Professor Gordon Noble
MA (Aberdeen), MA (UCL), PhD (Reading), FSAScot
Professor 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 two major projects. The first, Northern Picts, is funded by the University of Aberdeen Development Trust and Historic Environment Scotland and is focused on the post-Roman societies of northern Britain. The second, Comparative Kingship, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, is examining the early royal landscapes of Ireland and Scotland.
Gordon has also worked on funded projects on topics from the Mesolithic of upper Deeside to 19th century rural settlements at Bennachie. Public engagement is a big part of his research and to date five 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', Radio 4 'In Our Time' 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. In 2012 he became Senior Lecturer, Head of Department in 2015, Reader in 2017 and Professor in 2019. He is also a Honorary Curatorial Fellow to the University Museums.
Memberships and Affiliations
- Internal Memberships
- Head of Department
- Research Theme Leader
- Honorary Curatorial Fellow to University Museums
- External Memberships
2013-16 External Examiner, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading
2017-21 External Examiner, Department of Archaeology, University of Newcastle
2018-22 External Examiner, Department of Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
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
Prehistoric and early medieval Europe with particular interests in: Scotland, Ireland, Sweden & Denmark
Comparative Kingship 2017-
The nature of the societies and social, ideological and political frameworks that filled the chasm left by the demise of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD – both within and beyond the Empire’s boundaries – is one of the most contentious debates about late- and post- Roman Europe. This project adopts an innovative interdisciplinary focus that tackles the formation of the socio-political landscapes of Northern Britain and Ireland, utilizing archaeological, historical, toponymic and palaeoenvironmental methodologies along with Bayesian-modelled chronologies, to create a new synthesis of the dramatic changes that ultimately led to the formation of the state societies that existed beyond the edges of the Roman Empire.
Funding: Leverhulme Trust Leadership Award
Northern Picts 2012-
Northern Picts is a project that aims to uncover the archaeological traces of Pictish society in northern Scotland. The project to date has had some spectacular successes. We have begun to uncover a major and undocumented Pictish royal centre at Rhynie and discovered a significant portion of a major Pictish silver hoard at Gaulcross. We have scaled sea cliffs to discover forgotten Pictish forts and centres of power. Find out more here.
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
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
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 is published by Cambridge University Press.
Funding: British Academy (PI)
Funding and Grants
- 2017-2022 Principal-Investigator, 'Comparative Kingship: the early medieval kingdoms of Northern Britain and Ireland'; Leverhulme Trust (£971,149)
- 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)
- Arts and Humanities Research Council Scottish Doctoral Training Centre PhD Studentship. Jennifer Allison 'Households of First Millennium AD Scotland' (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)
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
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The King In the North: The Pictish Realms of Fortriu and CeBirlinn, Edinburgh. 208 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
Megalithic tombs in western and northern Neolithic Europe were linked to a kindred societyPNAS, vol. 116, no. 19, pp. 9469-9474Contributions to Journals: Articles
Assessing the ploughzone: The impact of cultivation on artefact survival and the cost/benefits of topsoil stripping prior to excavationJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 23, pp. 549-558Contributions to Journals: Articles
A new chronology for crannogs in north-east ScotlandProceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 147, pp. 147-173Contributions to Journals: Articles
The development of the Pictish symbol system: inscribing identity beyond the edges of EmpireAntiquity, vol. 92, no. 365, pp. 1329-1348Contributions to Journals: Articles
Warm air and glowing pyres: Cremating bodies in the Late Neolithic of mainland ScotlandNeolithic Bodies. Bickle, P., Sibbesson, E. (eds.). Oxbow Books, pp. 74-91, 18 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
Little House in the Mountains? A small Mesolithic structure from the Cairngorm Mountains, ScotlandJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 18, pp. 936-945Contributions to Journals: Articles
The Picts in Moray: Latest Results of the Northern Picts ProjectForgotten, Hidden & Lost: Unearthing Moray's Archaeology. Trythall, J., Herbert, C. (eds.). The Moray Society, pp. 38-48, 11 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
Rhynie: new perspectives on settlement in Pictland in the 5th and 6th centuries AD and the context of Pictish symbol stonesLife on the Edge. Semple, S., Orsini, C., Mui, S., Landesmuseum, B. (eds.). KrebsChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
Early Medieval Shellfish Exploitation in Northwest Europe: Investigations at the Sands of Forvie Shell Middens, Eastern Scotland, and the Role of Coastal Resources in the First Millennium ADJournal of Island & Coastal Archaeology, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 582-605Contributions to Journals: Articles