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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Mark White, BA, PhD

Professor in the Department of Archaeology

Contact Professor Mark White (email at


About Mark White

Mark White specialises in the Palaeolithic of Britain and its near European neighbours. His published works includes numerous books alongside articles on handaxes, palaeogeography & settlement history, Levallois technology, the Clactonian controversy and the lamentable British Middle Palaeolithic. 

Mark's second key focus is the history of archaeology, and he is keenly interested in Victorian Antiquarians, especially the more eccentric ones. He has published articles evaluating the work and contribution of several Victorian pioneers, such as Sir John Evans, Sir John Lubbock and Worthington Smith, as well as a monograph on Nina Layard’s remarkable site at Foxhall Road, Ipswich, excavated between 1903-1905. Mark has just published a new book on Sir William Boyd Dawkins - Professor of Geology at Manchester University - and the controversy that surrounded his excavations at Creswell Crags in the late 1870s. Mark is currently very interested in the market price of handaxes ca 1875. 

Current Projects
Mark is currently excavating at the Lower Palaeolithic site of Santon Downham, Suffolk in the hope of finding some nice twisted ovates.

Recent Works
Mark is the author of numerous books including The British Palaeolithic (2012, Routledge), The Quaternary of the Trent (2015, English Heritage) Lost Landscapes of the Palaeolithic (2016, English Heritage) and William Boyd Dawkins and the Victorian Science of Cave Hunting (2016, Pen and Sword)

Research Students
Mark currently has a number of PhD students working on Palaeolithic or Mesolithic topics. Durham has an excellent graduate community in this area, with people working on MIS 9 Britain, Cave Art, The cognition of Homo heidelbergensis and Neanderthal Religion. Others have recently finished PhDs on the History of the British Palaeolithic, the Middle Pleistocene colonisation of Europe, The Palaeolithic of Syria, the isotopic evidence for Pleistocene migrations, Middle Pleistocene small mammal communities, and The Early Middle Palaeolithic of Britain. Mark would be interested in supervising students on any Palaeolithic topic, so if you are interested in working with Mark please contact him.

Research Groups

Department of Archaeology

Research Projects

Department of Archaeology

  • Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB)
  • Crayford Brickearths Project
  • Trent Valley Palaeolithic Project (TVPP)

Research Interests

  • History of Palaeolithic Archaeology
  • Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Britain & Europe
  • Palaeolithic Stone Tools
  • Quaternary studies


Authored book

  • White, M.J. (2017). William Boyd Dawkins and the Victorian Science of Cave Hunting. Pen and Sword Books.
  • Bridgland, D R, Howard, A J, White, M J & White, T S (2014). Quaternary of the Trent. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • Pettitt, P.B. & White, M.J. (2012). The British Palaeolithic: Human Societies at the Edge of the Pleistocene World. London: Routledge.
  • Morigi, A., Schreve, D. & White, M.J. (2011). The Thames through time the archaeology of the gravel terraces of the upper and middle Thames early Prehistoric to 1500 BC. Part 1, The Ice ages palaeogeography, Palaeolithic archaeology and Pleistocene environments. Oxford: Oxford Archaeology.
  • White, M.J. & Plunkett, S.J. (2004). Miss Layard excavates: a Palaeolithic site at Foxhall Road, Ipswich, 1903-1905. Liverpool: Western Academic & Specialist Press.

Edited book

  • White, Mark (2016). Lost Landscapes of the Palaeolithic. English Heritage.
  • White, T., White. M., Bridgland, D. & Howard, A. (2008). The Quaternary of the Trent, Field Guide. London: QRA.

Chapter in book

  • White, M.J. & Bridgland, D.R. (2018). Thresholds in lithic technology and human behaviour in MIS 9 Britain. In Crossing the Human Threshold: Dynamic Transformation and Persistent Places during the Middle Pleistocene. Pope, M., McNabb, J. & Gamble, C. Routledge. 165-192.
  • White, M.J. (2015). ‘Dancing to the Rhythms of the Biotidal Zone’ Settlement history and culture history in Middle Pleistocene Britain. In Society, Settlement and Cognition. Coward, F., Hosfield, R., Pope, M. & Wenban-Smith, F. Cambridge University Press. 154-173.
  • White, M.J. (2012). The lithic assemblage from Lynford Quarry and its bearing on Neanderthal behaviour in Late Pleistocene Britain. In Neanderthals among Mammoths: Excavations at Lynford Quarry, Norfolk. Boismier, W., Gamble, C. & Coward, F. English Heritage. 219-261.
  • Scott, R., Ashton, N., Lewis, S., Parfitt, S. & White, M. (2011). Technology and landscape use in the Early Middle Palaeolithic of the Thames Valley. In The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Developments in Quaternary Science 14. Ashton, N., Lewis, S. & Stringer, C. London: Elsevier. 14: 67-89.
  • White, M. Ashton, N. & Scott, R. (2011). The emergence, diversity and significance of Mode 3 (prepared core) technologies. In The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. Ashton, N., Lewis, S. & Stringer, C. London: Elsevier Science. 53-65.
  • Nowell, A. & White, M.J. (2010). Growing Up in the Middle Pleistocene: life history strategies and their relationship to Acheulian Industries. In Stone tools and the Evolution of Human Cognition. Nowell, A. & Davidson, I. Boulder: University of Colorado Press. 67-81.
  • White, M.J. (2006). Axeing Cleavers: reflections on broad-tipped large cutting tools in the British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. In Axe Age: Acheulean Toolmaking, from Quarry to Discard. Goren-Inbar, N. & Sharon, G. London: Equinox.
  • Hopkinson, T & White, M.J. (2005). The Acheulean and the handaxe: structure and agency in the Palaeolithic. In The hominid individual in context: archaeological investigations of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic landscapes, locales and artefacts. Gamble, C.S & Porr, M. London: Routledge. 13-28.
  • Ashton, N.M & White, M.J. (2003). Bifaces and Raw materials: flexible flaking in the British Lower Palaeolithic. In Multiple Approaches to the study of Bifacial Technologies. Dibble, H. & Sorresi, M. Pennsylivania: University of Pennsylvania Museum Press. 109-124.
  • Ashton, N.M. & White, M.J. (2001). Bifaces et matières premières au paléolithique inferière et au debut du paléolithique moyen en Grande-Bretagne. In Les industries à outils bifaciaux du Paléolithique moyen d'Europe Occidentale. Cliquet, D. Liege: Etudes et Recherches Archéologiques de l'Université de Liege 98. 13-21.
  • White, M.J. (2001). Out of Abbeville: Sir John Evans, Palaeolithic patriarch and handaxe pioneer. In A very Remote Period Indeed: papers on the Palaeolithic presented to Derek Roe. Milliken, S. & Cook, J. Oxford: Oxbow. 242-248.

Journal Article

  • White, M.J. , Ashton, N.M. & Bridgland, D.R. (2019). Twisted handaxes in Middle Pleistocene Britain and their implications for regional-scale cultural variation and the deep history of Acheulean hominin groups. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
  • White, M.J. & Foulds, F.W.F. (2018). Symmetry is its own reward: on the character and significance of Acheulean handaxe symmetry in the Middle Pleistocene. Antiquity 92(362): 304-319.
  • White, M.J., Bridgland, D.R., Schreve, D.C., White, T.E. & Penkman, K.E.H. (2018). Well-dated fluvial sequences as templates for patterns of handaxe distribution: understanding the record of Acheulean activity in the Thames and its correlatives. Quaternary International 480: 118-131.
  • Chauhan, P.R., Bridgland, D.R., Moncel, M.-H., Antoine, P., Bahain, J.-J., Briant, R., Cunha, P., Despriée, J., Limondin-Lozouet, N., Locht, J.-L., Martins, A., Schreve, D.C., Shaw, A.D., Voinchet, P., Westaway, R., White, M.J. & White, T.S. (2017). Fluvial deposits as an archive of early human activity: progress during the 20 years of the Fluvial Archives Group. Quaternary Science Reviews 166: 114-149.
  • White, M.J., Pettitt, P.B. & Schreve, D.C. (2016). Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: interpretative Narratives of Neanderthal Hunting. Quaternary Science Reviews 140: 1-20.
  • Bridgland, D.R. & White, M.J. (2015). Chronological variations in handaxes: patterns detected from fluvial archives in north-west Europe. Journal of Quaternary Science 30(7): 623-638.
  • Westaway, R., Bridgland, D.R., White, T.S., Howard, A.J. & White, M.J. (2015). The use of uplift modelling in the reconstruction of drainage development and landscape evolution in the repeatedly glaciated Trent catchment, English Midlands, UK. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 126(4-5): 480-521.
  • Bridgland, D.R & White, M.J (2014). Fluvial archives as a framework for the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic: patterns of British artefact distribution and potential chronological implications. Boreas 43(2): 543-555.
  • Bridgland, D.R., Harding, P., Allen, P., Candy, I., Cherry, C., George, W., Horne, D.J., Keen, D.H., Penkman, K.E.H., Preece, R.C., Rhodes, E.J., Scaife, R., Schreve, D.C., Schwenninger, J., Slipper, I., Ward, G.R., White, M.J., White, T.S. & Whittaker, J.E. (2013). An enhanced record of MIS 9 environments, geochronology and geoarchaeology: data from construction of the High Speed 1 (London–Channel Tunnel) rail-link and other recent investigations at Purfleet, Essex, UK. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 124(3): 417-476.
  • Pettitt, P. & White, M. (2013). John Lubbock, caves, and the development of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic archaeology. Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science 68(1): 35-48.
  • Hopkinson, T., Nowell, A. & White, M.J (2013). Life Histories, Metapopulation Ecology, and Innovation in the Acheulian. PaleoAnthropolgy 61-73.
  • Bailiff, I, Lewis, S, Drinkall, H. & White, M (2013). Luminescence dating of sediments from a Palaeolithic site associated with a solution feature on the North Downs of Kent, UK. Quaternary Geochronology 18: 135-148.
  • Pettitt, P.B & White, M.J. (2011). Cave Men: stone tools, Victorian science and the ‘primitive mind’ of deep time. Notes and Records of the Royal Society 65(1): 25-42.
  • White, M.J. & Pettitt, P.B (2011). The British Late Middle Palaeolithic: An Interpretative Synthesis of Neanderthal Occupation at the Northwestern Edge of the Pleistocene World. Journal of World Prehistory 24(1): 25-97.
  • White, T.S., Bridgland, D.R., Westaway, R., Howard, A.J. & White, M.J. (2010). Evidence from the Trent terrace archive, Lincolnshire, UK, for lowland glaciation of Britain during the Middle and Late Pleistocene. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 121(2): 141-153.
  • White, T.S., White, M.J., Bridgland, D.R. & Howard, A.J. (2009). Palaeolithic and Quaternary research in the Trent Valley (UK: contributions by early collections. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 120: 223-232.
  • White, M.J. & Pettitt, P.B. (2009). The demonstration of human antiquity: three rediscovered illustrations from the 1825 and 1846 excavations in Kent's Cavern (Torquay, England). Antiquity 83(321): 758-768.
  • Scott, B., Ashton, N., Penkman, K., Preece, R. & White, M. (2009). The position and context of Middle Palaeolithic industries from the Ebbsfleet Valley, Kent, UK. Journal of Quaternary Science 24.
  • Mishra, S., White, M. J. Beaumont, P. Antoine, P., Bridgland, D. R., Limondin-Lozouet, N., Santisteban, J.I., Schreve, D. C., Shaw, A. D., Wenban-Smith, F. F., Westaway, R. W. C. & White, T. S. (2007). Fluvial deposits as an archive of early human activity. Quaternary Science Reviews 26(22-24): 2996-3016
  • Howard, A. J., Bridgland, D. R., Knight, D., McNabb, J., Rose, J., Schreve, D. C., Westaway, R., White, M. J. & White, T. S. (2007). The British Pleistocene fluvial archive: East Midlands drainage evolution and human occupation in the context of the British and NW European record. Quaternary Science Reviews 26(22-24): 2724-2737.
  • Westaway, R.C., Bridgland, D.R. & White, M.J. (2006). The Quaternary uplift history of central southern England: evidence from the terraces of the Solent River system and nearby raised beaches. Quaternary Science Reviews 25(17-18): 2212-2250.
  • Schreve, D.C. Harding, P. White, M.J. , Bridgland, D.R. , Allen, P. Clayton, F. Keen, D.H. & Penkman, K.E.H (2006). A Levallois knapping site at West Thurrock, Lower Thames, UK: its Quaternary context, environment and age. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 72: 21-52.
  • Ashton, N., Lewis, S., Parfitt, S & White, M.J. (2006). Riparian landscapes and human habitat preferences during the Hoxnian (MIS 11) Interglacial. Journal of Quaternary Science 21(5): 497-505.
  • White, M., Scott, B. & Ashton, N. (2006). The Early Middle Palaeolithic in Britain: archaeology, settlement history and human behaviour. Journal of Quaternary Science 21(5): 525-541.
  • Bridgland, D.R., Antoine, P., Limondin-Lozouet, N., Santisteban, J.I., Westaway, R. & White, M.J. (2006). The Palaeolithic occupation of Europe as revealed by evidence from the rivers: data from IGCP 449. Journal of Quaternary Science 21(5): 437-455.
  • White, M.J. (2006). Things to do in Doggerland when you're dead: surviving OIS3 at the northwestern-most fringe of Middle Palaeolithic Europe. World Archaeology 38(4): 547-575.
  • Ashton, N., Lewis, S., Parfitt, S., Candy, I., Keen, D., Kemp, R., Penkman, K., Thomas, G., Whittaker, J & White, M.J. (2005). Excavations at the Lower Palaeolithic Site at Elveden, Suffolk. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 71: 1-62.
  • White, M.J. (2005). The Meticulous Miss Layard. British Archaeology 85: 16-19.
  • Bridgland, D.R., Philip, G., Westaway, R & White, M.J. (2003). A long Quaternary terrace sequence in the Orontes River valley, Syria: a record of uplift and of human occupation. Current Science 84(8): 1080-1089.
  • Boismier, W., Schreve, D.C., White, M.J., Robertson, D.A., Stuart, A.J., Etienne, S., Andrews, J., Coope, G.R. Field, M., Green, F.M.L. Keen, D.H., Lewis, S.G., French, C.A., Rhodes, E. Schwenninger, J-L., Tovey, K & O'Connor, S. (2003). A Middle Palaeolithic site at Lynford Quarry, Mundford, Norfolk: Interim statement. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 69: 314-324.
  • Shaw, A.D. & White, M.J. (2003). Another look at the Cuxton handaxe assemblage. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 69: 305-314.
  • White, M.J. & Ashton, N.M (2003). Lower Palaeolithic core technology and the origins of the Levallois method in North-Western Europe. Current Anthropology 44(4): 598-609.
  • Ashton, N., Jacobi, R & White, M. (2003). The dating of Levallois sites in west London. Quaternary Newsletter 99: 25-32.
  • Schreve, D.C., Bridgland, D.R., Allen, P., Blackford, J.J., Gleed-Owen, C.P., Griffiths, H.I., Keen, D.H. & White, M.J. (2002). Sedimentology, palaeontology and archaeology of late Middle Pleistocene River Thames terrace deposits at Purfleet, Essex, UK. Quaternary Science Reviews 21(12-13): 1423-1464.
  • White, M.J. & Jacobi, R.M (2002). Two sides to every story: bout coupé handaxes revisited. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 21(2): 109-133.
  • White, M.J. & Schreve, D.C. (2001). Island Britain-Peninsula Britain: palaeogeography, colonisation and the Lower Palaeolithic settlement of the British Isles. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 66: 1-28.
  • White M (2000). The Clactonian question: on the interpretation of core and flake assemblages in the British Isles. Journal of World Prehistory 14: 1-63.
  • White M (1998). On the significance of Acheulian biface variability in southern Britain. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 64: 15-44.
  • White, M. (1997). The earlier Palaeolithic occupation of the Chilterns (southern England): re-assessing the sites of Worthington G. Smith. Antiquity 71: 912-931.