Don Henson
Public archaeology and education



Don Henson BA (Sheffield), MPhil (Sheffield), FSA, MIFA 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 doctoral research was looking 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 doctoral 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.

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 is Head of Education at the Council for British Archaeology. His role is to be the advocate for archaeology within the formal education system, from primary schooling up to higher education. He is 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 established the biennial Archaeology and Education conference, lectures on various MA courses in the UK, sits on 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.

He is currently chair of:

  • the Committee for Audio-Visual Education
  • the Heritage Link Inclusion Working Group
  • the World Archaeological Congress Public Education Committee

His work involves supporting and influencing government initiatives on education. These include Engaging Places, a DCMS project to support built environment education, and the Learning Outside the Classroom initiative of DCSF. He also sits on the development partnership for the new humanities diploma.


Full publications list

  • Henson, D (forthcoming) “The academy and the public” for Ian Russell & Stephanie Koerner (eds.) Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and the Unquiet Past, Springer-Kluwer, New York
  • Henson, D (forthcoming) “Archaeological education and reasons why: a personal view from the United Kingdom” (for WAC Osaka publication edited by Akira Matsuda & Katsuyuki Okamura)
  • Henson, D (forthcoming) “Future trends for public archaeology”, in Norman Redhead (ed.) Archaeology for All
  • Henson, D (forthcoming) “What on earth is archaeology?”, in Emma Waterton & Laurajane Smith (eds.) Taking archaeology out of heritage
  • 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 history of archaeology and its social profile
  • the archaeological landscapes of the Pennines
  • the construction of social networks in British later prehistory (Neolithic onwards)
  • the construction of ethnic and other identities in the paste
  • the history and archaeology of migration/early medieval Britain, 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


He is currently chair of:

  • the Committee for Audio-Visual Education
  • the Heritage Link Inclusion Working Group
  • the World Archaeological Congress Public Education Committee


Contact details

Don Henson