Accessibility statement

Patrick Hadley


I am an archaeologist interested in prehistory, multi-sensory dissemination, public engagement and digital media (not necessarily in that order).

My core archaeological interest is in European prehistory, particularly the Mesolithic. This is reflected in my current PhD research, my undergraduate research and my participation in fieldwork at Star Carr. You can also find more of my musings at my research-related blog Think|Dig|Write|Share.

I have a keen interest in archaeologists moving 'beyond text' in all of their work: from data recording and analysis (eg, 3D and spatial data) to academic dissemination and public engagement. Archaeology has a good track record for engaging with visual material but not always in the most sophisticated manner. The discipline's relationship with sound, haptics, kinaesthetics and so on, is generally in need of more attention.

Archaeology has had a traditional remit as a discipline which conserves and records first and engages wider audiences second (if at all). I think that this is counter-productive - after all, who are we recording and preserving for? A discipline that does not engage in broader dialogues with diverse audiences will have little support in funding crises and has little social justification beyond it's own enclave.

I am keenly interested in how archaeologists use new media both as public engagement tools and within 'expert' communities. I am a keen advocate of Open Access publishing in academia and recently signed the Open Access Pledge. I am a Wikipedia evangelist and believe it's one of the most positive projects for knowledge organisation the internet has produced. My Wikipedia user page shows a little of my work. I can also (often) be found ranting on twitter: @PatHadley


MA Mesolithic Studies 2011 University of York Distinction
 BSc Archaeology 2009 University of Bradford First Class with honours
 Diploma in Professional Archaeological Studies 2009 University of Bradford Distinction

I was co-awarded the J.J. Raper Prize for my undergraduate dissertation and also have vocational qualifications in graphic design and photography.  


 'The Meso-what?' Investigating public understanding of the Mesolithic

  • The project involves a number of overlapping areas of investigation.
  • The current version of the Research design (1.0) summarises the project more formally.
  • The key elements of the proposal are summarised below.

You can find out about the project in more (and frequently updated) detail on the project wiki.

The project is supervised by Dr Nicky Milner and Professor John Walker from the York Archaeological Trust.

Aim and objectives


  • To identify and implement best practice for improving public understanding of the Mesolithic period using Star Carr as a case study.


  • To critically evaluate the ways in which the Mesolithic is presented to the public in Britain
  • To investigate the ways in which the Mesolithic is presented to the public in other parts of Europe
  • To identify effective ways of disseminating Mesolithic research to the public, particularly through engagement with YAT attractions
  • To implement ideas for disseminating Mesolithic research, using Star Carr as a case study
  • To measure the impact of various presentation types
Research Context

The historical, academic, institutional, cultural and social backgrounds for the project are all important. They are also summarised in the formal Research design.

Research questions and methodology
  • In what ways is the Mesolithic presented to the public in Britain?

There are several key ‘interfaces’ or channels through which archaeological information gets from specialists to the public. These include museums, traditional media (television, radio, Newspapers),Schools, popular books - (fiction and non-fiction), artistic work (performances, fine arts), direct outreach (public lectures, site tours, experimental archaeology), archaeological/historical societies and specifically web-based dissemination. It will be crucial to investigate the relative strengths and weaknesses of these interfaces in terms of audience size, penetration, engagement and overall effectiveness as tools for presenting the Mesolithic.

  • In what ways is the Mesolithic presented to the public in other European countries, particularly Denmark?

Comparisons of the use of these interfaces in other regions will help build understanding of appropriate ways to present the Mesolithic. Particularly good examples of presentation sites (Museums,Archaeoparks, Excavation-based centres) will be selected for visits and broader datasets (visitor numbers, books sales, school curricula) will be analysed. The reasons for the uneven representation of Mesolithic archaeology across Europe will be placed in a historical context.

  • Which interfaces are most effective for presenting the Mesolithic?

It is important to gain a detailed understanding of how various aspects of the past can be presented by spending time at YAT’s visitor attractions. By comparing these to other interfaces in Britain and Europe one can build an understanding of how these might translate to the Mesolithic period. Different types of activity will be planned and implemented for Star Carr including one-off events (public lectures,site tours, experimental archaeology, performances), engaging traditional media, using web-based dissemination.

  • Which aspects of the Mesolithic are best suited to various public audiences?

Through the study of other periods (particularly the Vikings and Romans through the YAT attractions), and the Mesolithic in other countries it should be possible to assess if any issues have particularly high-impact with the broadest audiences: e.g. are issues such as climate change, which is at the forefront of current media, of interest when considered in the past. Further, are particular aspects more suitable for different age groups, non-traditional audiences (those from lower socio-economic backgrounds or recent immigrants). Lastly, there is an issue of whether particular ‘interpretive communities’ have particular ways of engaging with the Mesolithic which can be utilised (or must be mitigated for): for example flint-collectors, New Age spiritualists or extreme nationalists.

  • How effective are different interfaces for various audiences?

By collating data from indirect presentations (book sales, museum visitors, television audiences) and detailed monitoring of direct-engagement activities (visitor numbers, questionnaires, interviews) it should be possible to assess the impact of the different interfaces as Mesolithic presentation tools. Surveys will continue to be undertaken in Scarborough in order to identify whether the site acquires a higher profile over the period of the PhD.

Articles and talks


Talks, presentations and conference sessions

DateEventTitle (and collaborators)Type
June 2012 ACE: Integrating Archaeology - Frankfurt Web 2.0 as a communication tool between archaeologists and beyond... (Slides) Talk
March 2012 Bettakultcha - York A whistlestop tour of the Mesolithic Talk
March 2012 Where the Wild Things Are - Durham National histories of the Mesolithic: Comparing the British Isles and Denmark (Slides) Talk
December 2011 Dr. Web-love: Or, How I learnt to stop worrying and love social media Perpetual beta as an archaeological attitude (Slides) Talk
December 2011 CentralTAG2012 - Birmingham Dr. Web-love: Or, How I learnt to stop worrying and love social media
(Lorna Richardson, Don Henson)
Session organiser
December 2011 Wikimedia GLAMcamp Amsterdam Archaeology and Wikimedia - A view from the bridge. (Slides, Video) Talk (invited)
November 2011 British Museum Palaeolithic-Mesolithic Conference [net|work] Using the web to help Mesolithic scholars share information Poster
June 2011 King's Manor Interdisciplinary Conference (Beth Compton, Ryan Hunt) Conference organiser
December 2010 An artful integration? Possible futures for archaeology and creative work The Borderlands: A rough guide (Slides) Talk
December 2010 TAGBristol2011 - Bristol

An artful integration? Possible futures for archaeology and creative work
(Mhairi Maxwell, Timothy Taylor - write up listed above)

Session organiser
July 2010 Scarborough Archaeological Society: Star Carr Day School Visualising Star Carr Talk (invited)
June 2009 Gathering our thoughts 2009 - Postgraduate Mesolithic conference, York Verfremdungseffekt: Putting the strange with the familiar to stimulate ideas about 'invisible' aspects of Mesolithic life
(Alex Higgs)

Archaeological projects


2007 - Present: Star Carr and associated projects

I have been involved in dryland and wetland excavations, survey, environmental processing, post-excavation and photography at Star Carr. The public engagement at Star Carr will be the key case study for my PhD research.

2009: Cove Hole Research Project

I was responsible for site survey and assisting with logistics on this unique collaborative project. The excavations were directed by Dr. Timothy Taylor (University of Bradford) but had major input from members of the British Cave Research Association.

Other work

Mesolithic Miscellany

As part of my MA research I have been working on improving the web presence and social media use of Mesolithic Miscellany the only journal dedicated to study of the European Mesolithic.

Enkyad Heritage Media

In 2009 I set up a small company creating animations and other multimedia based on archaeological material. Our pilot project aimed to produce an innovative travelling exhibit inspired by the site of Star Carr. The work is currently on hold and I am hoping to be able to incorporate it into my PhD project.

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Contact details

Patrick Hadley
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 433931
Fax: (44) 1904 433931