Professor Clive Bonsall

Emeritus Professor of Early Prehistory


I studied prehistory and archaeology at Sheffield University with Colin Renfrew, Paul Mellars and Andrew Fleming. Soon after graduation I took up a junior research post at the British Museum, moving to a lectureship in Edinburgh in 1978. After promotion to Senior Lecturer and then Reader, I was awarded a Personal Chair in Early Prehistory in 2009. My research focuses on the post-glacial hunting-gathering (Mesolithic) and early farming (Neolithic) societies of Britain and continental Europe. Early in my career I excavated Mesolithic sites in northern England, but since the 1990s my field archaeology has been mainly in W Scotland and SE Europe. My publications include The Mesolithic in Europe (1989), The Human Use of Caves (1997), The Iron Gates in Prehistory (2008), Submerged Prehistory (2011), Archaeology and Environment on the North Sea Littoral (2016), and Not Just for Show: The Archaeology of Beads, Beadwork and Personal Ornaments (2017).

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Honorary Member, ‘Vasile Pârvan’ Institute of Archaeology, Romanian Academy of Sciences, București, Romania.
  • Foreign Member, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Member, Editorial Board, Geosciences - Open Access Journal
  • Member, Editorial Board, Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Lithic Studies
  • Member, Editorial Board, Atti della Società per la Preistoria e Protostoria della Regione Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Trieste
  • Member, Palaeolithic & Mesolithic Panel, Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF)

Useful Links

Current PhD students supervised

Aguraiuja, Ulle    PhD    Stable isotope variation    Primary

PhD    Infanticide in Britain from the Roman Conquest to the Sixteenth Century AD    Secondary

Caldeira, Claudia    PhD    Stable isotopes in archaeology: the role of δ34S in the interpretation of ancient populations    Joint

Evatt, Anna    PhD    A bioarchaeological investigation of human remains during the Mesolithic period in Europe    Secondary

PhD    Islands in flux: Iron Age worked bones in Atlantic Scotland    Joint

Groom, Peter    PhD    An Experimental Study of Mesolithic Fishing Practices in Western Scotland    Primary

Harris, Michael    MScRA     review of the evidence for late glacial settlement in Northern Britain.    Primary

PhD    Interpreting Activity Markers in Medieval Scottish Populations: A lifestyle retrospective.    Secondary

Nelson-Viljoen, Cindy    PhD     Primary    link

PhD    The Neolithic Cemetery of Cernovoda, Romania: An O...    Secondary

PhD    Late Bronze/Early Iron Age Skeletal Populations of Slovenia    Secondary

Past PhD students supervised

Ritchie, Graham    PhD    Chronological and regional variability in chipped stone assemblages from Northern Britain    Primary    2010

Mothulatshipi, Sarah    PhD    Landscape Archaeology of the Later Farming Communities of the Shashe-Limpopo Basin, Eastern Botswana: Land use Diversity and Behaviour    Primary    2009

Ritchie, Graham    MScR    Landscape and settlement: the archaeology of southeastern Sicily from 7,000 BC to 700 AD    Secondary    2008

Benjamin, Jonathan    PhD    The submerged prehistory of Europe : a methodological approach to underwater site discovery with special reference to the Mesolithic and Neolithic of the Eastern Adriatic    Primary    2007

Ritchie, Graham    MScR    Chronological and regional variability in chipped stone assemblages from Northern Britain    Primary    2006

Pickard, Catriona    PhD    Fishing in Mesolithic Europe    Primary    2002 

Research summary


  • Europe
  • Scotland

Current research interests

The transition from hunting and gathering to farming was one of the most important events in prehistory. Much of my research has been spent investigating when and how this change came about in different parts of Europe. This has involved fieldwork in western Scotland, the Adriatic, and the Iron Gates of the Danube on the border between Romania and Serbia, together with scientific analyses of archaeological materials to determine the age of the sites.

(Publications since 2013 listed, all publications available as a PDF)


Bar-Yosef Mayer, D.A., Choyke, A. & Bonsall, C. (eds), 2017. Not Just for Show: The Archaeology of Beads, Beadwork and Personal Ornaments. Oxford, Oxbow Books. 224 pp.

Waddington, C. & Bonsall, C., 2016. Archaeology and Environment on the North Sea Littoral. A Case Study from Low Hauxley. Bakewell: Archaeological Research Services / Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland Wildlife Trust. 323 pp.

Comșa, A., Bonsall, C. & Nikolova, L. (eds), 2013. The Neo-Eneolithic Period in Central and Southeast Europe. Proceedings of the International Symposium Dedicated to the 85th Birth Anniversary of Eugen Comșa. Bucharest, Editura Academiei.

Articles and book chapters

Cramp, L.J.E., Ethier, J., Urem-Koutsou, D., Bonsall, C., Borić, D., Boroneanţ, A., Evershed, R.P., Perić, S., Roffet-Salque, M., Whelton, H.L. & Ivanova, M. 2019. Regional diversity in subsistence among early farmers in Southeast Europe revealed by archaeological organic residues. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 286: 20182347.

Boroneanţ, A., Mărgărit, M., Bălășescu, A. & Bonsall, C. 2018. Schela Cladovei – a reinterpretation of the osseous industry from the 1965-1968 excavations. In C-M. Lazarovici & A. Berzovan (eds), Questiones Praehistoricae: Studia in Honorem Professoris Vasile Chirica. Bucureşti/Brăila, Editura Academiei Române/Editura Istros: 197-221.

Mărgărit, M., Radu, V., Boroneanţ, A. & Bonsall, C. 2018. Experimental studies of personal ornaments from the Iron Gates Mesolithic. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 10(8): 2095‒2122.

Boroneanţ, A., Diaconu, V. & Bonsall, C. 2018. Obsidian finds from the Early Neolithic site at Grumăzești-Deleni (Neamț County). Materiale şi Cercetări Arheologice N.S. 14: 25–31.

Boroneanţ, A., Virag, C., Astaloș, C. & Bonsall, C. 2018. Sourcing obsidian from prehistoric sites in northwest Romania. Materiale şi Cercetări Arheologice N.S. 14: 13–23.

Bartosiewicz, L. & Bonsall, C. 2018. ‘Herd’ mentality. In Ivanova, M., Stockhammer, P., Petrova, V., Takorova, D., Atanassov, B. Social Dimensions of Food in the Prehistory of the Eastern Balkans and Neighbouring Areas. Oxford, Oxbow: 1–13.

Bonsall, C. & Boroneanţ, A. 2018. The Iron Gates Mesolithic: a brief review of recent developments. L’Anthropologie 122: 264–280.

Dobrescu, R., Tuffreau, A. & Bonsall, C. 2018. L’utilisation de l’obsidienne au Paléolithique supérieur dans le nord-ouest de la Roumanie. L’Anthropologie 122: 111–128.

Mathieson, I. et al., 2018. The genomic history of Southeastern Europe. Nature 555: 197‒209.

Olalde, I. et al. 2018. The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of Northwest Europe. Nature  555: 190‒196.

Aguraiuja, Ü., Constantinescu, M., Lamb, A. & Bonsall, C. 2018. Bronze Age subsistence strategies in the southeastern Carpathian Bend area, Romania: Results from stable isotope analyses. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17: 510‒519.

Mărgărit, M., Boroneanţ, A., Balint, M., Bălășescu, A. & Bonsall, C. 2017. Interacțiuni om-mediu în situl mezolitic de la Icoana (Porțile de Fier). Studii de Preistorie 14: 37-77.

Mărgărit, M., Boroneanţ, A. & Bonsall, C. 2017. Industria materiilor dure animale din așezarea mezolitică de la Ostrovul Banului (jud. Mehedinți). Banatica 27: 39‒71.

Bownes, J.M., Ascough, P.L., Cook, G.T., Murray, I., Bonsall, C. 2017. Using stable isotopes and a Bayesian mixing model (FRUITS) to investigate diet at the Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic site of Carding Mill Bay, Scotland. Radiocarbon 59(5): 1275‒1294.

Gurova, M. & Bonsall, C. 2014. Experimental replication of stone, bone and shell beads from Early Neolithic sites in Southeast Europe. In D. Bar-Yosef, C. Bonsall & A. Choyke (eds), Not Just for Show: The Archaeology of Beads, Beadwork and Personal Ornaments. Oxford, Oxbow: 161‒169.

Pickard, C., Boroneanț, A. & Bonsall, C. 2017. Molluscan remains from Early to Middle Holocene sites in the Iron Gates reach of the Danube, Southeast Europe. In: M.J. Allen (ed.), Molluscs in Archaeology: methods, approaches and applications. Oxford, Oxbow Books: 179‒194.

Mărgărit, M., Radu, V., Boroneanţ, A. & Bonsall, C. 2017. Experimental studies of personal ornaments from the Iron Gates Mesolithic. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. Published online 13/07/2017.

Bonsall, C., Gurova, M., Elenski, N., Ivanov, G., Bakamska, A. Ganetsovski, G., Zlateva-Uzunova, R. & Slavchev, V. 2017. Tracing the source of obsidian from prehistoric sites in Bulgaria. Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology 7: 37–59.

González-Fortes, G., Jones, E.R., Lightfoot, E., Bonsall, C., Lazar, C., Grandal-d’Anglade, A., Garralda, M.D., Drak, L., Siska, V., Simalcsik, A., Boroneanţ, A., Vidal Romaní, J.R., Vaqueiro Rodríguez, M., Arias, P., Pinhasi, R., Manica, A., Hofreiter, M. 2017. Paleogenomic evidence for multi-generational mixing between Neolithic farmers and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in the Lower Danube Basin. Current Biology 27(12): 1801-1810.e10, ISSN 0960-9822,

Bonsall, C., Elenski, N., Ganecovski, G., Gurova, M., Ivanov, G., Slavchev, V. & Zlateva-Uzanova, R. 2017. Investigating the provenance of obsidian from Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites in Bulgaria. Antiquity 91 (Issue 356).

Cook, G., Hamilton, D. & Bonsall, C. 2017. ‘Radiocarbon dates’. In K. Bacvarov, M. Tonkova & G. Katsarov ( eds), Sarnevo. Pits from the Late Neolithic, the Early and Late Iron Age, and the Roman Period. Volume 1, The Late Neolithic pit field. Sofia, NAIM-BAS, pp. 505–509.

Boroneanț, A. & Bonsall, C. 2016. The Icoana burials in context. In J.M. Grünberg, B. Gramsch, L. Larsson, J. Orschiedt & H. Meller (eds), Mesolithic Burials – Rites, Symbols and Social Organisation of Early Postglacial Communities, vol. II, pp. 757–780. Halle, Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle (Saale).

Bonsall, C., Boroneant, A., Simalcsik, A. & Higham, T. 2016. Radiocarbon dating of Mesolithic burials from Ostrovul Corbului, southwest Romania. In K. Bacvarov and R. Gleser (eds), Southeast Europe and Anatolia in Prehistory. Essays in Honor of Vassil Nikolov on his 65th Anniversary, pp. 41–50. Universitätsforschungen zur Prähistorischen Archäologie 293. Bonn, Habelt.

Dobrescu, R., Ștefan, C.E. & Bonsall, C. 2016. Observations sur l’industrie en obsidienne découverte à Șoimuș-La Avicola (Ferma 2). Materiale şi Cercetări Arheologice N.S. 12: 45–56.

Cristiani, E., Radini, A., Borić, D., Mutri, G., Filipović, D., Allué, E., Bonsall, C., Boroneanț, A., Dalmeri, G., Fontana, F., Lo Vetro, D., Martini, F., Negrino, F., Peresani, M., Riel-Salvatore, J., Sarti, L., Vujević, D. & Vukojicić, S. 2016. The ‘Hidden Foods’ project: new research into the role of plant foods in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic societies of South-east Europe and Italy. Antiquity Project Gallery 352, July 2016,

Payton, R.W. & Bonsall, C. 2016. Soil paleocatenas, prehistoric land use and coastal landscape dynamics at Druridge Bay, northeast England. Geoarchaeology: an international journal 31(5): 388–411. (Online 22/06/2106: doi 10.1002/gea.21551).

Bonsall, C., Boroneanț, A., Evatt, A., Soficaru, A., Nica, C., Bartosiewicz, L., Cook, G.T., Higham, T.F.G. & Pickard, C. 2016. The Clisurean finds from Climente II cave, Iron Gates, Romania. Quaternary International (2015),

Bonsall, C. & Boroneanț, A. 2016. Lateglacial hunter-gatherers in the Iron Gates: a brief review of the archaeological and chronological evidence. In Krauß, R. & Floss, H. (eds), Southeast Europe Before Neolithisation. Proceedings of the International Workshop within the Collaborative Research Centres SFB 1070 “RessourcenKulturen”, Schloss Hohentübingen, 9th of May 2014, pp. 149–164. Tübingen, University of Tübingen.

McSweeney, K., Bacvarov, K., Nikolov, V., Andreeva, D. & Bonsall, C. 2016. Infant burials in Early Bronze Age Bulgaria: a bioarchaeological appraisal of funerary behaviour. In V. Nikolov & W. Schier (eds), Der Schwarzmeerraum vom Neolithikum bis in die Früheisenzeit (6000–600 v. Chr.), pp. 383–393. Berlin, Marie Leidorf.

Bonsall, C., Macklin, M.G., Boroneant, A., Pickard, C., Bartosiewicz, L., Cook, G. & Higham, T. 2015. Rapid climate change and radiocarbon discontinuities in the Mesolithic–Early Neolithic settlement record of the Iron Gates: cause or coincidence? In P.F. Biehl & O. Nieuwenhuyse (eds), Climate and Cultural Change in Prehistoric Europe and the Near East, 195–210. Buffalo (New York), SUNY Press.

Pickard, C., Schoop, U., Dalton, A., Sayle, K.L., Channell, I., Calvey, K., Thomas, J-L., Bartosiewicz, L. & Bonsall, C. 2015. Diet at Late Chalcolithic Çamlıbel Tarlası, north-central Anatolia: an isotopic perspective. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 5: 296–306.

Bonsall, C., Cook, G., Bartosiewicz, L. & Pickard, C. 2015. Reply to Nehlich & Borić’s “Response to Bonsall et al. ‘Food for thought: re-assessing Mesolithic diets in the Iron Gates’”. Radiocarbon 57(4): 705–706.

Bonsall, C., Cook, G., Pickard, C., McSweeney, K., Sayle, K., Bartosiewicz, L., Radovanović, I., Higham, T., Soficaru, A. & Boroneanț, A. 2015. Food for thought: re-assessing Mesolithic diets in the Iron Gates. Radiocarbon 57(4): 689–699.

Bonsall, C., Vasić, R., Boroneanț, A., Roksandic, M., Soficaru, A., McSweeney, K., Evatt, A., Aguraiuja, Ü., Pickard, C., Dimitrijević, V., Higham, T., Hamilton, D. & Cook, G. 2015. New AMS 14C dates for human remains from Stone Age sites in the Iron Gates reach of the Danube, Southeast Europe. Radiocarbon 57(1): 33–46.

Evin, A., Girdland Flink, L., Bălășescu, A., Popovici, D., Andreescu, R., Bailey, D., Mirea, P., Lazăr, C., Boroneanț, A., Bonsall, C., Strand Vidarsdottir, U., Brehard, S., Tresset, A., Cucchi, T., Larson, G. & Dobney, K. 2015. Unravelling the complexity of domestication: a case study using morphometrics and ancient DNA analyses of archaeological pigs from Romania. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 370 20130616.

Bonsall, C., Macklin, M.G., Boroneant, A., Pickard, C., Bartosiewicz, L., Cook, G. & Higham, T. 2015. Holocene climate change and prehistoric settlement in the Lower Danube Valley. Quaternary International 378: 14–21.

Cook, G.T., Ascough, P.L., Bonsall, C., Hamilton, W.D., Russell, N., Sayle, K. & Scott, E.M. 2014. Best practice methodology for 14C calibration of marine and mixed terrestrial/marine samples. Quaternary Geochronology 27: 164–171.

Gurova, M. & Bonsall, C. 2014. Lithic studies: an alternative approach to Neolithization. Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology 4: 107–135.

Gurova, M. & Bonsall, C. 2014. ‘Pre-Neolithic’ in Southeast Europe: a Bulgarian perspective. Documenta Praehistorica 41: 95–109.

Boroneanț, A., McSweeney, K. & Bonsall, C. 2014. Schela Cladovei 1982 – supplement to the original excavation report of Vasile Boroneanț. Analele Banatului 22: 17–31.

Črešnar, M., Koprivnik, V., Bonsall, C., Thomas, J-L. 2014. 16.2. Gračič below Brinjeva Gora. In B. Teržan & M. Črešnar, Absolute Dating of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Slovenia. Ljubljana, National Museum of Slovenia: 305–311.

Črešnar, M., Koprivnik, V., Bonsall, C., Thomas, J-L. 2014. 12. Ruše. In B. Teržan & M. Črešnar, Absolute Dating of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Slovenia. Ljubljana, National Museum of Slovenia: 221–223.

Črešnar, M., Bonsall, C., Thomas, J-L. 2014. 11. Pobrezje near Maribor. In B. Teržan & M. Črešnar, Absolute Dating of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Slovenia. Ljubljana, National Museum of Slovenia: 215–219.

Gurova, M., Bonsall, C., Bradley, B., Anastassova, E. & Cura, P. 2014. An experimental approach to prehistoric drilling and bead manufacturing. In S. Cura, J. Cerezer, M. Gurova, B. Santander, L. Oosterbeek & J. Cristóvão (eds), Technology and Experimentation in Archaeology. BAR International Series 2657. Oxford, Archaeopress: 47–56.

Pickard, C. & Bonsall, C., 2014. Mesolithic and Neolithic shell middens in western Scotland: a comparative analysis of shellfish exploitation patterns. In Mirjana Roksandic, Sheila Mendonça de Souza, Sabine Eggers, Meghan Burchell & Daniela Klokler (eds) The Cultural Dynamics of Shell-Matrix Sites. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press: 251–266.

Vaughn, M., Bonsall, C., Bartosiewicz, L., Schoop, U.-D. & Pickard, C. 2014. Variation in the carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures of pig remains from prehistoric sites in the Near East and Central Europe. Archeometriai Műhely 2013/X./4: 307–312.

Bonsall, C., Pickard, C. & Groom, P. 2013. Boats and pioneer settlement – the Scottish dimension. Norwegian Archaeological Review 46:1, 87–90.

Schoop, U-D., Pickard, C. & Bonsall, C. 2013. Radiocarbon dating Chalcolithic Büyükkaya. In ‘Die Ausgrabungen in Boğazköy-Ḫattuša 2011’, by A. Schachner. Archäologischer Anzeiger. 2012/1: 115–120.

Boroneanț, A. & Bonsall, C., 2013. The 1965–1968 excavations at Schela Cladovei (Romania) revisited. In E. Starnini (ed.), Unconformist Archaeology. Papers in Honour of Paolo Biagi. Oxford, Archaeopress: 35–54.

Boroneanț, A. & Bonsall, C., 2013.  Burial practices in the Iron Gates Mesolithic. In R. Kogălniceanu, R. Curcă and M. Gligor (eds), HOMINES, FUNERA, ASTRA. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Funerary Anthropology, June 5-8, 2011, Alba Iulia. Oxford, Archaeopress.

Gurova, M., Bonsall, C., Bradley, B. & Anastassova, E. 2013. Approaching prehistoric skills: experimental drilling in the context of bead manufacturing. Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology 3(2): 201–221.

Nalawade-Chavan, S., McCullagh, J., Hedges, R., Bonsall, C., Boroneant, A., Bronk Ramsey, C. & Higham, T. 2013. Compound specific radiocarbon dating of essential and non-essential Amino acids: towards determination of dietary reservoir effects in humans. Radiocarbon 55(2–3): 709–719.

Bonsall, C., McSweeney, K., Payton, R.W., Pickard, C., Bartosiewicz, L. & Boroneanț, A., 2013. Death on the Danube: Late Mesolithic burials at Schela Cladovei, Romania. In A. Comșa, C. Bonsall & L. Nikolova (eds), Facets of the Past: The Challenge of the Balkan Neo-Eneolithic. București, Academia Academiei Române: 55–67.

Bonsall, C., Mlekuž, D., Bartosiewicz, L. & Pickard, C., 2013. Early farming adaptations of the northeast Adriatic Karst. In S. Colledge, J. Conolly, K. Dobney, K. Manning & S. Shennan (eds), The Origins and Spread of Domestic Animals in Southwest Asia and Europe. Walnut Creek (CA), Left Coast Press.

Notes, reviews and review articles

Bonsall, C. 2017. Review of, Going West? The Dissemination of Neolithic Innovations between the Bosporus and the Carpathians, edited by Agathe Reingruber, Zoï Tsirtsoni & Petranka Nedelcheva. London: Routledge/European Association of Archaeologists, 2017. Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology 7: 287–290.

Bonsall, C., Gurova, & Allard, P. 2017. Lithic Raw Materials in Prehistory: sourcing, network distribution and use (Report on Session TH1-16 at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the EAA in Vilnius, Lithuania) The European Archaeologist 52–53.

Bonsall, C. 2017. Review of Deathways at Lepenski Vir: Patterns in Mortuary Practice. Excavations of Dragoslav Srejović, by Dušan Borić. Belgrade: Serbian Archaeological Society, 2016. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 27(3): 582-584.

Biehl, P.F. & Bonsall, C. 2015. Europe, Archaeology of. In: International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences, 2nd edition., pp. 269-272. Elsevier.

Bonsall, C. 2013. Review of Dynamics of Neolithisation in Europe: Studies in Honour of Andrew Sherratt, edited by A. Hadjikoumis, E. Robinson & S. Viner, Oxbow, Oxford 2011. Environmental Archaeology 18(1): 82–83.