Dr Oliver Harris

Oliver HarrisAssociate Professor of Archaeology

BA, MA, PhD (Cardiff), FHEA

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2729

Email: ojth1@le.ac.uk






Personal details


I began studying archaeology at Sheffield, and graduated with a BA in 2002. I then took an MA at Cardiff University, and stayed on to do a PhD under the supervision of Alasdair Whittle. My PhD focussed on developing new theoretical approaches to identity, emotion and memory and applying them to the British Neolithic. Since finishing my PhD I worked in contract archaeology, and held two post-docs. The first, at Cambridge, was part of the interdisciplinary changing beliefs of the human body project, which turned into the book The Body in History, co-written with John Robb. The second, at Newcastle, was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship looking at the different kinds of community that occupied Southern Britain in the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age, and what happens when we think about communities not just as collections of people, but as assemblages of people, things, animals, places and monuments. I spend my summers digging in Ardnamurchan, Western Scotland, where all sorts of archaeological wonders can be found.

In June I will publish my new book with Craig Cipolla: Archaeological Theory in the New Millennium: introducing current perspectivesI


I co-ordinate and contribute to a range of modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.



Robb, J. and Harris, O.J.T. 2013. The Body in History: Europe from the Palaeolithic to the future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Body in History has recently won two PROSE awards for best book published in 2013 in Archaeology and Anthropology and best book in the Social Sciences.

Cobb, H., Harris, O.J.T., Jones, C. and Richardson, P. (eds) 2012. Reconsidering Archaeological Fieldwork: exploring the on-site relationships between theory and practice. New York: Springer.

Recent articles


Harris, O.J.T., Cobb, H., Batey, C.E., Beaumont, J., Montgomery, J., Gray, H., Murtagh, P. & Richardson, P. 2017. Assembling places and persons: a tenth-century Viking boat burial from Swordle Bay on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, western Scotland. Antiquity 91, 191-206.

Harris O.J.T. 2017. Assemblages and scale in archaeology. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 27, 127-39.


Harris, O.J.T. 2016a. Communities of anxiety: gathering and dwelling at causewayed enclosures in the British Neolithic. In J. Fleisher and N. Norman (eds) The archaeology of anxiety: the materiality of anxiousness, worry and fear. New York: Springer, 121-39.

Harris, O.J.T. 2016b. Affective architecture in Ardnamurchan: assemblages at three scales. In M. Bille and T.F. Sørensen (eds) Elements of Architecture: assembling archaeology, atmosphere and the performance of building space. London: Routledge, 195-212.

Harris, O.J.T. 2016c. Becoming post-human: identity and the ontological turn. In E. Pierce, A. Russell, A. Maldonado and L. Campbell (eds), Creating Material Worlds: The Uses of Identity in Archaeology, 17-37. Oxford: Oxbow.


Fowler, C. & Harris, O.J.T. 2015. Enduring relations: exploring a paradox of new materialism. Journal of Material Culture, 20(2) 127-48


Cummings, V. & Harris, O.J.T. 2014. The continuity of hunting & gathering in the Neolithic & beyond in Britain & Ireland. In V. Cummings, P. Jordan & M. Zvelebil (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology & Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers, 824-37. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harris, O.J.T. 2014a. (Re)assembling communities. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 21, 76-97 (first published online in 2012).

Harris, O.J.T. 2014b. Revealing our vibrant past: science, materiality and the Neolithic. In A. Whittle and P. Bickle (eds), Early Farming: the view from archaeology and science. Oxford: Proceedings of the British Academy, 327-45.


Casella, E.C., Cobb, H., Harris, O.J.T., Gray, H., Richardson, P., and Tuffin, R. 2013. From knowing into telling: a dialogue in five parts. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 41, 71-86.

Harris, O.J.T. 2013 . Relational communities in Neolithic Britain. In C. Watts (ed.) Relational Archaeologies: humans, animals, things. London: Routledge, 173-89.


Harris, O.J.T., Cobb, H., Grey, H. and Richardson, P. 2012. A Viking at rest: new discoveries on Ardnamurchan. Medieval Archaeology 56, 333-9.

Harris, O.J.T. and Robb, J.E. 2012. Multiple ontologies and the problem of the body in history. American Anthropologist 114(4), 668-79.


Cummings, V. & Harris, O.J.T. 2011. Animals, people & places: the continuity of hunting & gathering practices across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Britain. European Journal of Archaeology 14, 361-92

Harris, O.J.T. 2011. Constituting childhood: conviviality and community at Windmill Hill. In M. Lally and A. Moore (eds), (Re)thinking the Little Ancestor: new perspectives on the archaeology of childhood and infancy. Oxford: BAR, 122-32.


Brittain, M. and Harris O.J.T. 2010. Enchaining arguments and fragmenting assumptions: reconsidering the fragmentation debate in archaeology. World Archaeology 42(4), 581-594.

Harris, O.J.T., 2010. Emotional and mnemonic geographies at Hambledon Hill: texturing Neolithic places with bodies and bones. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 20(3), 357-71.

Harris, O.J.T and Sørensen T.F. 2010a. Rethinking emotion and material culture. Archaeological Dialogues 17(2), 145-63.

Harris, O.J.T and Sørensen T.F. 2010b. Talk about the passion. Archaeological Dialogues 17(2), 186-98.


Harris, O.J.T. 2009. Making places matter in Early Neolithic Dorset. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 28(2), 111-23.



Oliver is co-director of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project. This is a long running research project into changing lifeways on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, western Scotland. The project aims to understand how human occupation of one specific landscape changed at key moments of social transition, such as the start of farming, the beginning of metal work, the arrival of the Vikings, or the Highland Clearances. Through this project Oliver has directed excavations of a Neolithic chambered cairn, a Bronze Age kerbed cairn and a Viking boat burial. The latter has hit the headlines in the UK and beyond - have a look at one newspaper's coverage. This project has also developed numerous innovative teaching strategies, leading to it recently being awarded the Archaeological Training Forum award at the 2014 IfA conference.

Research interests

Neolithic Britain; archaeological theory (in particular relational approaches to the past); new materialism; assemblage theory; the archaeology of the body; prehistoric communities; emotion and affect in archaeology.



I would welcome PhD applications from anyone interested in looking at:

  • Mesolithic, Neolithic or Bronze Age Britain
  • New materialist / symmetrical approaches to the past
  • archaeology of the body
  • emotion and affect in archaeology

Learn more about studying for a PhD with us

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