Cluny Johnstone
Leverhulme Trust Postdoctoral Fellow



Cluny studied Archaeological Sciences at Bradford University graduating in 1996. During this time she developed an interest in zooarchaeology. She then spent four years at the Environmental Archaeology Unit working primarily on the Flixborough animal bone assemblage as well as numerous smaller assemblages from a variety of locations and time periods. After a short sojourn in Birmingham working on the Elms Farm animal bone assemblage, she joined the department as a PhD student in 2000. Her PhD thesis, completed in 2004, researched the biometry of equids in the Roman world. This involved establishing a new methodology for differentiating between the bones of horses, donkeys and mules and using these identifications to study the size and build of the three equids across the Roman Empire. Cluny has recently been appointed as a post-doctoral research fellow on a Leverhulme funded project looking at the origins of intensive sea fishing. Cluny does escape from York occasionally and has worked as zooarchaeologist and environmental archaeology advisor on projects in Sicily, Norway and Bulgaria. Away from work Cluny is a keen horse rider, a competent ballroom dancer and an enthusiastic participant in various craft activities.


Selected publications



Cluny is working working with James Barrett, looking at the medieval origins of intensive sea fishing. This interdisciplinary and collaborative research project aims to explore the chronology, causes and implications of the rise of intensive sea fishing in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and North Atlantic from AD 600 to 1600. The project will use both traditional zooarchaeological and new biomolecular techniques for detecting the broad origin of traded fish. The project as a whole will conduct detailed studies of time-series from long-lived towns and from other key collections likely to represent traded material from across Northern Europe. Together, the extraction, processing and trade of these two species had major impacts on European social organisation and political-economy. The history of their exploitation also acts as a ‘barometer’ of social and economic change. Finally, it must be asked if the intensive exploitation of cod and herring resulted from, and in turn caused, early human impact on aquatic ecosystems. Cluny’s role in the project is currently focussed on co-ordinating the collection, recording and analysis of isotope samples from many international collaborators and the investigation of the results.

Cluny is also writing up various aspects of her thesis for publication.



First year

Second year

Third year

External activities


Memberships, etc.

Contact details

Dr Cluny Johnstone
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 433949
Fax: (44) 1904 433902