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Staff Profile

Dr Mike Church, BSc (Hons) FSA Scot PhD

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41153

Contact Dr Mike Church (email at m.j.church@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

RESEARCH THEMES
My key research theme is the investigation of the interaction between humans and the environment in the North Atlantic islands (including Atlantic Scottish islands, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland) through reconstructing and analyzing
1) trajectories of environmental change
2) the impact of human settlement on palaeoenvironments
3) palaeoeconomies in different island settings
4) cultural adjustments to marginality

RESEARCH STUDENTS
I would be pleased to supervise research post-graduate students on the interaction between humans and the environment in the North Atlantic islands (including Atlantic Scottish islands, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland) with specific reference to environmental archaeology. Please email me about potential topics.

SELECTED CURRENT PROJECTS:
‘Landscapes circa landnám’. International, multi-disciplinary project investigating the human / environment interaction in the North Atlantic during the Norse period. I held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Geography, University of Edinburgh as part of this project (2002-2005) and was an Associated Researcher (2005-2007), concentrating on environmental archaeology, geochronology, geomorphology and palaeolimnology. Leverhulme Trust (UK) funded.

‘Heart of the Atlantic: cultural landscapes of Sandoy, Faroe Islands’. Co-director of this multi-disciplinary project investigating the changing cultural and natural landscapes on the island of Sandoy, from first settlement to modern time. Archaeological investigations are focusing on the extensive excavations at Undir Junkarinsflötti and Á Sondum in the village of Sandur. Principal funding bodies: Anadarko (Faroes), Faroese Research Council (Faroes), Leverhulme Trust (UK) and National Science Foundation (US).

Charcoal production in Norse and Medieval Iceland. This project is investigating charcoal production in two areas of Iceland (Mývatnsveit in north-east Iceland and the Markafljot valley in southern Iceland), to evaluate the role of charcoal production in landnám deforestation, the impact on the environment and potential management of woodland during the settlement of Iceland. The project involves archaeological survey and excavation of charcoal production pits, within a geomorphological and chronological context provided by tephrochronology and radiocarbon. Principal funding bodies: Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (UK) and Leverhulme Trust (UK).

Excavations at Brattahlið, Qassiarsuk, southern Greenland. Co-director of excavations at this internationally important site during the summers of 2005 and 2006. Principal funding bodies: Leverhulme Trust (UK) and National Science Foundation (US).

‘Uig Landscape Project’, Lewis, Western Isles (UK). Co-directed four seasons of landscape survey and excavation of four archaeological sites across the Uig Peninsula, Lewis from 1995 to 1998. Post-excavation nearing completion. Principal funding bodies: Historic Scotland (UK), University of Edinburgh (UK), Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (UK), Uig Estate and the Gearing family (UK).

Research Groups

Department of Archaeology

  • Bioarchaeology Research Group
  • Landscapes of Complex Society Research Group

Research Projects

Department of Archaeology

  • Charcoal production in the North Atlantic Islands
  • Experimental archaeobotany and geoarchaeology
  • Heart of the Atlantic: cultural landscapes of Sandoy, Faroe Islands
  • Human impact on Norse landscapes in the North Atlantic
  • Uig Landscape Project

Research Interests

  • Environmental archaeology of the North Atlantic islands including the Western Isles of Scotland, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland
  • Geochronological applications, specifically radiocarbon dating and tephrochronology, in the North Atlantic islands
  • Geomorphology and palaeolimnology in relation to the human / environment interaction in the North Atlantic islands
  • Mineral magnetic applications on archaeological and palaeoenvironmental sites
  • Archaeobotany of Scotland and the North Atlantic islands

Publications

Books: sections

  • Bond, J.M., Dockrill, S.J., Outram, Z., Batey, C.E., Summers, J., Friel, R., Brown, L.D., Campbell, E., Cussans, J., Cook, G., Legg, R., Marshall, W., McDonnell, J.G., Mustchin, A., Church, M.J., Hamlet, L.E. & Simpson, I.A. (2013). Excavations at Hamar and Underhoull. In Viking Unst: Viking Settlement in the Extreme North of Britain. Turner, V.E., Bond, J.M. & Larsen, A.-C. Shetland Heritage Publications. 123-179.
  • McGovern, T H, Arge, S, Arneborg, J, Ascough, P, Casely, A, Church, M J, Cook, G, Dugmore, A, Edvardsson, R, Einarsson, A, Fridriksson, A, Hambrecht, G, Harrison, R, Ingason, U, Johannesdottir, S, Keller, C, Lawson, I, Lucas, G, Koch Madsen, C, Newton, A, Ogilvie, A, Perdikaris, S, Roberts, H Simpson, I, Smiarowski, K, Thomson, A & Vesteinsson, 0 (2012). Vikings in the International Polar Year 2007-09: Still bloodthirsty but also ecodynamic and educational. In Viking settlements and Viking society: Papers from the Proceedings of the 16th Viking Congress. Sigmundsson, S, Holt, A, Sigurdsson, G, Olafsson, G & Vesteinsson, O. University of Iceland Press. 290-309.
  • Church, M J, Duarte, L, Edwards, K J, Lawson, I T & Newton, A J (2010). The palaeoenvironment of Mývatnssveit: Vegetation. In Hofstaðir: Excavations of a Viking Age feasting hall in north-eastern Iceland. Lucas, G Reykjavik: Institute of Archaeology. 32-38.
  • Dugmore, A J, Church, M J, Mairs, K-A, McGovern, T H, Newton, A J & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2006). An over-optimistic pioneer fringe? Environmental perspectives on medieval settlement abandonment in Þórsmörk, south Iceland. In Dynamics of northern societies proceedings of the SILA/NABO Conference on Arctic and North Atlantic Archaeology, Copenhagen, May 10th-14th, 2004. Arneborg, J & Grønnow, B Copenhagen: Aarhus University Press. 335-345.
  • Church, M J & Cressey, M (2006). Carbonized plant macrofossils and charcoal. In Anatomy of an Iron Age Roundhouse: The Cnip wheelhouse excavations, Lewis. Armit, IA Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 182-194.
  • Mairs, K-A, Church, M J, Dugmore, A J & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2006). Degrees of success: evaluating the environmental impacts of long term settlement in south Iceland. In Dynamics of northern societies proceedings of the SILA/NABO Conference on Arctic and North Atlantic Archaeology, Copenhagen, May 10th-14th, 2004. Arneborg, J & Grønnow, B Copenhagen: Aarhus University Press. 365-373.
  • Church, M J (2006). Environmental analyses from Northton. In Excavations at Northton, Isle of Harris. Simpson, D D A, Murphy, E M & Gregory, R A Oxford: Archaeopress. BAR British Series 408: 26-40.
  • Lawson, I T, Gathorne-Hardy, F J, Church, M J, Einarsson, A, Edwards, K J, Perdikaris, S, McGovern, T H, Amundsen, C & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2006). Human impact on freshwater environments in Norse and early medieval Iceland. In Dynamics of northern societies proceedings of the SILA/NABO Conference on Arctic and North Atlantic Archaeology, Copenhagen, May 10th-14th, 2004. Arneborg, J & Grønnow, B Copenhagen: Aarhus University Press. 375-382.
  • Sveinbjarnardóttir, G, Mairs, K-A, Church, M J & Dugmore, A J (2006). Settlement history, land holdings and landscape change, Eyjafjallahreppur, Iceland. In Dynamics of northern societies proceedings of the SILA/NABO Conference on Arctic and North Atlantic Archaeology, Copenhagen, May 10th-14th, 2004. Arneborg, J & Grønnow, B Copenhagen: Aarhus University Press. 323-333.
  • Ceron-Carrasco, R, Church, M J & Thoms, J (2005). Towards an economic landscape of the Bhaltos Peninsula, Lewis during the Mid to Late Iron Age. In Tall stories? 2 millennia of brochs. Turner, V, Nicholson, R A, Dockrill, S J & Bond, J M Lerwick: Shetland Amenity Trust. 221-234.
  • Peters, C, Church, M J & Batt, C (2004). Application of mineral magnetism in Atlantic Scotland archaeology 1: techniques, magnetic enhancement and the identification of fuel sources. In Atlantic connections and adaptations: economies, environments and subsistence in lands bordering the North Atlantic. Housley R A & Coles G M Oxford: Oxbow Books. 86-95.
  • Church, M J & Peters, C (2004). Application of mineral magnetism in Atlantic Scotland archaeology 2: magnetic susceptibility and archaeobotanical taphonomy in West Lewis, Scotland. In Atlantic connections and adaptations: economies, environments and subsistence in lands bordering the North Atlantic. Housley, R A & Coles, G M Oxford: Oxbow Books. 99-115.
  • Church, M J & Burgess, C P G (2003). Assessment survey: Lewis. In Coastal erosion and archaeology in Scotland. Dawson, T Edinburgh: Historic Scotland. 55-64.
  • Church, M J (2002). The archaeological and archaeobotanical implications of a destruction layer in Dun Bharabhat, Lewis. In In the shadow of the brochs the Iron Age in Scotland. Ballin-Smith, B & Banks, I Stroud: Tempus. 67-75.
  • Church, M J (2000). Carbonised plant macrofossils and charcoal. In Dun Bharabhat, Cnip an Iron Age settlement in west Lewis. Harding, D W & Dixon, T N Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh. 1 Structures and material culture: 120-130.
  • Church, M J & Peters, C (2000). Sedimentary analysis of soil samples. In Dun Bharabhat, Cnip: An Iron Age settlement in West Lewis. Harding, D W & Dixon, T N Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh. 114-119.

Journal papers: academic

  • Bishop, R R, Church, M J, Dugmore, A J, Madsen, C K & Møller, N A (2013). A charcoal-rich horizon at Ø69, Greenland: Evidence for vegetation burning during the Norse landnám? Journal of Archaeological Science 40(11): 3890-3902.
  • Swindles, G T, Galloway, J, Outram, Z, Turner, K, Schofield, J E, Newton, A J, Dugmore, A J Church, M J, Watson, E, Batt, C, Bond, J M, Edwards, K J, Turner, V & Bashford, D (2013). Re-deposited cryptotephra layers in Holocene peats linked to anthropogenic activity. The Holocene 23: 1493-1501.
  • Nesbitt, C, Church, M J, Gilmour, S M D & Burgess, C P G (2013). Small-scale evaluation of a Post-Medieval Blackhouse at Bereiro, Lewis, Western Isles of Scotland. Journal of the North Atlantic 22: 1-19.
  • Church, M J, Arge, S V, Edwards, K J, Ascough, P L, Bond, J M, Cook, G T, Dockrill, S J, Dugmore, A J, McGovern, T H, Nesbitt, C & Simpson, I A (2013). The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands. Quaternary Science Reviews 77: 228-232.
  • Ascough, P L, Church, M J, Cook, G T, Dunbar, E, Gestsdóttir, H, McGovern, T H, Dugmore, A J, Friðriksson, A & Edwards, K J (2012). Radiocarbon reservoir effects in human bone collagen from northern Iceland. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(7): 2261-2271.
  • Mellows, A, Barnett, R , Dalen, L, Sandoval-Castellanos, E, Linderholm, A, McGovern, T H Church, M J & Larson, G (2012). The impact of past climate change on genetic variation and population connectivity in the Icelandic arctic fox. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279(1747): 4568-4573.
  • Vickers, K, Erlendsson, E, Church, M J, Edwards, K J & Bending, J (2011). 1000 years of environmental change and human impact at Stóra-Mörk, southern Iceland: A multiproxy study of a dynamic and vulnerable landscape. The Holocene 21(6): 979-995.
  • Ascough, P L, Cook, G T, Hastie, H, Dunbar, E, Church, M J, Einarsson, Á, McGovern, T H & Dugmore, A J (2011). An Icelandic freshwater radiocarbon reservoir effect: Implications for lacustrine 14C chronologies. The Holocene 21(7): 1073-1080.
  • Nesbitt, C, Church, M J & Gilmour, S M D (2011). Domestic, industrial, (en)closed? Survey and excavation of a Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age promontory enclosure at Gob Eirer, Lewis, Western Isles. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 141: 31-74.
  • Ascough P L, Cook G T, Church M J, Dunbar E, Einarsson Á, McGovern T H, Dugmore A J, Perdikaris S, Hastie H, Friðriksson A & Gestsdóttir H (2010). Temporal and spatial variations in freshwater 14C reservoir effects: Lake Mývatn, northern Iceland. Radiocarbon 52(2-3): 1098-1112.
  • Bishop, R R, Church, M J & Rowley-Conwy, P A (2009). Cereals, fruits and nuts in the Scottish Neolithic. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 139: 47-103.
  • Church, M J (2009). Palaeoenvironmental analyses (ed.) In Rees, A. The excavation of an Iron Age unenclosed settlement and an Early Historic multiple burial and metalworking area at Hawkhill, Lunan Bay, Angus. Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal 15: 38-45.
  • Arge, S.V, Church, M.J. & Brewington, S. (2009). Pigs in the Faroe Islands: An ancient facet of the islands’ paleoeconomy. Journal of the North Atlantic 2: 19-32.
  • Lawson, I T, Edwards, K J, Church, M J, Newton, A J, Cook, G T, Gathorne-Hardy, F J & Dugmore, A J (2008). Human impact on an island ecosystem: pollen data from Sandoy, Faroe Islands. Journal of Biogeography 35(6): 1130-1152.
  • Dugmore, A J, Church, M J, Mairs, K-A, McGovern, T H, Perdikaris, S & Vésteinsson, O (2007). Abandoned farms, volcanic impacts and woodland management: revisiting Þjórsárdalur, the ‘Pompeii of Iceland’. Arctic Anthropology 44(1): 1-11.
  • Church, M J, Dugmore, A J, Mairs, K-A, Millard, A, Cook, G T, Sveinbjarnardóttir, G, Ascough, P A, Newton, A J & Roucoux, K (2007). Charcoal production during the Norse and early medieval periods in Eyjafjallahreppur, Southern Iceland. Radiocarbon 49(2): 659-672.
  • Lawson, I T, Gathorne-Hardy, F J, Church, M J, Newton, A J, Edwards, K J, Dugmore, A. J & Einarsson, Á. (2007). Environmental impacts of the Norse settlement: palaeoenvironmental data from Mývatnssveit, northern Iceland. Boreas 36(1): 1-19.
  • Roucoux, K H, Lawson, I T & Church, M J (2007). Identification of birch woodland in northern Iceland using pollen assemblages. Quaternary Newsletter 112: 39-44.
  • McGovern, T H, Vésteinsson, O, Friðriksson, A, Church, M J, Lawson, I T, Simpson, I A, Einarsson, A, Dugmore, A J, Cook, G T, Perdikaris, S, Edwards, K J, Thomson, A M, Adderley, W P, Newton, A J, Lucas, G, Edvardsson, R, Aldred, O & Dunbar, E (2007). Landscapes of settlement in northern Iceland: Historical Ecology of human impact and climate fluctuation on the millennial scale. American Anthropologist 109(1): 27-51.
  • Lawson, I T, Church, M J, Edwards, K J, Cook, G T & Dugmore, A J (2007). Peat initiation in the Faroe Islands: climate change, pedogenesis or human impact? Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 98(1): 15-28.
  • Ascough, P.L., Cook, G.T., Church, M.J. , Dugmore, A.J., McGovern, T.H., Dunbar, E., Einarsson, Á. Friðriksson, A & Gestsdóttir, H. (2007). Reservoirs and radiocarbon: 14C dating problems in Mývatnssveit, northern Iceland. Radiocarbon 49(2): 947-961.
  • Church, M J, Peters, C & Batt, C M (2007). Sourcing fire ash on archaeological sites in the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland, using mineral magnetism. Geoarchaeology 22(7): 747-774.
  • Gathorne-Hardy, F J, Lawson, I T Church, M J, Brooks, S J, Buckland, P C & Edwards, K J (2007). The Chironomidae of Gróthúsvatn, Sandoy, Faroe Islands: climatic and lake phosphorus reconstructions, and the impact of human settlement. The Holocene 17(8): 1259-1264.
  • Dugmore, A J, Borthwick, D M, Church, M J, Dawson, A, Edwards, K J, Keller, C, Mayewski, P, McGovern, T H, Mairs, K-A & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2007). The role of climate in settlement and landscape change in the North Atlantic islands: an assessment of cumulative deviations in high-resolution proxy climate records. Human Ecology 35(2): 169-178.
  • Ascough, P L, Cook, G T, Church, M J, Dugmore, A J, Arge, S V & McGovern, T H (2006). Variability in North Atlantic marine radiocarbon reservoir effects at c.1000 AD. The Holocene 16(1): 131-136.
  • Edwards, K J, Borthwick, D, Cook, G T, Dugmore, A J, Mairs, K-A, Church, M J, Simpson, I A & Adderley, W P (2005). A hypothesis-based approach to landscape change in Suðoroy, Faroe Islands. Human Ecology 33(5): 621-650.
  • Gregory, R A, Murphy, E M, Church, M J, Edwards, K J, Guttmann, E B & Simpson, D D A (2005). Archaeological evidence for the first Mesolithic occupation of the Western Isles of Scotland. The Holocene 15(7): 944-950.
  • Church, M J (2005). Carbonized plant macrofossils, in Neighbour, T. Excavation of a Bronze Age kerb cairn at Olcote, Breasclete, near Calanais, Isle of Lewis. Scottish Archaeological Internet Report 13: 51-52.
  • Lawson, I T, Church, M J, McGovern, T H, Arge, S V, Woollet, J, Edwards, K J, Gathorne-Hardy, F J, Dugmore, A J, Cook, G, Mairs, K-A, Thomson, A M & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2005). Historical ecology on Sandoy, Faroe Islands: palaeoenvironmental and archaeological perspectives. Human Ecology 33(5): 651-684.
  • Church, M J (2005). Palaeoenvironmental sampling of the souterrain, in Alexander, D. Redcastle, Lunan Bay, Angus: the excavation of of an Iron Age timber-lined souterrain and a Pictish barrow cemetery. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 135: 53-74.
  • Church, M J, Arge, S V, Brewington, S, McGovern, T H, Woollett, J, Perdikaris, S, Lawson, I T, Cook, G T, Amundsen, C, Harrison, R, Krivogorskaya, K & Dunbar, E (2005). Puffins, Pigs, Cod, and Barley: Palaeoeconomy at Undir Junkarinsfløtti, Sandoy, Faroe Islands. Environmental Archaeology 10(2): 179-197.
  • Dugmore, A J, Church, M J, Buckland, P C, Edwards, K J, Lawson, I T, McGovern, T H, Panagiotakopulu, E, Simpson, I A, Skidmore, P & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2005). The Norse landnám on the North Atlantic islands: an environmental impact assessment. Polar Record 41(1): 21-37.
  • Church, M J (2002). Carbonised plant macrofossils, in Cameron, K. The excavation of Neolithic pits and Iron Age souterrains at Dubton Farm, Brechin, Angus. Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal 8: 51-68.
  • Peters, C, Thompson, R, Harrison, A & Church, M J (2002). Low temperature magnetic characterisation of fire ash residues. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 27(31): 1355-1361.
  • Peters, C, Church, M J & Mitchell, C (2001). Investigation of fire ash residues using mineral magnetism. Archaeological Prospection 8(4): 227-237.
  • Rees, T & Church, M J (2000). Bronze Age timbers from Creag Ruaidh, Achmore, Isle of Lewis. Northern Studies 35: 133-159.
  • Peters, C, Church, M J & Coles, G M (2000). Mineral magnetism and archaeology at Galson on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Physics and chemistry of the earth. Part A, Solid earth and geodesy 25(5): 455-460.

Journal papers: professional

  • Church, M J, Bishop, R R, Blake, E, Nesbitt, C, Perri, A, Piper, S & Rowley-conwy, P A (2012). Temple Bay, Harris. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series 13: 186.
  • Church, M J, Bishop, R R, Blake, E, Nesbitt, C, Perri, A, Piper, S, Rowley-conwy, P A, Snape-Kennedy, L & Walker, J (2012). Tràigh na Beirigh, Uig. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series 13: 190.
  • Caldwell, D, Gilmour, S & Church, M J (2011). Mealasta, Tigh nan Cailleachan Dubha. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series 12: 194.
  • Bishop, R R, Church, M J & Rowley-Conwy, P A (2011). Northton, Harris. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series 11: 186-186.
  • Church, M J, Bishop, R R, Blake, E, Nesbitt, C, Perri, A, Piper, S & Rowley-Conwy, P A (2011). Temple Bay, Harris. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series 12: 187.
  • Church, M J, Bishop, R R, Blake, E,, Nesbitt, C, Perri, A, Piper, S & Rowley-Conwy, P A (2011). Traigh na Beirigh, Uig. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series 12: 194-195.
  • Bishop, RR, Church, MJ & Rowley-Conwy, PA (2010). Northton, Harris. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series 11: 178.

Supervises