Dr Sally Foster

Senior Lecturer

History University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Dr Sally Foster

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About me

I work in Stirling's History, Heritage and Politics Division as a Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Conservation. I am a member of our cross-Faculty Environment, Heritage and Policy Centre and an active contributor to the University's Cultural Heritage research programme.

I spent over 20 years working in cultural heritage - mainly for Historic Scotland - before returning to academia in 2010. Graduating from University College London with a degree in Medieval Archaeology, I completed my archaeology PhD at the University of Glasgow. Before joining Stirling in 2014, I was an archaeology lecturer at Glasgow and Aberdeen universities.


St Andrews Preservation Trust Murray Prize for History 2015

Prize for Foster et al 2014


Factual reviewer for Smithsonian Channel Program

Event / Presentation

‘The human story’: social value, biography and carved stones

Invited talk as part of Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Monuments Matters series of online talks, delivered 16 June 2021 as part of Panel 4: Monuments and Community Identity. Recorded talk available on YouTube but initially, at least, restricted to subscribers to series: https://youtu.be/gvdgA3uVAI0 .

Invited speaker: Letting St John's Cross and its Replica speak

14 Mar; online, Pictish Arts Society/Society for Northern Studies Picts in the North conference

Invited panellist: Celebrating Scotland's Rock Art

Workshop 2: A Future for Scotland’s Rock Art?

Host: Deep-time dialogues: reflections on the SERF project

Organised by Council for British Archaeology, with speakers Neil Redfern, Sally Foster (host), Stephen Driscoll, Kenny Brophy, Rebecca Jones and Ewan Campbell.

UCL Authenticity Reading Group
University College London

13 November: invited speaker in relation to authenticity and replicas in context of archaeology, heritage and museums

Chair: Society of Antiquaries meeting, Edinburgh, 14 October 2020

Creating Scotland: Assembling a Medieval Kingdom” an in-conversation event with Hamish Torrie FSAScot, Dr Heather Pulliam FSAScot and Dr Adrian Maldonado FSAScot, chaired by Dr Sally Foster FSAScot.

Displaying early medieval sculpture
University of York and Durham University

Invited speaker. The Art of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture: Its Presentation, Curation and Care, King’s Manor, University of York. 27-28 September

My Life as a Replica: understanding the values and meanings of the St John’s Cross, Iona, from creation to present

17 October 2019 seminar to University of Edinburgh Art History Seminar

Invited keynote, Oxford: My Life as a Replica: the role of materiality and craft in letting a replica 'speak'
University of Oxford

Keynote lecture at Lasting Impressions 2019. Making and Re-Making the Replica. AHRC-funded Study Day. Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Available on YouTube. See also @lastingimpression_ #lastingimpressions19

Invited keynote, Cambridge: What replicas can tell us about authenticity, if we let them speak

Making it Real. Historical Authenticity in Museums and Collections in the UK, Germany, and Europe, Cambridge, 3-5 December 2019

Chair: V&A Celebrating Reproductions: Past, Present and Future conference

17-19 January 2019, V&A London

Participant in Round Table on 'How have perceptions of Iona evolved since Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation?'. BBC Civilisations Festival
Friends of Govan Old

A two-part event presented as part of the BBC Civilisations Festival. Dr Ewan Campbell (Archaeology, University of Glasgow) delivered the Reverend Tom Davidson Kelly lecture, titled ‘New Light on Columba’s Monastery on Iona’, at the Friends of Govan Old Annual meeting. Afterwards, Dr Heather Pulliam (History of Art, University of Edinburgh) lead a round table discussion on the question: ‘How have perceptions of Iona evolved since Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation?’ Panellists: Dr Katherine Forsyth, Peter Yeoman, Dr Ewan Campbell, Dr Adrian Maldonado, Dr Sally Foster. This was attended by c. 50 people.

Listen to the Stones: Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland. HES staff lunchtime seminar
Historic Environment Scotland

Presentation of the results of the Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland project, and promotion of its resources, including website and Listen to the Stones booklet. Targeted at relevance to heritage practitioners with a view to how they can use it themselves, and help others to do so. Co-presented with Dr Susan Buckham, University of Stirling, and Dr Katherine Forsyth, University of Glasgow

St John's Cross Iona: a case study in the contemporary value and authenticity of replicas at heritage sites. HES staff lunchtime seminar
Historic Environment Scotland

Presentation of the preliminary results of the 2017 fieldwork for Concrete and Non-concrete: an Ethnographic Study of the Contemporary Value and Authenticity of Historic Replicas project (funded by Royal Society of Edinburgh and Historic Environment Scotland). The event combines outreach with seeking feedback from heritage practitioners in advance of publication.

The story of Iona's St John Cross. Workshop with Iona Primary School

This full-day Workshop, co-presented with Dr Stuart Jeffrey of Glasgow School of Art, combined outreach for the Concrete and Non-Concrete project with ethically-approved research into children's perspectives on Iona's high crosses, particularly the story of the St John's Cross replica. On 23 February, we followed this up with a walk to the crosses in Iona Abbey with the whole school.

Untold stories: the biography of a replica
University of East Anglia

12 November 2018 presentation at University of East Anglia's Medieval History Seminar programme

Intangible Matters: Mackintosh, Authenticity & Conservation
University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art

Respondee at a one-day symposium on 20 October 2018, Kelvin Halls, Glasgow, highlighting the recent conservation projects on Mackintosh Heritage. Jointly organised by The Glasgow School of Art and The Hunterian, University of Glasgow.

‘I can’t think of anything more worthwhile doing’: contemporary attitudes to the Iona St John’s Cross replica. Public lecture as part of Concrete and Non-Concrete project

Presentation of the preliminary results of the 2017 fieldwork for the Concrete and Non-Concrete: An Ethnographic Study of the Contemporary Value and Authenticity of Historic Replicas project. Dr Stuart Jeffrey of Glasgow School of Art presented co-produced digital models of carved stones in Iona, including what the school children had produced in a Workshop the day before. With kind permission of Murdo MacKenzie, we presented his 1970 cinefilm of the creation and erection of the replica.

Concrete and non-concrete: an exploration of how replicas ‘work’, acquire meaning and can develop storytelling potential

Lecture at Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference, Hangzhou, China, 31 Aug-6 Sep 2018 in Session 069.

Inchinnan: releasing the potential. Launch of project '597 St Conval to All Hallows 1420 years and counting'
Inchinnan Historical Interest Group

Short presentation on the significance of Inchinnan in the early medieval period and the potential of its surviving archaeology to answer important questions. Reference was made to the Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland: A Research Framework, the objectives of which the All Hallows Project will contribute towards.

The Scottish experience of the place of value. Global Challenges in Cultural Heritage
University of Stirling and Historic Environment Scotland

This paper offered an introduction to the Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland project, in which understanding value has been central. It promoted the wider significance of this project, inviting wider critical review by heritage professionals and other users of this new model for a research framework, which is structured around the heritage cycle /  a government strategy for the historic environment. See Framework at http://www.scottishheritagehub.com/content/future-thinking-carved-stones-scotland, Section 1.4 for the approach taken. The paper was presented on behalf of the Framework's co-authors, Dr Katherine Forsyth (University of Glasgow), Dr Susan buckham (University of Stirling) and Dr Stuart Jeffrey (Glasgow School of Art).

Concrete and non-concrete: an ethnographic study of the contemporary value and authenticity of historic replicas. 8th International Insular Art Conference
University of Glasgow

Poster introducing ongoing research project with Professor Sian Jones, funded by Royal Society of Edinburgh, supported by Historic Environment Scotland

Scottish material evidence. Early Christian Churches and Landscapes: Academic Conference 1
University of Chester

First event as part of ECCLES AHRC Network.

Material diasporas: an island perspective on the place and value of replicas. Our Islands, Our Past
University of the Highlands and Islands

The paper, presently jointly with Professor Sian Jones, presented preliminary findings of the Concrete and non-concrete: an ethnographic study of the contemporary value and authenticity of historic replicas. It was accompanied by a poster.

Listen to the Stones. Rock-art, public engagement and the future of the Cochno Stone workshop
University of Glasgow

Short introduction to Listen to the Stones, and the Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland project

Launch of 'Listen to the Stones'; Workshop: Talking Stones - Carved Stones Research Framework. Scotland's Community Heritage Conference
Historic Environment Scotland

Launch of 'Listen to the Stones', an initiative to promote wider audience engagement with Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland: A Research Framework. Workshop to explore community interests in working with carved stones in the context of the Framework.

Expiscation! George Buist and the early duplication of Pictish monuments and artefacts in Fife. Pictish Arts Society Annual Conference
Pictish Arts Society


Authentic replicas: the untold stories. Museums - Places of Authenticity
Leibniz Research Alliances

An international conference of the Leibniz Research Alliance "Historical Authenticity" Together with:  Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum - Archaeological Research Institute, Mainz, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum , Deutsches Museum, München,  National Maritime Museum - Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum, Bremerhaven, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, Berlin, Senckenberg Nature Research Society - World of Biodiversity, Frankfurt am Main, Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig - Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity, Bonn, Knowledge Media Research Center - Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, Tübingen

Celtic collections: the curatorial appetite for 'Celtic crosses' in nineteenth-century Scotland. Celtic Revival: Authenticity and Identity conference
University of Edinburgh and British Museum

The conference examined the Celtic Revival as a rewriting, recreation and re-imagining of the past, from the medieval period to the twentieth century. Leading art and design historians, archaeologists and curators discussed the themes of authenticity and innovation, the role of the copy, cultural heritage and reimagined identities. It was linked to the Celts: Art and Identity exhibition at the British Museum / National Museums Scotland.

Replication of things: the case for composite biographical approaches. Victorians Institute Conference 2016, Raleigh, North Carolina
Victorians Institute & Journal


Replicas of early medieval sculpture. The art and science of replication. Copies and copying in the interdisciplinary museum, National Museums Scotland
National Museums Scotland

NMS Collections Research Seminar. An informal discussion of the role of models across disciplinary boundaries. Organised by Dr Sam Alberti.

Picts, Gaels and Scots: What's new?. Public lecture
Tullibody History Group

Public lecture to Tullibody History Society

A 'cemetery of bric-a-brac' or a 'nursery of living thoughts'? Why replicas of archaeological material culture matter. Glasgow Archaeology Seminars Autumn 2014
University of Glasgow

Smashing casts: replication of early medieval sculpture as a case study in the fragility of cultural value. Destroy the Copy! II, Berlin
Freie University Berlin, Cornell University and Archaeological Institute of America

Sponsored by Free University Berlin, Cornell University Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 8:00am to Saturday, October 10, 2015 - 5:00pm Location:Freie Universität Berlin Berlin Germany

Eigg's early church archaeology in context. The St Donnan's Seminar, Eigg

Picts, Gaels and Scots: What's new?. Landscape Encounters II: Exploring Environmental and Heritage Histories of Scotland

Lecture as part of Landscape Encounters II , the second in a series of free public lectures designed to showcase some of the past and current research projects undertaken by the staff at the Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling to a wider audience.

Poster: Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland. European Association of Archaeologists Conference 2015, Glasgow
University of Glasgow and European Association of Archaeologists


PI for project; Chair. Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland: Workshop 4. ScARF for carved stones in Scotland, University of Stirling


Organiser (PI) and Chair. Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland: Workshop 2. At the door of the church? Research and carved stones at ecclesiastical sites, Govan Old Church


Discovery, recovery, replication and display: representing the medieval in nineteenth-century Scottish museums. European Association of Archaeologists Annual Conference 2015, Glasgow
European Association of Archaeologists

Medieval Europe Research Committee Forum: one of three speakers.

PI for project; Chair.. Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland: Workshop 3. New thinking on carved stones in Scotland.


PI for project; Chair. Future Thinking on Carved Stones in Scotland: Workshop 1. Digital recording of carved stones for research. Where are we and where can we go? Glasgow School of Art
University of Glasgow


CARE Isles: ECCLES. Pre-Romanesque architecture in Scotland in its European context. European Association of Archaeologists Annual Conference 2014, Istanbul
European Association of Archaeologists

A 'cemetery of bric-a-brac' or a 'nursery of living thoughts'? Why replicas of archaeological material culture matter. Centre for Environment, History and Policy Seminars

Picts, Gaels and Scots - What's New?. Appin Historical Society lecture programme 2014-15
Appin Historical Society

Lecture on new developments in understanding the Picts, Gaels and Scots, following publication of 3rd editon of 'Picts, Gaels and Scots. Early Historic Scotland'.

The Thing about Replicas: Why Historic Replicas of Archaeological Material Matter. Mini-symposium on 19th-Century Replication and the Prehistory of Virtual Reality, Fort Worth, Texas

"19th Century Replication and the Prehistory of Virtual Reality," a mini-symposium, will take place 2:30-4:30 p.m., Nov. 7, 2014 (Debate Chamber, Scharbauer Hall). Funded by TCU's Research and Creative Activity Fund

Embodied energies, embedded stories: releasing the potential of casts of early medieval sculptures. Making Histories: The Sixth International Insular Art Conference 2011


Physical evidence for the early church in Scotland. Buildings for Worship in Britain: Celtic and Anglo-Saxon
University of Oxford


External Examiners and Validations

External Examiner for UG Archaeology, Glasgow University

PhD externalling
Universities of Cork (2014), Glasgow (2016, 2019), Manchester (2019), Northumbria (2021); Glasgow School of Art and Leicester planned (2021)

MPhil externalling
University of Cork (2017)

MRes examination
Universities of Cork (2016), Glasgow (2019) and Strathclyde (2016)

Other Academic Activities

Workshop co-organiser: Historic replicas in north-west Europe: current research, future prospect

Historic replicas in north-west Europe: current research, future prospects (Foster and Jones), University of Stirling, 8 January 2020.

Trustee, Kilmartin Museum

Chair, National Committee on Carved Stones in Scotland

Council Member/Trustee, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

Workshop co-organiser: Replicas in museums and heritage contexts: putting theory into practice
National Museums Scotland and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

SGSAH Heritage Hub event. Partnership with National Museum of Scotland and ICOMOS (Foster & Jones). 28-29 November 2019.

Advisory group for major projects
Includes: Ancient Images 2.0 [Gotland Picture Stones]; Iona's Namescapes; Scotland's Rock Art Project (-2021)

Professional Career

Hon Secretary, Medieval Europe Research Community

Hon Editor of Medieval Archaeology

Secretary European Association of Archaeologists

Professional membership

Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

FSA (Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London)

Professional qualification

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority
Higher Education Academy
Fellowship reference number: PR142119.

Supervision of Research Assistants

Ongoing PhD supervision
Rhona Ramsay, James Johnson and Tim Meek; starting 2021 Alex Hiscock and Neil Roy (University of Stirling) Georgina Ritchie (University of Edinburgh)

University Contribution

REF Impact Assessor (Panel C 15 Archaeology)

Stirling University representative on the SGSAH Archaeology, Art History, Classics, Museums Studies Panel and the Cultural and Museums Studies Discipline+ Catalyst.

Divisional Chief Examiner

Organiser Centre for Environment Heritage and Policy Tuesday Lunchtime Seminar Series

Co-organiser Divisional Seminar Series

Research programmes

Research centres/groups

Research themes