James's research is focused on the application of remote sensing and GIS based techniques in archaeology, with particular emphasis on enclosures and Bronze Age hillforts, their contemporary landscapes and socio-economic setting. His PhD, funded by the Irish Research Council, focused on analysing the phenomenon of hillfort clusters in Ireland. A primary case study was the Baltinglass group in eastern Ireland, the largest cluster of Bronze Age hillforts in Ireland. This incorporates the largest known hillforts in Ireland, as well as the two earliest dated examples. Study of this landscape also revealed an extensive Neolithic element, the most important being three newly recorded Early Neolithic enclosures.
James has worked on a number of projects, including the recently competed Atlas of British and Irish Hillforts, as well as the 'Hillforts, Warfare and Society in Bronze Age Ireland' project. He has also been involved in survey work at the important Early Medeival royal site of Garranes, Co. Cork, and the multi period complex at Lough Gur, Co. Limerick, and has recent completed work which incorporated drone technology and photogrammetry techniques to survey the iconic Western Stone Forts of Ireland.
Recently, James has begun a Post-doctoral fellowship in the Archaeology Department in the University of Aberdeen, investigating the nature of societies existing beyond the Roman Empire's boundaries, as part of the Leverhulme funded Comparative Kingship project directed by Dr. Gordon Noble.