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Academic Visitor in the Department of Archaeology


In 2016, I graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a First Class Honours in MA Archaeology and have since completed an MSc with Distinction in Archaeology of the North at the same university. My previous research topics have included the evaluation of sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) from ancient and historic reindeer herding sites, and the contextualisation of a previously undocumented cave site in north-east Scotland.

My current research consists of a collaborative IAPETUS Doctoral Training Partnership between Durham University and the University of Stirling, alongside a CASE partnership with Historic Environment Scotland. My research is kindly funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and supervised by Dr Karen Milek (Department of Archaeology, Durham University), Dr Paul Adderley (Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling) and Dr Lisa Brown (Historic Environment Scotland). Additional collaboration outwith IAPETUS includes Dr Gordon Noble (Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen) and David Strachan (Director at the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust).

Current Research Topic

Geoarchaeological Approaches to Pictish Settlement Sites: Assessing Heritage at Risk


Due to the poor preservation of Pictish Period buildings and the occupation deposits within them, very little is known of daily life in medieval Scotland. In lowland and coastal areas, Pictish buildings are generally truncated by deep ploughing (e.g. Rhynie, Clarkly Hill), coastal erosion (e.g. Dunnicaer) or urban development (e.g. Burghead), while those uncovered in upland areas seem to have no preserved floor deposits for reasons that are yet to be understood (e.g. Lair in Glenshee). Geoarchaeological techniques clarify site formation processes and are a powerful research tool for identifying floor deposits, distinguishing their composition and linking this to daily activities, however such techniques have not yet been applied to Pictish Period dwellings.

This study will therefore employ an innovative suite of geoarchaeological techniques to evaluate the preservation of Pictish Period buildings and the potential that fragmentary buildings have to reconstruct daily life in early medieval Scotland. This will follow a format already proven to be highly effective on Viking Age sites, as well as ethnographic case studies in Scotland and Iceland. Over 300 sediment samples will be subjected to integrated soil micromorphology, x-ray fluorescence, magnetic susceptibility, loss-on-ignition, pH and micro-refuse analysis, with the potential for further techniques such as lipid biomarker analysis. A six-month placement with Historic Environment Scotland will dovetail the project, providing an opportunity to work with stakeholders and channel results directly into cultural heritage management and conservation problems.

Funding Grants


  • NERC IAPETUS Doctoral Studentship (covering tuition fees and full maintenance for 3.5 years)


  • NERC IAPETUS Research Training Support Grant (£10,900)


  • Historic Environment Scotland (£3000 = £1000 per year)


  • Jane Thom Bequest (£250 towards sample collection)

Research interests

  • Geoarchaeology, including soil survey, soil micromorphology and geochemistry
  • Early medieval period, in particular the Pictish period in north-east Scotland
  • Settlement, the use of space and the social archaeology of houses and farmsteads
  • National soil datasets and their application within archaeology
  • Cave archaeology and assemblages

Esteem Indicators


Conference Paper

Journal Article