Landscape, Climate and Lived Environment Research Cluster

What is LCLE?

LCLE studies the human past focusing on the lived experienced within rural and urban environments. Our cluster spans all periods, from the Palaeolithic to post-medieval. We have many different approaches, analysing evidence on a wide range of scales, from the microscopic to the supraregional and global. Our methods range from palaeoclimatic research, through geoarchaeolgoical approaches to analysis of human perceptions of space and travel through both landscapes and townscapes. We work in close collaboration with colleagues in the Centre for Past Climate Change (CPCC), the Built Environment research division and School of Architecture.

Who is LCLE?

Academic Staff


Professor Martin Bell's research concerns the contribution which archaeology makes to understanding environmental and landscape change on diverse temporal and spatial scales. Analytically he is interested in the analysis of soils, sediments and molluscs, land and marine. Topics include coastal and wetland geoarchaeology with current projects in the Severn Estuary, Somerset Levels and Kennet valley. There is a particular focus on Mesolithic wetlands and prehistory. A current project involves the identification and dating of prehistoric routeways including palaeoenvironmental and landscape archaeological approaches. A long-standing interest is experimental archaeology and how it contributes to understanding activity areas and formation processes.


Dr Stuart Black specialises in isotope geochemistry and its application to archaeological science, palaeoclimate reconstruction and environmental sciences. He is one of the UK's leading experts on U-Series isotopes and using isotopes for provenance and chronological investigations. He has palaeoclimate projects underway currently investigating tufa deposits in UK, and connecting speleothem and lake records in Middle East (SPAM). He also has an interest in provenancing and sourcing honey and wax products, working with University of Oxford Plant Sciences, British Honey Company and Westminster Abbey in conjunction with Imprint Project and sourcing carnivores and their environmental and archaeological significance. Stuart also has an interest in Forensic Archaeology and is used regularly in forensic investigations.


Dr Nick Branch is palaeoecologist who specialises in pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, testate amoebae and phytoliths for past environmental and climate reconstruction. His interests include Holocene climate and vegetation history of the central Mediterranean (Italy and Corsica), with a focus on the impact of prehistoric farming on the environment, and the response of human groups to climate change. His research in South America examines the impact of climate change on past civilisations in the Peruvian Andes with an emphasis on terrace agriculture, and collaborates with stakeholders to investigate the implications of climate change on current and future terrace restoration projects.


Ms Amanda Clarke explores townscapes of the past, having directed excavations at the Roman towns of Silchester and Pompeii with Prof. Mike Fulford. She also directs the Department's fieldschool which is currently exploring the prehistoric landscape of the Vale of Pewsey in work combining excavation and other survey methods with Dr Jim Leary and Prof Martin Bell.


Dr John Creighton has research interests in Later Iron Age and Roman period. He has worked on a range of oppida and town sites across Western Europe. In Spain this included two Roman towns in Andalucia: Celti and Italica. In Burgundy, he examined the landscape around the major Late Iron Age oppidum of Bibracte and a contemporary oppida-like site at the Sources de l'Yonne. More recently he has worked in the UK on Silchester Roman town. Projects integrate aerial photography, survey, excavation, often within GIS; and use geophysical data in novel ways to indicate activity areas and lived experience within urban environments.


Professor Dominik Fleitmann specialises in palaeoclimatology and geochemistry to investigate the impact of climatic changes on human evolution and societies. He has been leading major projects in Europe and the Middle East to develop precisely-dated and highly-resolved climate reconstructions covering the Holocene (last 10,500 years) and Pleistocene (last 2.5 Ma). His research also aimed at developing new analytical methods to improve climate reconstructions from stalagmites. Current projects focus on climate and dispersal of hominins across the Middle East and impact of abrupt climatic events on complex societies in Europe and Asia. Dominik's research is supported by a global network of collaborators.


Dr Duncan Garrow has research interests in European later prehistory (with a particular focus on Britain) and archaeological theory. He is currently co-director of the AHRC-funded Grave Goods project, investigating the changing character and meanings of objects in burials in later prehistoric Britain. As part of the Stepping Stones project and Hebridean crannogs project, he has been exploring the relationship between people, changing environments and the sea during the Neolithic, as well as investigating human mobility across both land- and seascapes. He is also researching a book exploring the 'ritual' deposition of material culture in British prehistory.


Dr Robert Hosfield is currently questioning what life was like for Europe's earliest humans. He is exploring this from the perspective of climatic and environmental challenges, such as lower annual temperatures, marked seasonality and reduced plant foods, focusing on survival strategies. These questions are central to his current research projects, publications (Hosfield 2016; an ongoing book on a 'year in the life' of the earliest Europeans) and research students (a new project is exploring the visibility of fire and shelter evidence in the Lower Palaeolithic from an experimental perspective). Rob is keen to hear from potential research students interested in exploring the hominin lived experience, including experimental approaches.


Dr Jim Leary specialises in prehistoric monuments and their landscapes. In 2007/8, he directed the major excavations into Silbury Hill; which sits within one of the country's foremost prehistoric landscapes at Avebury. Jim is currently directing excavations in the Vale of Pewsey between Stonehenge and Avebury, and is investigating large mounds and their settings across England. His future work will include an investigation of the prehistoric wetland landscape at Skipsea in Yorkshire, as well as a prehistoric complex at Sonning, Berkshire. His other interests include human movement and mobility in archaeology, and the submerged prehistoric landscapes of the North Sea.


Professor Frank Mayle is a tropical palaeoecologist who works on the application of palaeoecological techniques (in particular, fossil pollen, phytoliths and charcoal from lake sediments and/or soils) to investigate the patterns and causes of long-term vegetation dynamics in Amazonia and elsewhere in tropical South America. He works on millennial, Holocene, and Quaternary glacial-interglacial time frames and interactions between past climate change, human land use, fire, and Neotropical ecosystems. His research is characterised by inter-disciplinary collaboration, especially with ecologists, archaeologists, palaeo-climatologists, and modellers.


Professor Roger Matthews researches ancient societies of the Middle East, especially in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Within the Neolithic, he co-directs with Wendy Matthews the Central Zagros Archaeological Project, investigating the early transition from mobile hunter-forager to settled farmer-herder. In this project, inter-disciplinary approaches are taken to landscape and environment issues relating to early farming villages, including coring of ancient lakes in the Kermanshah region of western Iran in collaboration with the Faculty of Geography of Tehran University. Within the Bronze Age, Roger is exploring the landscapes of inter-city interaction that characterise early Mesopotamia (south Iraq) at 3000-2500 BC, in particular through analysis of early administrative systems, including the earliest written texts and sealed clay documents.


Dr Wendy Matthews researches early agricultural and urban communities and lifeways in the Middle East, by social and scientific analysis of the architectural materials and microarchaeological residues within built environments. She is co-director of the Central Zagros Archaeological Project, with Roger Matthews and researchers in Iraq and Iran, and team leader of micromorphological analyses at the World Heritage site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey and the early city of Ur, Iraq.


Dr Gundula Mueldner specialises in stable isotope analysis of skeletal remains for the characterisation of human and animal diet and mobility to investigate life histories, identity and standards of living as well as social and economic transitions. Her work has included large scale diachronic studies of human and animal diets (in York or coastal Belgium) as well as investigations into diet, mobility and identity in Roman Britain (e.g. the 'Headless Romans' of York).


Dr Aleks Pluskowski specialises in the environmental archaeology of medieval Europe, particularly biodiversity, relations with large carnivores and the use of animals as material culture. His research focuses on the related processes of conquest, colonisation and religious conversion at the frontiers of Europe. He recently finished a major international project in the Eastern Baltic investigating the environmental impact of the emergence of the crusader states, and is developing a follow-up project on the Reconquest in Iberia.


Dr Gabor Thomas's research explores how landscape, place and built environment were manipulated in the negotiation of political and religious identity in early medieval society. He has developed a particular interest in landscapes of power and political authority through his major programme of excavations at Lyminge, Kent, and his AHRC-funded academic network examining sites of royal residence in early medieval northern Europe.


Dr Kevin White has research interests in dryland geomorphology, in particular fluvial & aeolian processes, weathering, soils and geochemistry. He is also researching remote sensing techniques, in particular processing of optical and radar data for studying environmental processes in dryland and temperate geomorphological settings and their uses in past and present human societies.

Emeritus and Visiting Staff

Professor Grenville Astill specialises in monasticism, industry, urban and rural settlement in medieval North Western Europe. He leads one of the longest running and most extensive research projects on a medieval monastery at Bordesley Abbey ( alongside a reconsideration of the process of medieval urbanisation. He has also conducted a research project in Brittany which tracks change in the countryside from the later Bronze Age to the 1920s using a combination of archaeological, documentary and building evidence.

Dr Petra Dark's research interests lie in the analysis of pollen and other plant remains to shed light on the role of human activity in long-term environment change and the effects of climate change on land use, the archaeology of plant disease, and landscape archaeology. Her key research areas include the early Mesolithic site of Star Carr, Mesolithic-Neolithic environments in the Severn Estuary, and Hadrian's Wall. She is the author of The Environment of Britain in the First Millennium AD; and co-author of The Landscape of Roman Britain, and Star Carr in Context.

Professor John Allen FRS, is a geoarchaeologst's who had a distinguished career as a one of the UK's leading sedimentologist, leading the Postgraduate Institute for Sedimentology. He has research interests in geoarchaeology, particularly the archaeology of building stone and its uses and sedimentology of the coastal zone

Professor Peter Worsley is a Quaternary geologist specialising is geomorphology of cold climates, particularly permafrost and glacial deposits.


Research Fellows/Post-doctoral Research Assistants

Dr Rowena Banerjea

Dr Robert Batchelor

Dr Catherine Barnett

Dr Mike Simmonds

Dr Alex Smith

Technical Support

Dr Rob Fry


PhD students working on LCLE topics:

  • Kirsten Barr
  • Matthew Bosomworth
  • Paul Flintoft
  • Josie Handley
  • Matthew Jacobson
  • Elaine Jamieson
  • Sarah Jones
  • Zoe Knapp
  • Scott Midgley
  • Mitchell Miranda
  • Sam Nicholson
  • Maria Rabbani
  • Rebecca Scott
  • Elspeth St. John Brooks
  • Krystyna Truscoe

Impact and Research


The following projects have characterised the research of the LCLE group:


Recent projects:

Earlier projects


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