Professor Ian Armit

Ian ArmitProfessor of Archaeology

MA Hons, PhD (Edinburgh), FSA, FSA Scot

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2640


Personal details

I took both my undergraduate degree and my PhD in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. I joined the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester in 2018, having previously taught at Queen’s University Belfast from 1999-2006, and the University of Bradford from 2006-2018. My research centres on the cultural archaeology of the European Later Bronze and Iron Ages; the role of conflict and violence in non-state societies; and the demographic and genetic prehistory of European populations.


I teach on all three levels of Undergraduate Studies as well as Postgraduate Studies.


Main themes

  • 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

Genetic transformations in prehistoric Europe

I have recently been collaborating with the Reich Laboratory at Harvard University and others in the application of genome-wide DNA analysis to individuals from prehistoric Europe. Following a major study of the Europe-wide Beaker phenomenon (Olalde et al 2018), new work is planned on the Late Bronze Age/Iron Age populations of Britain and Europe.

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 It includes a major post-excavation and publication programme on the unpublished 1970s excavations from the Sculptor’s Cave; a Bronze/Iron Age/Pictish ritual site, and is continuing with fieldwork on neighbouring caves containing Bronze Age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 project is co-directed by Dr Lindsey Büster, University of Edinburgh.

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.

Late Bronze and Iron Age Europe 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

Professor Armit was PI on this recently completed 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.

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

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


I can supervise projects in the following research areas:

  • Conflict and violence in non-state societies
  • Prehistoric demography and population change
  • Scottish archaeology
  • Greek and Roman colonial interactions
  • Prehistoric art

Graduate Destinations

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

  • Dr Mary Saunders (2017) at University of Oxford
  • Dr Mike Copper (2015) at the University of Bradford
  • Dr Mhairi Maxwell (2013) at V&A Dundee
  • Dr Emily Fioccoprile (2015) at the University of Arizona
  • Dr Lindsey Büster (2013) is a teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh
  • 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

Recent publications


  • 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 press. 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. 2016. Cultural 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. 2013. An 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

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