No June meeting! By long-standing tradition, we do not meet in June since so many of our members are attending the TAS Field School

Our next regular meeting will be  Tuesday, July 16, 2024.  
Casa Chapala, 9041 Research Blvd. #100 (Hwy 183 and Burnet Rd.)

The May meeting featured Heather Leonard, University of the Highlands and Islands, Orkney College, speaking on

'Their Memory Hallowed in the Land They Loved:' Revealing Island Identities through Monumentality and GIS Mapping 

Memorials in burial grounds are excellent sources of data about communities of the past and can be the starting point for in-depth studies about the lives of the people interred. This study uses the nineteenth and early twentieth century memorials from St. Mary’s Kirkyard on the island of Rousay in Orkney to discover how the individuals interred there identified with the island both personally and as a community. This study is set against earlier medieval parish burial mandates. The death locations of the individuals are identified via archival records. The locations are then combined with a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program to create maps that allow for spatial analysis. Using a quantitative-qualitative research approach, the data is analyzed in several different ways to look for burial trends on Rousay and between the medieval Rousay and Egilsay Parish. Results reveal that St. Mary’s is unusual from the neighboring medieval Egilsay Parish burial grounds in that a large percentage of the individuals interred there are from outside the Rousay Parish. There is strong evidence that community and island identity was more important to the nineteenth and early twentieth century residents of Rousay than any lingering effects of medieval parish identity.

Photos courtesy of Heather Leonard

Heather graduated with her Masters of Letters In Archaeological Studies from the University of the Highlands and Islands in Orkney, Scotland this past March. She has applied for the doctoral program at UHI and hopes to begin research in Orkney in February 2025. She received her BA in Anthropology in 2021 from Western Illinois University. She is employed as a high school ESL Reading Specialist at Connally High School in Austin, TX. Heather's career goal is to transition into higher education and become an archaeology professor. Heather holds additional BA degrees in Drama and English and a Masters in Secondary Education. She's using this year away from academia to write a fantasy novel that's been banging around in her head for 25 years. 

The next regular meeting will be held on our usual schedule, the third Tuesday of the month at 7pm at Casa Chapala's Austin location, 9041 Research Blvd., Suite 100 (Hwy 183 and Burnet Rd.) Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month, except June and December. They are free and open to the public. For those who wish to come early, we gather around 5:45 PM for dinner, drinks, and fellowship. The short business meeting starts at 7:00 PM, followed by the guest speaker's presentation.


Check our Facebook page or join our mailing list for information on meetings and online resources.

Wondering what our programs are like? View the list of speakers and topics we've had since 2006. Or watch a few of our pandemic-era programs on our YouTube channel