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Mr Robert Friel

PositionHonorary Research Fellow in Archaeology / Archaeological Consultant
LocationL20a and L20d, Richmond building
DepartmentSchool of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 236551


Since graduating from the University of Bradford in 2001 Robert has maintained strong links with the department, collaborating in a number of regional, national and international projects with the majority of this work centred on the North Atlantic Region.

Robert has undertaken various fieldwork roles in such projects as ‘The Old Scatness Broch and Jarlshof Environs Project’, (surveyor, excavator/supervisor) Shetland 1999-2006 and the ‘Viking Unst Project’ (surveying supervisor and assistant site director) Shetland 2006-2009. Robert has also collaborated in the international ‘Heart of the Atlantic Project’ on Sandoy, Faroe Islands, with involvement at Undir Junkarinsfløtti 2005-2007, (surveyor and excavator), Søltuvik 2005-2007 (surveyor and excavation director) and Við Kirkjugarð 2008-2009, (excavation co-director).

From 2008-present Robert has provided consultant archaeological services to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains, carrying out forensic search and recovery of the remains of the disappeared from Northern Ireland's recent sectarian troubles.

Robert is currently collaborating within a multi-disciplinary team in ‘The Shetland Islands Climate and Settlement Project’, Shetland 2010-present (surveyor, digital recording specialist and excavation supervisor) and the ‘Gateway to the Atlantic Project’, on Rousay Orkney 2010-present (surveying supervisor, digital recording specialist and excavation supervisor).

Robert is actively involved in community and outreach archaeology, successfully running a number of projects on behalf of the University including a series of school-based projects: ‘Our Street’, '21st Century City’ and ‘Bradford in the First World War’. These projects were designed to address the key themes of inclusion and diversity, whilst also developing the participant’s research, survey and audiovisual skills. Robert has also been active in the promotion of community involvement during his work in the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands and presently Orkney.

One of Robert's research interests is the archaeology of conflict and occupation; he has undertaken such projects as the primary phase of the Shetland Military Remains Project for the Shetland Amenity Trust 2002 and a research and feasibility study for the Vágar Kriegssavnið (war museum) Project on Vágar, Faroe Islands 2008.

Robert is interested in the development of traditional and evolving survey methods and technologies combined with the integration of the resultant digital data sets and the various methods of both professional and public presentation and decimation. He actively develops and promotes the use of both open source and freeware software packages.

Study History

  • BSc (Hons) Archaeology, University of Bradford (2001)
  • MA in Archaeology and Heritage, University of Leicester (2007)

Professional Activities

  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Member of the Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance (GHEA)
  • Member of the North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation (NABO)
  • Member of the Sandhurst Foundation
  • Member of the Western Front Association

Research Areas

  • The development of topographical survey and digital recording techniques within a combined approach to landscape investigation
  • The development of building technology throughout the North Atlantic region
  • The archaeology of Viking expansion across the North Atlantic region
  • The archaeology of Conflict and Occupation


  • Arge, S.V. & Friel, R. 2008. Víkingaaldarbúseting í Søltuvík. Kvørnin nr. 11
  • Arge, S.V. & Friel, R. 2009. Fornfrøðiliga rannsóknin, Við Kirkjugarð heima á Sandi 2009. Kvørnin nr. 12
  • Bond, J.M., Dockrill, S.J., Outram, Z., Batey, C.E., Summers, J., Friel, R., Brown, L.D., Cussans, J., Cook, G., Legg, R., Mustchin, A., and Church, M. in prep. Excavations at Hamar and Underhoull. In Bond, J.M., Turner, V.E., and Larsen, A.-C. (eds.) Viking Unst: Viking Settlement in the Extreme North of Britain. Shetland Heritage Publications
  • 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

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