Landscape, nature and the environment

Human interaction with and experience of landscape, nature and the environment runs through much of our research and covers the entire period from prehistoric Europe to Byzantium.

We are interested in the ways in which humans have engaged with, changed, reacted to and violated nature and the environment, whether by depositing human bodies in bogs, the creation of monumental structures across landscapes such as at Stonehenge or in ancient Egypt, the lived experience in rural communities and mental engagement with landscape, or the ecology of ancient religion. We use a range of methodologies to understand this engagement, from analysis of written texts and objects to digital mapping and geophysical surveys.


Leslie Brubaker works on the intersection between humans and nature, and has strong interests in all aspects of iconoclastic intervention.

Henry Chapman’s research covers the Stonehenge landscape, peatlands, wetlands and bog bodies, and causeway enclosures across prehistoric Europe.

Archie Dunn focuses on archaeologies of settlement, landscape and material culture in the Byzantine and neighbouring periods.

Paul Garwood is a specialist in the archaeology and landscapes of prehistoric Europe, in particular at Stonehenge.

Ailsa Hunt is interested in the ecological aspects of ancient religion.

Maeve McHugh works on the archaeology of the ancient rural landscapes and its inhabitants.

Leire Olabarria’s research includes the landscape of monuments in ancient Egypt.

Dan Reynolds focuses on the archaeology of Christian communities in the Byzantine and early Medieval periods.

David Smith has for decades studied the remains of insect (and other biological material) within their archaeological and landscape environments, and what these remains can tell us about human habitation and its development. He is also working on wetland landscapes and bog bodies.

Diana Spencer is a specialist in the landscapes (physical and mental) of the ancient Romans.

Ken Wardle works on the landscape and environment of Prehistoric Greek cities and communities.

Major publications

Gaffney, V. et al. (incl. H. Chapman, P. Garwood) 2020 A Massive, Late Neolithic Pit Structure associated with Durrington Walls Henge, Internet Archaeology 55. 

Chapman, H, Van Beek, R, Jennings, B, Smith, D, Helt Nielson, N & Zein - Elabdin, Z 2019, 'Bog bodies in context: developing a best practice approach', European Journal of Archaeology.

Chapman, H 2018, Iconoclasm and later prehistory Routledge. 246 p.

Gearey, B, Chapman, H & Howard, A 2016, Down by the River: Archaeological, palaeoenvironmental and geoarchaeological investigations of the Suffolk river valleys. Jan 2016, Oxford: Oxbow. 226 p.

Paul, P & Chapman, H 2015, Living with the Flood: Mesolithic to post-medieval archaeological remains at Mill Lane, Sawston, Cambridgeshire- A wetland/dryland interface. Oxford: Oxbow. 128 p.

Gaffney, V, Neubauer, W, Garwood, P, Gaffney, C, Löcker, K, Bates, R, De Smedt, P, Baldwin, E, Chapman, H, Hinterlietner, A, Wallner, M, Nau, E, Filzwieser, R, Kainz, J, Trausmuth, T, Schneidhofer, P, Zotti, G, Lugmayer, A, Trinks, I & Corkum, A 2018, 'Durrington Walls and the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project 2010-2016', Archaeological Prospection, pp. 1-15.

Smith, O, Momber, G, Bates, R, Garwood, P, Garwood, P, Fitch, S, Pallen, M, Gaffney, V & Allaby, RG 2015, 'Sedimentary DNA from a submerge site reveals wheat in the British Isles 8000 years ago', Science, vol. 347, no. 6225, pp. 998-1001. 

Hunt, A; Marlow, H.F. (eds) 2019, Ecology and Theology in the Ancient World: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives, London.

McHugh, M. 2017. The Ancient Greek Farmstead. Oxbow. 

Olabarria, L 2019, 'Coming to terms with stelae: a performative approach to memorial stelae and chapels of Abydos in the Middle Kingdom', Studien zur altägyptischen Kultur (SAK).

Smith, D, Hill, G, Kenward, H & Allison, E 2020, 'Development of synanthropic beetle faunas over the last 9000 years in the British Isles', Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 115, 105075. 

Smith, D 2020, 'Pondering privies: construction, use, reuse and other speculations about cesspits in the archaeological record', Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

Smith, D, Hill, G & Kenward, H 2018, 'The Development of Late Holocene Farmed Landscapes: Analysis of Insect Assemblages using a Multi-period Dataset', The Holocene

Smith, D 2017, 'Locating where archaeological sites occur in intertidal sequences: The use of archaeoentomological data as a proxy for tidal regime', Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 82, pp. 1-19. 

Spencer, D 2017, Aesthetic, sociological and exploitative attitudes to landscape in Greco-Roman literature, art and cultureOxford Handbooks Online: Scholarly Research Reviews. Williams, G. (ed.). Oxford University Press

Spencer, D 2015, Vitruvius, Landscape and Heterotopias: How ‘otherspaces’ enrich Roman identityThe Routledge Handbook of Identity and the Environment in the Classical and Early Medieval Worlds. Kennedy, R. & Jones-Lewis, M. (eds.). London: Routledge, p. 171-191

White, R 2018, Diversity in unity: exploring survival, transition and ethnogensis in Late Antique Western Britain. in P Diarte-Blasco & N Christie (eds), Interpreting Transformations of People and Landscapes in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Archaeological Approaches and Issues. Oxbow, Oxford & Philadelphia, pp. 113-122.


Forging the Christian Holy Land c.300-c. 1099 AD (led by Daniel Reynolds, funded by the British Academy)

Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes and Stonehenge Landscape EMI (Henry Chapman and Paul Garwood)

Wildscapes project (Henry Chapman)

Building Online Guidance for Wetland Landscapes, Archaeology and Natural Deposits (David Smith)

Bog Bodies project (David Smith, Henry Chapman)

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