Dr Oliver Harris

Oliver HarrisAssociate Professor of Archaeology

BA, MA, PhD (Cardiff), FHEA, FSA Scot, FSA

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. After finishing my PhD I worked in contract archaeology, and held two post-docs before joining Leicester in 2011. 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 2017 I published my new book with Craig Cipolla: Archaeological Theory in the New Millennium: introducing current perspectives.

In 2016 I was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for Archaeology, which meant I spent January 2018-2020 mostly on research leave.

I am a fellow of three notable groups: the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the Royal Anthropological Institute.

If you want to know more about me, or about my much more interesting friend Craig Cipolla have a listen to this: https://soundcloud.com/user-252048082/episode-1-craig-cipolla-oliver-harris


I co-ordinate AR7059 Theory and Practice in Archaeology, AR2029 Archaeological Theory, and AR3089 Difference and Power in the Neolithic and Bronze Age



New project funded by the Leverhulme Trust! Beyond the Three Age System: mapping a history of materials from 3000 – 600 BC

Oliver is also 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; ontology; the archaeology of the body; prehistoric communities; emotion and affect in archaeology.


Yvonne O'Dell

Nathan Gubbins

Matteo Cantisani

Brendon Wilkins (Museum Studies)

Topics available for PhD supervision

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

  • Mesolithic, Neolithic or Bronze Age Britain
  • New materialist / relational / ontological approaches to the past

Learn more about studying for a PhD with us

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