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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Benjamin Roberts, B.Sc., M.Phil., Ph.D.,

Personal web page

Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology

(email at

I completed my PhD on the Origins and Early Development of Metallurgy in Western Europe at the University of Cambridge in early 2007. I subsequently worked until mid 2012 at the British Museum as the Curator for the European Bronze Age collections. This was a wide ranging role which, in addition to the existing museum collections, also encompassed the recording of Bronze Age hoards found by metal-detecting in England and the researching and co-writing of 41 programmes in the British Museum/BBC Radio 4 series and accompanying book A History of the World in 100 Objects

My research focuses on understanding the transmission of new objects and technologies in northwest and southeast Europe from the Neolithic to the Early Iron Age. I was co-Investigator on a major AHRC funded project The Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia, an international and interdisciplinary project exploring copper production sites in Serbia which have produced the earliest evidence for metallurgy in the world. I am the co-Director of the HLF funded and crowdfunded Barrowed Time project in northwest England in collaboration with DigVentures and the Portable Antiquities Scheme. I am also involved with numerous smaller projects in Britain ranging from a Beaker/Early Bronze Age barrow (Reffley Wood) to a Bronze Age shipwreck (Salcombe) to a Late Iron Age hoard (Salisbury).

I am also interested in the impact of Treasure Act (1996, 2002) and the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the promotion of archaeology in museums and the media. My teaching covers courses on Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age Europe as well as on Museum Archaeology.

I would be interested in supervising research postgraduate students on Copper and Bronze Age Atlantic Europe as well as Museum Archaeology.

Research Groups

Department of Archaeology

Research Interests

  • Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Iron Age archaeology of Britain and western Europe
  • Origins and early development of metal
  • Cultural connections from the spanning Europe, North Africa and Asia c. 5000–500 BC
  • Archaeology, Museums and Popular Communication

Teaching Areas

  • Archaeology of Britain

  • Bronze Age Britain in a European Context
  • Discovering World Prehistory
  • MA Museum and Artefact Studies
  • Museum Representation
  • Prehistoric Europe: from Foragers to State Formation


Authored book

  • Murgia, A., Melkonian, M. & Roberts, B.W. (2014). European Bronze Age Gold in the British Museum. British Museum Press.

Edited book

  • Roberts, B.W. & Thornton, C.P. (2014). Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective: Methods and Syntheses. Springer.
  • Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. (2011). Investigating Archaeological Cultures: material culture, variability, and transmission. Springer.
  • Kienlin, T.L. & Roberts,B.W. (2009). Metals and Societies. Studies in honour of Barbara S. Ottaway. Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie. Habelt.

Chapter in book

  • O’Connor, B., Roberts, B.W. & Wilkin, N. (2017). The Ornament Horizon revisited: new and old finds of Middle Bronze Age ornaments in southern England. In Le Bronze moyen et l'origine du Bronze final en Europe occidentale, de la Mer du Nord à la Méditerranée (XVIIe-XIIIe siècle avant notre ère). Lachenal T.,, Mordant C., Nicolas T., & Véber C Mémoires d’Archéologie du Grand-Est 1. 267-282.
  • Warden, K., Caswell, E. & Roberts, B.W. (2016). Funerary fragments between the rivers: analysing the evidence for the dead in the Tyne–Forth region during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1150–800 BC). In Prehistory without Borders: Prehistoric Archaeology of the Tyne-Forth Region. Crellin, Rachel, Fowler, Chris & Tipping, Richard Oxbow. 156-167.
  • Wang, Q., Uckelmann, M., Roberts, B.W. & La Niece, S. (2016). Technical Study of British Bronze Age Shields in the British Museum. In Metals 2016. Proceedings of the interim meeting of the ICOM-CC metals working group. Menon, R., Chemello, C. & Pandya, A. ICOM-CC. 53-60.
  • Roberts, B.W. & Frieman, C. (2015). Early Metallurgy in Western and Northern Europe. In The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe. Fowler, C., Harding, J. & Hofmann, D. Oxford University Press. 711-728.
  • Thornton, C.P. & Roberts, B.W. (2014). Introduction. In Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective: Methods and Syntheses. Roberts, B.W. & Thornton, C.P. Springer. 1-10.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2013). Farmers in the Landscape or Heroes on the High Seas: Britain and Ireland in the Bronze Age. In Oxford Handbook of Bronze Age Europe. Fokkens, H. & Harding, A. Oxford University Press. 531-549.
  • Roberts, B.W. , Uckelmann, M. & Brandherm, D. (2013). Old Father Time: the chronology of the Bronze Age in Western Europe. In The Oxford Handbook of Bronze Age Europe. H. Fokkens & A. Harding Oxford University Press. 17-46.
  • Roberts, B.W. & Frieman, C. (2012). Drawing boundaries and building models: investigating the concept of the ‘Chalcolithic frontier’ in Northwest Europe. In Is there a British Chalcolithic: people, place and polity in the later 3rd millennium. Allen, M. Gardiner,J. & Sheridan, A. Oxbow. 27-39.
  • Vander Linden, M. & Roberts, B.W. (2011). A Tale of Two Countries: Contrasting Archaeological Culture History in British and French Archaeology. In Investigating Archaeological Cultures: Material Culture, Variability and Transmission. Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. Springer. 23-40.
  • Roberts, B. W. (2011). Ancient Technology and Archaeological Cultures: understanding the earliest metallurgy in Eurasia. In Investigating Archaeological Cultures: material culture, variability and transmission. Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. 137-150.
  • Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. (2011). Introduction. In Investigating Archaeological Cultures: Material Culture, Variability and Transmission. Roberts, B.W. & Vander Linden, M. 1-23.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2009). Origins, Transmission and Traditions: analysing early metal in Western Europe. In Metals and Societies. Studies in honour of Barbara S. Ottaway. Kienlin,T.L. & Roberts, B.W. Habelt. 129-142.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2009). Subsistence, Structures and Craftworking: analysing economic dynamics in Britain 2500-800 BC. In The Economic Foundations of the European Bronze Age. Bartelheim, M. & Stäuble, H. Verlag Marie Leidorf. 65-84.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2008). The Bronze Age. In The Handbook of British Archaeology. Atkins, L., Atkins, R. & Leitch, V. Constable and Robinson. 60-91.
  • Ottaway, B.S. & Roberts, B.W. (2008). The Emergence of Metallurgy. In Prehistoric Europe: Theory and Practice. Jones, A. Blackwell. 193-225.

Journal Article

  • Radivojević, M., Roberts, B.W., Pernicka, E., Stos-Gale, Z., Martinón-Torres, M., Rehren, Th., Bray, P., Brandherm, D., Ling, J., Mei, J., Vandkilde, H., Kristiansen, K., Shennan, S.J. & Broodbank, C. (2019). The Provenance, Use, and Circulation of Metals in the European Bronze Age: The State of Debate. Journal of Archaeological Research 27(2): 131-185.
  • Wang, Q., Strekopytov, S. & Roberts, B.W. (2018). Copper ingots from a probable Bronze Age shipwreck off the coast of Salcombe, Devon: composition and microstructure. Journal of Archaeological Science 97: 102-117.
  • Caswell, E. & Roberts, B.W. (2018). Reassessing Community Cemeteries: Cremation Burials in Britain during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1600–1150 cal BC). Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 84: 329-357.
  • Melton, N., Montgomery, J., Roberts, B.W., Cook, G. & Harris, S. (2016). On the curious date of the Rylstone log-coffin burial. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 82: 383-392.
  • Wang, Q., Strekcopytov, S., Roberts, B.W. & Wilkin, N. (2016). Tin ingots from a probable Bronze Age shipwreck off the coast of Salcombe, Devon: Composition and microstructure. Journal of Archaeological Science 67: 80-92.
  • Roberts, B.W., Boughton, D., Dinwiddy, M., Doshi, N., Fitzpatrick, A., Hook, D., Meeks, N., Woodward, A. & Woodward, P. (2015). Collapsing Commodities or Lavish Offerings? Understanding Massive Metalwork Deposition at Langton Matravers, Dorset During the Bronze Age–Iron Age Transition. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 34 (4): 365-395.
  • Roberts, B.W. & Radivojević, M. (2015). Invention as a Process: Pyrotechnologies in Early Societies. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 25(01): 299-306.
  • Murgia, A., Roberts, B.W. & Wiseman, R. (2014). What have metal-detectorists ever done for us? Discovering Bronze Age gold in England and Wales. Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 44(3): 353-367.
  • Thornton, C.P., Golden, J.M. Killick, D.J. Pigott, V.C. Rehren,Th. & B.W. Roberts, (2010). A Chalcolithic Error: Rebuttal to Amzallag 2009. American Journal of Archaeology 114: 305–15.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2009). Creating Traditions and Shaping Technologies: understanding the emergence of metallurgy in Western Europe c. 3500-2000 BC. World Archaeology 40(3): 354-372.
  • Roberts, B. W. Thornton, C.P. & Pigott, V.C. (2009). Development of metallurgy in Eurasia. Antiquity 83(322): 1012–1022.
  • Thornton, C.P. & Roberts, B.W. (2009). Introduction: The Beginnings of Metallurgy in Global Perspective. Journal of World Prehistory. Journal of World Prehistory 22(3): 181-4.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2009). Production Networks and Consumer Choice in the Earliest Metal of Western Europe. Journal of World Prehistory 22(4): 461-81.
  • B.W. Roberts (2008). Migration, craft expertise and metallurgy: analysing the ‘spread’ of metal in Europe. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 23 (2): 27-45.
  • Roberts, B.W. (2007). Adorning the living but not the dead: a reassessment of Middle Bronze Age ornaments in Britain. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 73: 135-167.
  • Roberts,B.W. (2007). Evidence of Roman agricultural drainage: excavation south of the former A120, Takeley, 2003. Essex Archaeology and History 38 : 53-65.
  • Roberts,B.W. (2007). Excavations at the former Dovercourt Motors site, Spital Road, Maldon, 2002. Essex Archaeology and History 38: 109-119.
  • O’Brien, L. & Roberts, B.W. (2007). Excavations at the former Shell Garage site, 84-88 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford. Essex Archaeology and History 38: 102-108.
  • Nicholson, K. & Roberts, B.W. (2007). Roman deposits at Lynmouth Gardens/Parkway, Chelmsford; excavations 2003. Essex Archaeology and History 38: 89-101.
  • O'Brien, L. & Roberts, B.W. (2004). Excavations on Roman Ermine Street at the New Restaurant Facility, GlaxoSmithKline, Ware. Hertfordshire Archaeology and History 14: 3-39.
  • Roberts,B.W. & Ottaway, B.S. (2003). The use and significance of socketed axes during the Late Bronze Age. European Journal of Archaeology 6(2): 119-140.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Roberts, B.W. & Veysey, C. (2011). Trading Places. British Museum Magazine 70: 44-45.

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • European Prehistory: