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Dr Richard Madgwick

Dr Richard Madgwick

Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Science

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 (0)29 2087 4239
4.01, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision

Research interests

I am an osteoarchaeologist who employs macroscopic, microscopic and molecular methods in the analysis of animal and human remains. My research focuses broadly on reconstructing human-animal relations and I am particularly interested in the analysis of feasting and mobility and the pre- and post-depositional treatment of human and faunal remains. Much of my research centres on the later prehistory of Britain and north west Europe. Specific themes I’m interested in include:

  • Feasting in prehistoric Britain
  • Macroscopic and microscopic bone taphonomy
  • The application of multi-isotope analysis (δ15N, δ13C, δ34S, δ18O, 206Pb/204Pb, 87Sr/86Sr) on osseous remains for investigating diet and provenance.
  • The treatment of human and animal remains in Iron Age Britain.

Career overview

After finishing an AHRC-funded MA in Osteoarchaeology at the University of Southampton, I worked as a field archaeologist for Wessex Archaeology prior to taking up an HLF-funded IfA internship in Bioarchaeology at Cardiff University. After this one year post, I commenced an AHRC-funded PhD at Cardiff University, supervised by Dr Jacqui Mulville. I submitted the thesis, entitled Investigating the Potential of Holistic Taphonomic Analysis in Zooarchaeological Research in April 2011 and took up a temporary position as Lecturer in Archaeology at Bournemouth University. My teaching focussed on Zooarchaeology, Prehistory, Post-Excavation studies and Archaeological Skills.

I was next employed as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the Dama International Project at the University of Nottingham. This 3 year AHRC-funded project involved a multi-disciplinary investigation into the biogeography and management of the European fallow deer (Dama dama dama). I was responsible for zooarchaeological, biometric and isotope (δ15N, δ13C, δ34S, δ18O,87Sr/86Sr) analysis. After almost a year at Nottingham, I returned to Cardiff in January 2013 to embark on my own research project as a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow on a 3 year project 'Reconstructing the Feasts of Late Neolithic Britain'. I took up a position as Lecturer in Archaeological Science in January 2016.

Education and qualifications

PhD: January 2008-April 2011. Cardiff University, Colum Drive, Cardiff. AHRC funded. Thesis title: Investigating the Potential of Holistic Taphonomic Analysis in Zooarchaeological Research. Viva completed July 2011

MA: October 2005-September 2006. University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. Osteoarchaeology (AHRC funded) – grade Distinction

BA: September 2001–June 2004. University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. BA (Hons) Archaeology – grade 1:1

Honours and awards

Selected Awards/Grants

2017            NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility steering committee grant to investigate changes diet and health in the Christianisation of the Magyar (with I. Rusu).

2017              British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology grant for carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of the Magyar cemetery at Szada (with I. Rusu).

2017              Cardiff University Outstanding Contribution Award

2016              Joint Research Grant from the Royal Archaeological Institute, the Society of Antiquaries and the Society for Medieval Archaeology to investigate the effect of the Norman Conquest on diet and health (with B. Jervis/L. Craig-Atkins).

2016             Prehistoric Society Bob Smith Prize awarded for isotope analysis of faunal material from Navan Fort to investigate feasting and mobility in prehistoric Ireland.

2014              British Academy conference grant to host an inter-disciplinary event on population movement and cultural change.

2013              NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility steering committee grant to investigate mobility at Late Neolithic feasting sites.

2013-18        Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Placement (CUROP) grants to employ eleven undergraduate students as research assistants on various projects.

2012              British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship: Reconstructing the Feasts of Late Neolithic Britain’ (4.2% success rate in the cohort).

2012 Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit Grant for ‘Refining fallow deer biogeography in Roman and Medieval Europe’ project (with N. Sykes).

2010              Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit Grant for ‘Creating refined chronologies for the LBA/EIA transition in southern Britain’ project (with N. Sharples/K. Waddington).

2009              NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility steering committee grant to investigate the validity of porcine strontium isotope analysis (with J. Mulville/J. Evans).

2009              AHRC Student Led Initiative Grant for the inaugural Postgraduate Zooarchaeology Forum

2009              Joint Research Grant from the Prehistoric Society and the Cambrian Archaeological Association for Isotope analysis of faunal material from middens.

2007              Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral award.

Professional memberships

Professional memberships/roles

  • Elected to the International Committee of the International Council for Archaeozoology (2018, member since 2010)
  • Member of the AHRC Peer Review College (2017-)
  • Expert grant reviewer for the Swiss National Science Foundation, Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), The Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation (RPF) and The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2015-)
  • Elected to the committee of the Association for Environmental Archaeology, as its first student representative (2009-11) and then publicity officer (2011-15)
  • Archaeological Science editor for the De Gruyter journal Open Archaeology (2013-)
  • External advisor for destructive analysis applications at National Museum Wales.
  • I am also a member of the Prehistoric Society, the European Archaeological Association, the British Mass Spectrometry Society, the Society for American Archaeology

Academic positions

2016- present: Lecturer in Archaeological Science, Cardiff University

2013-2016: British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cardiff University

2012: Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Dama International Project, University of Nottingham,

2011-2012 Lecturer in Zooarchaeology (temporary), Bournemouth University













Teaching profile

I am programme co-ordinator for MSc Archaeological Science.

I am convenor for the following modules: * Bioarchaeology - 20 credits (Year 2/3, HS2432) * Forensic and Osteoarchaeology - 20 credits (Years 2/3, HS2423)

* Biomolecular Archaeology – 20 credits (MSc, HST049)

* Human Osteoarchaeology – 20 credits (MSc, HST050) * Archaeology Dissertation - 40 credits (Year 3, HS2435) * Archaeological Science Dissertation - 40 credits (Year 3, HS2436)

* MSc Archaeological Science Dissertation – 60 credits (MSc, HST051)

I contribute to the following modules: * Analysing Archaeology - 20 credits (Year 1, HS2125) * Death and Commemoration – 40 credits (MA, HST927)

* Zooarchaeology – 20 credits (MSc, HST048) * Postgraduate Skills in Archaeology and Conservation – 20 credits (MA/MSc, HST500) * Heritage Communication – 20 credits (Year 2/3, HS2428)

* Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Study (MA/MSc, HST900) * History of Archaeological Thought (Year 2, HS2350)

* Independent Study - 20 credits (Year 2, HS2433) * Independent Science Project - 20 credits (Year 2, HS2434)

I have previously taught on various other UG and PG modules including Archaeological Science, Environment and Economy, Practical Skills and Human Origins.

Research Supervision

I currently supervise eight PhD students:

Iulia Rusu (analyses funded by NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility and BABAO, with Jacqui Mulville): The Christianisation of the Magyar: Diet, health and mobility in 10th to 14th century Hungary

Leah Reynolds (funded by the James Pantyfedwen foundation, with Peter Guest): Roman rural settlement in Wales and the Marches.

Tiffany Treadway (with Niall Sharples): Wetland deposition in the British Iron Age

Adelle Bricking (with Niall Sharples): Iron Age mortuary practice in South West Britain

Katie Faillace (funded by an Ursuala Henriques scholarship, with Jacqui Mulville and Joel Irish [LJMU]): Biodistance in Britain: a dental morphometric analysis of migration in Wessex from the Iron Age to Early Medieval Period

Poppy Hodkinson (AHRC-funded, with Jo Sofaer [Southampton]): Archaeology and STEM in Primary School Education: Integration and Development

Eirini Konstantinidi (with Jacqui Mulville): Neolithic Cave Burial in Western Britain

Ciara Butler (fully funded by Brython Archaeology), with Alan Lane): Osteobiographies and Connectivity in Early Medieval Wales

I would be interested to hear from potential postgraduate students looking to develop research projects in the following areas: * Human-Animal relations in Later Prehistoric Britain * The archaeology of the Bronze Age - Iron Age transition in Britain * The archaeology of feasting * Bone taphonomy * Isotope analyses relating to mobility, diet and animal husbandry.

Administrative Responsibilities

2018-present: PGR Lead (School for History, Archaeology and Religion)

2018-present: Human Tissue Officer (College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences)

2017-present: Programme coordinator (MSc Archaeological Science)

2016-present: Timetable co-ordinator

2016-present: Admissions team

2016-present: Health and Safety committee

2014-present: Equality and Diversity committee


2013-2016: Research committee

2013-2016: Committee of the Cardiff University Research Staff Association

2013-2015: Seminar series organiser

2016-2018: Library representative

2014-2018: Module Cataloogue co-ordinator

Reconstructing the Feasts of Late Neolithic Britain

British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship to undertake research on feasting and mobility in Late Neolithic Britain. The three year project (2013-6) reconstructed the networks that the great monument complexes such as Stonehenge of supported. The research focused on faunal remains from a range of complexes and has generated the largest multi-isotope dataset using five systems (δ15N, δ13C, δ34S, δ18O,87Sr/86Sr) yet produced in archaeological research. The data demonstrated a great volume and scale of movement of animals and people, many of whom had travelled more than 100 miles to take part in the feasts. The project builds on research undertaken as part of the Feeding Stonehenge project (PI Mike Parker Pearson).

The Dietary Impact of the Norman Conquest

I am currently working with Ben Jervis (Cardiff), Lizzy Craig-Atkins (Sheffield) and Lucy Cramp (Bristol) on a project exploring the impact of diet using a variety of scientific techniques. It is funded by the Society of Antiquaries, The Royal Archaeological Institute, The Society for Medieval Archaeology and Cardiff University. The study focuses on Oxford and integrates human osteology, bulk collagen isotope analysis of humans and animals, incremental isotope analysis of human dentine, lipid residue analysis and secondary zooarchaeological and ceramic analysis.

Creating refined chronologies for the Bronze Age/Early Iron Age transition in southern Britain

This project employs a Bayesian approach to improve Bronze Age/Iron Age transitional chronology. Radiocarbon precision suffers from the 'Halstatt Plateau', one of the largest plateaus in the radiocarbon calibration curve in the entirety of the Holocene. Funded by ORADS, this is a joint project with Kate Waddington (Bangor), Niall Sharples (Cardiff) and Alex Bayliss (Historic England).

Navan Fort: Feasting and Connectivity

This project is funded by the Prehistoric Society's Bob Smith Award. It explores the origins of animals recovered from the supposed feasting deposits at Early Iron Age Navan Fort, the legendary ancient capital of Ulster using strontium and sulphur isotope analysis. It also explores how these animals were raised for the feasts through carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis. The project is a collaboration between Finbar McCormick (Queen's Belfast) and Vaughan Grimes (Memorial Newfoundland).

Feeding the Roman Army at Caerleon

This project investigates how the Roman army was provisioned at the legionary fortress of Caerleon.  It employs strontium isotope analysis on animals from the site of Caerleon Priory Fields, to examine their origins and to explore the relationship between the fortress and the rural hinterland. This is a collaborative project with Peter Guest (Cardiff), Jamie Lewis (Bristol) and Vaughan Grimes (Memorial Newfoundland).

Iron Age Mortuary Treatment

This is a combined macroscopic and microscopic taphonomic investigation of human and animal deposits from the southern British Iron Age.  Employing histological analysis and analysis of bone surface condition it aims to address the longstanding question of how humans and animals were treated in death and deposition in the Iron Age mortuary record. The project is a collaboration with Tom Booth (Natural History Museum). In 2016 a paper on mortuary treatment at Danebury and Suddern Farm was published in Journal of Archaeological Science. The research is now being extended to Ham Hill and South Cadbury.

Dama International

Multi-disciplinary research project investigating the biogeography and management of the European Fallow Deer over the last 6,000 year. I was responsible for isotope, zooarchaeological and biometric components of the project and am now on the steering committee. Funded by the AHRC (PI Naomi Sykes). The Fallow Deer Project

West Amesbury Farm

This site was recently excavated by Historic England and represents one of the most important sites for the Middle Neolithic of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. I am undertaking isotope analysis of the fauna as part of the bioarchaeological team (with Fay Worley, Ruth Pelling and Pete Marshall, Historic England).

Llangefni Link Road

This major Early Medieval cemetery in Anglesey was recently excavated by Brython Archaeology and Archaeology Wales. PhD students Iulia Rusu and Katie Faillace are undertaking the human osteological analysis and programmes of isotope analysis exploring diet and mobility.


I am project bioarchaeologist for the Bronze Age and Iron Age midden site at Llanmaes, Vale of Glamorgan. The site was excavated by the National Museum of Wales, under the directorship of Adam Gwilt and Mark Lodwick and has produced the largest faunal assemblage from an project in Wales (>73,501 bone fragments). I have undertaken full zooarchaeological analysis of the assemblage and programmes of carbon, nitrogen and strontium isotope analysis, Transmission Electron Microscopy and Cementum banding analysis.


I am a zooarchaeologist on the major international research project at the multi-period site of Butrint, Albania. The Butrint Foundation


I am part of the faunal team for the major international excavations at Çatalhöyük, Turkey. Çatalhöyük


I am the project zooarchaeologist for the Archaic/Hellenistic settlement at Praisos, Crete

Zooarchaeological Projects

I am project zooarchaeologist for the sites of Whitchurch, Caerau, Leiston Abbey and Hartridge Farm.

Impact and engagement

Engagement activities are central to my research and I’m an active member of the Guerilla Archaeology collective, having been involved in outreach at many arts/music festivals and events. I have also been inducted as a STEM ambassador. I am also involved with the Operation Nightingale/Breaking Ground Heritage project at East Chisenbury, a collaborative project involving the rehabilitation of military veterans. I run sessions for the Cardiff Young Archaeologist Club. I recently appeared on the Channel 5/Smithsonian documentary Stonehenge: The Final Mystery, showcasing my research on feasting in the Stonehenge landscape. This research has contributed to a major new exhibition Feast! at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, that has been reported widely on the media. I was also interviewed on BBC South Today and BBC Radio Wiltshire in relation to this. My 2015 Antiquity paper (with Jacqui Mulville) was reported on in The Times, The Metro, The New Scientist, the BBC News website, the ITV News website and various other global media outlets. I presented research on the Norman Diet project on BBC Radio Wales on the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. I contributed to BBC Radio 4’s Making History, which ran a feature on feeding the Roman Army at Caerleon (2018 paper with Peter Guest, Jamie Lewis and Vaughan Grimes).