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Dr Jane Wheeler

PositionHonorary Research Fellow in Landscape and Palaeoenvironmental Archaeology
LocationRichmond Building
DepartmentSchool of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences

Study History

Jane’s first degree was awarded in History (BA Hons) from the University of Leeds, and was complemented by an MA in History from the Open University for which she was awarded a distinction. This was followed by a change in discipline and direction, undertaking an MSc in Scientific Methods in Archaeology at the University of Bradford in 2002. Following the success of the initial research project which assessed survival ratios of sub-fossil pollen in low valley alluvial and colluvial sediment in the North York Moors National Park, doctoral funding was provided by a joint scholarship from the Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC) and the Economical and Social Research Council (ESRC) to explore the environmental impact of the iron industry on low valley sites using multi-disciplinary and multi-proxy technique to assess human-environment impacts. She was awarded a PhD in Archaeological Sciences by the University of Bradford in 2007.

Jane has undertaken post-doctoral research at the University of Bradford (Bosworth Battlefield), the University of Aberdeen (burnt mound sites across Ireland), and the University of Leeds (the rise of Molinia Caerulea at Swarth Moor, a lowland British peatland site).


Professional History

Since completing her PhD at Bradford, Jane has worked in commercial archaeology on a number of excavations and undertaken palaeoenvironmental work for archaeological and environmental units across Britain, including West, North and South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, the Midlands, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, north-eastern Scotland, the Isle of Bute, Northern Ireland (Co. Tyrone and Co. Down), and the Republic of Ireland (Co. Kildare, Co, Wexford, and Co. Kilkenny).

Continuing her link to the archaeological sciences, Jane has also worked within the forensic remit on a series of police investigations for the West Yorkshire and Metropolitan Police Services (including the investigation of cold cases and more recent serious crimes), and the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains in the Republic of Ireland.

She returned to the University of Bradford and post-doctoral research in 2008 to conduct a multiproxy palaeoenvironmental investigation into lowland sediment formation at the site of Bosworth Battlefield in Leicestershire (in conjunction with The Battlefields Trust).

This was followed by a second post-doctoral research post at the University of Aberdeen to assess and correlate cross-site localised human-environment impacts of burnt mound activity (fulachta fiadh) at multi-complex sites across Ireland, spanning the Mesolithic through to the Medieval and modern-historic periods.

Jane has also worked to locate a number of "lost" historic gardens using historical sources and geophysical survey with Arnold Aspinall and Roger Walker, at Duncombe Park and Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire, Swillington House and Parlington Hall in the Leeds of West Yorkshire, and with Chris Gaffney and students at Temple Newsam, to the east of Leeds, in an attempt to identify the original pre-Capability Brown garden layout. International projects have included involvement with excavations undertaken in the Alentejo region of Portugal at the Os Perdigões site (ERA Archaeology/University of Coimbra), and also environmental consultancy exploring the environmental potential at a number of sambaqui sites on the island of Florianópolis in southern Brazil (Federal University of Santa Catarina).

Returning to the UK in 2014, Jane undertook a post-doctoral research project at the University of Leeds, to investigate the rise of Molinia Caerulea (Purple Moor Grass) at the lowland British peatland site, at Swarth Moor in the Yorkshire Dales. She is currently undertaking palynological assessments of minerogenic sediments from two sites on the Island of Mull (Environment Department, University of York).







Professional Activities

She is a member of:

  • Council for British Archaeology
  • Association for Environmental Archaeology
  • Quaternary Research Association
  • The Palynological Society
  • PLACE (Yorkshire)
  • Worthys Local History Group
  • Hampshire Field Club & Archaeology Society
  • Worthys Local History Group

Research Areas

  • Palaeoenvironmental investigation of burnt mounds
  • Human-environment relationships and interaction in relation to industrial activity and natural resource exploitation and management
  • The development of palynological and palaeoecological extraction techniques using non-acid processes
  • Identifying palaeopollutant markers to identify historic industrial activity
  • Dendrology of archaeoanthracological material from furnace sites with specific relation to the management of renewable resources
  • The physical impact of charcoaling on wood anatomy
  • Pollen production in modern managed woodland in relation to cyclical woodland management regimes
  • Forensic assessment of pollen survival on clothing and transfer from scene to suspect
  • The investigation of lost historic gardens using geophysical survey and historical sources
  • Small-scale climatic variables over the last 4,000 years


  • T. Mighall, S. Timpany, J. Wheeler and L. Bailey (submitted). Vegetation changes and woodland management associated with a prehistoric to medieval fulachta fiadh (burnt mounds) complex at Ballygawley, Northern Ireland. Environmental Archaeology.
  • A.G. Brown, S. R. Davis, J. Hatton, C. O'Brien, F. Reilly, K. Taylor, E.K. Dennehy, L. O'Donnell, N. Bermingham, T. Mighall, S. Timpany, E. Tetlow, J. Wheeler, and S. Wynne. (2016) The environmental context and function of Burnt-Mounds: new studies of Irish Fulachtaí Fiadh. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 1-32. (DOI:
  • G. T. Swindles, P. J. Morris, J. Wheeler, M. Smith, T. E. Turner, K. L. Bacon, A. Headley, J. M. Galloway. (2016) Resilience of peatland ecosystem services over millennial timescales: evidence from a degraded British bog. Journal of Ecology 104: 621-636
  • J. Wheeler, S. Timpany, T.M. Mighall & L. Scott. (2016) A palaeoenvironmental investigation of two prehistoric burnt mound sites in Northern Ireland. Geoarchaeology – An International Journal 00: 1-24
  • Swindles, G.T., Watson, E., Turner, T.E., Galloway, J.M., Hadlari, T., Wheeler, J. and Bacon, K.L. (2015) Spheroidal carbonaceous particles are a defining stratigraphic marker for the Anthropocene. Scientific Reports 5, 10264
  • J. Wheeler. 2014. Appendix 8: Environmental report on the Trench 2 burnt mound: Analysis of archaeological charcoal from a Burnt Mound deposit at Kingsdale Head. Thornton in Lonsdale, North Yorkshire, in N.D. Melton, H. Russ, and D.S. Johnson (eds.), Excavation of a Mesolithic site at Kingsdale Head (SD 712799) by the Ingleborough Archaeology Group, 2009-2010, 102-107. Ingleton: Ingleborough Archaeological Group
  • G.T. Swindles, I.T. Lawson, I.P. Matthews, M. Blaauw, T.J. Daley, D.J. Charman, T.P. Rowland, G. Plunkett, G. Schettler, T.E. Turner, H.A. Rea, H.M. Roe, M.J. Amesbury, F.M. Chambers, J. Holmes, F.J.G. Mitchell, J. Blackford, A. Blundell, N. Branch, P. Langdon, J. McCarroll, F. McDermott, P.O. Oksanen, O Pritchard, P. Stastney, B. Stefanini, D. Young, J. Wheeler, K. Becker, & I. Armit. 2013. Centennial-scale climate change in Ireland during the Holocene. Earth Science Reviews 126: 300-320
  • J. Wheeler, C. Scurfield, C. Cumberpatch & R. Mackenzie. 2012-2013. Archaeological investigations at The Old Stables, Barker's Yard, Borogate, Helmsley, Ryedale Historian 26: 4-15
  • Jane Wheeler, Scott Timpany & Patricia Long. 2012. Palaeoenvironmental evidence for local human-environment impacts and abandonment at Landscape, Co. Wexford, Journal of Irish Archaeology XXI: 17-34
  • Scott Timpany & Jane Wheeler. 2012. An 11,000 year palaeoenvironmental history for the Island of Bute, in P. Duffy (ed.), One Island Many Voices: 19-30. Bute Landscape Partner Monograph
  • Powell, A.J., Wheeler, J & C.M. Batt. 2012. Identifying archaeological wood stack charcoal production sites using geophysical prospection: Magnetic characteristics from a modern wood stack charcoal burn site. Journal of Archaeological Science 39 : 1197-1204
  • Wheeler, J. 2011. Charcoal analysis of industrial fuelwood from medieval and early modern iron-working sites in Bilsdale and Rievaulx, North Yorkshire, UK: Evidence for species selection and rotational woodland management. Environmental Archaeology 16 (1): 16-35
  • Wheeler, J. & G. McDonnell. 2011. Results of an exploratory test pit excavation in the refectory building, Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 83: 101-111
  • Wheeler, J., Swindles, G.T. & B.R. Gearey 2010. Finding Bosworth Battlefield: A multiproxy palaeoenvironmental investigation of lowland sediments from Dadlington, Leicestershire, England. Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 1579-1589
  • Wheeler, J. 2009. Wood and Charcoal, in C. Allen (ed.), Exchange and ritual at the riverside: Late Bronze Age life in the Witham Valley at Washingborough, Lincolnshire: 122-128. Lincoln: Pre-Construct Archaeology (Lincoln) Monograph Series No. 1
  • Wheeler, J. 2009. Analysis of waterlogged wood and charcoal from bulk samples from selected waterholes and pits, in P. Daniel (ed.) Archaeological Excavations at Pode Hole Quarry: Bronze Age occupation of the Cambridgeshire fen-edge: 125-129 BAR British Series 484. Oxford: Archaeopress
  • Wheeler, J. 2008. The environmental impacts of iron-working on the woodlands of Rievaulx and Bilsdale, North York Moors, UK, circa 1132-1647. In M. Atherden and T. Milsom (eds.) Yorkshire landscapes past and present: 61-67. York: PLACE
  • Wheeler, J. 2008. Anthracological analysis of archaeological charcoal fragments from the Roman Road at Moorside Edge, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. In N. Lunn, B. Spence, B. Crossland and G. Clay (ed.) The Romans came this way: The story of the discovery and excavation of a Roman military way across the Yorkshire Pennines: Wakefield: Huddersfield & District Archaeological Society
  • Wheeler, J., Aspinall, A. & R. A. Walker 2007. Geophysics in the garden: A survey of the gardens at Duncombe Park, North Yorkshire. Garden History 35: 85-91
  • Wheeler, J. 2006. Case study 7: Iron-working sites at Rievaulx and Bilsdale, North Yorkshire, in D. Dungworth and S. Paynter (eds.), Science for historic industries: Guidelines for the investigation of 17th- to 19th-century industries, p.16. Swindon: English Heritage.
  • Heron, C., Sheeran, G. & J. Wheeler (eds). 2006. Sustaining Historic Urban Environments. York: PLACE
  • Wheeler, J., Powell, A., Baumann, J. & R. Vernon. 2005. Experimental Charcoal Burn at Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire, CBA Forum Yorkshire, 7-10
  • Wheeler, J. 2004 (winter edn). Secrets of the Sooty Stacks, Planet Earth: 10-11

Published Conference Contributions

  • Wheeler, J. 2007. Seeing the Woods for the Trees: The impact of iron-working on the woodlands of Rievaulx and Bilsdale, North Yorkshire, c. 1132-1647, in Early Ironworking in Europe II: Archaeology, Technology and Experiment, pp. 53-55. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Early Ironworking in Europe, Plas Tan y Bwlch, Snowdonia National Park Research Unit, Wales, UK
  • Wheeler, J. 2005.  El impacto de la transformación de hierro en los bosques de Rievaulx y Bilsdale, North Yorkshire, UK: Un caso de gestión medioambiental medieval o de explotación total, in Paleosiderurgia y Recuperación de Patrimonio Industrial: Hierro, Historia y Patrimonio, pp. 193-204. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference of Paleosiderurgy and Industrial Heritage Recovery - Iron, History and Heritage, Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain


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