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Dr Shirley Curtis-Summers

Assistant Professor

Faculty/Dept/School School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences
(Faculty of Life Sciences)
Telephone +441274 238074


Specialist in human osteology, palaeopathology and stable isotope analysis. Research interests include:

  • Late Iron Age to Late Medieval archaeology
  • Pictish and medieval lifeways in Scotland
  • Medieval lifeways in Britain and Ireland
  • Childhood health
  • Social responses to infectious disease in medieval Britain
  • Mortuary archaeology
  • Reconstructing diet, health, disease and trauma in Britain and Europe
  • Religious and socio-economic influences on past lives
I welcome enquiries on potential collaborations on these topics.  


  • Human and animal dietary reconstructions using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis
  • Identification and interpretations of disease and trauma through human skeletal analysis
  • Funerary archaeology and the interpretation of status from the burial environment
  • Archaeology of medieval communities: the relationships between ecclesiastics and the laity
  • The impact of medieval life (diet, labour, violence) on the body.
  • Reconstructing aspect of health, disease, impairment (or disability) and social perceptions in medieval Britain.

Date Role Title / Description Funder Award
09-JAN-17 - Author/InvestigatorFood for the innocents: a stable isotope investigation of childhood diet and nutrition from medieval Portmahomack, northeast Scotland.
01-OCT-10 - 01-OCT-13Doctoral studentship
Doctoral studentship
Arts and Humanities Research Council
01-OCT-13 - 01-APR-15PhD stable isotope analysis
PhD stable isotope analysis
NERC Environmental Bioinformatics Centre
01-SEP-08 - 01-SEP-09NERC Masters studenship
NERC Masters studenship
NERC Environmental Bioinformatics Centre
01-SEP-08 - 01-SEP-09MSc isotope analysis
MSc isotope analysis
Historic Scotland
01-SEP-13 - 01-SEP-14PhD isotope analysis
PhD isotope analysis
Historic Scotland
01-JAN-17 - 01-MAY-18Portmahomack juvenile isotopes
Portmahomack juvenile isotopes
Society for Medieval Archaeology


Teaching interests

  • Human osteology and palaeopathology
  • Human musculoskeletal and virtual anatomy
  • Stable isotopes and diet
  • Reconstructing medieval lifeways
  • Health, disease and trauma in past populations

Professional activities

  • 01-JAN-15: University of Liverpool - PhD
  • 01-JAN-09: University of Bradford - MSc Human Osteology & Palaeopathology
  • 01-JAN-08: University of Liverpool - BSc (Hons) Archaeological Science
  • 05-FEB-18: University of Bradford - Lecturer
  • 13-OCT-13: University of Liverpool - University tutor
  • 08-MAY-13: Big Heritage - Consultant bioarchaeologist
  • 03-APR-17: University of Liverpool School of Life Sciences - Educational Developer
  • 08-FEB-16: University of Liverpool - Stable Isotope Technician
  • British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology , member
  • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CiFA) , Affiliate
  • Higher Education Academy (HEA), Associate
  • Society for Medieval Archaeology, member
  • Liverpool Medical Institution, Affiliate
  • 05-FEB-18: Whithorn Trust (Dumfries and Galloway) - Consultancy (human osteology and public engagement)
  • 01-AUG-11: FAS Heritage (York) - Consultancy (human osteoarchaeology)
  • 01-MAY-10: Big Heritage (Chester) - Consultancy (human osteology and public engagement)
  • 02-FEB-11: Manx National Heritage (Isle of Man) - Consultancy (human osteology)


TitleReconstructing the childhood diet of individuals b (2021)
AuthorsStuart-Lawson, J., and Curtis-Summers, S.
JournalProceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
PublisherSociety of Antiquaries of Scotland
TitleFrom Picts to Parish: Stable isotope evidence of dietary change at medieval Portmahomack, Scotland (2020)
AuthorsCurtis-Summers S.;Pearson J.A.;Lamb A.L.
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
TitleA Knight's Tale: a rare case of inter-personal violence from medieval Norton Priory, Cheshire, UK (2016)
AuthorsCurtis-Summers, S., Boylston, A., & Ogden, A.
JournalJournal Of The Chester Archaeological Society
TitleStable Isotope Evidence for Dietary Contrast Between Pictish and Medieval Populations at Portmahomack, Scotland (2014)
Authors Curtis-Summers, S., Montgomery, J., & Carver, M.O.H.
JournalMedieval Archaeology
TitleDigest of Evidence 9, The Human Bone (2021)
AuthorsClark, J., Garner-Lahire, J., Spall, C. and Toop, N.
JournalLincoln Castle Revealed, The story of a Norman powerhouse and its Anglo-Saxon precursor
TitleStable Isotopes of Carbon and Nitrogen and Diet (2016)
AuthorsCarver, M.O.H., Garner-Lahire, J., Spall, C. Garn
JournalPortmahomack on Tarbat Ness: Changing Ideologies in North-east Scotland, Sixth to Sixteenth Century AD
PublisherSociety of Antiquaries of Scotland
TitleInventory of Burial Data (2016)
AuthorsKing, S., and Curtis-Summers, S.
JournalChanging Ideologies in North-east Scotland, Sixth to Sixteenth Century AD
PublisherSociety of Antiquaries of Scotland