Head of Department Julian Richards and Vice Chancellor Brian Cantor receiving the Queen's Anniversary Prize from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Recognized for  Excellence and Innovation in Research


A world leading centre for Bioarchaeology

The excavation at Gawthorpe Hall

One of the most specialized centres for Medieval and Historical Archaeology in Britain

Diving in Saudi

Searching for underwater evidence of the spread of humans along ancient coastal routeways

Fifteenth century interior digitally rendered

Vanguard of work concerned with Archaeological Information Systems

InterArChive logo

Developing multidisciplinary approaches to European Research Council funded projects

Archaeological Research at York

York is one of the leading research departments in the UK, ranked 4th overall in the recent Research Excellence Framework and 2nd for research impact. In 2011 the department  was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of our research and teaching excellence.

Explore some of our latest research projects below, or visit our research strengths page to dig deeper into the research expertise at the Department of Archaeology at the University of York.

Do you want to hold your research Fellowship at York?

Hold your Fellowship with us and you will discover that we are committed to conducting and developing inspirational and life-changing research. This is achieved by bringing together the best researchers to tackle some of our most pressing global challenges. As an independent Fellow you will help to forge new ideas, create solutions and push the frontiers of our knowledge. Read more about the support and opportunities we offer and hear from our past and current Fellows on our research fellowships page.

Latest research

Below is a selection of just a few of our latest research projects illustrating the breadth of our interests and expertise. Visit our news and staff pages to explore more or follow us on Twitter (@UoYArchaeologyhttps://twitter.com/UoYArchaeology) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ArchaeologyYork).

New book coming soon!

Formative Britain: The Archaeology of Britain AD 400-1100

Martin Carver

Martin Carver’s Formative Britain presents an account of the peoples occupying the island of Britain between 400 and 1100AD – peoples whose ideas continue to set the political agenda today. Forty years of new archaeological research has laid bare a hive of diverse and disputatious communities - Picts, Scots, Welsh, Cumbrian and Cornish Britons, Northumbrians, Angles and Saxons - who expressed their views of this world and the next in a thousand sites and monuments.

Counter Culture: Investigating Neolithic Diversity

Dr Penny Bickle

Counter Culture is a research project based at the University of York, running in collaboration with the University of Southampton and numerous collaborators in Alsace. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK (AHRC, grant number AH/R002622/1), 2018-2020. The aim of Counter Culture is to reveal the forms and extent of social diversity among the earliest farmers of central Europe, in order to provide new avenues to investigate the history of social inequality. The first farmers appeared in central Europe in the Neolithic, a period around 7500 years ago. Previous descriptions of Neolithic societies have relied on evidence from rich burials and ritual sites. By focusing only on the elite these approaches have produced narrow understandings of social diversity in the Neolithic. In contrast, the project will employ bioarchaeological methods (strontium, stable isotope and dental calculus analysis) to assess lifeway diversity across the full range of social groups, rather than just those of the elite. At stake is whether diversity increases, decreases or persists from the early Neolithic to the middle Neolithic.

Elizabeth Castle

Dr Dav Smith & Dr Matt Jenkins

The Department of Archaeology at York is embarking on an exciting new collaborative research project with Jersey Heritage. The Elizabeth Castle 2018 project will start investigations into the post-medieval story of the castle’s Outer Bailey, including documenting the development and use of a rare c.1810 military hospital block. Excavations on the adjacent Green will focus on recording and analysing the lost 18th-century barrack block, hopefully shedding light on this pivotal period in the castle’s history. This research project aims to underpin and inform Jersey Heritage’s future management of this presently under-utilised area of Elizabeth Castle. The project is jointly directed by Dr Dav Smith and Dr Matt Jenkins.


PATHWAy: PAstoralism, TransHumance in the Western Alps



Dr Kevin Walsh

PATHWAy is a collaborative research project between the universities of York and Southampton in the UK and the CNRS in France. The project runs runs from January 2018 to December 2020 and aims to study the development of long-distance pastoral transhumance (the management and movement of animals between lowland to high altitude pasture) in the Western Alps, from the Iron Age to the Medieval Period. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK (AHRC, grant number AH/P013554/1), 2018-2020.

Wildmore Fen

Dr Penny Bickle & Dr Peter Chowne

Started in 2017, the Wildmore Fen project is led by the University of York exploring the Neolithic Landscape of Lincolnshire and beyond. Neolithic studies in the British Isles for many years have focused on Wessex and to a lesser extent the Orkney Islands. Lincolnshire is situated between the well-known archaeology of southern England and the better researched Neolithic of Yorkshire. It is therefore a key lacuna in knowledge for researchers attempting to assess the spread of the Neolithic in the UK and the regional diversity of the Neolithic more broadly.

In Lincolnshire, the landscape between the Wolds and the Welland Valley is dominated by the northern part of the fenland basin and there has been an assumption in the past that freshwater and marine sediments mask early prehistoric activity. This is certainly the case in the lower Witham Valley downstream of Lincoln where later Bronze Age peat growth covers the Neolithic land surface. Although the evidence is limited and difficult to access it does appear that the Witham Valley lies between a southern/eastern Early Neolithic (causewayed enclosures) and a Yorkshire Early Neolithic (long barrows) monument construction tradition. This is also reflected in the pottery styles.

Our major research question is therefore does the Witham Valley represent a transitional zone between a southern and northern Neolithic tradition or is it part of a broader diversified Neolithic in the latter part of the 4th millennium cal BC?

The project is supported by Dr Helen Goodchild and Dr Carol Lang. As the project progresses other researchers and specialists will join the team. We believe in sharing our research and welcome community involvement. Go the the Get Involved page on our website to register your interest! There will be opportunities to take part in fieldwork and to learn more about the archaeology and history of the Lincolnshire landscape.

 Sicily Column 320x120

Sicily in Transition AD 600-1200

Professor Martin Carver

The Departments of Archaeology at York and the University of Rome 2, Tor Vergata, began a joint research project in 2014 investigating Sicily in Transition, from AD600-1200 (Byzantine-Arabic-Norman), with special focus on changes in social structure, agriculture and trade. The SICTRANSIT project has recently received funding from the European Research Council for a 5-year programme of research continuing the exploration of the archaeology of regime change on this pivotal island. The project is directed by Dr Alessandra Molinari (Rome) and Professor Martin Carver (York) with the collaboration of Dr Girolamo Fiorentino (Salento) and the support of Stefano Vassallo of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali di Palermo. The project is grateful to the Mayor, Commune and people of Castronovo for their warm and valued support.


The Ancestry of Human Emotions

Dr Penny Spikins

All too often violence, conflict and aggression in our distant past receive by far the greatest academic and media attention and the question of when, where and how our emotional strengths emerged has thus been largely disregarded. The evidence for sharing, caring for the vulnerable, courage and self-control however is in fact far more extensive in the archaeological record than that for violence. Our distant ancestors were courageous on behalf on others, showed self-control, kindness and compassion, and protected themselves from the risks in their environments through using tolerance and gratitude to forge links with people they differed from and rarely met. This new project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, aims to redress the balance of research and explore the question of the emergence of positive human emotions, at a time when such evidence seems to be much needed in modern society. 




All of our research is subject to ethics approval, please see our ethics, code of practice page for more details.

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