Northern Centre for the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities

Chris Fowler

Lecturer in Later Prehistoric Archaeology
School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University



I studied at the University of Southampton from 1992 to 1999, on BA hons and PhD archaeology programmes. Through my PhD, and through a Leverhulme Special Research Fellowship which I held at the University of Manchester from 2000 to 2002 I investigated the application of anthropological approaches to the body and the person in prehistoric archaeology, especially Neolithic and early Bronze Age Britain. I joined the School of Historical Studies at Newcastle in 2004.

I am extremely interested in anything to do with British and European later Mesolithic, Neolithic and early Bronze Age archaeology, and prehistoric archaeology in general. I am also interested in social and cultural anthropology, particularly where it relates to conceptions of the body and person.

Roles and Responsibilities

I am Degree Programme Director for Research Degrees in Archaeology. If you are considering studying for an MLitt, an MPhil or a PhD in archaeology at Newcastle and have any queries please feel free to contact me.

I am currently acting as Head of Archaeology (January-August 2014) 




 Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

 Member of: the Prehistoric Society; the World Archaeological Congress; the European Association of Archaeologists; the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle Upon Tyne; The Implement Petrology Group.

 Founder member and co-organiser of the Tyne-Forth Prehistory Forum 

Previous Positions

Temporary lecturer, School of Art History and Archaeology, University of Manchester, 2002-2004.

Leverhulme Special Research Fellow, School of Art History and Archaeology, University of Manchester, 2000-2002

I taught on a Certificate of Higher Education in Archaeology programme at New College, University of Southampton in 1999 and 2000, and co-ordinated that programme in 2000.

Research Interests

Neolithic and early Bronze Age Britain
Personhood, the body and identity in archaeology and anthropology
Mortuary practice in prehistoric Europe
Cosmology in prehistoric Europe

Other Expertise

Archaeological theory
Prehistoric art

Current Research

I am currently researching Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age mortuary practices in Northeast England, and recently completed a book which presents a new synthesis of the evidence for these mortuary practices c. 2500-1500 BC. This book, The Emergent Past: A Relational Realist Archaeology of Early Bronze Age Mortuary Practices (Oxford University Press, 2013), explores a new theoretical approach to archaeology through the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age mortuary archaeology of northeast England.

Alongside this work I recently led a project entitled Dead but not forgotten: human remains from archaeological excavations in North-East England , which assessed how much human bone survives in contemporary collections from excavated Neolithic to medieval period sites in the North East of England (Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham). This was followed by an osteoarchaeological reassessment of the Early Bronze Age human remains in Tyne and Wear Museums, and a programme of radiocarbon dating for some of those remains, in order to refine our understanding of changing mortuary practices in the period.

I recently participated in excavations at Low Hauxley, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, exploring the remains of an Early Bronze Age burial cairn, in collaboration with Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Archaeological Research Services, Ltd. as part of the Rescued from the Sea project. I am working with ARS to produce the excavation report at present.

I am a specialist advisor on prehistoric artifacts for The Cutting Edge, a project that draws together different sources of information about tools and weapons with sharp edges from  collections held in Tyne and Wear Museums and combines existing information with new images of the artifacts. Images and other information will soon be available online for public access, enabling easy assessment of key parts of the collection for future research projects. 

Along with Richard Tipping (University of Stirling), I organise the Tyne-Forth Prehistory Forum, which I co-funded in 2009. The Forum brings together archaeologists involved with research into prehistoric archaeology in north-east England and south-east Scotland. Its membership consists of archaeologists working in universities, museums and heritage agencies, of students, volunteers and members of amateur archaeology groups, and contract archaeologists. It is a fundamental aspect of the network to promote collaborative research between members of these communities. I was the principle investigator for an AHRC-funded Research Networking project entitled Investigating Prehistoric Social and Cultural Networks through the Tyne-Forth Prehistory Forum, which funded five meetings of the Forum from 2010 to 2012 in order to investigate the nature, origins, and drivers of prehistoric social and cultural networks in the region, and the role of present-day borders that may disrupt our understanding of them. I am currently co-editing a book on the prehsitoric archaeology of Southeast Scotland and Northeast England with Richard Tipping and Rachel Crellin, springing out of the Forum meetings.

Research Roles 

I am a member of the Research Council for the project 'Meetings Make History: Hunters’ Rock Art and Lands of Identity in Mesolithic northern Europe' (Oslo University, Principal Investigator Dr Ingrid Fuglestvedt), and a member of the Specialist Group reviewing and updating English Heritage's North East Regional Research Framework for archaeology. 

I was the co-ordinator of the Bodies and Identities Research Strand in the School of Historical Studies, 2009-13.

I am the Programme Director for Research Degrees in Archaeology. 

Recent Research

I collaborated with Dr Vicki Cummings (UCLan) in excavating two Bargrennan chambered cairns in Dumfries and Galloway. Our interim reports are posted on-line through the Archaeology Data Service, and the final report has now been published as a British Archaeological Report. 

Postgraduate Supervision

I currently supervise the following PhD students:

David Cockcroft 'Interpreting the funerary monuments of Early Bronze Age Yorkshire (2500-1400 BC): changing mortuary practices, changing constructions of personhood?'
Peter Topping 'The Social Context of Prehistoric Extraction Sites in the UK' Stephanie Moat 'A comparative approach to mimesis in  sculpture from the Roman provinces' (lead supervisor Dr Jane Webster)

Recently supervised PhD students:

  • Rachel Crellin 'Scales of time, scales of change: the emergence of a Bronze Age on the Isle of Man' (2014)
  • Sophie Moore 'Life, Death and Cosmology in Mid-Byzantine Anatolia (9th – 12th century AD): an holistic approach to mortuary practice' (lead supervisor Mark Jackson, 2013)
  • Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu 'A comparative analysis of rock art in southern Africa: animals and cosmological models.' (lead supervisor Dr Aron Mazel, completed 2012)
  • Michelle Gamble 'Health and Disease in Chalcolithic Cyprus: A problem-oriented palaeopathological study of human remains.' (lead supervisor Dr Kirsi Lorentz, completed 2011)
  • Brian Albrecht 'Activities at Causewayed Enclosures in the British Isles.' (lead supervisor Dr Jan Harding, completed 2010)
  • Ana Clelia Corriea 'Engraved World: Contextual Analysis of Figures and Markings on the rocks of south-eastern Piaui, Brazil.' (co-supervised with Dr Jan Harding, completed 2009)         
  • Hannah Lynch 'The use and exchange of Neolithic flint in northern England' (lead supervisor Dr Jan Harding, completed 2007)

I currently supervise the following MLitt student:

Josephine Cleveland. 'Sequences of activity at Early Bronze Age round barrows' (co-supervised with Jan Harding).

Recently supervised MLitt students:

  • Ivana Zivaljevic 'Human and animal bodies during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the Danube Gorges' (lead supervisor, completed 2010)
  • Ben Dyson 'Cosmology and land use in upland Bronze Age landscapes'   
  • Erin Watson Rock art and 'portable' art in northern Britain' 
  • Jessica Windsor 'Anthromorphs of Chalcolithic Cyprus: a contextual study' 
  • Kate Phillips 'Violence in the British Iron Age'
  • Hannah Flint 'Cosmology and architecture in prehistoric Britain' 

If you are considering studying for an MLitt, MPhil or PhD in a topic related to my research interests please feel free to contact me.


Undergraduate Teaching

I am currently module leader for:

  • ARA1028 Prehistoric Britain
  • ARA2001 Archaeological Theory and Interpretation
  • ARA3022 Themes in European Prehistory (cosmology, bodies, personhood, and art)

I also contribute to other modules including:

  • ARA1001 Stuff: Living in a Material World 
  • ARA1027 Introduction to Archaeology
  • HIS2085 Pre-Columbian and Spanish America 

Postgraduate Teaching

I am the module leader for:

  • ARA8184 Bodies in Prehistoric Europe, c.6500-700 BC

I contribute to:

  • ARA8090 Research Themes, Theories and Skills in Archaeology
  • ARA8182 Prehistoric Architecture: Houses, Monuments and Beyond
  • ARA8186 Prehistoric Technologies

External Examining

I am an external examiner for Archaeology BA (hons) and MA Social Archaeology at Southampton University, and the external examiner for the following MA programmes at Sheffield University: MA Archaeology; MA European Prehistory, MA Aegean Prehistory and; MA in Medieval Archaeology. 


News Headlines

PhD Success

Many congratulations from the Centre to Caroline Nielsen, who passed her viva this summer. Additionally, congratulations are due for her appointmen Full Story...

HoM MA Student recalls course of 2011-2012

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