Barry Cunliffe

Sir Barrington Windsor Cunliffe CBE FBA FSA (born 10 December 1939), known as Barry Cunliffe, is a British archaeologist and academic. He was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2007. Since 2007, he has been an Emeritus Professor.


Dolphin mosaic
The dolphin mosaic found by Cunliffe's team at Fishbourne

Cunliffe's decision to become an archaeologist was sparked at the age of nine by the discovery of Roman remains on his uncle's farm in Somerset.[1] After studying at Portsmouth Northern Grammar School (now the Mayfield School) and reading archaeology and anthropology at the University of Cambridge, he became a lecturer at the University of Bristol in 1963. Fascinated by the Roman remains in nearby Bath he embarked on a programme of excavation and publication.

In 1966 he became an unusually young professor when he took the chair at the newly founded Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton. There he became involved in the excavation (1961–68) of the Fishbourne Roman Palace in Sussex. Another site in southern England led him away from the Roman period. He began a long series of summer excavations (1969–88) of the Iron Age hill fort at Danebury, Hampshire and was subsequently involved in the Danebury Environs Programme (1989–95). His interest in Iron Age Britain and Europe generated a number of publications and he became an acknowledged authority on the Celts.

Other sites he has worked on include Hengistbury Head in Dorset, Mount Batten in Devon, Le Câtel in Jersey, and Le Yaudet in Brittany, reflecting his interest in the communities of Atlantic Europe during the Iron Age. In his later works he sets out the thesis that Celtic culture originated along the length of the Atlantic seaboard in the Bronze Age before being taken inland, which stands in contrast to the more generally accepted view that Celtic origins lie with the Hallstatt culture of the Alps. One of his most recent projects has been in the Najerilla valley, La Rioja, Spain, which straddles "the interface between the Celtiberian heartland of central Iberia and the Atlantic zone of the Bay of Biscay".[2]

Cunliffe lives with his wife in Oxford.

Cunliffe inspired the name for the character "Currant Bunliffe", an archaeologist in David Macaulay's 1979 book, Motel of the Mysteries.

Positions and honours


  • The Roman Occupation, Introduction, Cumberland and Westmorland, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Harmondsworth: Penguin (1967)
  • Roman Hampshire, Introduction, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Harmondsworth: Penguin (1967)
  • The Roman Occupation, Introduction, Worcestershire, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Harmondsworth: Penguin (1968)
  • Roman Kent, Introduction, North East and East Kent, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Harmondsworth: Penguin (1969)
  • Fishbourne: A Roman Palace and Its Garden (1971)
  • The Regni (1973) in the 'Peoples of Roman Britain series Ed.Keith Brannigan, pub. Duckworth (1973) ISBN 0-7156-0699-9
  • Iron Age Communities in Britain (1974) ISBN 0-7100-8725-X (4th edition, Jan 2005)
  • Excavations in Bath 1950-1975 (1979)
  • Danebury: Anatomy of an Iron Age Hillfort (1983)
  • Roman Bath Discovered (1984)
  • The Celtic World (1987)
  • Greeks, Romans and Barbarians (1988)
  • Wessex to AD 1000 (1993)
  • The Ancient Celts (1997) ISBN 0-14-025422-6
  • Facing the Ocean: The Atlantic and Its Peoples, 8000 BC to AD 1500 (2001, Oxford University Press)
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe (2001)
  • The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek: The Man Who Discovered Britain (2001), Walker & Co; ISBN 0-8027-1393-9 (2002 Penguin ed. with new post-script: ISBN 0-14-200254-2)
  • The Celts: A Very Short Introduction (2003), Oxford University Press
  • England's Landscape: The West (English Heritage 2006)
  • Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC-AD 1000 (2008) ISBN 0-300-11923-2
  • A Valley in La Rioja: The Najerilla Project, with Gary Lock (Oxford Univ School of Archaeology 2010)
  • Druids: A Very Short Introduction (2010), Oxford University Press
  • Celtic from the West. Alternative perspectives from archaeology, genetics and literature. (Oxford: Oxbow Books). 2010.
  • Britain Begins (Oxford University Press 2012)
  • By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia (Oxford University Press 2015)


  1. ^ History Today, vol 50, issue #9 "Digging for Joy"
  2. ^ publisher notes, Cunliffe, B, Lock, G, A Valley in La Rioja: The Najerilla Project
  3. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  4. ^ "No. 53696". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1994. p. 9.
  5. ^ Honours: 'Jewel in the Crown' star appointed OBE. The Independent. 17 June 2006. Accessed 2 October 2008.

External links

1983 in archaeology

The year 1983 in archaeology involved some significant events.

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? was a popular television game show which ran from 1952 to 1959. In the show, a panel of archeologists, art historians, and natural history experts were asked to identify interesting objects or artifacts from museums from Britain and abroad, and other faculties, including university collections.The quiz show was presented by the BBC, continuing a long history of bringing contributors to archaeology into the media limelight. Writing in 1953, the critic C.A. Lejeune described the show as having "a sound, full-bodied, vintage flavour".

Antiquity (journal)

Antiquity is an academic journal dedicated to the subject of archaeology. It publishes six issues a year, covering topics worldwide from all periods. Its current editor is Robert Witcher, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Durham. Since 2015, the journal has been published by Cambridge University Press.Antiquity was founded by the British archaeologist O. G. S. Crawford in 1927. The journal is owned by the Antiquity Trust, a registered charity. The current trustees are Graeme Barker, Amy Bogaard, Robin Coningham, Barry Cunliffe, Roberta Gilchrist, Chris Gosden, Anthony Harding, Paul Mellars, Martin Millett, Nicky Milner, Stephanie Moser, and Cameron Petrie.

Atlantic Europe

Atlantic Europe is a geographical and anthropological term for the western portion of Europe which borders the Atlantic Ocean. The term may refer to the idea of Atlantic Europe as a cultural unit and/or as a biogeographical region.

It comprises the Atlantic Isles (Great Britain and Ireland), Iceland, Belgium, the Netherlands, the central and northern regions of Portugal, northwestern and northern Spain (including Galicia, the Southern Basque Country), the southwestern and western portion of France (Northern Basque Country), western Scandinavia and northern Germany.

Weather and overall physical conditions are relatively similar along this area (with the exception of parts of Scandinavia and the Baltic), resulting in similar landscapes with common endemic plant and animal species. From a strictly physical point of view most of the Atlantic European shoreline can be considered a single biogeographical region. Physical geographers label this biogeographical area as the European Atlantic Domain, part of the Euro-Siberian botanic region.

Aylesford-Swarling pottery

Aylesford-Swarling pottery is part of a tradition of wheel-thrown pottery distributed around Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire and named after two cemeteries in Kent dating to the 1st century BC. The tradition reached Britain with the so-called Belgic invasion of the 1st century BC and may also be loosely termed Belgic ware. Whether there was actual migration, or how much, or whether "this culture developed because of the proximity of Roman trading systems, rather than a wholesale movement of continental peoples" remains the subject of debate.A cemetery of the British Iron Age discovered in 1886 at Aylesford in Kent was excavated under the leadership of Sir Arthur Evans, and published in 1890. With the later excavation by others at Swarling not far away (discovery to publication was 1921-1925) this is the type site for Aylesford-Swarling pottery or the Aylesford-Swarling culture, which included the first wheel-made pottery in Britain. Evans' conclusion that the site belonged to a culture closely related to the continental Belgae, remains the modern view, though the dating has been refined to the period after about 75 BC. His analysis of the site was still regarded as "an outstanding contribution to Iron Age studies" with "a masterly consideration of the metalwork" by Sir Barry Cunliffe in 2012.


The Cassi were a tribe of Iron Age Britain in the first century BCE. They are known only from a brief mention in the writings of Julius Caesar. They may have been one of the four tribes of Kent, represented in Caesar by references to the "four kings of that region" and in the archaeological record by distinct pottery assemblages.During Julius Caesar's second invasion of Britain in 54 BCE, following Caesar's military success and restoration of King Mandubracius to power over the Trinovantes, opposition to the Romans coalesced around the figure of Cassivellaunus which led to divided loyalties among the Britons, as Caesar records. Emissaries of five British tribes, including the Cassi (the others being the Ancalites, the Segontiaci, the Cenimagni and the Bibroci), arrived at the Roman camp to treat for peace, and agreed to reveal details of Cassivellaunus' stronghold. Caesar besieged him there and brought him to terms. When Caesar left Britain he took hostages from the Britons, although which tribes were compelled to give any is not specified.The archaeologists Graham Webster and Barry Cunliffe both agree that nothing more is known about them, but it has been suggested that between Caesar's second invasion and the invasion of Claudius in AD 43 that the Cassi along with other tribes such as the Ancalites and Bibroci merged to form the Catuvellauni, and that Cassivellaunus may have been a member of the Cassi tribe.

Celtic polytheism

Celtic polytheism, commonly known as Celtic paganism, comprises the religious beliefs and practices adhered to by the Iron Age people of Western Europe now known as the Celts, roughly between 500 BCE and 500 CE, spanning the La Tène period and the Roman era, and in the case of the Insular Celts the British and Irish Iron Age.

Celtic polytheism was one of a larger group of Iron Age polytheistic religions of the Indo-European family. It comprised a large degree of variation both geographically and chronologically, although "behind this variety, broad structural similarities can be detected" allowing there to be "a basic religious homogeneity" among the Celtic peoples.The Celtic pantheon consists of numerous recorded theonyms, both from Greco-Roman ethnography and from epigraphy. Among the most prominent ones are Teutatis, Taranis and Lugus.

Figures from medieval Irish mythology have also been interpreted as iterations of earlier pre-Christian Insular deities in the study of comparative mythology.According to Greek and Roman accounts, in Gaul, Britain and Ireland, there was a priestly caste of "magico-religious specialists" known as the druids, although very little is definitely known about them.Following the Roman Empire's conquest of Gaul (58–51 BCE) and southern Britannia (43 CE), Celtic religious practices began to display elements of Romanisation, resulting in a syncretic Gallo-Roman culture with its own religious traditions with its own large set of deities, such as Cernunnos, Artio, Telesphorus, etc.

In the later 5th and the 6th centuries, Celtic region was Christianized and earlier religious traditions were supplanted. However, polytheistic traditions left a legacy in many of the Celtic nations, influenced later mythology, and served as the basis for a new religious movement, Celtic Neopaganism, in the 20th century.

Charterhouse Camp

Charterhouse Camp is a univallate Iron Age hill fort in the Mendip district of Somerset, England. The hill fort is situated approximately 0.6 miles (0.97 km) east from the village of Charterhouse. There is some evidence, in the form of burials in local caves, of human occupation since the late Neolithic times and the early Bronze Age. The site is associated with Charterhouse Roman Town and may have been the site of Iscalis.Hill forts developed in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age, roughly the start of the first millennium BC. The reason for their emergence in Britain, and their purpose, has been a subject of debate. It has been argued that they could have been military sites constructed in response to invasion from continental Europe, sites built by invaders, or a military reaction to social tensions caused by an increasing population and consequent pressure on agriculture. The dominant view since the 1960s has been that the increasing use of iron led to social changes in Britain. Deposits of iron ore were located in different places to the tin and copper ores necessary to make bronze, and as a result trading patterns shifted and the old elites lost their economic and social status. Power passed into the hands of a new group of people.Archaeologist Barry Cunliffe believes that population increase still played a role and has stated "[the forts] provided defensive possibilities for the community at those times when the stress [of an increasing population] burst out into open warfare. But I wouldn't see them as having been built because there was a state of war. They would be functional as defensive strongholds when there were tensions and undoubtedly some of them were attacked and destroyed, but this was not the only, or even the most significant, factor in their construction".


Danebury is an Iron Age hill fort in Hampshire in England, about 19 kilometres (12 mi) north-west of Winchester (grid reference SU323376). The site, covering 5 hectares (12 acres), was excavated by Barry Cunliffe in the 1970s. Danebury is considered a type-site for hill forts, and was important in developing the understanding of hill forts, as very few others have been so intensively excavated.

Built in the 6th century BC, the fort was in use for almost 500 years, during a period when the number of hill forts in Wessex greatly increased. Danebury was remodelled several times, making it more complex and resulting in it becoming a "developed" hill fort. It is now protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. and a Local Nature Reserve.


The Durotriges were one of the Celtic tribes living in Britain prior to the Roman invasion. The tribe lived in modern Dorset, south Wiltshire, south Somerset and Devon east of the River Axe and the discovery of an Iron Age hoard in 2009 at Shalfleet, Isle of Wight gives evidence that they lived in the western half of the island. After the Roman conquest, their main civitates, or settlement-centred administrative units, were Durnovaria (modern Dorchester, "the probable original capital") and Lindinis (modern Ilchester, "whose former, unknown status was thereby enhanced"). Their territory was bordered to the west by the Dumnonii; and to the east by the Belgae.

Durotriges were more a tribal confederation than a tribe. They were one of the groups that issued coinage before the Roman conquest, part of the cultural "periphery", as Barry Cunliffe characterised them, round the "core group" of Britons in the south. These coins were rather simple and had no inscriptions, and thus no names of coin-issuers can be known, let alone evidence about monarchs or rulers. Nevertheless, the Durotriges presented a settled society, based in the farming of lands surrounded and controlled by strong hill forts that were still in use in 43 AD. Maiden Castle is a preserved example of one of these hill forts.

The area of the Durotriges is identified in part by coin finds: few Durotrigan coins are found in the "core" area, where they were apparently unacceptable and were reminted. To their north and east were the Belgae, beyond the Avon and its tributary Wylye: "the ancient division is today reflected in the county division between Wiltshire and Somerset." Their main outlet for the trade across the Channel, strong in the first half of the 1st century BC, when the potter's wheel was introduced, then drying up in the decades before the advent of the Romans, was at Hengistbury Head. Numismatic evidence shows progressive debasing of the coinage, suggesting economic retrenchment accompanying the increased cultural isolation. Analysis of the body of Durotrigan ceramics suggests to Cunliffe that the production was increasingly centralised, at Poole Harbour (Cunliffe 2005:183). Burial of Durotriges was by inhumation, with a last ritual meal provided even under exiguous circumstances, as in the eight burials at Maiden Castle, carried out immediately after the Roman attack.

Not surprisingly, the Durotriges resisted Roman invasion in AD 43, and the historian Suetonius records some fights between the tribe and the second legion Augusta, then commanded by Vespasian. By 70 AD, the tribe was already Romanised and securely included in the Roman province of Britannia. In the tribe’s area, the Romans explored some quarries and supported a local pottery industry.

The Durotriges, and their relationship with the Roman Empire, form the basis for an ongoing archaeological research project directed by Paul Cheetham, Ellen Hambleton and Miles Russell of Bournemouth University. The Durotriges Project has, since 2009, been reconsidering the Iron Age to Roman transition through a detailed programme of field survey, geophysical investigation and targeted excavation. To date the programme of work has concentrated upon an enclosed late Iron Age banjo enclosure containing round houses, work surfaces and storage pits, a Late Iron Age cemetery and two Roman villas.

Fishbourne Roman Palace

Fishbourne Roman Palace is in the village of Fishbourne, Chichester in West Sussex. The palace is the largest residential Roman building discovered in Britain and has an unusually early date of 75 AD, around thirty years after the Roman conquest of Britain. Its many superb mosaic floors dating from this period make it even more exceptional.

Much of the palace has been excavated and is preserved, along with an on-site museum. The rectangular palace surrounded formal gardens, the northern parts of which have been reconstructed.

Extensive alterations were made in the 2nd and 3rd centuries when many of the original black and white mosaics were overlaid with more sophisticated coloured work, including the perfectly preserved dolphin mosaic in the north wing. More alterations were in progress when the palace burnt down in around 270, after which it was abandoned.

Glasgow Archaeological Society

The Glasgow Archaeological Society is an archaeological society in Glasgow, Scotland, that was established in 1856.

The society is known for its Dalrymple Lectures, co-hosted with the University of Glasgow. Previous lecturers and topics have included:

Professor Emmanuel Anati on "Prehistoric rock Art"

Professor Rosemary Cramp on "Northern Aspects of British Archaeology"

Professor Vassos Karageorghis on "Prehistoric Cypriot Archaeology"

Sir Barry Cunliffe on "Continent cut off by fog: Just how insular is Britain?"

Professor Martin Millett on "Towards an archaeology of the Roman Empire"

Professor Ian Hodder on "Thing Theory: Towards an integrated archaeological perspective"

Professor Richard Hodges on "Archaeology and the making of the Middle Ages"

Professor David Breeze on "The frontiers of the Roman Empire"

Professor Roberta Gilchrist on "Medieval Lives: Archaeology and the Life Course"Its journals, Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society (1859 to 1967) and the Glasgow Archaeological Journal (1969 to 1991), are now published by Edinburgh University Press as the Scottish Archaeological Journal.

John T. Koch

John T. Koch is an American academic, historian and linguist who specializes in Celtic studies, especially prehistory and the early Middle Ages. He is the editor of the five-volume Celtic Culture. A Historical Encyclopedia (2006, ABC Clio)

He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he was awarded the degrees of MA and PhD in Celtic Languages and Literatures in 1983 and 1985, respectively. He has also pursued studies at Jesus College, Oxford, and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He has taught Celtic Studies at Harvard University and Boston College.Since 1998, he has been senior research fellow or reader at the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, University of Wales, where he has supervised a research project called Celtic Languages and Cultural Identity, the output of which includes the five-volume Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia (2006), and An Atlas for Celtic Studies (2007).

He has published widely on aspects of early Irish and Welsh language, literature and history. His works include The Celtic Heroic Age (first published in 1994, 4th edition in 2003), in collaboration with John Carey; The Gododdin of Aneirin (1997), an edition, translation and discussion of the early Welsh poem Y Gododdin; and numerous articles published in books and journals. A grammar of Old Welsh and a book on the historical Taliesin are in the works.In 2007, John Koch received a personal chair at the University of Wales.Koch supervises (as senior fellow and project leader) the Ancient Britain and the Atlantic Zone Project (covering Ireland, Armorica, and the Iberian Peninsula) at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. In 2008, Koch gave the O'Donnell Lecture at Aberystwyth University titled People called Keltoi, the La Tène Style, and ancient Celtic languages: the threefold Celts in the light of geography. In 2009, Koch published a paper, later that year developed into a book, Tartessian: Celtic from the Southwest at the Dawn of History, detailing how the Tartessian language may have been the earliest directly attested Celtic language with the Tartessian written script used in the inscriptions based on a version of a Phoenician script in use around 825 BC. This was followed by Tartessian 2: Preliminaries to Historical Phonology in 2011, focused on the Mesas do Castelinho inscription.

Koch has been a leading proponent of the idea that the Celtic languages originated as a branch of the Indo-European languages not in Eastern Europe, from where they radiated westward, but rather that they arose in Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal) among the Celtiberians and neighboring peoples as a combination of Proto-Indo-European and native non-Indo-European Palaeo-Hispanic languages (related to Basque), with some Phoenician influence. From there (in this scenario) they spread east to what was later Gaul (modern France, Germany, and surrounding areas), where early forms of the Italic and Germanic languages already would have been developing independently from Proto-Indo-European. This idea – the subject of three edited volumes in a series by Koch and Barry Cunliffe called Celtic from the West (2012–2016) is controversial, but perhaps becoming less so over time. It is part of a general erosion of the Kurgan hypothesis, that a nomadic, chariot-warfare tribe from the Pontic–Caspian steppe swept inexorably into and across Europe, introducing Proto-Indo-European as they went, consistently in an east-to-west direction of invasion and diffusion. The more archaeological, linguistic, genetic, and other evidence that arises, the more complex the multi-cultural situation of late-prehistoric Europe appears to have been. The Kochian hypothesis suggests that some populations may have "leap-frogged" to the far west quite early, presumably via Mediterranean water travel, then invaded territory to their east after their language had markedly diverged.

List of trustees of the British Museum

The Board of Trustees of the British Museum comprises up to 25 members. One Trustee is appointed by The Crown, 15 are appointed by the Prime Minister and five appointed by the Trustees. Four Trustees are appointed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the nominations of the Presidents of: the Royal Academy, the British Academy, the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Royal Society.

Oxford Journal of Archaeology

The Oxford Journal of Archaeology is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford. It was established in 1982 and the editors-in-chief are Nicholas Purcell, Barry Cunliffe, Helena Hamerow, and Chris Gosden (University of Oxford).


Rubobostes was a Dacian king in Transylvania, during the 2nd century BC.

He was mentioned in Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus's Prolegomena. Trogus wrote that during his rule, the Dacians' power increased, as they defeated the Celts who previously held the power in the region.

Trogus Pompeius and Justin mention a rise in Dacian authority under the leadership of King Rubobostes (before 168 BC) which probably suggests the end of Celtic dominance in Transylvania, that is, that they were possibly thrust out of Dacia by the growing power of an indigenous dynasty. Alternatively, some scholars have proposed that the Transylvanian Celts remained but merged into the local culture context and thus ceased to be distinctive archaeologically. It is possible that both processes were partially responsible for the disappearance of La Tène material in Romania.

Terry Jones' Barbarians

Terry Jones' Barbarians is a 4-part TV documentary series first broadcast on BBC 2 in 2006. It was written and presented by Terry Jones, and it challenges the received Roman and Roman Catholic notion of the barbarian.

Professor Barry Cunliffe of the University of Oxford acted as consultant for the series.

The Bog People

The Bog People: Iron-Age Man Preserved is an archaeological study of the bog bodies of Northern Europe written by the Danish archaeologist P.V. Glob. First published in 1965 by Gyldendal under the Danish title of Mosefolket: Jernalderens Mennesker bevaret i 2000 År, it was translated into English by the English archaeologist Rupert Bruce-Mitford and published by Faber and Faber in 1969. In 1966 it was translated into German by Thyra Dohrenburg and published by Winkler Werlag Munich under the title Die Schläfer im Moor (English: The Sleepers in the Bog).

The Bog People is divided into six chapters. The first is devoted to Tollund Man, and the second to Grauballe Man, two of the best known Iron Age bog bodies to have been discovered in Jutland, Denmark. The third and fourth chapters are devoted to the wider context of bog bodies first in Denmark and then in other parts of Europe. The final two chapters are devoted to a wider exposition of life and death in Iron Age Denmark.

Glob's book received positive reviews from both Barry Cunliffe in Nature and Ralph M. Rowlett in American Anthropologist. They praised Glob's arguments as well as his writing style and use of illustrations, alongside Bruce-Mitford's translation. In subsequent decades, it has received both praise and criticism from specialists in the field, who have lauded the publicity which it brought to the subject, but rejected many of Glob's conclusions as being based on insufficient evidence.

Wandsworth Shield

The Wandsworth Shield is a circular bronze Iron Age shield boss or mount decorated in La Tène style which was found in the River Thames at Wandsworth in London sometime before 1849. Another incomplete bronze shield mount, sometimes called the Wandsworth Mask Shield was found at the same time. Both shield mounts are now held at the British Museum. The bold repoussé decoration on the Wandsworth Shield, comprising two birds with outstretched wings and long trailing tail feathers, has led Barry Cunliffe, Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford, to consider the shield to be "among the masterpieces of British Celtic art".

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