research

An Archaeology of Intertidal Fish-traps in the North of Scotland