Dr Gordon Noble

Senior Lecturer

MA (Aberdeen), MA (UCL), PhD (Reading), FSAScot

Dr Gordon Noble

Contact Details

Telephone: +44 (0)1224 272333
Email: g.noble@abdn.ac.uk
Personal website:


Address: Department of Archaeology University of Aberdeen St. Mary's, Elphinstone Road Aberdeen AB24 3UF Scotland Room No. 203


Dr Gordon Noble, has undertaken landscape research and directed field projects across Scotland. He has worked on a wide range of landscapes and archaeology projects from the Mesolithic to Medieval periods. He was director and co-founder of Strathearn & Royal Forteviot (SERF), a successful archaeological project researching a site that became one of Scotland’s early royal centres. He now works on a major project funded by the University of Aberdeen Development Trust and Historic Environment Scotland researching the post-Roman societies of northern Britain called 'Northern Picts'. Gordon has also worked on AHRC funded projects on topics from the third millennium BC to 19th century rural settlements at Bennachie and works with the National Trust for Scotland on hunter-gatherer landscapes in upper Deeside. Public engagement is a big part of his research and to date three major exhibitions of the work of Northern Picts has been on display at the Tarbat Discovery Centre and King's Museum, Aberdeen. Northern Picts research has also featured on BBC 4 'Digging for Britain' and many other media venues. 

Since completing his PhD in 2004, Gordon has held a temporary lectureship in Durham (2004-5) and from 2005-8 undertook British Academy funded postdoctoral research on the perception of the forested environment in prehistory at the University of Glasgow. Gordon was appointed as lecturer to the department at Aberdeen in July 2008 and in 2012 he became Senior Lecturer and Head of Department in 2015. He is also a Honorary Curatorial Fellow to the University Museums.

Research Interests

Period specialisms   

  • Prehistoric 
  • Early Medieval period


  • Northwest Europe with particular interests in: Scotland, Ireland, Sweden & Denmark

Current Research

Northern Picts 2012-16

The first millennium AD in northern Europe witnessed the transformation of small-scale tribal societies into medieval kingdoms, changes that laid the foundations for the modern nation states of Europe. In northern Britain, the Pictish Kingdoms that emerged in northern Scotland in the post-Roman period (c.AD 400-900) were important political players both regionally and on a European scale. Indeed, the major legacies of the Picts include some of the most spectacular archaeological sites and artistic achievements of Early Medieval European society. In northern Scotland the Kingdoms of the Northern Picts spanned an area from the Northeast of Scotland mainland to the northern Isles of Shetland and Orkney until the late 9th and 10th centuries when pressure from Viking incursions and political ascendency of Gaelic kingship and identity led to the absorption of the Picts into the political entity known as Alba. This project aims to track the rise and fall of the Northern Pictish Kingdoms through a sustained programme of archaeological and historical research. In association with the Tarbat Discovery Centre Museum and Visitor Centre.

Funding: University of Aberdeen Development Trust (private donation) and Historic Envrionment Scotland (PI).

Project partners: Tarbat Discovery Centre, National Museums of Scotland, University of Chester, University of Glasgow, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, Rhynie Woman, CMS Archaeology, Forestry Commission Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Mainz.


Woodland in the Neolithic of Northern Europe: The Forest as Ancestor. 

A book length study of the social role of trees and woodlands in prehistory with case studies from Britain and Ireland and South Scandinavia. Incorporating environmental, anthropological and archaeological approaches, this study aims to formulate new approaches to the study of past landscapes. The final book will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

Funding: British Academy (PI).


Strathearn Environs & Royal Forteviot Project (SERF) 2006-12

SERF seeks to explore the earlier and later prehistoric origins of the Pictish royal centre at Forteviot and document the area’s subsequent evolution to the present day. The project was nominated ifor the Current Archaeology Research Project of the Year 2010, one of only two such national award programmes in the UK, after appearing on the front cover of Current Archaeology magazine and feature of major spread in May 2009 (Noble, Current Archaeology 2009). The SERF project has also had a major media impact at the national level with articles in most of the major print media, e.g. Independent, Guardian, Times, Daily Express, The Herald, and Scotsman and has also featured on television on BBC2’s Digging Up The Past series and BBC Alba.

Responsibilities: Project manager 2006-8; Director 2006-11. Directed in collaboration with Professor Stephen Driscoll and Dr Kenneth Brophy, University of Glasgow. http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/driscoll323/.

Funding: British Academy small grant (PI); British Academy Large Grant (LRG:45610) (PI); Historic Scotland (Co-I); Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust (Co-I); Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. AHRC Research Fellowship for completion of publication (PI).

Project partners: University of Glasgow, University of Chester, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust (PKHT).

Bennachie Landscapes Project 2012-

North-east Scotland contains landscapes of world-leading importance for history, archaeology and community heritage. This project focuses on building heritage-based partnerships and involves an interdisciplinary community-centred research project concentrating on the past, present and future significance of one of north-east Scotland's most celebrated cultural and physical landmarks: the hill of Bennachie and its environs.

Funding: AHRC Development Grant (PI).

Project partners: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), Bailies of Bennachie, Aberdeenshire Council, Forestry Commission.

Research Grants

  • 2012-2022    Principal-Investigator, ‘Northern Picts: ’, University of Aberdeen Development Trust; Historic Environment Scotland (£300k to date)
  • 2012-2013    Principal-Investigator, ‘Ritual and Remembrance at the Third Millennium BC Prehistoric Monument Complex at Forteviot, Central Scotland’, Arts and Humanities Research Council (69K)
  • 2011-2012   Principal-Investigator, 'Communities and Landscape: Researching the Past and Exploring the Future in North-East Scotland', Arts and Humanities Research Council (20K)
  • Carnegie Trust for Universities of Scotland PhD Studentship. Claire Christie 'Landscapes of Shetland' (63K)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Scottish Doctoral Training Centre PhD Studentship. Juliette Mitchell 'Monumental Cemeteries of Pictland' (60K)
  • 2015-2017    Principal-Investigator, ‘3D Picts: 3D replication and community engagement ’, SCORE Engineering (£20k)
  • 2014-5    Principal-Investigator, ‘Nethermills Backlog Project’, Historic Scotland (£33k)
  • 2011-2017    Principal-Investigator, ‘Rhynie Environs Archaeological Project’, British Academy, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Carnegie, Historic Scotland, etc (£30k)
  • 2005-8    Principal-Investigator, ‘The Forest as Ancestor’, British Academy (£90k)

Teaching Responsibilities

Course co-ordinator of undergraduate modules:

  • AY2005 Interpreting the Past
  • AY3009 Scottish Archaeology
  • AY3010 Professional Archaeology I
  • AY3011 Archaeological Fieldwork Portfolio

Additional teaching on a range of other modules including Archaeology of the North, Advanced Archaeological Practice, Archaeologies of Social Life and Landscape Archaeology

External Responsibilities

  • 2013-16 External Examiner, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading

  • 2015 External panel member for undergraduate teaching programme review, University of Edinburgh

  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (elected fellow 2006; Council member 2009-12)
  • Reviewer (Journals): 

    Antiquity, World Archaeology, European Journal of Archaeology, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Journal of Maritime Archaeology, The Scottish Archaeological Journal, Papers from the Institute of Archaeology University College London, Journal of Irish Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

  • Reviewer (Grants):

    Arts and Humanities Research Council; Leverhulme Trust; Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland; National Geographic

Admin Responsibilities

  • Head of Department
  • Research Theme Leader
  • Honorary Curatorial Fellow to University Museums


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