Accessibility statement

Don Henson
Public archaeology and education



Don Henson BA (Sheffield), MPhil (Sheffield), PhD (York), FSA, MCIfA began his archaeological career at Sheffield University doing a degree in prehistory and archaeology, and then going on to do research into the exploitation of different sources of flint and chert in British prehistory. His early research also looked at how flint tool manufacture and procurement changed between the different social contexts of the Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age.

He became interested in public archaeology and education while lecturing to adult evening classes, and eventually diverted his career away from his research to become a museum education officer. Working for 6 years with groups of school children as well as adults proved to be extremely rewarding. He has become a passionate advocate for a publicly engaged, outward-looking archaeology.

His PhD research was into the communication of archaeological understandings of the British Mesolithic to public audiences across traditional publishing, the Internet and digital media, museums and in schools. As part of this he created a set of downloadable schools resources for the Mesolithic site of Star Carr.

Don is also passionate about hill-walking, good food, real ale, cinema and Japanese art, language and culture. He finds it hard to move too far away from the Pennines, which he thinks is the most beautiful landscape in the world.


Don was Outreach Officer for Wakefield Museums, Galleries and Castles from 1988 to 1994, and then Head of Education at the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) from 1994 to 2011. His role at the CBA was to be the advocate for archaeology within the formal education system, from primary schooling up to higher education. He was also an advocate for the importance of education work within archaeology. Don has twice been in charge of the Young Archaeologists' Club and remains keen to promote the Club.

He has also sat on the AQA committees for AS/A level history and archaeology, the Archaeology Advisory Panel for the Higher Education Academy, the National Trust's Learning Panel and the IfA Professional Training Committee. He has led campaigns for the teaching of medieval history at 14-18, and for archaeology graduates to be admitted to teacher training degrees.


Full publications list

  • Henson, D & Milner N  2018  'Chapter 13: Engaging a wider audience', in Milner, N, Conneller, C and Taylor, B (eds.) Star Carr, Volume 1: a persistent place in a changing world, White Rose University Press: York: 331-338 (
  • Henson, D  2017  ‘Archaeology and education’, in G Moshenska (ed.) Key concepts in public archaeology, London: University College London Press: 43-59 (
  • Henson, D  2015  Archaeology hotspot Great Britain, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield
  • Henson, d, Sayej, G & Willumsen, Y F (eds.)  2015  Managing archaeological heritage: public archaeology in Europe, Kristiansand, Vest-Agder Museet
  • Henson, D  2014  ‘Finding people in the heritage of Bankside, Southwark’, in J Schofield (ed.) Who needs experts? Counter-mapping cultural heritage: 147-164, Farnham: Ashgate
  • Henson, D  2013  ‘Romanes eunt domus?’, in N Mills (ed.)  Presenting the Romans: interpreting the frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site: 139-146, Woodbridge: The Boydell Press
  • Henson, D  2013  ‘Digital media and public engagement in archaeology: an opinion piece’, Archäologische Informationen 36: 13-20,
  • Henson, D  2013  ‘Using social media technologies to engage people in archaeology. Introduction to the session at the 18th EAA Annual Meeting 2012 in Helsinki.’, Archäologische Informationen 36: 11-12 [Available at]
  • Henson,D  2012  Doing archaeology, London: Routledge
  • Henson, D  2011  ‘Does archaeology matter?’, in G Moshenska & S Dhanjal (eds.) Community archaeology: themes, methods and practices: 123-130, Oxford University Press
  • Henson, D  2011  ‘The educational purpose of archaeology: a personal view from the United Kingdom’, in A Matsuda & K Okamura (eds.) New perspectives in global public archaeology: 217-226, Springer
  • Henson, D  2011  ‘Education is a central issue for all archaeologists’, British Archaeology 119: 64-65
  • Henson, D  2010  ‘An anti-Pagan edict brings Britons and Saxons together’, BBC History Magazine 11 (10), October 2010: 29
  • Henson, D  2010  ‘The academy and the public’, in I Russell & S Koerner (eds.) Unquiet pasts: risk society, lived cultural heritage, re-designing reflexivity, Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate: 209-222
  • Henson, D  2010  ‘Chronicle: a glimpse of TV heaven’, Viewfinder: 14-15
  • Henson, D  2009  ‘Friend or enemy? Community archaeology in the United Kingdom’, in P Gonzalez Marcen (ed.) Patrimoni, identitati ciutadania: un nou paper per a l'arqueologia i la historia, Treballs d'Arqueologia 15: 43-49, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
  • Henson, D, Bailey, G & Piccini, A  2009  ‘Bonekickers: informing, educating, entertaining?’, in S Lemaitre & C Schall (eds.) How do the media represent archaeology, what is at stake?: Brussels: Kineon, 31-44
  • Henson, D  2009  ‘What on earth is archaeology?’, in E Waterton & L Smith (eds.) Taking archaeology out of heritage: 117-135, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
  • Henson, D  2009  ‘In my view: the true end of archaeology?’, Primary History 51: 7-8
  • Henson, D 2008 'History and archaeology at 14-18', Research in Archaeology Education 1
  • Henson, D 2006 The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Saxon Books
  • Henson, D, A Bodley & M Heyworth 2006 'The educational value of archaeology', in J-C Marquet, C Pathy-Barker & C Cohen Archaeology and Education: from primary school to university, British Archaeological Reports International Series (BAR S) 1505, Archaeopress, Oxford
  • Henson, D 2006 “Television archaeology: education or entertainment?”, Institute of Historical Research conference publications,
  • Henson, D 2006 “Ever Widening Circles”, British Archaeological Jobs Resource, Conference Papers 2006
  • Henson, D 2005 “Curriculum choice at 14+: who decides?”, The Historian 84: 44-45
  • Henson, D, Stone, P G & Corbishley, M (eds.) 2004 Education and the historic environment, Routledge
  • Henson, D 2004 “Archaeology and education, an exercise in constructing the past”, in P Gonzalez Comunicar el passat. Creació i divulgació de l'arqueologia i de la història: 5-16
  • Henson, D 2002 “Opportunities for museums in archaeological education” in P J Wise (ed.) Public Archaeology: remains to be seen: 46-51
  • Henson, D 2001 The English Elite in 1066: gone but not forgotten, Anglo-Saxon Books
  • Henson, D 2001 “People and place”, History Today Dec: 38-39
  • Henson, D 2000 “Teaching the past in the United Kingdom's schools”, Antiquity 74: 137-141
  • Henson, D 2000 “Archaeology in Higher Education”, The Archaeologist 37: 19-20
  • Henson, D (ed.) 1999 Guide to archaeology in higher education, CBA
  • Henson, D 1998 A guide to late Anglo-Saxon England, Anglo-Saxon Books
  • Henson, D (ed.) 1997 Archaeology in the English national curriculum, CBA
  • Henson, D (ed.) 1996 Teaching archaeology: a United Kingdom directory of resources, CBA
  • Henson, D, Hall, M & Judkins, P 1993 “Community education: the evening class experience”, Journal of Education in Museums 14, 1-2
  • Henson, D 1989 “Away from the core? A northerner's view of flint exploitation”, in I Brooks & P Phillips, Breaking the stony silence: papers from the Sheffield lithics conference 1988, BAR British Series 213, 5-31



Don's interests range widely across various broad areas of research:

  • the relationship between archaeology and heritage, and public engagement with archaeology
  • the communication of archaeological knowledge of the past to public audiences
  • the role of archaeology in education
  • the history of archaeology and its social profile
  • the construction of ethnic and other identities in the paste
  • the Mesolithic period in Britain and the rest of north-western Europe
  • the history and archaeology of migration/early medieval Britain, Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology, and Old English language and literature
  • the relationship between archaeology and television, and the uses and portrayal of the past in cinema


Don is a trustee of the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust, and spends every summer excavating or surveying multi-period landscapes in upper Wharfedale.

He is currently doing research in:

  • notions of ethnicity and construction of identities in 7th to 9th century Britain
  • the portrayal of the past on television in Britain
  • the social construction of archaeology as a profession and discipline

External activities


Don also acts as a freelance consultant in heritage education and lithics analysis, and is currently:

  • Chair of the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust
  • External examiner, Royal Agricultural University
  • AQA GCE A Level Archaeology Reviser
  • National Trust Specialist Adviser
  • Historic Houses Association Learning Adviser
  • Judge for the Sandford Heritage Education Awards

Contact details

Don Henson