Anthropology field trip to Gibraltar 2022

Hannah Swinney

One of the best aspects of studying Anthropology at Durham is being able to go on a Field Course before final year. It’s such a good way to explore another culture and get to know your course mates better! This year 15 of us travelled to Gibraltar for a week to study human-primate interactions. Our focus was on the Barbary Macaques (AKA Gibraltar Apes), which are known to be the only wild monkey population in Europe. We looked at the relationship between these monkeys and tourism.

Travelling and accommodation

We took a three hour flight to Gibraltar from London, and when we arrived we walked to our accommodation through the town. It was so interesting to see all the symbols of British culture such as the pubs and fish and chip shops that spanned the area!

Our accommodation was located roughly halfway between town and the top of the rock where we observed the monkeys, so it was the ideal location for us. For me the best part about this accommodation was the view it had over the Bay of Gibraltar to Spain and Morocco – we saw some amazing sunsets while we were there! We were self-catered for breakfast and lunch everyday (food was kindly already bought and taken up the hill for us by our professors) and in the evenings we would go into town to restaurants. As this trip is subsidised by the university we were also given some money to spend for dinner every night which was a great bonus.

What we did day to day

Each day we would walk up to the Upper Rock nature reserve and observe the characteristics and activities of the monkeys at four sites. We collected data as a group which meant we had a big data base to use in future, and it also meant we had more time to think about what specific topic we wanted to explore while we were there. While we observed we also had the chance to speak to people we saw to get a range of perspectives on the monkeys which we could use as ethnographic data. We had the choice to pool our ethnographic data that came from our conversations with people on the rock, so it felt like a collaborative effort.

Overall experience

I really enjoyed my week in Gibraltar, it was so interesting to see different viewpoints about how the monkeys and tourism interact. Seeing the monkeys in the flesh is a one of a kind experience and I think we were all sad to leave them by the end! We also saw some of the key cultural attractions of Gibraltar such a light show in St Michael’s cave, and the World War II Tunnels of Gibraltar that were used by the British Army which were both great experiences.

Experience coming from Year Abroad

As I did a Year Abroad last year, I didn’t know anyone going into this trip, and I also felt apprehensive about coming back to Durham in general after such a big change. This field trip was a really great way to meet new people and help me settle back into Durham and made me feel very positive about going into fourth year. I would really recommend this fieldtrip to any Anthropologists, whether you are interested more in the biological or social side, as it is great in tying the two together.

Discover more

Our Anthropology Department is one of the largest in the UK and is ranked 29th globally (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022).  

Fieldwork is core to our taught programmes, and we offer research-led teaching and hands-on experience to equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need for a successful future.  

Feeling inspired? Visit our Anthropology webpages for more information on our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. 

Hannah Swinney

Hi I’m Hannah and I’m going into my final year studying Health & Human Sciences and looking to do a master's next year. I’m in Van Mildert college and outside of work, I love to get involved in university dance.

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