Dr Kate Britton

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

Senior Lecturer

Dr Kate Britton
Dr Kate Britton

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 273823
The University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences
University of Aberdeen
Room 210, St. Mary's
Elphinstone Road
AB24 3UF

Follow Kate on Research Gate or Twitter @WhatKatieDigs


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. Kate also holds a position as an Associate Research Scientist at the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig.


Research Interests

Kate is an archaeological scientist, 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, and the stable isotope chemistry of body tissues. 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.

Current Research

Research Grants


Philip Leverhulme Prize in Archaeology

The Leverhulme Trust

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])

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 Responsibilities

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

Course Co-ordinator

  • AY2006 Test Tubes & Trowels (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
Further Info

Admin Responsibilities

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

PhD Students

Current PhD students:

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

Orsolya Czére (AHRC-funded, with Historic Environment Scotland, 2016 - )

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

Sarah Pederzani (MPI-EVA/Leiden/Aberdeen, 2016 - )

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

John Graham (Aberdeen, 2016 - )

Othering and Ordering in Middle Palaeolithic Archaeology

Past PhD students:

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 



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  • Ameen, C, Hulme-Beaman, A, Evin, A, Germonpré, M, Britton, K, Cucchi, T, Larson, G & Dobney, K 2017, 'A landmark-based approach for assessing the reliability of mandibular tooth crowding as a marker of dog domestication', Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 85, pp. 41-50. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2017.06.014
  • Britton, K 2017, 'A stable relationship: isotopes and bioarchaeology are in it for the long haul', Antiquity, vol. 91, no. 358, pp. 853–864. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2017.98
  • Gigleux, C, Richards, MP, Curtis, N, Hutchison, M & Britton, K 2017, 'Reconstructing diet at the Neolithic stalled cairn of the Knowe of Rowiegar, Rousay, Orkney, using stable isotope analysis', Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 13, pp. 272-280. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.03.048
  • Buchan, M, Müldner, G, Ervynck, A & Britton, K 2016, 'Season of birth and sheep husbandry in late Roman and Medieval coastal Flanders: a pilot study using tooth enamel δ18O analysis', Environmental Archaeology, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 260-270. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1179/1749631414Y.0000000055
  • Britton, K, Fuller, BT, Tütken, T, Mays, S & Richards, MP 2015, 'Oxygen Isotope Analysis of Human Bone Phosphate Evidences Weaning Age in Archaeological Populations', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 157, no. 2, pp. 226-241. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22704
  • Forbes, V, Britton, K & Knecht, R 2015, 'Preliminary archaeoentomological analyses of permafrost-preserved cultural layers from the pre-contact Yup’ik Eskimo site of Nunalleq, Alaska: implications, potential and methodological considerations', Environmental Archaeology, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 158-167. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1179/1749631414Y.0000000037
  • Mueldner, G, Britton, K & Ervynck, A 2014, 'Inferring animal husbandry strategies in coastal zones through stable isotope analysis: new evidence from the Flemish coastal plain (Belgium, 1st–15th century AD)', Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 41, pp. 322-332. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2013.08.010
  • Farrell, TFG, Jordan, P, Taché, K, Lucquin, A, Gibbs, KT, Jorge, A, Britton, K, Craig, OE & Knecht, R 2014, 'Specialized Processing of Aquatic Resources in Prehistoric Alaskan Pottery? A Lipid-Residue Analysis of Ceramic Sherds from the Thule-Period Site of Nunalleq, Alaska', Arctic Anthropology, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 86–100. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.3368/aa.51.1.86
  • Britton, K, Gaudzinski-Windheuser, S, Roebroeks, W, Kindler, L & Richards, MP 2014, Stable isotope evidence for herbivore palaeoecology at Neumark-Nord 2. in S Gaudzinski-Windheuser & W Roebroeks (eds), Multidisciplinary studies of the Middle Palaeolihic record from Neumark-Nord (Germany). Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt, Halle an der Saale, pp. 211-220.
  • Raghavan, M, DeGiorgio, M, Albrechtsen, A, Moltke, I, Skoglund, P, Korneliussen, TS, Grønnow, B, Appelt, M, Gulløv, HC, Friesen, TM, Fitzhugh, W, Malmström, H, Rasmussen, S, Olsen, J, Melchior, L, Fuller, BT, Fahrni, SM, Stafford Jr., T, Grimes, V, Renouf, MAP, Cybulski, J, Lynnerup, N, Lahr, MM, Britton, K, Knecht, R, Arneborg, J, Metspalu, M, Cornejo, OE, Malaspinas, A-S, Wang, Y, Rasmussen, M, Raghavan, V, Hansen, TVO, Khusnutdinova, E, Pierre, T, Dneprovsky, K, Andreasen, C, Lange, H, Hayes, MG, Coltrain, J, Spitsyn, VA, Götherström, A, Orlando, L, Kivisild, T, Villems, R, Crawford, MH, Nielsen, FC, Dissing, J, Heinemeier, J, Meldgaard, M, Bustamante, C, O’Rourke, DH, Jakobsson, M, Gilbert, MTP, Nielsen, R & Willerslev, E 2014, 'The genetic prehistory of the New World Arctic', Science, vol. 345, no. 6200, pp. 1020-1029. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1255832
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