Drilling Neolithic pottery from Stonehenge
If I were to put myself into an academic pigeonhole, it would be geoarchaeologist, with a bit of chemistry thrown in. I started off life as a geographer, having chosen that subject to study at university because I had a strange fondness for rocks and landscapes, but still cared about humans too much to be a geologist. My first insight into archaeology was during my undergraduate fieldwork. I was lucky enough to work on a Lapita shell midden in Fiji, initially from an environmental perspective looking at changes in shellfish species over time, but the experience introduced me to archaeology, and the idea of interdisciplinary approaches to studying the human past

Geoarchaeology was the logical next step, applying the methods and theories of geosciences to archaeological questions, and I did my MSc in this subject at the University of Reading, funded by NERC. My PhD was undertaken jointly in Chemistry and Archaeology, developing an integrated method that combined microscopic analysis of sediments with organic geochemical characterisation. This method enabled me to reconstruct the formation processes of incredibly complex ashy midden deposits at Catalhoyuk, a Neolithic settlement and World Heritage Site in Turkey, and to decipher signals of human activity and changing use of fuel resources. It's amazing what you can learn from rubbish. I ended up being a bit of an expert in coprolites too - the middens at Catalhoyuk are full of them, so I couldn't really avoid it. It's also amazing what you can learn from ancient poop.

Despite moving from geography to archaeology, my interests have remained the same - the dynamic relationship between people and their environment. How has the environment changed in the past, and what influence has this had on the development of human societies? Conversely, how have humans shaped the landscapes they inhabit? My research brings together aspects of geography, anthropology and archaeology to investigate human-environment relationships in the past, and how we can use the deep-time perspectives of archaeology to inform present day responses to environmental change. I am a lecturer in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University. I teach in the areas of environmental archaeology and archaeological science, and run a field school at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney in collaboration with ORCA, where students are able to take part in the research process of doing environmental archaeology in the field.

For more on my professional background, check out my research profiles:

Google Scholar Citations
Research Gate


  1. Thank-you for your service to help humans understand there impact on the he environment thru out history.
    You have a fascinating area of sciences to share.

  2. I support your theory that the stones for Stonehenge were transported on wooden sledges using "greasy ways". Like your Berthon Boatyard correspondent I was taught about this technique at Southampton Tech in the 1960s. Similar oiled slipway launching methods are still in use in shipyards. The amount of grease and timber need not be very large as the wooden "rails" can be re-used continually and rapidly become soaked in grease.

    1. Apologies for the very belated response, I haven't checked my blog in a while! Thank you for the comment, it is great to hear about other historic examples where a similar process has been used.


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