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UK Fellow, Archaeology, elected in 2007

Professor Bryony Coles FBA

Prehistoric archaeology; wetlands, environmental change and human responses, landscapes of the North Sea Plain, the European beaver, anthropomorphic wooden figurines, the heritage management of wetlands.
Bryony Coles profile picture

About this Fellow

After A-Levels in Biology, French and History, I read history at Bristol University, and volunteered on several archaeological excavations (1965-68). I then took a postgraduate diploma course at the London Institute of Archaeology, followed by an MPhil in Anthropology at UCL. In 1972 I was appointed Lecturer in Prehistoric Archaeology at Exeter University. My first major research project, co-directed with Prof John Coles FBA, was based in the peatlands of the Somerset Levels, investigating the well-preserved archaeological and environmental evidence of the wetlands ahead of peat extraction. The exceptional preservation of organics enabled new areas of research, such as prehistoric woodland exploitation and wood-working. The results were published in Somerset Levels Papers (1975-1989), and Sweet Track to Glastonbury. From 1986 onwards we co-ordinated WARP, an international network of wetland archaeologists and, with English Heritage, contributed to the development of wetland heritage management in the UK and mainland Europe. In the mid 1990s a British Academy Research Readership led amongst other publications to 'Doggerland: a speculative survey'. Following this, I embarked on a series of beaver-related projects which combined fieldwork in present-day beaver territories in mainland Europe with archaeology, ecology, history and palaeo-environmental studies. This research is on-going, increasingly multi-disciplinary, and attracting new audiences thanks to current public interest in beaver re-introductions.


Current post

  • Emeritus Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Exeter

Past Appointments

  • Reader in Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Exeter, 1990 - 1996
  • Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Exeter, 1996 - 1970
  • Emeritus Professor, University of Exeter, 2008 - 1970
  • Emeritus Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Exeter, 2008 - 1970
  • Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Exeter, 1996 - 2008
  • Lecturer in Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Exeter, 1972 - 1970
  • Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Exeter, 1996 - 2008


Wetland Management: a survey for English Heritage WARP Occasional Paper 9. 1995


Anthropomorphic Wooden Figurines from Britain and Ireland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 1990, vol.56, 315-333


Anthropology for Archaeologists 1981


Sweet Track to Glastonbury 1986


Doggerland: a speculative survey Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 64, 45-81 1998


Beavers in Britain's Past 2006


Other Archaeology Fellows

Dr Leonardo López Luján

The politics, religion, and art of Pre-Columbian urban societies in Central Mexico; the history and development of Mesoamerican archaeology

Professor Charlotte Roberts

Studies archaeological human remains; her key research interests are contextual approaches to past human health (palaeopathology); ethical considerations and and human remains; the relevance of past health to contemporary health; evolutionary approaches to the origin and history of infectious diseases; big data projects in palaeopathology; public engagement

Professor Matthew Collins

Biomolecular archaeology; interdisciplinary approaches for the recovery and interpretation of molecular signals from ancient materials, with a specific focus on proteins and their breakdown products

Professor Michael Parker Pearson

The prehistory of Britain and western Europe from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. The archaeology of death and burial. The archaeology of Madagascar. Stonehenge and its landscape