Women’s History Month: Author Spotlight

In honour of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating some of the remarkable women who have contributed to, written, and edited publications for Oxbow Books; women who have brought new archaeological ideas, insight and information to your bookshelves. Discover more about their fascinating lives, works and achievements.

April Nowell

April Nowell, with permission for Oxbow

Dr April Nowell is a Paleolithic archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria, Canada, where she teaches Paleolithic art and anthropological theory. She directs an international team of researchers in the study of Lower and Middle Paleolithic sites in Jordan, and collaborates with colleagues on the study of cave art in Australia and France and on ostrich eggshell beads in South Africa. In 2016, she and her colleagues working in Jordan published the world’s oldest identifiable blood on stone tools, demonstrating that 300,000 years ago early humans ate a range of animals from duck to rhinoceros.  

More broadly, her research focuses on cognitive archaeology, Paleolithic art, the archaeology of children and the relationship between science, pop culture, and the media. Her work has been covered by more than 100 outlets including The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, CNN, The Economist, the CBC, NPR, and the Smithsonian Magazine, and her blood residue work was named one of Time Magazine’s top 100 discoveries. 

Nowell is the author or editor of numerous books, chapters and journal contributions. Her most recent book, Growing Up in the Ice Age: Fossil and Archaeological Evidence of the Lived Lives of Plio-Pleistocene Children (Oxbow Books, 2021), has been described by Current World Archaeology magazine as “a must-read for those interested in childhood in the past, and for those seeking a rare humanistic volume on human evolution and Palaeolithic archaeology”, and is the culmination of 15 years of research into the lives of Ice Age children.

You can read and listen to more of her work on this subject via the following links:

Julie Gardiner

Julie Gardiner, with permission for Oxbow

Dr Julie Gardiner holds a PhD in Neolithic landscape studies, specialising in lithics, from Reading University and has worked in academic, professional and commercial archaeology. She is the editor of the international journal The Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society and is the author of several books.

Julie’s contributions to academic publishing in the field of archaeology and ancient history range over more than 30 years, having previously been Managing Editor for East Anglian Archaeology, the Council for British Archaeology and Senior Project Manager Post-excavation and Publication for Wessex Archaeology. Her contribution to the field is significant, but she also holds a particular place in our hearts as she is Publisher here at Oxbow Books, where she manages commissioning, series development and publishing partnerships for the Oxbow and Windgather imprints.

Her edited volumes include:

Courtney Nimura

Courtney Nimura
Photo credit: John Cairns Photography

Dr Courtney Nimura is the Curator for Later European Prehistory at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology, and Research Fellow at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Prior to moving to Oxford, she worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (USA) in Conservation and Collections Management, and as Research Fellow at the Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit at Griffith University (Australia).

Dr Nimura has a wide-ranging list of professional interests, but she is focused predominantly on Bronze Age and Iron Age material culture and landscape archaeology. She is the Lead Researcher on a number of current research and public engagement projects, including the Celtic Coin Index Digital project; the Ebb & Flow project, which explores the transformational role of rivers in later prehistoric Britain; and the BALMS: Bronze Age Landscapes and Metalwork in Sweden project, which explores the nature and functions of metalwork hoards in relation to their landscape.

In 2022, she curated the exhibition From Julius Caesar to Boadicea: A Century of Icenian Coins at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. This display introduced viewers to the extraordinary visual world of the Iceni – an Iron Age community that inhabited present-day East Anglia.

We are looking forward to the publication of her new book, Sentient Archaeologies: Global Perspectives on Places, Objects, and Practice (edited with Rebecca O’Sullivan and Richard Bradley). This will be published by Oxbow Books in May 2023.

Also by Courtney Nimura and available from Oxbow Books:

Vicki Cummings

Vicki Cummings, with permission for Oxbow

Vicki Cummings is Professor of Neolithic Archaeology and Deputy Head of the (Research) School of Natural Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, UK. She specialises in the Mesolithic and Neolithic of Britain and Ireland, with a particular focus on the transition period, monuments and landscape. She has a broader interest in hunting and gathering populations and stone tools, and has excavated a series of Neolithic monuments including Clyde cairns, Bargrennan monuments and dolmens. During the summer months you’ll find her running a research excavation which trains students in fieldwork techniques.

Her numerous books include Monuments in the Making: Raising the Great Dolmens in Early Neolithic Northern Europe (with Colin Richards, 2021), published by Windgather Press.

Also available by Vicki Cummings from Oxbow Books:

Alexandra Makin

Alexandra Makin, with permission for Oxbow

Dr Alexandra Makin is Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, where she is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow on the AHRC funded ‘Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard’ project, jointly run by the National Museum of Scotland and the University of Glasgow. A textile archaeologist specialising in early medieval embroidery, she draws on the dynamic between her archaeological background and her first-hand professional experiences in embroidery to bring such an engaging element to her work.

Dr Makin is a professional embroiderer with a background in Archaeology and textiles. She originally trained at the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace, and spent nearly 10 years as Head of a Design Technology Department as a qualified teacher. Following a BA Honours degree in Archaeology, she gained her PhD in Anglo-Saxon Studies (undertaken within the English Department, University of Manchester). Her PhD research on ‘Embroidery and its context in the British Isles and Ireland during the early medieval period (AD 450-1100)’ led to various local and national media interest, including on a Channel 4 Time Team Special.

Of her professional interests, Dr Makin says:

My areas of research focus on early medieval material culture, mainly embroidery, but other aspects too. I am particularly fascinated by how material culture entwined with and influenced early medieval life. I am interested in experimental archaeology and collaborative working methods, and how these can inform our understanding of the objects we find, and data we gather from documentary and visual sources. Such approaches are also important in helping us understand working methods and organisation, and their development during the early medieval period.”

The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World: The Sacred and Secular Power of Embroidery (2019) by Alexandra Lester-Makin is published by Oxbow Books.

Further reading:

  • On the Oxbow blog: How does a book on a ‘Lost Art’ come into being? Alexandra shares how her research into medieval embroidery began, and evolved into the book The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World. Read the blog post here

Louise Wickham

Louise Wickham, with permission for Oxbow

Louise Wickham, a former business manager and consultant, has an MA in Garden History from the University of Greenwich and a BA in Economics and Politics from the University of Durham. She now leads the Research and Recording group for the Yorkshire Gardens Trust, which looks at historic designed landscapes.

Of the estimated 500 important historic parks and gardens in Yorkshire, 128 sites are on the Historic England’s (HE) Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. The main focus of Wickham’s research group is a long-term project to research and record locally significant historic designed landscapes in Yorkshire that are not on the HE Register, which can be referenced by interested amateurs, academics and professionals working in the field, and therefore aid conservation. Information is then made available via the Yorkshire Gardens Trust database of sites, as well as other key platforms.

You can read examples of her writing on the Parks & Gardens website, where she explores John Claudius Loudon’s legacy to the British garden we know today, and on the YGT Research Blog discussing the landscape designer, Adam Mickle junior and the head gardener and 18th century polymath, Thomas Knowlton.

Louise Wickham is the author ofThomas White (c. 1736–1811): Redesigning the Northern British Landscape (with Deborah Turnbull, 2021), and the beautifully illustratedGardens in History: A Political Perspective (2012), both published by Windgather Press. She is also the co-author of the student textbook, Business and Management Consulting: Delivering an Effective Project, 6th edition (2020).

Alison Sheridan

Alison Sheridan
Image Credit: National Museums of Scotland

Dr Alison Sheridan FBA FRSE FSA FSAScot CorrMDAI is an archaeologist and Research Associate at National Museums Scotland, where she was a curator, latterly Principal Curator of Early Prehistory, from 1987 to 2019. She was responsible for the National Museums Scotland archaeological programmes of radiocarbon dating and curated their collection of archaeological human remains from Britain.

A former President of the Prehistoric Society (2010–2014) – the international scholarly society that promotes the study and appreciation of prehistoric archaeology – and currently a Vice-President of Archaeology Scotland (Scotland’s sister body to the Council for British Archaeology), Dr Sheridan was also co-Chair of the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework’s Neolithic panel. She specialises in the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age of Britain and Ireland, and particularly in ceramics, jet and amber jewellery, and stone axeheads.

Her research interests have led her to collaborate in many significant international projects, including Projet JADE and Projet JADE2 (an international research project on the Neolithic use of Alpine stone) where she was Co-ordinator for Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), and the Beaker People Project. This latter project led to the publication of the acclaimed The Beaker People: Isotopes, Mobility and Diet in Prehistoric Britain(Oxbow Books, 2019).

Among the many accolades received during her career, Sheridan was awarded the British Academy Grahame Clark Medal in 2018 for outstanding work in prehistoric archaeology; in 2019 she was elected Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded the Prehistoric Society’s EUROPA prize; and in 2020 she was voted Archaeologist of the Year by Current Archaeology readers.

She has lectured in Europe, the USA, and China, curated exhibitions, and appeared on television and radio. She presented the prestigious Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’s Rhind lecture series on Neolithic Scotland in 2020. Follow the links below to find out more about some of Dr Sheridan’s publications and broadcasts:

Gill Hey

Gill Hey, with permission for Oxbow

Dr Gill Hey is Honorary Research Associate in the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, and former CEO of Oxford Archaeology (2013–2021), where she worked for over 30 years mainly managing large fieldwork projects.

Dr Hey’s research interests focus on settlement and landscape in the late Mesolithic, Neolithic and early Bronze Age, and particularly on the interaction between people and their changing environment, such as the origin of farming communities in Britain. Her consultancy and strategic studies work has ranged from the effectiveness of archaeological evaluation techniques, to working for the National Trust in advance of developments within their Stonehenge Estate, and advising on the excavations at Windy Harbour near Blackpool.

She directed the large, multi-period Yarnton-Cassington Archaeological Project just north of Oxford, and was involved in a number of research projects with community and education elements. An example of this was her work as co-director of the significant ‘Discover Dorchester’ project (you can read more about their community work here). This area has long been recognised as a key site for the study of British archaeology and history – a prestigious ceremonial centre in the Neolithic and Bronze Age which is unusual in having important Iron Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon towns in a single place, yet has suffered remarkably little damage from development. This extensive, collaborative project brought together expertise from Oxford Archaeology and the University of Oxford, with the people of the Dorchester community.

Dr Hey recently co-presented (with Dr Jodie Lewis) the annual joint lecture for The Prehistoric Society and Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, focusing on how the Northwest of England can help us understand how and why society changed over the course of the Neolithic period.

Gill Hey has written or edited a number of books. She is the co-editor of New Light on the Neolithic of Northern England (with Paul Frodsham, 2000), published by Oxbow Books.

Also available:

Joanna Brück

Joanna Brück, with permission for Oxbow

Joanna Brück is Professor of Archaeology at University College Dublin, and is an internationally renowned specialist on Bronze Age Britain and Ireland. Prior to moving to University College Dublin in 2020, she held the position of Professor of Archaeology at the University of Bristol.

Her research interests focus on the treatment of the human body and concepts of the self; depositional practices and what these reveal about the meanings and values ascribed to objects; and the relationship between space and society including domestic architecture and the changing organisation of landscape. She is PI on the project ‘Animals and Society in Bronze Age Europe’ funded by an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council. She also has interests in historical archaeology, including her other current project ‘Archaeology of the Irish Revolution’, funded by the Irish Research Council.

Brück is involved with a number of organisations within the wider archaeological community, and is committed to working with non-academic partners to exchange ideas and knowledge. She is the editor of the international journal, Archaeological Dialogues and recently finished a term as Vice President of The Prehistoric Society. She also co-organises the Bronze Age Forum, including their bi-annual conference which attracts delegates from numerous sectors, including museums, national heritage organisations, local government, archaeological consultancies, as well as archaeologists in academia.

Professor Brück is the author or editor of a number of books, including the following titles published by Oxbow Books:

Susan Oosthuizen

Susan Oosthuizen, with permission for Oxbow

Susan Oosthuizen FSA is Emeritus Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. She is Senior Fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge (the first Cambridge College to admit women as both students and Fellows when it was founded in 1965 – a pertinent point to note given we are celebrating the contribution of women to archaeology this month). She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, of the Royal Historical Society, and of the Higher Education Academy.

Professor Oosthuizen’s research focuses on rights of common and conceptual approaches to the archaeology of collective organisation in agriculture, and on the development of the English landscape between c.400 and 1300 AD. She has a special interest in the evolution and transformation of Anglo-Saxon and medieval pastures and fields from the landscapes of Roman Britain, many of which had much more ancient origins. Much of her work bridges the disciplines of archaeology, history, and historical geography.

The author and editor of several books and numerous papers, her most recent volume is The Emergence of the English (2019), which questions prevailing arguments about the social, political, and economic impact on the post-Roman landscape in Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries.

Described by The Antiquaries Journal as “probably one of the most important books to appear in recent years on the East Anglian Fenland”, Oosthuizen’s book, The Anglo-Saxon Fenland, was published by Windgather Press in 2017.

This excerpt from a review of the book in Early Medieval Europe journal highlights Oosthuizen’s skill in taking a subject and elevating its relevance beyond a specialist niche; in this case, showing how the subject also has wider application beyond the fenland.

Anglophone landscape historians rarely theorise: Oosthuizen is an exception. Her book richly illustrates the principles behind ‘common pool resources’, managed by ‘common property regimes’ … It should encourage early medieval historians interested in the process of forming and preserving identity to pay attention to customs.

Further reading:Find out more about The Anglo-Saxon Fenland by Susan Oosthuizen.

Erika Guttmann-Bond

Erika Guttman-Bond, with permission for Oxbow

Dr Erika Guttmann-Bond is an archaeologist specialising in soil micromorphology and geoarchaeology. She was formerly senior lecturer at the School of Archaeology, History, and Anthropology at the University of Wales, Trinity St David, and Professor of Landscape Archaeology and Assistant Director of the Institute for Geo- and Bio-archaeology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Guttmann-Bond’s work in archaeology has spanned over 30 years, and has mainly been based in the UK, Ireland and The Netherlands. Her research interests lie in ancient agriculture, environmental archaeology, and landscape history. She has authored or contributed to several books, and is the author of numerous research articles and technical reports.

She says of her book, Reinventing Sustainability: How Archaeology can Save the Planet:

“Many books have been written about the failures of the past, but this is an optimistic book that focuses on past successes. I am particularly interested in how these successes can be reintroduced or reinvented. Prehistoric peoples all over the world bred crop varieties to withstand diseases and local climatic extremes, and they found novel ways to improve their agricultural soils to such a degree that, though the people are long-gone, their fields remain rich and fertile to this day.

The reintroduction of ancient agricultural systems has been successful in many developing countries, but early approaches can be made even more effective by combining them with modern technology. I am not advocating a wholesale return to the past; what I am suggesting is that we combine aspects of early technologies with new systems and inventions such as solar energy, to create a healthier, more sustainable and environmentally richer planet. We already have the technology.”

Given the climate challenges we face today, this is unquestionably an important area of study. It is testament to the continued work of archaeologists such as Guttmann-Bond that we understand how the study of our past can also benefit our futures.

The following books by Erika Guttmann-Bond are published by Oxbow Books:

Caroline Wickham-Jones – In Memoriam

Caroline Wickham-Jones
Image Credit: University of the Highlands and Islands

In January 2022 the British archaeological world was shocked and saddened by the unexpected death of Orkney archaeologist Dr Caroline Wickham-Jones after an all too brief battle with a rare condition. Caroline was a fine archaeologist – a leading expert on Orkney archaeology, a flint specialist and a great communicator.

Caroline was born and raised in Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham but fell in love with Orkney and its prehistoric monuments at an early age. Her archaeological interests were wide but her special focus was on the Mesolithic of Scotland and the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition. Orkney was pivotal in her research; she excavated a number of major sites, including Skara Brae and, after moving there in 2002, collaborated on a project exploring its changing coasts and looking for drowned settlements. She was a key player in the establishment of research priorities for the Orkney World Heritage Site. Her list of achievements is long and she published many academic papers and a number of books including general titles on the archaeology of Scotland, guidebooks for Historic Scotland and the several times reprinted Orkney: A Historical Guide, first published in 1998.

You can read more about Caroline’s life in this obituary from The Guardian

Further Reading: