Dr Sadie Watson has had over two decades of experience as a professional archaeologist working in the field, primarily in London and its environs.

She received her BSc (Hons) in Heritage Conservation from Bournemouth University in 1995 and her MA in Archaeology and Heritage from the University of Leeds in 2000. Three years after being awarded her BSc she started work at MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) 

becoming a Project Officer in 2009, responsible for major archaeological sites and large field teams. That same year Watson enrolled at the University of Wales, Lampeter (to become the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in 2010) to study for her PhD in Applied Archaeology and Field Archaeology Methodologies. Her thesis, Digging London: A Reflexive Look at Archaeology in the Western Part of the City (2016), drew heavily from her experience of working in the commercial sector and critically examined the methodologies currently in use in London-specific fieldwork.  In 2017 she successfully applied for the position of Field Archaeologist in Residence at the MacDonald Institute, University of Cambridge. 

Watson has been involved with several important Roman excavations, initiated through the development of London’s infrastructure. Between 2010-2013 she worked at Bloomberg, London, where the Temple of Mithras had been first discovered in 1954. Liaising closely with contractors responsible for building Bloomberg’s European Headquarters, Watson led teams of up to 55 archaeologists who worked on the site removing 3,500 tons of soil by hand and registering 11,500 finds, including pottery, leather, textile and wood. Watson was also Project Officer for the multi-phase excavations at Sugar Quay, a central port of London since the late 1st century AD. Her professional role not only includes practical archaeology but also public engagement in the form of talks, presentations and blogs about her work and the work of MOLA. 

In 2019 Watson was awarded a four-year UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship, one of 78 recipients she was one of only a few working in the field rather than as an academic. Her Fellowship ‘Measuring, maximising and transforming public benefit from UK Government infrastructure investment in archaeology’, focuses on ensuring that public money spent on infrastructure projects result in relevant research and community participation. There is currently no accepted way to measure the social impact derived from investments which can total millions, therefore the outcome of Watson’s Fellowship, in collaboration with partners including Historic England and HS2, is to produce best-practice guidance and a tool-kit which can be used to inform future practice and policy. She has spoken and written extensively about the need for archaeologists in the commercial sector to engage with the public in the planning and findings of excavations, rather than working unseen behind hoardings, as she has said, ‘archaeology is a communication.’ 

Asked in 2015 why she would recommend her profession Watson answered, ‘it is a career that combines physical work with detailed academic analysis, because women work alongside men on an equal footing, because every day is different and because it is intellectually stimulating.’ Nonetheless, she is keen to promote change arguing in a recent article published in Archaeological Dialogues, 2021, that archaeologists have consistently ‘proved themselves to be conservative in method and practice, restrictive when thinking about true innovation and exclusionary’. She contends that, like many aspects of today’s society, archaeology needs to address current issues such as equality, inclusion, diversification and move towards implementing horizontal management.   


Watson, Sadie. (2015, July 16). Why I Love Archaeology, MOLA.  https://www.mola.org.uk/blog/why-i-%E2%9D%A4-archaeology-%E2%80%93-sadie-watson  

Watson, Sadie. (2019, September 13). MOLA archaeologist, Sadie Watson, awarded UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. MOLA https://www.mola.org.uk/blog/mola-archaeologist-sadie-watson-awarded-ukri-future-leaders-fellowship  

Watson, S. (2017). Post-excavation assessment, analysis and dissemination on modern archaeological practice. Research proposal submitted as application for Field Archaeologist in Residence, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.   


Watson, S. (2021). Degrowth in development-led archaeology and opportunities for change. A comment on Zorzin. Archaeological Dialogues, 28, 22-25. https://www.academia.edu/48897267/Degrowth_in_development_led_archaeology_and_opportunities_for_change_A_comment_on_Zorzin