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Professor Nicky Milner
Head of Department



Nicky completed a BA in Archaeology in Nottingham in 1995 and a NERC funded PhD in Cambridge in 1998, which developed a method to analyse seasonality information from the European oyster, which was then applied to Danish shell midden sites. This was followed by a Sir James Knott fellowship at the University of Newcastle in 1999 and then a Lectureship in 2001, before moving to the University of York in 2004. She became a Senior Lecturer in 2009, Professor in 2012 and has been Head of Department since 2019. Nicky was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA) in 2009 and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2019.

Her research focuses on the Final Palaeolithic, the Mesolithic and the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition. She went on her first excavation whilst still at school and since then has excavated whenever she could. She has co-directed a number of projects: the Mesolithic hut at Howick, shell middens at Baylet, a Long blade site at Flixton Island and a 15 year project at the famous Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr.

She also worked on shell midden sites in Denmark, Ireland, Scotland, Spain and Portugal and currently works on two major biodiversity projects: The Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity and the EU SYNERGY SEACHANGE project.

Nicky's excavations and research have been featured on a number of TV and radio programmes including Meet the Ancestors, two special episodes of Time Team, three episodes of Digging for Britain, Ray Mear's Wild Food and Mystic Britain. She has given over 40 public talks on Star Carr and collaborated on a number of museum exhibitions including Star Carr at the Yorkshire Museum, The Rotunda and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Cambridge.

Her work at Star Carr has won many prizes including Research Project of the year in the Current Archaeology Awards (2014 and 2020), the Richardson Award for best paper in the Proceedings of the Geologist's Association, the best Innovation prize in the British Archaeological awards and highly commended as Best Archaeological Book in the British Archaeological Awards for Star Carr: Life in Britain after the Ice Age

She has supervised over 25 PhD students and in 2019 was highly commended in the Times Higher Education awards as Research Supervisor of the Year. She has also won two Vice Chancellor's Awards for teaching. 

Nicky currently sites on a number of boards, trusts and societies including REF subpanel member, Director and Trustee of Antiquity, Heritage Monitoring and Advisory Scientific Committee for A303 Stonehenge project, Scientific Advisory Board Kiel, Jersey Heritage Framework Advisory Board and British Academy H7 steering committee.



Nicky's research mainly focuses on the Mesolithic period and at the moment is working on the Preboreal, Early Mesolithic (through Star Carr), as well as having a focus on the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition. Her research tends to divide across three key themes: palaeodiet and consumption practices; settlement and mobility; death and burial. 

Nicky has projects which are based both in the lab and in the field and she aims to bring innovative approaches through the development of new themes. Her fieldwork is interdisciplinary in approach and her work at Star Carr involves working with over 20 specialists. She has also co-directed excavations on shell middens in Ireland with Peter Woodman, and excavations at Howick with Clive Waddington and Geoff Bailey.

Nicky completed a major AHRB project with Geoff Bailey on Coastal shell middens and agricultural origins in Europe. As part of this, she developed a critical examination of stable isotope analysis in identifying the role of marine resources across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Europe. She has also made important new advances in seasonality studies, using marine molluscs and new biomolecular methods of palaeodietary analysis, coordinating her research with colleagues in five different countries.




  • Excavations at Star Carr. Major European Research Council Grant (previously funded by the British Academy, McDonald Institute, Vale of Pickering Research Trust, English Heritage)
  • Mesolithic Conservation and Research Framework (with Ed Blinkhorn as project manager), funded by English Heritage
  • Writing up Inch Island Prehistoric Landscapes Project (with Peter Woodman), funded by DUCHAS
  • Co-ordination of Mesolithic Stone Age Bog Site Group (with Harald Lubke and Lars Larsson)

Previous projects



  • PREBOREAL: European Research Council (Star Carr)
  • Star Carr 2010: English Heritage and Natural Environment Research Council
  • Mesolithic Research and Conservation Framework: English Heritage
  • AHRC Colloborative doctoral award: Public perception of the Mesolithic
  • NERC Colloborative doctoral award: Deterioration of deposits at Star Carr

Available PhD research projects

I am interested in any topics which are related to the Mesolithic!


Current PhD students:

  • Rachel Parks: Resource use in the Mesolithic of Scotland 
  • Gemma Moy: Introduction of domesticates at the Meso/Neo transition
  • Ben Elliott: AHRC, Antler working in the Mesolithic
  • Emily Hellewell: AHRC, Human remains in shell middens
  • Pat Hadley: AHRC, Public perception and the Mesolithic
  • Kirsty High: NERC, deterioration of deposits at Star Carr
  • Steve Hartley: AHRC, Fish and stable isotope analyses



Currently on research leave

Usual teaching includes
  • World Archaeology: Death and Burial 
  • Mesolithic Themes
  • Research Skills


MA in Mesolithic Studies:
  • Mesolithic theory and interpretation
  • Mesolithic lifeways

External activities


  • NERC radiocarbon Facility (Archaeology) Assessment Panel
  • AHRC peer college
  • Director of Antiquity Publications Ltd
  • Fellow Society of Antiquaries
  • External examiner, University of Reading

Editorial duties

Invited talks and conferences

  • 2011: Quo Vadis: long term research projects in Archaeology, Schlesvig, Ertebolle (with Professor Soren H. Andersen)
  • 2010: Documenta Praehistoria, Slovenia, Human burials across the Meso/Neo transition (with Emily Hellewell)
  • 2009: Society of American Archaeologists, Texas, Historical ecology and oyster exploitation
  • 2006: Prehistoric Society, John Evans conference, Cardiff, Myths and middens (with Ol Craig)
  • 2006: Council for British Research in the Levant, Jordan, Subsistence and landscapes
  • 2005: Interdisciplinary Studies on Prehistoric Material Culture, Stockholm, Mesolithic subsistence
Other recent conferences:
  • 2011: "Star Carr: past, present and future" Palaeolithic Mesolithic conference, British Museum
  • 2010: “Recent research at Star Carr” (with Taylor, Conneller) European Association of Archaeologists, The Hague 
  • 2010: “Public Perception of the Mesolithic” MESO 2010, Santander
  • 2010: “Landscape research in the Vale of Pickering” (with Conneller, Taylor), MESO 2010, Santander
  • 2010: “Isotope analysis from modern and archaeological eels” (with Robson, Craig, Heron) MESO 2010, Santander
  • 2009: “Colonisation and settling down in the Late Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic”, European Association of Archaeologists, Riva del Garda, Italy 
  • 2008: “Star Carr: recent research”, Palaeolithic Mesolithic conference, British Museum 
  • 2006: “Environmental and seasonality records from the limpet”, (with D. Surge, T. Fenger and B. Schöne) American Geophysical Union, San Francisco 
  • 2006: “Environmental and seasonality records from the limpet”, (with D. Surge, T. Fenger, B. Schöne) Geological Society of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
  • 2006: “Excavations at Star Carr”, Palaeolithic Mesolithic conference, British Museum

Media coverage

  • Digging for Britain: Star Carr
  • Ray Mears: Wild Food series
  • TimeTeam special on Doggerland
  • Meet the Ancestors: Howick- the earliest house in Britain
  • Radio 4: programme on oysters
  • Radio 4: programme on Star Carr
  • Radio York: Star Carr
  • Summer 2010: Star Carr earliest house in Britain! BBC (home and world news), ITV, Channel 4, radio (local and world), National and International newspapers (see our news story)


Exhibition on Star Carr and the Mesolithic in York City Art Gallery, April 2010

Professor Nicky Milner‌‌

Contact details

Professor Nicky Milner
Head of Department
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 323940