Professor Ian Ralston (OBE, MA, PhD, DLitt, FRSE, MAE, FSA, FSA Scot, MCIfA)

Abercromby Emeritus Professor of Archaeology


I studied under Professor Stuart Piggott at Edinburgh University, and was appointed to a Research Fellowship and then a Lectureship at Aberdeen University (1974-1985). Thereafter I joined this University’s Department of Archaeology. Between 1990 and 2000 I was Director of the Centre for Field Archaeology, the University’s applied archaeological unit, which is now in the private sector as CFA Archaeology Ltd.

In 1998, I was promoted to a personal Chair in Later European Prehistory. In 2012, I was appointed to the Abercromby Chair of Prehistoric Archaeology. I acted as Head of School from 2013-2016. Outwith the University, I have held a number of senior administrative roles, and was until 2011 Chair of the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel. I am an associate of UMR 8546, Ecole normale supérieure, Paris.

Useful Links

Full website:

Undergraduate teaching

I have taught previously on the courses listed below, but am currently on research leave.

  • Archaeology 1B, Archaeology 2A, Archaeology 2B, Scottish Studies 1B
  • Hons options on ·  The Practice of Field Archaeology in the United Kingdom
  • The Iron Age of western Temperate Europe
  • Gallia from the third century BC to the reign of Augustus
  • The Scottish lowlands: archaeology and landscape before the Normans
  • Archaeological Fieldwork
  • Archaeological Practice

Postgraduate teaching

I have taught previously on the courses listed below, but am currently on research leave.

  • The Practice of Field Archaeology in the United Kingdom
  • The Iron Age of western Temperate Europe
  • Gallia from the third century BC to the reign of Augustus
  • The Scottish lowlands: archaeology and landscape before the Normans

Current PhD students supervised

Current Students:

Past PhD students supervised

Past Students:

  • Thiemann, Nicolle, PhD, Facing the past - In vivo facial soft tissue depths of a modern adult population from Germany. Secondary. 2016,
  • Rocks-Macqueen, Doug, PhD, First Steps Towards a Dynamic Agent Based Predictive Model. Secondary. 2016,
  • Cooper, Malcolm A, PhD, Gerard Baldwin Brown and his circle: Edinburgh and the evolution of conservation 1870-1932. Primary. 2016
  • Cook, Murray, PhD, A contribution to the later prehistoric and early medieval settlement record of Scotland south of the Great Glen, with a specific focus on Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Primary. 2015, 
  • Stammitti, Emily, PhD, Dam construction and Archaeology: Defining the Impacts of the Past, Present and Future. Secondary. 2015  
  • Gooney, Dawn, PhD, Life and Death in Iron Age Orkney: an osteoarchaeological examination of the human skeletal remains from the burial ground at Knowe of Skea, Westray. Secondary. 2015, 
  • Osborne-Martin, Erin, MPhil, Some aspects of regional variation among larger enclosed sites in the later La Tène of France: an archaeological and proto-historical approach. Primary. 2014,
  • Faulkner-Jones, Rachel, MScR, Locational and distributional aspects of Scottish Bronze Age artefacts. 2013
  • Khorasani, Sara, PhD, Mid-Late Holocene environmental change in northern Sweden: an investigation using insect fossil remains. Secondary. 2013
  • Waters, Geoff, MPhil, The Drystone Chapels of Islay: aspects of chronology, context and distribution. Primary. 2013  
  • McLaren, Dawn, PhD, Funerary rites afforded to children in the Earlier Bronze Age in Britain: case studies from Scotland, Yorkshire and Wessex. Primary. 2012  
  • Aitchison, Kenny, PhD, Demand and Supply in UK Archaeological Employment, 1990-2010. Primary. 2011
  • McIlfatrick, Orlene, PhD, The Transitory vessel: aspects of the ceramic record of the Iron Age in North and West Scotland. Primary. 2010  
  • Werner, Shelley, PhD, An assessment for the case of shared traditions in the North Channel region.. Primary. 2008
  • Dennis, Samantha, MPhil, The use of experimental archaeology to examine and interpret Pre-Pottery Neolithic architecture: a case study of Beidha in southern Jordan. Primary. 2008  
  • Verrill, Lucy, PhD, Later prehistoric environmental marginality in western Ireland : multi-proxy investigations. Primary. 2006  
  • Thoms, Jennifer, PhD, Aspects of economy and environment of north west Lewis in the first millennium AD : the non-marine faunal evidence from Bostadh and Beirgh considered within the framework of north Atlantic Scotland. Primary. 2005  
  • Watson, Alasdair, PhD, Religious acculturation and assimilation in Belgic Gaul and Aquitania from the Roman Conquest until the end of the second century CE: selected aspects, Joint, 2005  
  • Alexander, Derek, MPhil, Aspects of the later prehistoric and protohistoric settlement of west central Scotland. Primary. 2002 
  • Werner, Shelley, MPhil, Later prehistoric settlement in Eastern Scotland, north of the Tay: a geographical information system based analysis. Primary. 2002  
  • Ceron-carrasco, Ruby, PhD, Of fish and men : aspects of the utilization of marine resources as recovered from selected Hebridean archaeological sites = De iasg agus dhaoine. Primary. 2002  
  • Barclay, Gordon, PhD, The First Farmers: The Neolithic of east-central Scotland. Primary. 2001  
  • Carver, Emma, MPhil, The visibility of imported wine and its associated accoutrements in Later Iron Age Britain. Primary. 2001  
  • Warren, Graeme, PhD, Towards a social archaeology of the mesolithic in Eastern Scotland. Primary. 2001  
  • Lawson, Helen, MScR, Defining statehood in early medieval Scotland. Secondary. 

Research summary

  • My interests include the European Iron Age, Scottish archaeology of all periods, and the development of applied archaeology. My most recent field projects took place in central France, where I was involved in large-scale excavations around the city of Bourges, in collaboration with French colleagues from UMR 8546-6 of CNRS (based at the Ecole normale supérieure, Paris) and the local archaeological service.

    • The archaeology of Scotland from earliest times until the middle ages
    • The later prehistory of Britain and Ireland
    • Archaeological resource management and applied archaeology
    • History of British, especially Scottish, archaeology
    • The European Iron Age, especially the settlement record of western temperate Europe  


  • Britain & Ireland
  • Scotland


  • Ancient Civilisations
  • Landscapes & Monuments
  • Material Culture


  • Prehistory
  • Antiquity

Current research interests

I am currently working on writing up a range of sites and topics on the later prehistory of Scotland, Britain and France.

Project activity

  • Late Hallstatt / Early la Tene workshops and other features at Port Sec Sud, Bourges, Cher, France with Dr Olivier Buchsenschutz (CNRS – ENS, Paris, France) – see e.g. Buchsenschutz and Ralston 2002; Augier, Buchsenschutz and Ralston 2008; Ralston 2010; Augier et al 2012
  • Camp de Corny, Meunet-Planches, Indre, France (2011) – Late la Tene small enclosure – an aristocratic farm with murus gallicus and earlier ironworking evidence?
  • Co-PI, with Emeritus Professor Gary Lock, Oxford, on the AHRC-funded project An atlas of the hillforts of Britain and Ireland, 2012-16.

Watch a short video of Professor Ralston speaking about this research interests - Media Hopper

The list below is a subset of the information held on the University of Edinburgh PURE system, and includes Books, Chapters, Articles and Conference contributions. For a full list, including details of other publication types (e.g. reviews), please see the Edinburgh Research Explorer page for Professor Ian Ralston.

Books - Authored

Brophy, K., MacGregor, G. and Ralston, I. (2016) The Neolithic of Mainland Scotland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Krausz, S., Colin, A., Gruel, K., Ralston, I. and Dechezleprêtre , T. (2013) L’âge du Fer en Europe, Mélanges offerts à Olivier Buchsenschutz. Bordeaux: Ausonius Editions

Ralston, I., Augier, L., Buchsenschutz, O., Durand, R., Filippini, A., Germinet, D., Levery, M., Macon, P., Pescher, B., Salin, M. and Troadec, J. (2012) Un complexe princier de l’Âge du Fer : le quartier artisanal de Port Sec sud à Bourges (Cher). Tours/Bourges: Revue Archéologique Centre France

Ralston, I. and Hunter, J. (2009) The Archaeology of Britain: An Introduction from Earliest Times to the Twenty-first Century. Routledge

Ralston, I. and Dunwell, A. (2008) Archaeology and Early History of Angus. The History Press Ltd.

Ralston, I. (2008) Bourges - Port Sec Sud, ZAC Esprit 2, Rapport d'operation de fouille preventive. Troisieme tranche 2007, Site no 18 033 536 AH Arrete de prescription de fouille archeologique. Bourges

Ralston, I., Augier, L. and Buchsenschutz, O. (2008) Un complexe princier de l’âge du Fer. L’habitat du promontoire de Bourges (Cher) (VIe-IVe s. av. J.-C.). Revue Archeologique du Centre de la France

Ralston, I. and Hunter, J. (2006) Archaeological resource management in the UK: an introduction. Sutton Publishing

Ralston, I. (2006) Celtic Fortifications. NPI Media Group

Ralston, I. (2004) Hill-Forts of Pictland since `The Problem of the Picts'. Groam House Museum

Ralston, I. and Buchsenschutz, O. (2002) Occupation de l’âge du Fer dans la vallée de l’Auron. Revue Archeologique du Centre de la France

Edwards, K. and Ralston, I. (1997) Scotland - environment and archaeology, 8000BC - 1000AD. Wiley

Books - Edited

Ralston, I. and Lock, G. (eds.) (2019) Hillforts: Britain, Ireland and the Nearer Continent. Papers from the Atlas of hillforts of Britain and Ireland Conference, June 2017. Oxford: Archaeopress

Hunter, F. and Ralston, I. (eds.) (2015) Scotland in Later Prehistoric Europe. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland


Bishop, R., Gröcke, D., Ralston, I., Clarke, D., Lee, D., Shepherd, A., Thomas, A., Rowley-Conwy, P. and Church, M. (2022) Scotland's first farmers: New insights into early farming practices in North-west Europe. Antiquity, 96(389), pp. 1087-1104DOI:

Ralston, I. (2019) Going back in time: Re-assessment of the timber halls at Doon Hill, Dunbar. Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Natural History Society, 32, pp. 4-27

Breeze, D., Marshall, R. and Ralston, I. (2019) Marguerite Wood and Margaret Simpson, two pioneering Scottish women. Scottish Archaeological Journal, 41(1), pp. 108-118DOI:

Ralston, I. (2018) Not Angles but first farmers: Revisiting the timber halls at Doon Hill, East Lothian. Current Archaeology, pp. 44-46

Lock, G. and Ralston, I. (2017) Mapping hillforts in Britain and Ireland. British Archaeology, pp. 46-51

Fernandez-Gotz, M. and Ralston, I. (2017) The complexity and fragility of Early Iron Age urbanism in West-Central temperate Europe. Journal of World Prehistory, 30(3), pp. 259-279DOI:

Khorasani, S., Panagiotakopulu, E., Engelmark, R. and Ralston, I. (2015) Late Holocene beetle assemblages and environmental change in Gammelhemmet, northern Sweden. Boreas: An International Journal of Quaternary Research, 44(2), pp. 368-382DOI:

Ralston, I. and Halliday, S. (2014) Your hillfort needs you. History Scotland Magazine, 14

Ralston, I. (2010) Fragile States in Mid-first Millennium BC Temperate Western Europe? The View from Bourges. Social Evolution & History, 9(2)

Ralston, I. and Jones, R. (2010) Artefacts and sites: A long and problematic relationship. Scottish Archaeological Journal, 32(1), pp. 1-13DOI:

Ralston, I. (2010) Scottish archaeological assemblages and museums: a matter for concern. Archaeology Scotland, 9

Ralston, I. (2009) Gordon Childe and Scottish Archaeology: the Edinburgh Years 1927—1946. European Journal of Archaeology, 12(1-3), pp. 47-90DOI:

Ralston, I. and Gilmour, S. (2009) Archaeology and historic environment in Scotland: some acronyms of the moment. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 21(1), pp. 4-5

Ralston, I. (2008) The Hunterian Redisplayed. Scottish Archaeological Journal, 30(1-2), pp. 205-209DOI:

Ralston, I. (2008) Bourges avant Avaricum. Dossiers d'Archéologie, 329, pp. 72-77

Ralston, I. (2008) La fouille de Port-Sec à Bourges (Cher). Dossiers d'Archéologie, 326, pp. 10-15

Ralston, I., Salin, M., Augier, L., Buchsenschutz, O., Durand, R. and Macon, P. (2008) Le site protohistorique de Port Sec sud à Bourges (Cher), campagne 2007. Bulletin de Association française pour l'étude de l'Âge du Fer, 9(10)

Augier, L., Buchsenschutz, O., Froquet, H., Milcent, P. and Ralston, I. (2001) The 5th century BC at Bourges, Berry, France: New discoveries. Antiquity, 75(287), pp. 23-24DOI:

Ralston, I. (1999) The Iron Age: Aspects of the human communities and their environments. Journal of Quaternary Science, 14(6), pp. 501-512DOI:>3.0.CO;2-O

Holley, M. and Ralston, I. (1995) Radiocarbon dates for two crannogs on the Isle of Mull, Strathclyde Region, Scotland. Antiquity, 69(264), pp. 595-596DOI:

Dunwell, A., Armit, I., Ralston, I. and Yson, B. (1995) The post-medieval farmstead and field system of over newtown at crookedstane, elvanfoot, upper clydesdale. Post-Medieval Archaeology, 29(1), pp. 61-75DOI:

Fairweather, A. and Ralston, I. (1993) The Neolithic timber hall at Balbridie, Grampian Region, Scotland: The building, the date, the plant macrofossils. Antiquity, 67(255), pp. 313-323DOI:

Ralston, I. (1988) Central Gaul at the Roman Conquest: Conceptions and misconceptions. Antiquity, 62(237), pp. 786-794DOI:

Gemmel, A. and Ralston, I. (1985) Some recent discoveries of ice-wedge cast networks in north-east Scotland: Reply to comment by M. Armstrong and I.B. Paterson. Scottish Journal of Geology, 21(1), pp. 109-111

Ralston, I. and Büchsenschütz, O. (1975) Late pre-Roman Iron Age forts in Berry. Antiquity, 49(193), pp. 8-18DOI:


Ralston, I. and Lock, G. (2019) Mapping British and Irish hillforts. In: Ray, C. and Fernandez Goetz, M. (eds.) Historical Ecologies, Heterarchies and Transtemporal Landscapes. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 139-155DOI:

Fernandez-Gotz, M. and Ralston, I. (2019) Rural residential places? Rethinking the Fürstensitze – Elites correlation. In: Cowley, D., Fernandez-Gotz, M., Romankiewicz, T. and Wendling, H. (eds.) Rural Settlement. Relating Buildings, Landscape, and People in the European Iron Age. Sidestone Press, pp. 203-212

Ralston, I. and Dugmore, A. (2018) Human traces. In: Kempe, N. and Wrightham, M. (eds.) Hostile Habitats: Scotland’s Mountain Environment. Leicester: Scottish Mountaineering Trust, pp. 234-257

Ralston, I. (2017) Oppida in Caesar’s Gallic War. In: Strassler, R. and Raaflaub , K. (eds.) The Landmark Julius Caesar: The Gallic Wars and the Civil War. New York: Presidio Press

Brophy, K., MacGregor, G. and Ralston, I. (2016) Foreword: 'The prehistory of my own lands, the lowlands'. In: Brophy, K., MacGregor, G. and Ralston, I. (eds.) The Neolithic of Mainland Scotland., pp. xv-xviii

Ralston, I. (2016) Gordon Barclay: A career in the Scottish Neolithic. In: Brophy, K., MacGregor, G. and Ralston, I. (eds.) The Neolithic of Mainland Scotland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 3-20

Ralston, I. (2015) The hillforts and enclosed settlements of Scotland: An overview. In: Hunter, F. and Ralston, I. (eds.) Scotland in Later Prehistoric Europe. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, pp. 201-210

Ralston, I. and Cooper, M. (2015) National legislation, policy and government agencies. In: Rescue Archaeology: Foundations for the Future. British Archaeological Trust, pp. 4-18

Ralston, I. and Buchsenschutz, O. (2014) Nouvelles remarques sur les muri gallici. In: Bullinger, J., Crotti, J. and Huguenin, C. (eds.) Cahiers d'archéologie romande. Lausanne, pp. 171-8

Ralston, I. and Halliday, S. (2013) Major forts and ‘minor oppida’ in Scotland: A reconsideration. In: Krausz, S., Colin, A., Gruel, K., Ralston, I. and Dechezleprêtre , T. (eds.) L’âge du Fer en Europe, Mélanges offerts à Olivier Buchsenschutz. Bordeaux: Ausonius Editions, pp. 219-34

Ralston, I., Augier, L., Rolland, X. and Troadec, J. (2013) Modélisation de la topographie de Bourges aux âges du Fer. In: Krausz, S., Colin, A., Gruel, K., Ralston, I. and Dechezleprêtre , T. (eds.) L’âge du Fer en Europe, Mélanges offerts à Olivier Buchsenschutz. Bordeaux: Ausonius Editions, pp. 181-96

Ralston, I. and Pope, R. (2011) Approaching sex and status in Iron Age Britain with reference to the nearer continent. In: Atlantic Europe in the First Millennium BC: crossing the divide. Oxford University Press, pp. 375-414

Ralston, I. (2009) British Archaeology since the End of the Second World War. In: Hunter, J. and Ralston, I. (eds.) The Archaeology of Britain: An Introduction from Earliest Times to the Twenty-first Century. Routledge, pp. 1-17

Ralston, I. and Halliday, S. (2009) How many hillforts are there in Scotland?. In: Cooney, G., Becker, K., Coles, J., Ryan, M. and Sievers, S. (eds.) Relics of old decency: archaeological studies in later prehistory. Festschrift for Barry Raftery. Wordwell, pp. 455-467

Ralston, I. (2009) The Celts. In: Gagarin, M. (ed.) The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Oxford University Press

Conference contribution

Romankiewicz, T. and Ralston, I. (2021) Revisiting Glenelg a century after Alexander O Curle: Reconstructing brochs in treeless landscapes. In: Gardening time: Monuments and landscape from Sardinia, Scotland and Central Europe in the very long Iron Age. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, pp. 65-74DOI:

Ralston, I. (2019) The hillforts of Britain and Ireland – the background to the Atlas project: An overview of the number of hill- and promontory-fort sites. In: Hillforts: Britain, Ireland and the nearer continent. Papers from the Atlas of hillforts of Britain and Ireland Conference. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 9-27

Ralston, I. (2018) Reflections on the presentation of Scottish archaeology in British prehistories since Gordon Childe's Prehistoric Communities. In: Roots of Nationhood: The Archaeology and History of Scotland. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 9-26

Ralston, I. and Buchsenschutz, O. (2012) Urbanisation et aristocratie celtiques. In: Die Frage der Protourbanisation in der Eisenzeit / La question de la protourbanisation à l’âge du Fer: Internationalen Kolloqiuiums der AFEAF vom 13-16 Mai 2010 in Aschaffenburg. Bonn: Rudolf Habelt, pp. 347-364