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Archaeology Research (UoA15)

Archaeology Research (UoA15)

Who we are

Archaeology has been studied and researched at Newcastle since 1931. Over the last decade the number of archaeologists has more than doubled. Now, there are over 35 lecturing, research, and technical staff at Newcastle.

They work on periods from the Palaeolithic to the present with a geographical focus on:

  • Britain and northern Europe
  • the Mediterranean
  • North Africa
  • the Middle East
  • North America

While the group’s research is global in outlook, it retains a strong commitment to archaeology in northern England. This reflects Newcastle University’s ethos as a civic university.

Together, Newcastle’s archaeologists are building a leading international centre for archaeological research by fostering a diverse community of outstanding researchers.

This community develops and applies cutting-edge theory, methods, and technologies.

Archaeology research themes

The two key Archaeology research themes since 2014 are Landscape and Material Culture.

The hub for Landscape research is the interdisciplinary McCord Centre for Landscape. We established the Centre in 2014 to carry out basic and applied research in rural, urban, and maritime landscapes.

Our principal research themes include long-term adaptation to climate change, water and soil management, participatory research and landscape planning.

Key areas of our expertise in Landscape include:

  • geoarchaeology
  • field survey
  • remote sensing
  • development of dating methods
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • landscape characterisation

Our research focus for Material Culture is Materiality, Artefacts, and Technologies in Culture, and History (MATCH).

As a Faculty Research Group, MATCH also provides a focal point for interdisciplinary research. It links into the Newcastle University Centre for Heritage.

Key archaeological specialisms in Material Culture include:

  • ceramics
  • glass
  • stone and bone
  • metal
  • microwear analysis
  • experimental archaeology

Research activities

Archaeology research in Europe, America, Asia, and Africa has received funding by major grants from funders.

These funders include:

  • UKRI (Arts and Humanities Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, British Academy)
  • the European Commission (European Research Council, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Awards, Societal Challenges)
  • the Leverhulme Trust
  • the Wellcome Trust
  • the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Active projects on five continents involve more than 180 collaborations. They cover academia, industry, and government.

The resulting publications present outstanding results in fundamental research. They also progress the development of method and theory.

Recent projects

Our latest projects are diverse and include:

Partnerships and impact

Archaeologists at Newcastle are committed to research that addresses the challenges of the future. Many projects are designed with users and beneficiaries in mind.

Partnerships with institutions outside higher education include strong relationships in the heritage sector.

Ongoing projects along Hadrian’s Wall involve working with hundreds of volunteers in partnership with regional and national stakeholders including:

  • Historic England
  • English Heritage
  • the National Trust
  • Hadrian’s Wall museums (the Vindolanda Trust and the Senhouse Trust)

Impacting policy

Archaeologists partner with the professional sector and many visiting fellows come from industry. This close engagement provides pathways for research innovations to impact policy and practice.

For example, international landscape policy work seeks to inform sustainable future land-use. It achieves this through knowledge of past impacts from farming, development, and water management.

One of the group’s key ambitions is to make archaeology a lever for progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goals in areas, including:

  • climate change
  • agriculture
  • water management
  • sustainable use of natural and cultural resources

Infrastructure and facilities

Since 2014, we've invested over £1.4m to create dedicated laboratories for archaeological science. They provide world-class facilities for material culture research (Wolfson Archaeology Laboratory) and geoarchaeology (Earthslides Laboratory).

Laboratories

The Wolfson Lab provides facilities for:

  • experimental materials analysis
  • reference collections for environmental and artefact research
  • a dedicated research microscopy suite

The Earthslides Lab has a full range of equipment for producing and analysing samples. This includes large-format thin sections of soils, sediments, and ceramics. There is also a clean room for microfossil extraction.

The McCord Centre maintains facilities for archaeological survey and remote sensing. This includes a full suite of geophysics and terrestrial and airborne laser scanning instruments.

Archives 

Our unique archives and museums include collections from around the world. They include major British and Mediterranean collections in the Great North Museum.

Archaeology also works closely with the University Library’s Special Collections department. One example is the co-curation of the Gertrude Bell Archive, which was included on the UNESCO International Memory of the World Register in 2017

It is one of only two archives in any UK university that UNESCO recognises in this way.

Research case studies