I am an archaeologist who spent over 20 years working in cultural heritage — mainly for Historic Scotland — before returning to academia. Graduating from University College London with a degree in Medieval Archaeology, I completed my PhD at the University of Glasgow. Before joining Stirling in 2014, I was an archaeology lecturer at Glasgow and Aberdeen universities.
My research is interdisciplinary in nature, cutting across cultural heritage management, archaeology, history, art history and museology. Reflecting my background, I aim to make a difference on the ground and to curatorial practices. Particular interests include:
understanding value, significance and authenticity
historiography of cultural heritage
biographical approaches to material culture
Picts and their northern European early medieval neighbours
understanding, protection, conservation, display and interpretation of carved stones (notably prehistoric rock art, early medieval sculpture, graveyards and gravestones).
Early Christian Churches and Landscapes (ECCLES) in Scotland, part of a project looking at the early church in the Isles of Britain and Ireland, itself part of a pan-European initiative (Corpus Architecturae Religiosae Europae) (funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and AHRC)
(funding from Royal Society of Edinburgh and Historic Environment Scotland).
My publications range from academic articles and edited volumes to semi-popular books — the bestseller Picts, Gaels and Scotsis now in its third edition (2014) — and guidebooks, such as Maes Howe and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney (an updated edition, co-authored with Rachel Pickering, published in 2017).
My external duties include Chairing the National Committee on Carved Stones in Scotland. For three years until 2016 I was Secretary of the Medieval Europe Research Committee. For six years until 2012, I was the Hon. Editor of the international journal Medieval Archaeology. I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the Society of Antiquaries of London, and a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.