Professor Kate Britton
Professor Kate Britton

Professor Kate Britton

BSc Hons (Dunelm), MSc (Reading), PhD (Dunelm, MPI-EVA), FSAScot

Personal Chair

About

Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences
University of Aberdeen
Room 210, St. Mary's
Elphinstone Road
Aberdeen
AB24 3UF

Biography

Kate began her archaeological career in 2002 at Durham University, where she studied Archaeology (BSc), specialising in prehistory, bioarchaeology and palaeodietary reconstruction. She then moved on to University of Reading in 2005 to study for a NERC-funded MSc degree in Geoarchaeology. It was at Reading that Kate began to incorporate the stable isotope analysis of animal and human remains into her research. In 2006 she returned to Durham to start a PhD in Bioarchaeology, again receiving sponsorship from NERC. In 2007 she joined the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, initially as a doctoral candidate, and after finishing her thesis, as a post-doctoral research scientist and DAAD Junior Scholarship holder.

Kate was appointed Lecturer in Archaeological Science in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen in 2010, becoming Senior Lecturer in 2016, and Head of Department in 2020. Kate was made Professor (Personal Chair) in 2021. 

Internal Memberships

  • Head of Department of Archaeology
  • Departmental social media (w/ Josh Wright)

Latest Publications

View My Publications

Prizes and Awards

Philip Leverhulme Prize in Archaeology (2019)

Research

Research Overview

Kate is an archaeological scientist and human palaeoecologist, specialising in the use of stable isotope analysis for the reconstruction of past diets, movements, and environments. Her research centres on the relationship between life-time behaviours, diets and movements of past humans and animals, and human-animal-environmental interactions. She specialises in the use of multi-isotope systems (δ13C, δ15N, δ18O, δ34S, 87Sr/86Sr) and the reconstruction of individual isotopic histories, focusing on the interaction between humans and animals. This includes the isotopic-identification of subsistence strategies, animal husbandry practices, the isotope ecology of archaeologically-important prey-species, and the identification of broad-scale climatic or environmental isotopic-trends. Regions/periods of focus include Late Pleistocene Europe, pre-contact Western Alaska and (early) Medieval Scotland.

Research Specialisms

  • Archaeological Sciences
  • Archaeology

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Supervision

Current PhD students:

Louise Smith (Aberdeen; NERC QUADRAT DTP funded, 2022 - )

Leia Tilley (Aberdeen; NERC QUADRAT DTP funded, 2022 - )

Lucy Koster (Aberdeen; Crick Institute; SOG funded, 2021 - )

Sarah Barakat (Aberdeen; NERC QUADRAT DTP funded, 2020 - )

Exploring the potential of multi-tissue sulphur and strontium isotope analysis and isoscape modelling to reconstruct past faunal movements

Sarah Ferrandin (Queen's University Belfast; NERC QUADRAT DTP funded, 2020 - )

Investigating the timing and causes of nitrogen cycle changes in Bronze Age Ireland

Judith Findlater (Queen's University Belfast, AHRC Northern Bridge funded, 2020 - )

Feeding Medieval Carrickfergus – A Multi-Proxy Study of Livestock Husbandry in a Frontier Town

Eléa Gutierrez (SBS-SOG joint funded, 2019 - )

Why you aren’t always what you eat: Exploring the influence of dietary macro-nutrient composition on diet-tissue 15N-enrichment and the implications for palaeodietary reconstruction

 

Past PhD students:

Dr John Graham (Aberdeen, 2016 - 2022, part-time)

Othering and Ordering in Middle Palaeolithic Archaeology

Dr Orsolya Czére (AHRC-funded, with Historic Environment Scotland, graduated 2021)

Diet from the Dark Ages to the Medieval State: a Diachronic Isotopic Study of Dietary Change in Scotland, from the Late Iron Age to the High Medieval Period

Dr Sarah Pederzani (MPI-EVA/Leiden/Aberdeen, graduated 2021)

Exploring late Pleistocene intra- and inter- site climate variability and seasonality using isotope zooarchaeology

Dr Ciara Gigleux (AHRC-funded, graduated 2018)

Caribou and the precontact Yup'ik: the isotope ecology and biogeography of a key subsistence species

Dr Carly Ameen (University of Liverpool/Aberdeen, graduated 2018)

Establishing and quantifying morphological variation amongst canids: a GMM approach to identifying domesticates

Dr Edouard Masson-Maclean (AHRC-funded, graduated 2018)

Animals, subsistence and society in Yup'ik Prehistory

Dr Ellen McManus-Fry (NERC-funded, graduated 2015) 

Pre-contact ecology, subsistence and diet on the Yukon-Kuskowim Delta: An integrated ecosystem approach to pre-contact lifeways using zooarchaeological analysis and stable isotope techniques 

Funding and Grants

2022-2023

Determining vitamin D status in precontact Western Alaska: a new method for exploring past health and dietary adaptations to high-latitude living. Natural Environment Research Council Exploring the Frontiers Grant (PI with Prof. Baukje de Roos [co-I])

2022

Diet and deficiency: Integrating vitamin D status into palaeodietary studies using novel biomedical diagnostic tools. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council mitigation funding (PI with Prof. Baukje de Roos [co-I])

2020-2023

Philip Leverhulme Prize in Archaeology The Leverhulme Trust (PI)

2018-2021

Intergrative Approaches to late Pleistocene Herbivore Ecology, Ranging and Diet (PleistoHERD) Leverhulme Standard Grant (PI with Dr. Joshua Wright, Prof. Steeve Côté and Dr. Vaughan Grimes [co-Is])

2016-2019

Diet from the Dark Ages to the Medieval State (Historic Environment Scotland co-funded with Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Studentship to Orsolya Czére)

2016-2018

Animals, Lifeways and Lifeworlds in Yup’ik Archaeology (ALLY): Subsistence, Technologies, and Communities of Change Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) - LabEx (Fr) (PI with Dr. Isabelle Sidéra [Fr], Prof. Keith Dobney [co-I] and Dr. Rick Knecht [co-I])

2013-2018

Understanding Cultural Resilience and Climate Change on the Bering Sea through Yup'ik Ecological Knowledge, Lifeways, Learning and Archaeology Arts and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant (co-I with Dr. Rick Knecht [PI] and Dr. Charlotta Hillerdal [co-I])

2012-2013

Isotope analysis at St. Nicholas Kirk, Aberdeen: Diet, Health and Mobility in a Medieval Maritime Society Royal Society of Edinburgh Arts and Humanities Small Research Grant

2012

Principal's Excellence Fund Travel Grant, University of Aberdeen (SAA 2013)

2012

Maritime adaptations and dietary change in prehistoric Western Alaska: stable isotope investigations at Nunalleq Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland Research Travel Grant

2011-2013

Animal Husbandry in the Intertidal Zone: A Stable Isotope Approach to Changing Subsistence Strategies in the Belgian Coastal Plain British Academy Small Research Grant (co-PI with Dr. Gundula Müldner, University of Reading, in collaboration with Dr. Anton Ervynck, Flemish Heritage Institute)

2009-2010

Palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic reconstruction at the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic site of Neumark-Nord, Germany Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst research grant for Junior Scholars

Teaching

Teaching Responsibilities

I am currently on research leave, normally I lead/contribute to the following courses:

Course Co-ordinator

  • AY2006 Test Tubes & Trowels (Undergraduate 15-credit course)
  • AY3027: Mammoths to Microliths: Life and Landscapes in Palaeolithic Europe (Undergraduate 15-credit course)
  • AY4014 Bioarchaeology (Undergraduate 15-credit course)
  • AY5001 Northern Worlds (MSc 30-credit course)

Additional Teaching

  • SX1501 Humans and Other Animals
  • ED1057 What Makes Us Human
  • AY1003 Introduction to World Prehistory
  • AY1503 Archaeology in Action
  • AY2505 The Archaeology of the North: Lifeways and Culture Change
  • AY3009 Scottish Archaeology
  • SX3012 An Appetite for Food and Health
  • AY3512 Archaeological Research Project Part I
  • AY4002 Archaeological Research Project Part II
  • AY4510 Current Issues in Archaeology
  • AY4511 Indigenous, Community and Public Archaeologies
  • AY5002 Theory and Method in Archaeological Research
  • AY5501 Northern Peoples and Cultures
  • AY5502 Advanced Archaeological Approaches
Publications

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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals