Dr Kenny Brophy is an archaeologist and Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Prehistory at the University of Glasgow. His primary research area is the British Neolithic and has published some of his research in the book ‘Reading Between the Lines: The Neolithic Cursus Monuments of Scotland’ He also blogs as The Urban Prehistorian writing about the impact that Neolithic sites, monuments and discoveries have on contemporary society. He takes experimental approaches to archaeology and understanding prehistory including psychogeography and ‘build and burn’ events where he and fellow archaeologists combine soft experimental archaeology—building timber structures with Neolithic allusions—and public spectacle—burning down these structures at dusk.
Kenny kindly met with me way back in May 2017 to discuss a many number of ideas about how prehistory and archaeology is understood and engaged with in contemporary society. Due to our conversation covering a plethora of fascinating subjects that where far too good to edit out I have split the conversation into two parts.
In Part 1 our conversation we discuss contemporary interpretations of prehistory via a wide range of subjects including Cursus Monuments / antiquarian William Stukeley, deep-time and psychogeography / the speculative nature of interpreting the past / fact and fiction and archaeology in the post-truth era / the BBC program - Britain's Ancient Capital / Secrets of Orkney / The Orkney Vole / The Ness of Brodgar on Orkney / Carved Stone Balls (which I keep incorrectly referring to as Stone Carved Balls, so apologies for that) / interpretation and the challenges of prehistory / weird names for artifacts / future archaeology / communicating with the past/future / the Archaeological Record and its relationship with infrastructural developments / Thatcherism’s role in shaping modern archaeology / The Cochno Stone and the power of prehistory / the social responsibilities of being an archaeologist and finally the end of prehistory.
In Part 2 of our conversation we focus in on the political and environmental implications of archaeology via subjects such as Nationalism & archeology / The Auld Acquaintance Cairn / The BNP manifesto & immigration / the social and political responsibilities of archaeologists / political archaeology / the modern history of archaeology / the anthropocene and a history of human ecological change / future prehistories / sustainability and climate change / archaeologists designing material culture & technology / Post-apocalyptic cultures / nostalgia and craft skills / Sighthill Stone Circle / wind turbines as modern monuments finally wrapping up the conversation by talking about how Dr Brophy got into archaeology and the future of his work and the practice of archaeology as a whole.
*Apologies for mumbling my way through quotes from Kenny Brophy’s blog The Urban Prehistorian, also the lack of picture at times which was due to me forgetting to re-press record on a camera that stops recording every 12 minutes.
University of Glasgow Profile:
The Urban Prehistorian blog:
Dr Brophy’s recent fascinating and prescient paper on The Brexit Hypothesis and Prehistory:
Kenny Brophy Twitter: