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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)

Late Bronze and Iron Age Europe; conflict and violence in non-state societies; prehistoric demography and population change; Scottish archaeology; Greek and Roman colonial interactions; prehistoric art.

PhD Supervision

Current PhD supervision

Primary supervisor:

  • Rebecca Nicholls: Mobility and identity in Iron Age Europe: osteoarchaeological and isotopic analyses of cemetery populations from the East Alpine region
  • Beatriz Bastos: Ceramics and identity in the south-east European Iron Age
  • Alex Fitzpatrick:Ritual and Funerary Rites in Later Prehistoric Scotland: An Analysis of Faunal Assemblages from the Covesea Cave

Graduate Destinations

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

  • Dr Mary Saunders (2017) at University of Oxford
  • Dr Lindsey Büster (2013) and Dr Mike Copper (2015) at the University of Bradford
  • Dr Mhairi Maxwell (2013) at V&A Dundee
  • Dr Emily Fioccoprile (2015) at University of Arizona
  • Dr Nivien Speith (2013)  is now lecturing at the University of Derby
  • 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
  • Individual Project (UG) – module leader
  • Celtic Europe (PGT) - module leaderContributes 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
  • Evaluator for the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships Programme (2017-present)
  • 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)
  • Visiting Professor, L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, University of Toulouse, Jean Jaurès (2017)
  • Organiser of international conferences:
    • Neolithic Settlement in Ireland and Western Britain (2001)
    • Warfare and Violence in Prehistoric Europe (2005)
  • Recent international conference presentations include:
    • University of Ghent (2010)
    • University of Porto (2012)
    • University of Bordeaux (2013)
    • University of Basel (2013)
    • University of Ljubljana (2015)
    • Archaeological Museum of Zagreb (2015)
    • University of Aarhus (2016)
    • University of Toulouse (2017)
    • 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), Vilnius (2016) and Maastricht (2017)
    • Society of American Archaeologists conferences (including as session organiser) in Montreal (2004), San Juan (2006), Austin (2014), San Francisco (2015), Orlando (2016) and Vancouver (2017)

Research Areas

  • Late Bronze and Iron Age Europe
  • conflict and violence in non-state societies
  • prehistoric demography and population change
  • Scottish archaeology
  • Greek and Roman colonial interactions
  • prehistoric art

Current Projects

GENLAB: Genetic transformations in Later Prehistoric Britain

This collaboration with the Reich Laboratory at Harvard University applies genome-wide DNA analysis to individuals from Late Bronze Age/Iron Age Britain. It will explore the fine-grained genetic structure of the island population and address a range of questions related to population change in the past.

The Covesea Caves Project

This project, funded by Historic Environment Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council examines the ritual and funerary use of a group of sea-caves on the Moray coast. It includes a major post-excavation and publication programme on the unpublished 1970s excavations from the Sculptor’s Cave; a Bronze/Iron Age/Pictish ritual site, and is continuing with fieldwork on neighbouring caves containing Bronze Age human remains.

The Wetwang/Garton Slack Project

A large-scale project, funded by Historic England, is ongoing 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.

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.


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.

Megara Hyblaea: colonial encounters and emerging urbanism in Iron Age Sicily

This collaboration with CNRS involves geophysical survey at the Archaic Greek colony of Megara Hyblaea in Sicily. Three seasons of fieldwork have so far been funded by CNRS and the École Française de Rome.


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., Hunter, F. and Dunwell, A. J.  in prep. The Hill at the Empire’s Edge: Excavations on Traprain Law 1999-2006. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Armit, I. and Büster, L. in prep. Darkness Visible: the Sculptor’s Cave, Covesea, from the Bronze Age to the Picts
  • Armit, I., Potrebica, H., Črešnar, M., Mason. P. and Büster, L. 2016Cultural encounters in Iron Age Europe. Budapest: Archaeolingua
  • Armit, I. 2016. Celtic Scotland: Iron Age Scotland in its European Context (revised third edition). Edinburgh: Birlinn
  • Bonsall, J.  Gaffney, C., and Armit, I. 2014. Preparing for the Future: a Reappraisal of Archaeo-geophysical Surveying on Irish National Road Schemes. Bradford: University of Bradford Research Monograph for the National Roads Authority.
  • Armit, I. and McKenzie, J. 2013An 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

Peer reviewed journal papers

  • Olalde, I., Brace, S., Allentoft, M, Armit, I., Kristiansen, K., Rohland, N., Mallick, S., Booth, T., Szécsényi-Nagy, A., Mittnik, A., Altena, E., Lipson, M., Lazaridis, I., Patterson, N., Broomandkhoshbacht, N., Diekmann, Y., Faltyskova, Z., Fernandes, D., Ferry, M., Harney, E., de Knijff, P., Michel, M., Oppenheimer, J., Stewardson, K., Barclay, A., Alt, K. W., Avilés Fernández, A., Banffy, E., Bernabò-Brea, M., Billoin, D., Blasco, D., Bonsall, C., Bonsall, L., Buster, L., Carver, S., Castells-Navarro, L., Craig, O., E., Cook, G., Cunliffe, B., Denaire, A., Egging Dinwiddy, K., Dodwell, N., Ernée, M., Evans, C., Kuchařík, M., Farré, J. F., Fokkens, H., Fowler, C., Gazenbeek, M., Garrido Pena, R., Haber-Uriarte, M., Haduc, E., Hey, G., Jowett, N., Knowles, T., Massy, K., Pfregle, S., Lefranc, P., Lemercier, O., Lefebvre, A.,  Lomba Maurandi, J., Majó, T., McKinley, J. I., McSweeney, K., Mende, B. G., Modi, A., Kulcsár, G., Kiss, V., Czene, A., Patay, R., Endrődi, A., Köhler, K., Hajdu, T., Cardoso, J., Liesau, C., Parker-Pearson, M., Włodarczak, P., Price, T. D., Prieto, P., Rey, P.-J., Ríos, P., Risch, R., Rojo Guerra, M. A., Schmitt, A., Serralongue, J., Silva, A. M., Smrcka, V., Vergnaud, L., Zilhão, J., Caramelli, D., Higham, T., Stockhammer, P. W., Heyd, V., Sheridan, A., Sjögren, K.-G., Thomas, M. G., Pinhasi, R., Krause, J., Haak, W., Barnes, I., Lalueza-Fox, C.,  and Reich, D. 2018. The Beaker Phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwest Europe. Nature. doi:
  • Armit, I., Horsley, T. & Marty, F. 2016. Le Castellan (Istres, Bouches-du-Rhône) : resultats de prospections géophysique. Documents d’Archéologie Méridionale 39: 75-82
  • 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

Peer reviewed book chapters

  • Armit, I. in press. Ritual violence and headhunting in Iron Age Europe, in Fagan, G. G., Fibiger, L. and Hudson, M. (eds) The Cambridge World History of Violence: Volume One. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
  • Armit, I. in press. Ritual sites, offerings and sacrifice, in Haselgrove, C., Wells, P. S. & Rebay-Salisbury, K (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Iron Age Europe. Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • Büster, L. and Armit, I. 2018. Signs from the Pictish underground: Early Medieval cave ritual at the Sculptor’s Cave, north-east Scotland, pp. 85-96 in Bergsvik, K. A. and Dowd, M. (eds) Caves and Ritual in Medieval Europe, AD 500-1500. Oxford: Oxbow
  • Armit, I., Gaffney, C., Turner, P. and Sparrow, T. 2018. Prospections géophysiques, pp.376-380 in Tréziny, H. (ed.) Mégara Hyblaea 7: La Ville Classique, Hellénistique, et Romaine (Collection de l’École Française de Rome 1/7). École Française de Rome: Rome
  • Armit, I. 2017. The visible dead: ethnographic perspectives on the curation, display and circulation of human remains in Iron Age Britain, pp. 163-73 in Bradbury, J. and Scarre, C. (eds) Engaging with the Dead: Exploring Changing Human Beliefs about Death, Mortality and the Human Body. Oxford: Oxbow
  • 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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