I was born in Glasgow on 8 July 1941, am an archaeologist and author, live in East Riding with Madeleine Hummler and have six children Emma, Jay, Freddie, Gevi, Jacques and Louis.

I have had three careers so far, and have just embarked on a fourth:

  • Army Officer (1958-1972)
    The armed services were the family business: my maternal grandfather was Admiral Sir Hugh Tweedie RN who fought at Jutland, and my paternal grandfather Oswald Carver, who was killed at Gallipoli. His widow, Betty, married Field Marshall Montgomery, aka Monty. I went to Sandhurst at 17 (1958), was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment at 19, and served in Germany (cold and wet) with tanks, Aden (hot and dry) with armoured cars and Malaya and Borneo (hot and wet) with armoured cars and on foot. I attended the Military College of Science at Shrivenham (1965-67; I got a BSc) and was soon back in Germany where I served as adjutant of the Fourth Royal Tank Regiment (1968-70). I then resigned and was given a job managing tank production to eke out my service until release in the rank of captain in 1972.

  • Free-lance archaeologist (1974-1986)
    I spent my gratuity doing a one-year diploma at Durham in Anglo-Saxon studies (1973-4). Then I went free-lance (1974-1986), the best time of my life, undertaking excavations and/or studies of sites of the first millennium AD in Durham, Shrewsbury, Lichfield, Worcester and Stafford for the English government; at Manerba del Garda and Castel Seprio for the Italian government; at 40 (mainly southern) towns for the French Government; and at Achir, haut plateau, for the Algerian government. This all got published (see list) and some general overviews of early medieval urbanism also got done (1987, 1993). During this time I moved to a slightly more secure base by founding the Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit (at Birmingham), which worked on an annual funding cycle. In about 1980, this was replaced by project funding, ie we lost government support in Britain and went to the private sector for our livelihoods.

In 1983 the site of Sutton Hoo, excavated in 1938-39, was brought back to life with a new campaign and I got the job of directing it. Over a hectare was opened (1983-1992) and the field programme was noted for its (then) innovative approach to evaluation, project design, integrated fieldwork and fancy techniques. Seven burial mounds were dissected, all of the 7th century AD, including a horse-burial (Mound 17) and a distressed ship burial (Mound 2), and the excavations also brought to light two execution cemeteries, where non-compliant young men (and a few women) were done to death by the new Christian authorities of the 8-11th centuries AD. A multi-author review of the seventh century in north-west Europe was published as The Age of Sutton Hoo in 1992; a popular synthesis of the campaign was published in 1998 (Sutton Hoo Burial Ground of Kings?) and the full report (drafted 1997) was published in 2005.

  • University Professor (1986-2008)
    Half-way through the Sutton Hoo campaign, the University of York appointed me as their Professor of Archaeology, and no-one was more surprised than I was - I had no degree in archaeology and had never taught an undergraduate. However nothing teaches you faster than teaching others, and soon I was inventing courses: the Development of World Archaeology and Field Research Procedure for undergraduates, and, for graduates, MAs in Early Medieval Europe (The Age of Sutton Hoo), Field Archaeology, the Archaeology of Buildings and Archaeological Heritage Management.

Following Sutton Hoo, I went north to eastern Scotland, the land of the Picts, and excavated the first Pictish monastery to see the light of modern day at Portmahomack, with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Tarbat Historic Trust. Beside the still-surviving church of St Colman were the remains of a mill pond and dam and workshops making vellum and church plate, and more than 200 fragments of carved stone from four monumental stone crosses and numerous grave markers. The monastery lasted from 6-9th century, when it was burnt down by Vikings, but it was reborn as a metal-workshop (9-11th centuries) and then as a parish church (from the 11th century onwards). The work is reported in an interim account for the general reader Portmahomack Monastery of the Picts (EUP 2008). I also published a popular account of the Picts called Surviving in Symbols: a visit to the Pictish Nation (Birlinn 1999). The full report is in preparation with co-director Cecily Spall.

  • Free-lance writer
    As is the practice in England, I was retired from the university at 67, so went back to the free-lance life I have (anyway) always preferred. This concerns editing and writing archaeology books, either for a fee, or for a publisher in the hope that someone will buy them. In 2003 I was appointed editor of the leading world archaeology journal Antiquity (founded 1927). This is the best job in archaeology (anywhere) but 10 years is the maximum term for an editor so I reluctantly relinquished the reins in 2012. I have also made contributions to TV and radio (see publications) and sat on numerous panels, which apportion grants to researchers both junior and senior (see esteem). I give a dozen or so public lectures a year (see lectures) and I don’t ask for money (but I’ll accept it if you insist). I have plenty to do, but am always on the look out for something new and exciting. Hence this website!

  • Appointments

Principal Appointments:

1958 1972: Army Officer in Royal Tank Regiment
1968-1971: Adjutant, 4th Royal Tank Regiment
1971-1972: Ministry of Defence. Retired in rank of Captain.
1973 1974: Postgraduate student, University of Durham
1974 1977: Director, West Midlands Rescue Archaeology Committee (WEMRAC)
1977 1986: Director, Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit
1983: Appointed Director, Sutton Hoo Research Trust
1986: Appointed Professor of Archaeology at University of York
1986-1996: Head of Archaeology Department
1996-: Research Director, Tarbat Discovery Programme
2001-2: Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York
2003-2012: Editor, Antiquity
2008: Emeritus professor, University of York
2016-2021. PI ERC Project Sicily in Transition The Archaeology of Regime Change


1983 Research Director, Sutton Hoo Research Trust
1986 Professor and Head of Department of Archaeology, University of York
1992 Director, Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd
1995 Research Director and Board Member Director, Tarbat Historic Trust
1999 Chairman, FAS-Heritage (formerly Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd)
2001-2 Director, Centre for Medieval Studies
2004-12 Director, Antiquity Publications Ltd
2015-2023 Director/Trustee The Sutton Hoo Ship's Company (Chair 2021-2023)
2016-2023 PI ERC Project 693600 Sicily in Transition

Various Jobs and Plaudits

1981 Elected FSA (London)
1982 Founding secretary, Institute of Field Archaeologists
1984-9 Editor and Presenter TV documentaries on Sutton Hoo for BBC
1986-1996 Head of Archaeology Department, University of York; Member of Council, Senate, Research Committee, Innovation and Research Priming panelist
1994 Elected FSA (Scot)
1996 Danish Government Research Competition How to be better than Good; Archaeology panel
1996 British Arts and Humanities Research Board. Panel member
1999 Council of Society of Antiquaries
1999 Council of the Irish Discovery Programme
1999 Irish Arts and Humanities Research Board, Panel member
1999 Runner up British Archaeological Awards Book of the Year for Sutton Hoo Burial Ground of Kings?
2000 Member, National Trust Advisory Committee on Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre
2001-2 Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies, York
2001 People of Today; Who’s who in the world
2001 Runner up. Wedgwood Sponsorship Award for Tarbat Historic Trust
2002 Elected corresponding member German Archaeological Institute
2002-6 Executive Committee, Society of Antiquaries
2003-12 Editor, Antiquity
2003- Who’s who
2003-6 Vice President Society of Antiquaries of London
2003 Consultant for Excavation proposals at Gamla Uppsala (Sweden)
2004 Prize-winner. English Heritage/CADW/Historic Scotland Open prize for communicating research to the public (BAAS meeting, Exeter; for a lecture on Portmahomack).
2005 Panel Member, Archaeology, British AHRC Subject Review
2005-7 Panel Member, Archaeology and Classics, British AHRC Post-graduate awards
2005 Runner up; Association of Learned and Professional Publishers Prize; for Antiquity
2006-7 Panel Member Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
2006 Runner-up, BAA Scholarly Book of the Year for Sutton Hoo. A Seventh-century burial ground and its context
2008 University of Cork Quality Review Panel member
2008 Professor Emeritus, University of York
2009 Peer-reviews for Australian Research Council
2009, 2010 Peer-reviews for INSTAR, Irish Heritage Council
2009 Scottish Archaeological Research Forum, Panel Member
2009 Panel member H6 European Research Council (Advanced Grant)
2009 English Heritage Maritime Strategy panel co-chair
2009 Elected Honorary Member of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists
2010 Prize Winner, British Archaeological Awards, Best Project (Portmahomack)
2010 Appointed Vice-President, Society for Medieval Archaeology
2011 Voted runner-up (by the audience) at the The Best in Heritage presentations in Dubrovnik
2011 Elected Honorary Fellow of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
2011 Panel member H6 European Research Council (Advanced Grant)
2012 Short-listed for Current Archaeology Archaeologist of the Year
2013 Short-listed for Current Archaeology Book of the Year (Making Archaeology Happen)
2013 Panel member H6 European Research Council (Consolidator Grant)
2015 Panel member H6 European Research Council (Consolidator Grant)
2015 Prize winner Heritage Prize of the European Association of Archaeologists
2016-2023 PI ERC project 693600 Sicily in Transition
2020 Current Archaeology Awards Short-listed for Book of the Year (Formative Britain)
2020 Elected Fellow of the British Academy