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

Invited speaker: Scottish Church Theological Society annual conference, January 2022, Peebles

Invited speaker. Others Prof Mithen and Prof Bradley VIRTUAL option re The Scottish Church Theology Society’s annual conference 2022 “Back to the Future” On Jan 10th and Jan 11th Professor Steven Mithen talks about 'The evolutionary origins of religion' and 'Did St Columba visit Islay? The early Christian archeology of a Hebridean island. He is Professor of Early Prehistory at the University of Reading. On January 11th Professor Ian Bradley, formerly principal of St Mary's College St Andrew's, lectures on 'Argyll: The Making of a Spiritual Landscape' and 'The Fife Pilgrim Way: In the Footsteps of Monks, Miners and Martyrs.' On 12th Jan, Dr Sally Foster, Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Conservation, History, Heritage and Politics at the University of Stirling, presents 'St John's Cross Iona: My life as a Replica'. Registration and Payment for the 2022 conference VIRTUAL version is online. To register send an email to Rev George Lind at gklind@talktalk.net - You will be sent the Eventbrite link. If you have any questions please contact George on that email address. Registration for all or part of the Conference is £25 (£20 for the unwaged - if the latter please send your CHEQUE payable to SCTS to George).

Invited co-chair: Columba and Iona - An Interdisciplinary Conference, session on modern legacy of Columba and Iona, organised by University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow


Invited panellist: Celebrating Scotland's Rock Art Workshop 2: A Future for Scotland’s Rock Art? Organised by the AHRC-funded Scotland's Rock Art Project


Invited speaker: Pictish Arts Society/Society for Northern Studies, Picts in the North conference, 14 March, online

Letting St John's Cross and its Replica speak

Invited host: Deep-time dialogues: reflections on the SERF project, organised by Council for British Archaeology

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

Invited speaker: Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Monuments Matters series of online talks, Panel 4: Monuments and Community Identity, 16 June 2021

‘The human story’: social value, biography and carved stones. Recorded talk available on YouTube but initially, at least, restricted to subscribers to series: https://youtu.be/gvdgA3uVAI0 .

Invited Chair: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland public event, Creating Scotland: Assembling a Medieval Kingdom” an in-conversation event with Hamish Torrie FSAScot, Dr Heather Pulliam FSAScot and Dr Adrian Maldonado FSAScot, Edinburgh, 14 October 2020


Invited speaker: UCL Authenticity Reading Group, 13 November, in relation to authenticity and replicas in context of archaeology, heritage and museums
University College London

Invited speaker: talk to Appin Historical Society about My Life as a Replica

Delivered in Port Appin in October 2021, postponed from 2020 because of pandemic.

Invited keynote: Lasting Impressions 2019. Making and Re-Making the Replica. AHRC-funded Study Day. Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Available on YouTube. See also @lastingimpression_ #lastingimpressions19
University of Oxford

My Life as a Replica: the role of materiality and craft in letting a replica 'speak'

Invited keynote: Making it Real. Historical Authenticity in Museums and Collections in the UK, Germany, and Europe, Cambridge, 3-5 December 2019, What replicas can tell us about authenticity, if we let them speak

Invited speaker: University of Edinburgh Art History Seminar, My Life as a Replica: understanding the values and meanings of the St John’s Cross, Iona, from creation to present, 17 October

Invited Chair: V&A Celebrating Reproductions: Past, Present and Future conference, 17-19 January 2019, V&A London


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


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.

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.

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

The story of Iona's St John Cross. Project 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.

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.

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

‘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.

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).

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

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


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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Public lecture to Tullibody History Society

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


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

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

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

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.

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 4. ScARF for carved stones in Scotland, University of Stirling


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


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

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.

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


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


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


Invited keynote speaker: Early Medieval Sculpture in its International Context conference, 31 Aug-4 Sep 2022, University of York
Travels with carved stones: in search of new meanings and values

Invited speaker: Gotland 2nd Picture Stone Symposium, Sweden, August 2022
Letting stones ʻspeakʼ: a Scottish perspective on the benefits and implications of exploring contemporary social value

External Examiners and Validations

External Examiner for UG Archaeology, Glasgow University

PhD externalling: Universities of Cork (2014), Glasgow (2016, 2019), Manchester (2019), Northumbria (2021); Leicester (2021) and Glasgow School of Art (2022)

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

MPhil externalling: University of Cork (2017)

Other Academic Activities

REF 2021 Panel C15 Archaeology Impact Assessor (UK-wide nomination process)


Council Member/Trustee, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

Chair, National Committee on Carved Stones in Scotland

Trustee, Kilmartin Museum

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.

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.

Invited member of Advisory groups for major projects and organisations: Ancient Images 2.0 [Gotland Picture Stones]; Iona's Namescapes; Scotland's Rock Art Project (-2021); George Bain Collection Advisory Panel (Groam House Museum, 2022-)

Invited member: The Stone of Destiny Expert Panel, Perth and Kinross Council, chaired by Sir Mark Jones

Professional Career

Hon Secretary, Medieval Europe Research Community

Elected Hon Editor of Medieval Archaeology

Elected Secretary of European Association of Archaeologists

Professional membership

FSA (Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London)

Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

Professional qualification

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

Supervision of Research Assistants

PhD supervision: Rhona Ramsay (submitted Dec 2021), James Johnson, Tim Meek, Alex Hiscock and Neil Roy (University of Stirling), Georgina Ritchie (University of Edinburgh)

University Contribution

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

Divisional Chief Examiner

Co-organiser Divisional Seminar Series

Organiser Centre for Environment Heritage and Policy Tuesday Lunchtime Seminar Series

Research programmes

Research centres/groups

Research themes