The University of Aberdeen
Department of Geography and Environment,
School of Geosciences,
University of Aberdeen,
St Mary's, Elphinstone Road,
Aberdeen AB24 3UF
Tel: +44 (0)1224 272346
- European Science Foundation (ESF) College of Expert Reviewers, 2018-20
- German Research Foundation (DFG) Review Panel for the ‘Excellence Strategy’ programme, 2018
- Emeritus Professor in Physical Geography, University of Aberdeen, 2018-
- DSc, 'Studies in Quaternary, Geographical and Archaeological Science', University of St Andrews, 2014
- REF 2014: Panel member for Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology, UK Research Excellence Framework
- Christensen Fellow, St Catherine's College, University of Oxford, 2012
- 133rd Rhind Lecturer, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland/Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2012
- Member of Academia Europaea, 2012
- Life Member, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, since 2012
- Visiting Fellow, Clare Hall and Visiting Scholar, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, 2011-2012
- RAE 2008: Panel member for Geography and Environmental Studies, UK Research Assessment Exercise
- Adjunct Professor in Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, since 2007
- Visiting Researcher, Department of Geography and Geology, University of Copenhagen, 2007-09
- Adjunct Professor in the Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate School, PhD Program in Anthropology, The City University of New York, since 2002
- Research Associate, the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute/Hutton Institute, since 2002
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2002
- Professor in Physical Geography, University of Aberdeen, 2000-17
- Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 1999
- Professor of Palaeoecology, Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield, 1994-2000, Head of Department 1996-1999
- Honorary Research Associate, Limnological Research Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1983
- Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Biogeography, Reader in Palaeoecology, School of Geography, University of Birmingham, 1980-94
- Lecturer in Environmental Reconstruction, Department of Geography, Management Committee and Research Member of the Palaeoecology Centre (Departments of Archaeology, Botany, Geography), The Queen's University of Belfast, 1975-80
- PhD, 'Palaeoenvironmental and Archaeological Investigations in the Howe of Cromar, Grampian Region, Scotland', University of Aberdeen, 1978
- Tutorial Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Aberdeen, 1972-75
- MA First Class Honours in Geographical Studies, University of St Andrews, 1972
- Environmental and anthropogenic change in the North Atlantic region
- Mesolithic (hunter-gatherer) impacts on vegetation in Scotland
- Long-term vegetation and environmental change in the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland
- Tephropalynological studies
- Environmental archaeology
- History of Science
The above are pursued within the context of the Environmental Change sub-group of the Environmental Processes and Change Research Cluster of the Department.
Landscapes circum-Landnám: Viking settlement in the North Atlantic and its human and ecological consequences: This project was made possible by a major Research Programme Grant for the period 2002-07 from the Leverhulme Trust. The award resulted from a UK-wide competition within the theme 'Long-term settlement in the ancient world'. It enabled a high resolution and comprehensive investigation of what happens environmentally and socially when a group of people - in this case the Vikings - colonise 'pristine' landscapes. Sites in the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland were and are being studied by an interdisciplinary and multinational team including Paul Buckland (Archaeology, Universities of Sheffield and Bournemouth), Andrew Dugmore (Geography, University of Edinburgh), Thomas McGovern (Anthropology, Hunter College, City University New York), Ian Simpson (Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling) and Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir (Scandinavian Studies and Archaeology, University College London). Kevin Edwards was PI on the project which was led by the University of Aberdeen.
Footprints on the edge of Thule: landscapes of Norse-indigenous interaction: This is a development of the Landscapes circum-Landnám project and was funded by the Leverhulme Trust for the period 2007-11. A primary aim is to investigate the complex relationships between humans (Norse incomers and indigenous groups), their economies and interactions with environment in parts of Greenland, Norway and Sweden. Collaborating researchers include Andrew Dugmore and Eva Panagiotakopulu (Geography, University of Edinburgh) and Ian Simpson (Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling), as well as many overseas research collaborators (e.g. in Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark). Kevin Edwards was PI on the project which was led by the University of Aberdeen.
Pre-agricultural landscape impacts (erosion, fire and vegetational change) and woodland status in western Scotland (including the Inner and Outer Hebrides) and the Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland): Pollen, charcoal, palaeoentomological and archaeological studies of early Holocene/Mesolithic environmental and cultural change, including the nature of the woodland cover. The work involves collaboration with archaeologists from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland's First Settlers Project) and Bradford, and palynologists and palaeoentomologists from the Universities of Birmingham, Sheffield and St Andrews. Funding has come from NERC and The Leverhulme Trust.
Palaeolimnological studies of prehistoric agricultural impacts: Studies of lake sediments as repositories of land use and erosional history and involving pollen, chemical, particle size and radiocarbon studies. This is being carried out partly in association with Graeme Whittington, the School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St Andrews with funding for radiocarbon dates from the NERC.
Lateglacial environments in Scotland, including oxygen isotope studies: High resolution palynological, palaeoentomological and stable isotope research aimed at detecting biotic and environmental sensitivity to climate change . This is joint research with the School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St Andrews, the School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Birmingham and the Department of Chemistry, University of Glasgow/SUERC, East Kilbride. Funding for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry 14C dating and oxygen isotope analysis has come from NERC.
Soil pollution on the remote Scottish islands: High levels of pollution (e.g. lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic) discovered in the anthropogenic soils of St Kilda seem to be related to peat burning and arable farming practices combined with the local custom of composting seabird waste. This project aims to continue investigations on St Kilda and to place the results in a wider context. This is joint research with the Departments of Plant & Soil Science and Chemistry, University of Aberdeen, and the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling, with funding from the Leverhulme Trust.
The antiquity and environmental signatures of ancient tin mining in SW Britain: The precise date of tin mining – and the related metallurgical extraction of copper, lead and silver in Devon and Cornwall – was unknown and has been subject to historical comment/myth for millennia. This project investigated the chemical signatures in raised mires from Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor accompanied by AMS 14C dating. The outcome has significance for the economic (pre-)history of Europe. This is joint research with Andrew Meharg (Department of Plant & Soil Science, University of Aberdeen and is funded by NERC (Meharg and Edwards co-PIs).
Reconstructing 8000 years of environmental and landscape change in the Cairngorms: New discoveries of well preserved sub-fossil pine stems in lakes from the northwest Cairngorms highlight the potential of deriving a long Holocene length tree-ring record for this region. Combined with palynology and geochemical data, multiproxy approaches enable an examination of environmental change during the Holocene, including: the first comprehensive appraisal of human influence on the vegetational structure of the region; quantified tree-ring based inter-annual summer temperature reconstructions for discrete time periods, which will significantly extend high resolution records of climate change in the UK; elucidation of whether periods of forest decline are related to climatic anomalies or human influences. This work is funded by The Leverhulme Trust (2010-13) with co-PIs Rob Wilson (St Andrews), Siwan Davies (Swansea) and Kevin Edwards (Aberdeen).
Viking Unst: The Viking Unst project began as a collaborative project between the Shetland Amenity Trust and the University of Copenhagen and aims to investigate the archaeological and environmental evidence for Norse settlement on the Island of Unst, Shetland. Our work includes palynological investigations associated with the excavations at Belmont being carried out under the direction of Anne-Christine Larsen of the Vikingeborgen Trelleborg, Sydvestsjællands Museum, Denmark.
History of science: Archive-based historiographical and biographical research into two main areas: (i) the history of palynology; (ii) James Croll. The research is based heavily on fresh archival work (e.g. in the British Library [London], Imperial College London, the National Museum of Wales [Cardiff], BGS [Keyworth], Tolson Memorial Museum [Huddersfield], Royal Society of Edinburgh, University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Swedish Museum of Natural History [both Stockholm]).
Current and Recent Research Students
- Fraser Green, BSc (Edinburgh), PhD (Aberdeen): Palynology and the Mesolithic of the Isle of Skye and Inner Sound, Scotland
- Douglas Borthwick, MA, PhD (Aberdeen): Palynology of Norse settlement, Suðuroy, Faroe Islands
- Egill Erlendsson, BS (Iceland), PhD (Aberdeen): Palynology of Norse settlement, southwestern Iceland
- Clare Brown, BSc (Plymouth), PhD (Aberdeen): Palynology, neoecology, erosion and agriculture, Isle of Skye, Scotland
- Ilse Kamerling, BSc, MSc (Free University of Amsterdam), PhD (Aberdeen): Palynology of Norse and Sami settlement, northern Sweden
- Paul Ledger, BSc (East Anglia), MSc (Coventry), PhD (Aberdeen): Palynology of the Norse Eastern Settlement, Greenland
- Patricia Wiltshire, BSc (London), DSc hc (Glous), PhD (Aberdeen): Developing forensic palynology
- Claire Christie, MA (Aberdeen), MA (UCL): The prehistoric settlement of West Mainland, Shetland
£1,235,000 The Leverhulme Trust
Landscapes circum-Landnám: Viking settlement in the North Atlantic and its human and ecological consequences. (Jointly with P.C. Buckland, University of Sheffield, A.J. Dugmore, University of Edinburgh and I.A. Simpson, University of Stirling). 2002-07.
£168,350 The Leverhulme Trust
Did the disposal of seabird waste seriously pollute cultivated soils in remote islands of Scotland? (Jointly with A.Meharg and J. Feldmann, University of Aberdeen and D.A. Davidson, University of Stirling). 2002-05.
£270,000 Scottish Funding Council: SAGES
Scottish Alliance forGeosciences, Environment and Society. For provision of 60% share of 2 lectureships, shared studentships and equipment. 2006-11.
£1,000,000 The Leverhulme Trust
Footprints on the edge of Thule: landscapes of Norse-indigenous interaction. (Jointly with A.J. Dugmore and E. Panagiotakopulu, University of Edinburgh and I.A. Simpson, University of Stirling). 2007-11.
£28,000 Natural Environment Research Council
When was Cornish tin mined and processed in prehistory? (Jointly with A.M. Meharg, University of Aberdeen). 2009.
£4,400 The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
The potential of the Norse middle settlement of Greenland for a major interdisciplinary research project. (Jointly with J. Edward Schofield, University of Aberdeen). 2010.
£250,000 The Leverhulme Trust
Reconstructing 8000 years of Environmental and Landscape change in the Cairngorms. (Jointly with R. Wilson, St Andrews and S. Davies, Swansea). 2010-13.
$15,000 National Geographic
Palaeoecological investigations at Point Rosee, Newfoundland. (Jointly with J.E. Schofield). 2016-17.
- Further Info
- Biodiversity and Conservation
- Journal of the North Atlantic
- Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
- Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
- Environmental History and Global Change book series (I.B. Tauris)
- North Atlantic World book series (Brepols)