School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Conflict Archaeology Research Group

The Conflict Archaeology Research Group is an interdisciplinary research forum aimed to study the materiality of human conflict from prehistory to the present.


Dr Manuel Fernández-Götz & Dr Linda Fibiger

Neolithic cranium with peri-mortem fracture
Neolithic cranium with peri-mortem fracture

In the last two decades, conflict archaeology has become firmly established as a dynamic field of research, as reflected in the growing number of publications, conferences and fieldwork projects. It has its origins in the study of battlefields and other conflict-related phenomena in the modern Era, but numerous studies show that this theme and at least some of its methods, techniques and theories, are also relevant for older historical and even prehistoric periods.

The chronological framework of the HCA Conflict Archaeology Research Group spans all of the human past, from early prehistory up to the post-World War period. While the main focus is on the material traces of conflict, the aim is explicitly interdisciplinary, incorporating whenever possible other sources of evidence such as written accounts, iconography and paleogeography.

There are currently several staff members at Edinburgh University working on conflict-related topics, which involve artefactual, skeletal, archival and landscape approaches, ranging from the Neolithic to the 20th century and also addressing issues of interpretation, preservation and management of conflict heritage. Conflict Archaeology is part of the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum, including teaching modules and a number of conflict-related PhD projects. Research foci within the wider School include, among others:

  • The study of violence in the Neolithic period.
  • Bronze Age warfare.
  • The archaeology of the Roman conquest.
  • The study of Early Modern warfare.
  • Genocide Studies.
  • The World Wars.
  • The Spanish Civil War.

Moreover, the research group aims to build up collaborations with other institutions such as the Scottish Battlefields Trust, the National Museum of Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and the National War Museum.