Geoarchaeology and Environmental History Research Cluster, University of Stirling

Geoarchaeology and Environmental History Research Cluster, University of Stirling

Directeur/Director : Simpson Ian (

Coordonnées/Contact details : Biological and Environmental Sciences, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland UK.

Description :

The University of Stirling is internationally recognised for its geoarchaeology and environmental history research programmes that seek to understand the complex relationships between societies and environments in the past. Our focus is on environmental and cultural records in soils, sediments and landscapes. From these records we give historical depth to contemporary environmental issues, elucide long-term human interactions with environmental processes, contribute to discussions on cultural and national identities as they relate to environments and landscapes, and provide a foundation for natural and cultural heritage resources management. Nine full-time academic and research staff are active within this important research arena; we integrate with historians at Stirling through the Centre for Environmental History (CEH) and with research colleagues in different parts of the world including Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Greece.

Our research is currently supported by NERC, AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, Carnegie Trust and Historic Scotland, with external research funding secured to 2011. We house the Stirling Micromorphology Laboratory for the manufacture and analyses of soil and sediment thin sections – including advanced image analyses facilities and SEM-EDX. We are also home to the Virtual Landscape centre, recreating ancient and archaeological landscapes from integrated geomorphological, palaeonological and historical data sets. Published output in international peer reviewed journals is extensive and we contribute to national and international cultural heritage policy issues and initiatives through Historic Scotland, English Heritage and UNESCO. The CEH is also the foundation of the MRes in Environmental History and undergraduate taught units at all levels

One key emphasis within our research group is in geoarchaeology – the understanding of soil- and sediment- based cultural records, where soils or sediments in the landscape retain relict and fossil soil properties associated with early human activity (anthrosols). Our recent innovative advances (part of the science-based archaeology research community) include theoretical frameworks of landscape and historical ecology, novel micro-analytical and micro-image analyses of soils and sediments in thin sections, soils biomarker analyses and process modelling of early soil-landscape-climate interaction. These advances are permitting new insights into land resource utilisation and organisation by early societies together with their environmental consequences and are complementing, enhancing and challenging documentary and archaeological sources. Projects on these themes have been based in such countries as Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Chad and Greece. All projects involve collaboration with archaeologists and other environmental specialists.

Projets de recherche/Research projects :
– Footprints on the Edge of Thule
– Landscapes circum Landnám
– The Papar project
– Agents of Change: Human and Social Dynamics in Mynatnssveit, Iceland, from the Settlement to the present

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