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Professor Nicky Milner
Head of Department



Research interests

Nicky's 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.

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's excavations and research have been featured on a number of TV and radio programmes including

  • BBC Meet the Ancestors
  • two Channel 4 Time Team specials
  • three episodes of BBC Digging for Britain
  • BBC Ray Mear's Wild Food
  • Mystic Britain (Smithsonian channel)
  • Strangest things (Sky History)
  • Curse of the Ancients with Alice Roberts (Sky History)

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.


Nicky's work at Star Carr has won a number of prizes including

  • Research Project of the year in the Current Archaeology Awards (2014 and 2020)
  • Richardson Award for best paper in the Proceedings of the Geologist's Association
  • Best Innovation prize in the British Archaeological awards
  • Highly commended as Best Archaeological Book in the British Archaeological Awards for Star Carr: Life in Britain after the Ice Age

Fellowships and Boards

  • 2006 Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (FSA Scot)
  • 2009 Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA)
  • 2019 Elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA)

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
  • British Academy H7 steering committee


  • 1995: BA in Archaeology, Nottingham University
  • 1998: PhD, University of Cambridge (NERC funded) Incremental analysis of the European oyster and Danish shell middens
  • 1999: Sir James Knott fellowship, University of Newcastle
  • 2001: Lecturer, University of Newcastle
  • 2004: Lecturer, University of York
  • 2009: Senior Lecturer, University of York
  • 2012: Professor, University of York

Departmental roles

Nicky became Head of Department in 2019. She sits on:

  • Departmental Management Team (chair)
  • Equality, diversity and Inclusion committee 
  • Teaching management team
  • Research management team
  • Departmental Research Committee and associated committees
  • Board of Studies
  • UG and PG Teaching committees
  • Admissions committee
  • Careers committee

University roles

  • Member of University Council
  • Member of University Senate
  • Member of University Court
  • Member of Senior Leaders
  • Professional Delivery Workstream Board
  • Humanities Research Centre and Arts and Humanities Centres Steering Committees



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.



Available PhD research projects

I am interested in any topics which are related to the Mesolithic and the Late Palaeolithic. 


Current PhD students:

  • George Loffman
  • Jonny Gordon
  • Jess Bates
  • Ana Harto Villen
  • Annabell Zander
  • Charlie Rowley
  • Shannon Croft
  • Don Henson
  • 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
  • Kirsty High: NERC, deterioration of deposits at Star Carr
  • Ed Blinkhorn 
  • Katie Whittaker
  • Eva Laurie
  • Naomi Belshaw



As Head of Department, Nicky does not have a large teaching load but usually teaches on 

  • Mesolithic Themes
  • Research Skills



MA in Mesolithic Studies:

  • Mesolithic theory and interpretation
  • Mesolithic lifeways

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