Dr Oliver Harris

Oliver HarrisLecturer in Archaeology

BA, MA, Ph.D. (Cardiff), FHEA

Tel: 0116 252 2729

Email: ojth1@le.ac.uk


Oliver Harris began studying archaeology at Sheffield, and graduated with a BA in 2002. He then took an MA at Cardiff University, and stayed on to do a PhD under the supervision of Alasdair Whittle. His PhD focussed on developing new theoretical approaches to identity, emotion and memory and applying them to the British Neolithic. Since finishing his PhD Oliver has 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. 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. He has just published a book on the history of the human body with John Robb, and spends his summers digging in Ardnamurchan, Western Scotland, where all sorts of archaeological wonders can be found.

His main administrative role is as Admissions Tutor. If you have any questions about applying to Leicester don't hesitate to get in touch.



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.

Research Interests:

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

Learn more about studying for a PhD with us


I teach on and contribute to a range of modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. My principal role, however, is co-ordinating three campus based modules.

AR1004 - World Archaeology BC

AR2029 - Archaeological Theory

AR3074 - European Bodies in History and Prehistory

In addition I also co-ordinate the distance learning module AR2551 Archaeological Theory.

I would welcome PhD applications from anyone interested in looking at Mesolithic, Neolithic or Bronze Age Britain and anyone with a particular interest in any area of archaeological theory

New book!

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.

Selected Recent publications

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.

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.

Cummings, V. and Harris O.J.T. 2011. Animals, people and places: the continuity of hunting and gathering practices across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Britain: European Journal of Archaeology 14(3), 361-82.

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

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. 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.

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

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.

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.

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