David Austin

UWTSD Home  -  Institutes and Academies  -  Institute of Education and Humanities  -  Institute of Education and Humanities Staff  -  Prof David Austin

Prof David Austin BA, PG Diploma

The Professor of Archaeology (Established Chair)

Tel: +44 (0) 1570 422360
E-mail: d.austin@tsd.uwtsd.ac.uk

Research, Project development; Director of the Strata Florida Project

I have been a freelance archaeologist and historian working in the heritage sector for over 44 years and an academic in these fields for 38 of them, reaching the position of professor in 1995.  At heart I am essentially a landscape archaeologist with a core interest in the Middle Ages and the early modern era.  In these capacities I have conducted a series of major excavations and field programmes in Britain and France with a growing focus on Wales and the European uplands. I have also taken a keen interest in the development of a theorised practice of archaeology, following the post-processual debates of the later 1980s.

I was the first archaeologist appointed at Lampeter in 1976 and was the leader in creating the Department of Archaeology and, later, the current School of Archaeology, Anthropology and History. In this role I also took an active part, nationally, in the creation of the Standing Committee for Professors and Heads of Archaeology, and was its secretary for a period in the 1980s, collecting, collating and publishing data on the UK provision for, and recruiting in, archaeology, something that was instrumental in considerably advancing the subject in the HE sector. I was also, for a while, Chair of the Council for British Archaeology’s Universities Committee and assisted in the process of creating an ‘A’ level in Archaeology. As head of Archaeology at Lampeter I was engaged in curriculum development and teaching over many years, at all levels from first year undergraduates to PhDs. I was also engaged in the senior management of the university (when it was the University of Wales Lampeter) as Head of the Faculty of Social Science.

My research has been dominated by an interest in the reconstruction of historic landscapes and the contextualisation of medieval and later structures both surviving and below ground.  The approach, from the start, has been multi-disciplinary, with a range of personal skills including medieval palaeography, excavation, topographic survey and map and remote imagery interpretation.  Initially these skills were applied in the freelance sector of rescue archaeology in the earlier 1970s, working largely for the Department of the Environment, with the support of John Hurst, in the north-east and south-west of England, where I continued working and publishing into the 1990s.  Much of my first fieldwork was in rural settlement and landscape and very early I was involved in the Deserted Medieval Village Research Group with John, Maurice Beresford and many others, and assisted in its later transformation into the Medieval Settlement Research Group. I was also a founder member and, for a while, Secretary of the Society for Landscape Studies in which capacity I organised many conferences around Britain. I was also on the founding editorial board of Landscapes and, for six years, was its co-editor with Dr. Paul Stamper. I have continued my work in rural landscapes with major studies in progress on the Teifi Valley and published work at Cipières in the Alpes-Maritimes of south-eastern France.  Very recently my interest has extended to historic gardens and parks with a project at the National Botanic Garden for Wales.

While still operating as a freelance archaeologist I began excavations on the guardianship monument of Barnard Castle in Teesdale, Co. Durham and this turned into a major project largely through the support of the Manpower Services Commission and English Heritage.  From the start I was not content with the contemporary discourse of castles, and I advocated, from 1984 onwards a more contextualised and landscape approach to their study.  This became a more explicitly theorised endeavour and the work was finally published as Acts of Perception.  I also applied these approaches to Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire on the final publication of which I am currently working.  Now, as my final major project, I am doing the same with a former medieval Cistercian monastery, Strata Florida, Ceredigion (www.strataflorida.org.uk).

  • Society for Medieval Archaeology: member for 42 years and a former council member
  • Ceredigion Antiquarian Society: member for 37 years and former committee member
  • Cambrian Archaeological Association: member for 36 years, former committee member and Honorary President for 2015-16

Now retired from teaching, but over a period of 44 years I have been engaged with teaching all areas of British and European archaeology with a focus on my specialisms in medieval and early modern landscape, settlement, castles and monasteries, on heritage and theory. I have supervised a number of PhDs and MPhils

  • Medieval and early modern landscapes
  • Medieval and early modern settlement
  • Historic buildings
  • Castles
  • Monasteries
  • Heritage management and policy
  • Applications of theory in archaeology and history
  • Archaeological field projects and report writing
  • Survey
  • Landscape analysis and reconstruction
  • Writing of synthetic historical narratives
  • Project fund-raising and management
  • Consultancies for English Heritage
  • Cadw
  • Dyfed Archaeological Trust
  • National Botanic Garden of Wales
  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
  • Forestry Commission for Wales and others

2004: ‘Strata Florida and its landscape archaeology’ Archaeologia Cambrensis, 153, 192-201

2005: ‘Little England Beyond Wales: re-defining the myth’, Landscapes, 6.2, 30-62

2005: Co-editor (with P. Stamper) of Landscapes vols. 6:1 and 6:2

2006: ‘The future: discourse, objectives and directions’, pp. 193-205 in Roberts, K (ed)  Lost Farmsteads: deserted rural settlements in Wales, CBA Research Report 148

2006    ‘Strata Florida and its landscape archaeology’ Archaeologia Cambrensis, 153, 192-201

2006: Co-editor (with P. Stamper) of Landscapes vols. 7:1; 7.2

2007: 'A new project at Strata Florida Ceredigion, Wales' Monastic Research Bulletin 13 (2007) pp.13-19

2007: Acts of Perception; Barnard Castle, Teesdale, 2 volumes, Durham: Durham Archaeological Society Monographs no. 6 and English Heritage, 706 pages and 369 figures. 

2007:  ‘The presence of poverty: archaeologies of difference and their meaning’ pp. 19-41 in Jaritz, G. Die Zeichensprachen der Armut, Wien: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften,

2007: Co-editor (with P. Stamper) of Landscapes vol. 8:1; 8:2

2008: Co-editor (with P. Stamper) of Landscapes vols. 9:1 and 9:2

2009: Co-editor (with P. Stamper) of Landscapes vols. 10:1 and 10:2

2010: Co-editor (with P. Stamper) of Landscapes vols. 11:1 and 11:2

2010: ‘A beacon for our times’, Agenda (Journal of the Institute of Welsh Affairs), Winter 2010, 20-21

2012: ‘A garden before the Garden: landscape, history and the National Botanic Garden of Wales’, Landscapes, 13.1, 32-56

2012: ‘Digging Sculpture: how we reveal and celebrate a material past’, 6 unnumbered pages in Howes, J. (ed.) Castle: Sculptural Responses. Catalogue of an exhibition by Artists of Sculpture Cymru at Kidwelly Castle 2012.

2013: ‘The Archaeology of Monasteries in Wales and the Strata Florida Project’, pp. 3-20 in Burton, J & Stober, K. (eds) Monastic Wales, New Approaches, Cardiff: University of Wales Press,

2013: ‘Mountain landscapes and the tradition of industry: the Cambrian Mountains of Central Wales’ MADE, Journal of the Welsh School of Architecture, 8, 6-15

2013: ‘An aura of hiraeth – Strata Florida’, pp. 51-58 in Bowen, H. Buildings and Places in Welsh History, Gomer Press.

2013: Cipières: continuity and landscape in the Alpes-Maritimes, France, Windgather Press (with Andrew Fleming, Ros Faith, David Siddle

Service on:

  • Forestry Commission Advisory Committee for Wales
  • Parliamentary Select Committee for Wales, Adviser
  • Landscape Advisory Committee for English Heritage
  • Organiser of conferences and sessions for:
  • The World Archaeological Congress, the Society for Medieval Archaeology, Society for Landscape Studies, the Medieval Settlement Research Group
  • O’Donnell Lecturer for 2013
  • Total grants achieved exceed £3 million