Professor NEIL PRICE

  Professor NEIL PRICE The University of Aberdeen Geosciences Professor NEIL PRICE Chair in Archaeology work +44 (0)1224 272363 pref Department of Archaeology University of Aberdeen St. Mary's, Elphinstone Road Aberdeen AB24 3UF Scotland Room No. 205

Chair in Archaeology

BA (London), PhD (Uppsala), FSA, FSA Scot, FRGS, MIFA

Professor NEIL PRICE

Contact Details

Telephone: +44 (0)1224 272363

Address: Department of Archaeology
University of Aberdeen
St. Mary's, Elphinstone Road
Aberdeen AB24 3UF

Room No. 205



Professor Price began his archaeological career in 1983, working on Roman and Medieval urban excavations for the Museum of London. In his undergraduate studies he took a first at University College London's Institute of Archaeology in 1988, where he began to develop his professional interest in the early medieval period, in particular the Viking Age. Alongside continued fieldwork in Britain, Germany, Malta and the Caribbean, he then conducted postgraduate research at the University of York, working with the archive of the excavated Anglo-Scandinavian tenements at 16-22 Coppergate.

In 1992 Neil emigrated to Sweden, where he managed archaeological rescue projects for the National Heritage Board and in private consultancy. Five years later he returned to academia to write his doctorate at the University of Uppsala, spending the next decade in teaching and research there and at the universities of Oslo and Stockholm. In August 2007 he took up the first Chair of Archaeology at Aberdeen, tasked with creating the new Department and guiding its development as an internationally leading centre for the study of the Northern past.

Over the last twenty-five years he has lectured and travelled widely in the Viking and circumpolar world, and directed research projects in France, Iceland, Russia and Sápmi (Lappland), besides several in Sweden. From 2006 to 2010 he was a Consultant Professor at Harvard University, co-directing their annual Summer School in Viking Studies. In addition to his regular duties, Neil has also held several visiting positions at the Rock Art Research Institute in the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and he has been an honorary Senior Research Fellow there since 2006. He returns to southern Africa as often as possible, alongside other areas of relevance to the study of traditional belief systems and ancient shamanism, which in recent years has involved visits to Namibia, Botswana, Japan, the Pacific Northwest Coast and the southern Californian desert. 

In October 2011 he is starting a three-year sabbatical funded by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, which he will spend completing two monographs on Viking burial ritual. Alongside this work, his current research focuses on paradigms of piracy in cross-cultural perspective, and he has a developing interest in the historical archaeology of the opium trade. Together with Rick Knecht, he is also currently directing archaeological surveys of the World War II battlefields of Peleliu in the Palau islands, Micronesia.

Married with two daughters, he divides his time between Aberdeen and Uppsala.

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Research Interests

My primary research interests are summarised below. I am happy to supervise postgraduate studies in many of these subject areas, and prospective researchers are encouraged to contact me.

1. Period specialisms                               

Early Medieval (British usage) / Late Iron Age (Scandinavian usage)
·    AD c. 400-1100, focusing on the Viking period

·    Scandinavia - especially Sweden
·    the Viking world - especially Brittany, the Carolingian Empire, the North Atlantic, Russia 
     and the Caliphates
·    Sápmi (Lappland) 

Cultural specialisms  
·    Scandinavian and Germanic pre-Christian religion
·    Old Norse sorcery, witchcraft and magic
·    Viking Age mentality and world-view, the 'Northern mind'
·    Viking Age mortuary behaviour and funerary drama
·    the Vikings in Continental Europe
·    the Vikings and Islam
·    Sámi archaeology and religion
·    early medieval ideology, identity and power
·    early medieval sexuality
·    Scandinavian and native interaction
·    early medieval ritual and symbolic landscapes

2. Thematic specialisms     

The archaeology of shamanism
·    shamanism in Scandinavia and the early medieval North
·    the circumpolar culture area
·    shamanism and rock art, especially in southern Africa
·    shamanic structures for war and aggression

The social archaeology of conflict
·    battlefield archaeology
·    colonial warfare and other cross-cultural conflicts
·    nationalism and military archaeology
·    the anthropology of war

Post-colonial approaches to material culture studies
·    the archaeology of indigenous peoples
·    the archaeology of slavery
·    archaeological ethics and the treatment of human remains
·    cultural property and repatriation
·    cognitive urbanism and urban peripheries

The archaeology of the Holocaust
·    materiality and remembrance
·    the Holocaust as heritage
·    contemporary Holocaust art and its relationship to material culture studies
·    archaeological studies of genocide 

3. Methodological specialisms  
·    theory in medieval archaeology, cognitive approaches, gender studies and the Annales school
·    integration of archaeology and textual scholarship
·    anthropological applications in archaeology


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Current Research

Paradigms of Piracy: Private Law and Social Order in the Premodern World

Peleliu 1944: Social Archaeologies of World War II in Palau, Micronesia

The Pity of Things: Confronting the Holocaust in Archaeology and Art

The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia

Vikings Remembered: Late Iron Age Funerary Ritual and the Making of Norse Mythology

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At present I am engaged in active collaborations with academics at the following institutions:
Bureau of Arts and Culture, Government of Palau
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., USA: Dept. of Folklore and Mythology
Institute of Archaeology, Reykjavík, Iceland
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada: Dept. of Archaeology
Snorrastofa, Reykholt, Iceland
University of Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan: Research Centre for Ainu and Indigenous Studies
University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland: Dept. of Social Anthropology and Folkloristics
University of Uppsala, Sweden: Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa: Rock Art Research Institute

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Teaching Responsibilities

Aberdeen teaching:
In normal circumstances I teach on numerous undergraduate courses and co-ordinate our Honours course in Viking Archaeology. During the academic years 2011-2014, however, I am on full-time Leverhulme research leave and will not be teaching except for occasional lectures and continued doctoral supervision.

International teaching
1. Harvard Summer School in Viking Studies (co-director, 2006-2010)
2. The Viking Mind, Erasmus International Masterclass, University of Iceland (2010, 16 hours of lectures)


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External Responsibilities

Senior Research Fellow, RARI, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Visiting Researcher, Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Uppsala, Sweden

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Editorial positions

Journal of Conflict Archaeology (Brill)     Member of editorial advisory board
Journal of Northern Studies (Umeå)     Member of editorial board
Medieval Archaeology (Maney)     Associate Editor
Viking and Medieval Scandinavia (Brepols)     Member of editorial advisory board

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Contributions to Journals


  • Price, N., Knecht, R., Ballinger, S., Cypra, S., Emesiochel, C., Tangie, H., Errolflynn, K., Gavin, L., McQuillen, D. & Ngirmang, SO. (2013). 'After the Typhoon: Multicultural Archaeologies of World War II on Peleliu, Palau, Micronesia'. Journal of Conflict Archaeology, vol 8, no. 3, pp. 193-248.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1179/1574077313Z.00000000026
  • Graslund, B. & Price, N. (2012). 'Twilight of the Gods?: The 'dust veil event' of AD 536 in critical perspective'. Antiquity, vol 86, no. 332, pp. 428-443.
  • Price, N. & Knecht, R. (2012). 'Peleliu 1944: the archaeology of a South Pacific D-Day'. Journal of Conflict Archaeology, vol 7, no. 1, pp. 5-48.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1179/157407812X13245464933786
  • Price, N. (2011). 'Researching the North at Aberdeen'. Journal of Northern Studies, vol 2011, no. 1, pp. 75-78.
  • Price, N. (2010). 'Passing into poetry: Viking-Age mortuary drama and the origins of Norse mythology'. Medieval Archaeology, vol 54, no. -, pp. 123-156.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1179/174581710X12790370815779

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings


  • Price, N. (2011). 'Shamanism'. in T Insoll (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 983-1003.
  • Price, N. (2010). 'Heathen songs and devil's games'. in M Carver, A Sanmark & S Semple (eds), Signals of belief in early England: Anglo-Saxon paganism revisited. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp. xiii.
  • Price, N. (2010). 'Beyond rock art: archaeological interpretation and the shamanic frame'. in G Blundell, C Chippindale & B Smith (eds), Seeing and knowing: Understanding rock art with and without ethnography. WIT Press, Johannesburg, pp. 280-289.
  • Price, N. (2010). ''James his towne' and village nations: cognitive urbanism in early colonial America'. in P Sinclair, G Nordquist, F Herschend & C Isendahl (eds), The Urban Mind: Cultural and environmental dynamics. African and Comparative Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Uppsala, pp. 471-497.

Books and Reports


  • Brink, S. & Price, N. (eds) (2008). The Viking World. Routledge Worlds, Routledge, Abingdon, United Kingdom.

Commissioned Reports

  • Knecht, R., Price, N. & Lindsay, GJ. (2012). WWII Battlefield Survey of Peleliu Island, Peleliu State, Republic of Palau: final report. July 2012. National Park Service. American Battlefield Protection Program.

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