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Professor Ian Armit

PositionProfessor of Archaeology
LocationK36b, Richmond building
DepartmentSchool of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 235342

Research Interests (key words only)

Later Prehistoric Europe; Conflict and violence in non-state societies;

PhD Supervision

Current PhD supervision

Primary supervisor:

  • Hannah Brown: The later prehistoric landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales in their north-west European context: a GIS approach
  • Mike Copper: Human clay: understanding ceramic variation in Neolithic Atlantic Scotland
  • Emily Fioccoprile: Lines through the land: boundary systems of the later prehistoric Yorkshire Wolds
  • Rebecca Nicholls: Mobility and identity in Iron Age Europe: osteoarchaeological and isotopic analyses of cemetery populations from the East Alpine region
  • Mary Saunders: Unravelling the later prehistoric landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales: a field-based approach
  • Pete Turner: Beyond anomalies: advanced geophysical and geochemical techniques for studying cultural patterns in the European Iron-Age
  • Beatriz Bastos: Ceramics and identity in the south-east European Iron Age

Graduate Destinations

Several of my recent PhD graduates are now undertaking post-doctoral work including:

  • Dr Fiona Shapland (2010) at the University of Reading
  • Dr Lindsey Büster (2013) at the University of Bradford
  • Dr Mhairi Maxwell (2013) at Glasgow School of Art
  • Dr Nivien Speith (2013) at Bournemouth University
  • Dr Sarah King (2010) is now lecturing in Anthropology Cerro Coso Community College, California
  • Dr Rachael Reader (2013) is a Department Member at the University of Salford

Teaching and Supervisory Responsibilities

Module co-ordinator for:

  • Celts, Greeks and Romans (UG) - module leader
  • Celtic Europe (PGT) - module leader
  • Contributes to a range of other modules

Administrative Responsibilities

Director of Research for Archaeological Sciences


Ian Armit joined the University of Bradford in November 2006, having previously taught at Queen’s University Belfast (1999-2006).

Before this, he worked as an Inspector of Ancient Monuments with Historic Scotland (1992-9).

He directs a range of research projects in the UK and Europe, and has been awarded research grants totalling around £2.3 million since 2001.  He is also Director of Research for Archaeological Sciences.

Study History

He has a first degree in Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh (1985), where he also obtained his PhD (1990).

Professional History

  • Reader in Archaeology (previously Senior Lecturer) Queen’s University Belfast (1999-2006)
  • Inspector of Ancient Monuments Historic Scotland (1992-1999)
  • Manager, Centre for Field Archaeology, University of Edinburgh (1990-1992)

Professional Activities

  • Chair of AHRC Culture and Heritage Fellowships Panel (2011); Member of the AHRC Peer Review Panel (Postgraduate) for Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (2007-8), and AHRC Peer Review Panels for Standard Research Grants (2009,2016), Collaborative Doctoral Awards (2010) and Fellowships (2011); Member of the AHRC Peer Review College (2007-present). Member of the International Assessment Board for the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme, 2009-2015
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA) and Scotland (FSAScot)
  • Advisory and Review boards for E-Keltoi: Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic Studies; Editorial board for the Journal of Conflict Archaeology and the Journal of the North Atlantic. Trustee/Board member for SCAPE (Scottish Coastal Archaeology & the Problem of Erosion)
  • External examiner for undergraduate programmes: University of Bradford (2000-4), University of Newcastle (2004-6) and external examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes: University of Exeter (2009-2014)
  • Organiser of international conferences:
    • Neolithic Settlement in Ireland and Western Britain (2001)
    • Warfare and Violence in Prehistoric Europe (2005)
  • Recent international conference presentations include:
    • Université de Provence (2006)
    • University of Aarhus (2007)
    • University of Ghent (2010)
    • University College Dublin (2000, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2009)
    • University of Porto (2012)
    • University of Bordeaux (2013)
    • University of Basel (2013)
    • University of Ljubljana (2015)
    • Archaeological Museum of Zagreb (2015)
    • European Association of Archaeologists conferences (several as session organiser) in St Petersburg (2003), Krakow (2006), Zadar (2007), Valletta (2008), Riva del Garda (2009), Oslo (2011), Helsinki (2012), Pilsen (2013), Istanbul (2014), Glasgow (2015) and Vilnius (2016)
    • Society of American Archaeologists conferences (including as session organiser) in Montreal (2004), San Juan (2006), Austin (2014), San Francisco (2015) and Orlando (2016)

Research Areas

  • Social archaeology of Iron Age Britain and Europe
  • Conflict and violence in prehistory

Current Projects

ENTRANS: Encounters and Transformations in Iron Age Europe (2013-2016)

Professor Armit is PI on this collaborative project with colleagues from the Universities of Ljubljana and Zagreb (along with several other partners), investigating the nature of Iron Age cultural identities in the East Alpine region, between the social worlds of Mediterranean and temperate Europe. Following initial networking grants, c. €1M has been awarded by HERA and the European Commission to support work from 2013-2016. The project is managed by Dr Lindsey Büster and includes PhD researchers Rebecca Nicholls, Pete Turner and Beatriz Bastos.

Iron Age Lives in Britain and Ireland

Professor Armit is currently working on a book, to be published by Routledge, based on a new analysis of the later prehistoric period in Britain and Ireland.

GenScot: the genetic prehistory of Scotland

This collaboration with the Reich Laboratory at Harvard Medical School explores the genetic prehistory of Scotland through analysis of a DNA from around 100 individuals from archaeological contexts. 

The Covesea Caves Project (and The Sculptor’s Cave)

The project explores the evidence for later prehistoric ritual and religious activity in a series of sea caves along the Moray coast, north-east Scotland, in the context of cave occupation across Europe and beyond. Historic Environment Scotland are funding a major post-excavation and publication programme on the unpublished 1970s excavations at the Sculptor’s Cave (a Bronze/Iron Age/Pictish funerary site). Fieldwork on nearby caves is funded by Aberdeenshire Council and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The project is co-directed by Dr Lindsey Büster.

The Wetwang/Garton Slack Project

A large-scale project has recently begun on the analysis and publication of the landscape-scale excavations at Wetwang/Garton Slack, East Yorkshire, carried out from the 1960s to ‘80s. The site contains inter alia Britain’s largest Iron Age cemetery. Following a scoping study in 2010/11, English Heritage has funded Stage 1 of the project to consolidate and digitise the extensive archive. The project is managed by Rachael Kershaw and includes an affiliated PhD project undertaken by Emily Fioccoprile.

Later prehistoric landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales

This collaborative project with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust aims to develop greater understandings of the later prehistoric land boundary systems of the Dales and to develop fieldwork methods to improve research in this area. It is funded by AHRC and involves the work of PhD students, Hannah Brown and Mary Saunders.

Research Collaborations

Major institutional collaborations:

  • Harvard Medical School
  • University of Ljubljana
  • University of Zagreb
  • University of Bordeaux
  • University of Marseille
  • CNRS
  • National Museums of Scotland
  • University Collage Cork
  • Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Hull
  • University of Oxford



  • Armit, I. in prep. Iron Age Lives in Britain and Ireland: 800 BC – AD 400. London: Routledge
  • Armit, I. and Büster, L. in prep. Darkness Visible: the Sculptor’s Cave, Covesea, from the Bronze Age to the Picts
  • Armit, I. in prep. First Farmers in the West: Excavations at Eilean Domhnuill, Loch Olabhat, North Uist
  • Armit, I., Potrebica, H., Črešnar, M., Mason. P. and Büster, L. in press. Cultural encounters in Iron Age Europe. Budapest: Archaeolingua
  • Armit, I. 2016. Celtic Scotland: Iron Age Scotland in its European Context (revised third edition). Edinburgh: Birlinn
  • Armit, I. and McKenzie, J. 2013. An Inherited Place: Broxmouth Hillfort and the south-east Scottish Iron Age. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Monograph Series
  • Armit, I. 2012. Headhunting and the Body in Iron Age Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Armit, I. 2006. Anatomy of an Iron Age Roundhouse: the Cnip Wheelhouse Excavations, Lewis. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Armit, I. 2006. Scotland’s Hidden History (revised edition) Stroud: Tempus

Peer reviewed journal papers

  • Armit, I., Shapland, F. Montgomery, J. and Beaumont, J. 2015. Difference in death? a lost Neolithic inhumation cemetery with Britain’s earliest case of rickets, at Balevullin, western Scotland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 81, 199-214. doi:10.1017/ppr.2015.7
  • Armit, I. and Shapland, F. 2015. Death and display in the North Atlantic: the Bronze and Iron Age human remains from Cnip, Lewis, Outer Hebrides. Journal of the North Atlantic (Special Volume) 9, 35-44
  • Bonsall, J., Gaffney, C. and Armit, I. 2015. You know it’s summer in Ireland when the rain gets warmer: Analysing repetitive time-lapse earth resistance data to determine ‘optimal’ survey climate conditions. Archaeologia Polona 53, 5-29
  • Armit, I., Swindles, G., Becker, K. Plunkett, G., and Blaauw, M. 2014. Rapid climate change did not cause population collapse at the end of the European Bronze Age. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.48, 17045-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1408028111
  • Armit, I., Swindles, G. & Becker, K. 2013. From dates to demography in later prehistoric Ireland? Experimental approaches to the meta-analysis of large 14 C data-sets. Journal of Archaeological Science 40.1, 433-438
  • Armit, I., Neale, N., Shapland, F., Hamilton, D., Bosworth, H. & McKenzie, J. 2013. The ins and outs of death in the Iron Age: complex funerary treatments at Broxmouth hillfort, East Lothian. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 32.1, 73-100
  • Swindles, G., Lawson, I. T., Matthews, I., Blaauw, M., Daley, T. J., Charman, D. J., Roland, T., Plunkett, G., Schettler, G., Gearey, B. R., Turner, T. E., Rea, H. A., Roe, H. M., Amesbury, Chambers, F. M., Holmes, J., M., Mitchell, F. J., Blackford, J., Blundell, A., Branch, N., Holmes, J., Langdon, P., McCarroll, J., McDermott, F., Oksanen, P. O., Pritchard, O., Stastney, P., Stefanini, B., Young, D., Wheeler, J., Becker, K. & Armit, I. 2013. Centennial-scale climate change in Ireland during the Holocene. Earth Science Reviews 126, 300-20
  • Bonsall, J., Fry, R., Gaffney, C., Armit, I., Beck, A. and Gaffney, V. 2013. Assessment of the CMD Mini-Explorer, a new low-frequency, multi-coil electromagnetic device, for archaeological investigations. Archaeological Prospection 20.3, 219-31
  • Armit, I., Gaffney, C. & Hayes, A. 2012. Space and movement in an Iron Age oppidum: integrating geophysical and topographic survey at Entremont, Provence. Antiquity 86 (331): 191-206
  • Shapland, F. & Armit, I. 2012. The useful dead: bodies as objects in Iron Age and Norse Atlantic Scotland. European Journal of Archaeology 15.1, 98-116
  • Russ, H., Armit, I., McKenzie J. T. & Jones, A. K. G. 2012. Deep-sea fishing in the Iron Age? New evidence from Broxmouth hillfort, south–east Scotland. Environmental Archaeology 17.2, 177-184
  • Becker, K., Armit, I., Eogan, J. & Swindles, G. 2012. Later prehistoric radiocarbon dates from Ireland: an audit. Journal of Irish Archaeology 19: 19-25
  • Armit, I. 2011. Violence and society in the deep human past. British Journal of Criminology (special thematic issue: Evolutionary and Historical Perspectives on Violence) 51.3: 499-517
  • Armit, I., Schulting, R. J., Knüsel, C. J. & Shepherd, I. A. G. 2011. Death, decapitation and display: the Bronze and Iron Age human remains from the Sculptor’s Cave, Covesea, NE Scotland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 77, 251-78
  • McCarthy, M., Armit, I., Gaffney, C. & Friel, B. 2010. The Isle of Whithorn: towards a reassessment. Transactions of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society 84, 43-55
  • Armit, I. & Grant, P. 2008. Gesture politics and the art of ambiguity: the Iron Age statue from Hirschlanden. Antiquity 82, 409-22
  • Armit, I. 2008. Irish-Scottish connections in the 1st millennium AD: an evaluation of the links between souterrain ware and Hebridean ceramics. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 108C, 1-18
  • Armit, I., Campbell, E. & Dunwell, A. J. 2008. Excavation of an Iron Age, Early Historic and Medieval settlement and metal-working site at Eilean Olabhat, North Uist. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 138, 27-104
  • Armit, I. & Ginn, V. 2007. Beyond the grave: human remains from domestic contexts in Iron Age Atlantic Scotland, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 73, 113-34
  • Armit, I. 2007. Hillforts at war: from Maiden Castle to Taniwaha pā. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 73, 25-38
  • Armit, I., Knüsel, C., Robb, J. & Schulting, R. J. 2006. Warfare and violence in prehistoric Europe: an introduction. Journal of Conflict Archaeology 2, 1-11

Peer reviewed book chapters

  • Armit, I. 2016. Les Demoiselles d’Entremont: violence, gender and headhunting in Iron Age Europe, in Matić, U. and Jensen, B. (eds) The Archaeology of Gender and Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press
  • Armit, I. 2015. Within these walls: household and society in Iron Age Scotland and Ireland, pp. 185-199 in Hunter, F. & Ralston, I. B. M. (eds) Scotland in Later Prehistoric Europe. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland: Edinburgh
  • Armit, I., Horsley, T., Gaffney, C., Marty, F., Thomas, N., Friel, R. and Hayes, A. 2014. Exploring urbanisation in the southern French Iron Age through integrated geophysical and topographic prospection, pp. 169-180 in Fernández-Götz, M., Wendling, H. & Winger, K. (eds.) Paths to complexity – centralisation and urbanisation in Iron Age Europe. Oxbow: Oxford
  • Bonsall, J. Gaffney, C., and Armit, I. 2014. A decade of ground-truthing: reappraising magnetometer prospection surveys on linear corridors in light of excavation evidence, pp. 3-17 in Kamermans, H., Gojda, M. and Posluschny, A.G. (eds.) A sense of the past: studies in current archaeological applications of remote sensing and non-invasive prospection methods (British Archaeological Reports International Series 2588). Archaeopress, Oxford
  • Armit, I. 2013. Objects and ideas: Roman influence at Tara and beyond, pp. 288-94 in O’ Sullivan, M., Scarre, C. and Doyle, M. (eds.) Tara - From the Past to the Future: Towards a New Research Agenda. Wordwell. Dublin
  • Armit, I. 2011. Headhunting and social power in Iron Age Europe, pp. 590-607 in Moore, T. & Armada X.L. (eds) Atlantic Europe in the First Millennium BC: Crossing the Divide. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Armit, I. 2010. Porticos, pillars and severed heads: the display and curation of human remains in the southern French Iron Age, pp. 89-99 in Rebay-Salisbury, K., Stig Sørensen, M.-L. & Hughes, J. (eds.) Body parts and bodies whole. Oxford: Oxbow
  • Armit, I. 2010. Janus in furs? Opposed human heads in the art of the European Iron Age, pp. 279-86 in Cooney, G., Becker, K, Coles, J., Ryan, M. & Sievers, S. (eds) Relics of old decency: archaeological studies in later prehistory (Festschrift in honour of Barry Raftery). Wordwell. Dublin
  • Armit, I. 2007. Social landscapes and identities in the Irish Iron Age, pp. 130-9 in Haselgrove, C. and Moore, T. (eds.) The Later Iron Age in Britain and beyond. Oxford: Oxbow
  • Armit, I. 2006. Inside Kurtz’s compound: headhunting and the human body in prehistoric Europe, pp. 1-14 in Bonogofsky, M. (ed.) Skull Collection, Modification and Decoration (British Archaeological Reports International Series 1539). Archaeopress: Oxford


Impact is at the core of all of the projects conducted by Professor Armit’s research group and individual projects can have significant impacts beyond academia.  To take the HERA/European Commission funded ENTRANS Project as an example, our fieldwork on a number of sites and landscapes in Slovenia is already being used by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia as a site management tool for the protection of archaeological landscapes. Examples include the rescheduling of the major hillfort complex of Veliki Vinji Vrh based on data produced and interpreted through ENTRANS, and the planning of the Marof Archaeologcal Park in Novo mesto which is drawing on our geophysical and lidar coverage of the archaeological complex.

Rescheduling of the Iron Age landscape at Dolenjske Toplice planned for 2016 will also be based on the work of ENTRANS. Our lidar analysis in the Požega Valley, Croatia revealed an entirely unknown major hillfort at Bangradac and provided many previously unknown details of another at Kagovac. The latter was formally registered in 2015 by the Croatian state authorities as a result of our work and we anticipate that the former will also be registered in 2016. In addition to advances in academic understanding of these archaeological landscapes ENTRANS is thus having a transformative effect on the capability of heritage protection particularly in densely forested and inaccessible landscapes within both Slovenia and Croatia. The site at Kaptol has also been formally included in its official list of tourist attractions by the Tourist Board of Pozega-Slavonia County.

Public/Academic/Stakeholder Engagement

All of Professor Armit’s projects involve multiple stake-holders from non-HEIs. Examples include the HERA/European Commission funded ENTRANS project which has the following Affiliated Partners:

1. Archaeological Museum of Zagreb, Croatia
2. Centre for Prehistoric Research, Zagreb, Croatia
3. Institute of Archaeology, Zagreb, Croatia
4. Archaeological Museum of Istria
5. National Museum of Slovenia
6. City Museum of Ljubljana, Slovenia
7. Dolenjska Museum of Novo Mesto, Slovenia
8. Regional Museum of Maribor, Slovenia

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