Skip to main content
Professor in the Department of Archaeology+44 (0) 191 33 41169



I am a specialist in the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, with research interests in the origins and nature of Palaeolithic art and mortuary activity, chronometry, the behaviour of the Neanderthals and Pleistocene members of our own species, and the British later Palaeolithic. After reading Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham (BA 1991) I took an MA in Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (1992). Subsequently my doctoral research at Cambridge focussed on lithic technology of Middle Palaeolithic Southwest France and what it revealed about Neanderthal behaviour (PhD 1999). I was Senior Archaeologist at the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Oxford University (1995-2001) and Research Fellow and Tutor in Archaeology and Anthropology at Keble College, Oxford (1997-2003); Lecturer (2003-7), Senior Lecturer (2007-10) and Reader (2010-12) in Palaeolithic Archaeology at Sheffield University, until I joined Durham in January 2013 as a Professor of Archaeology.

I have researched various aspects of the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. I've worked with numerous lithic assemblages, and on the dating of Neanderthal and early modern human remains. In 2003 I co-discovered Britain's only examples of Palaeolithic cave art at Creswell Crags in the Midlands, and since then I've directed excavations at the Crags. I've also co-directed (with Mark White) excavations in the world famous site of Kent's Cavern, and with Mark I co-wrote The British Palaeolithic (2012). In recent years I've been researching aspects of earlier Upper Palaeolithic hand stencils in the caves of France and Spain, and have collaborated on the dating of Spanish cave art, a project which has identified Europe's oldest securely dated examples of figurative and non-figurative cave art. In my book The Palaeolithic Origins of Human Burial (2011) I proposed a long-term model for the evolution of human mortuary activity, and I'm now developing ways in which to further our understanding of early human mortuary activity and ritual in general, working with primatologists on long-term models of hominoid evolutionary thanatology. I retain an interest in radiocarbon dating within the Palaeolithic, and in the Late Upper Palaeolithic of Britain. Recently, I've begun collaborating with Durham colleague Bob Kentridge, Professor of Visual Psychology, on the psychological basis of Palaeolithic art. We currently have an AHRC-funded collaborative project with German colleagues on the 16,000-year-old engraved art on stone plaquettes from Gonnersdorf, with Lisa-Elen Meyering as post-doctoral researcher. Our Visual Palaeopsychology group has several research students working on Palaeolithic art in Spain, France and Germany.

Study the Palaeolithic at Durham

I would warmly welcome applications from students wishing to further their knowledge of the Palaeolithic at masters level, and those interested in researching aspects of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic archaeology for the PhD. I am especially keen to supervise projects in the fields of early human mortuary activity, ritual and art. Durham is an exceptionally fertile place to study and research Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology; with Mark White and Peter Rowley-Conwy we have expertise from the Lower Palaeolithic to Mesolithic, and we enjoy fruitful collaboration with various departmental colleagues working with dating methods, DNA and isotope study.

Research interests

  • Archaeology of the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic
  • Evolutionary thanatology and early evolution of human mortuary activity
  • Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Britain
  • Neanderthal extinction and the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition
  • Palaeolithic chronometry
  • The origins and early evolution of human visual culture; Palaeolithic art

Esteem Indicators

  • 2021: Editorial Board member, Revista de Arheologie, Antropologie si Studie Interdisciplinaire (journal): A bi-annual archaeological journal run out of Romania and Moldova.
  • 2021: Scientific Advisory Board member (chair 2021-) SapienCE centre, Universities of Bergen and The Witwatersrand: The SapienCE centre is one of the world's leading centres for research into human behavioural evolution. The Scientific Advisory Board annually reviews the centres research, funding, teaching and outreach. I took over as chair in 2021.
  • 2016: Editorial board member, World Archaeology journal:
  • 2014: External Examiner (UG & PGT) University of Exeter:
  • 2011: Contributed to 'Many Hands' exhibition at The Royal Society:
  • 2010: Member of AHRC Peer Review College:
  • 2009: Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London:
  • 2008: Convened English Heritage and Prehistoric Society Working Group on Research and Conservation Framework for the British Palaeolithic:
  • 2008: Advisory Editor, Journal of World Prehistory:
  • 2002: Advistory Editor, Before Farming:
  • 2000: Council Member, The Prehistoric Society:


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Supervision students