Professor Jon Henderson (MA Edin. DPhil Oxon. FSA Scot. MCIfA)
Professor of Coastal and Marine Archaeology; Chancellor's Fellow- Global Challenges; Head of Archaeology Subject Area; Archaeology
I was awarded a Personal Chair in Coastal and Marine Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh in August 2023 having previously joined the department as a Chancellor’s Fellow in Global Challenges in September 2020. I was previously an Associate Professor in Archaeology at the University of Nottingham.
I completed an undergraduate MA degree in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh in 1994. I then worked as a consultant for commercial archaeology units in Edinburgh (Kirkdale and AOC Archaeology) before undertaking a doctorate in Archaeology at the University of Oxford (1995-2000) supervised by Sir Barry Cunliffe. I was offered a lectureship in Archaeology at the University of Nottingham in 2000 while completing my D.Phil. and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2007.
Organising Committee, UN Ocean Decade Heritage Network
Member of the Scottish Archaeology Strategy Committee
Member of the Advisory Board of the UNESCO Mozambique Island Archaeological Research and Resource Center-CAIRIM
UK National Commission for UNESCO expert network (Underwater Cultural Heritage)
Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA)
Rising from the Depths AHRC/GCRF Network+
The Thistlegorm Project Red Sea, Egypt
Responsibilities & affiliations
Head of Archaeology Subject Area
Director of Edinburgh Marine Archaeology
Centre of African Studies
I currently run an UG Honours course on Marine Archaeology (ARCA10097).
I can supervise PhD and MRes students on a range of archaeology, heritage and sustainable development topics. I have 6 PhD completions as main supervisor and 2 as joint supervisor to date.
Wycliffe Omondi Cultural Heritage conservation as a stimulus for sustainable development along the coast of Kenya
Sam Scott-Moncrieff “...there are no tribes beyond us”: the construction of complex identities through Roman Iron Age architecture in Scotland and North Wales
Open to PhD supervision enquiries?
Areas of interest for supervision
Areas accepting Research Students in:
Heritage and the Sustinable Development Agenda
Coastal and marine heritage
Iron Age archaeology of Scotland and Atlantic Europe
- Ancient Civilisations
- Twentieth Century & After
I am a prehistoric archaeologist whose research focuses on the role marine heritage can play in sustainable development strategies and, more widely, in addressing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. My current research projects use knowledge and data from past human action in the marine and coastal environment to inform solutions to development challenges in that zone. I have specific research interests in coastal societies, submerged settlements, underwater archaeology and the development of innovative digital techniques for the survey and presentation of underwater cultural heritage. The settlement archaeology of Scotland and Atlantic Europe during the Iron Age forms a further area of interest.
• Marine Archaeology and Sustainable development: I set out my vision for the role of Marine Cultural Heritage in sustainable development in ‘Oceans without History?’ published in Sustainability in 2019 (downloaded 7500 times and cross-referenced 38 times to date). I am involved in a range of projects examining the value of marine heritage in tourism, coastal development and infrastructure projects, development aid policy, climate change mitigation, the blue economy and building resilience in at-risk communities. In Wrecks at Risk: stabilising and enhancing submerged cultural heritage in the Red Sea I am using new digital technologies to survey cultural heritage in the Red Sea for use in the Blue Economy (particularly benefitting the Egyptian dive tourism industry). I am the PI and Chair of a large GCRF Network+ Rising from the Depths based in Edinburgh. The network is identifying how the submerged and coastal cultural heritage of Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar can stimulate ethical, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the region (Henderson et al. 2021). I have established a cross-border and cross-sector network of arts and humanities researchers, scientists, policy makers, UN officials, NGOs, ICT professionals and specialists working in heritage, infrastructure and the offshore industry. Project partners include UNESCO, National Museums of Scotland, the World Monuments Fund, the Western Indian Ocean Maritime Association, the British Institute in Eastern Africa and the Society for Underwater Technology alongside local NGOs, media consultancies and research institutes. The network has funded 27 projects across East Africa looking at how traditional knowledge and heritage data can enhance coastal management strategies, marine ecosystem approaches, overseas aid impact, food security, sustainable fishing practices and inform responses to coastal pollution and climate change as well as provide increased economic security and wellbeing for coastal communities (Holly et at. 2022). Most of these ended in September 2022 and I am now in the process of drawing the project outcomes together to present for the first time, an integrated multidisciplinary vision of how marine heritage can act as a driver for social, cultural and economic change. Dissemination of the outcomes of Rising from the Depths will take place through the UN Ocean Decade endorsed action Cultural Heritage Framework Programme which aims to integrate heritage into ocean science and policy so that learning from the past and engaging people with the ocean's future enables the Decade to deliver against the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
• Developing innovative survey techniques: I am widely recognised as an innovator in underwater survey and the presentation of submerged sites having pioneered a number of new approaches including 3D modelling (Henderson and Burgess 1996), the use of SfM digital photogrammetry (Henderson et al. 2013) and sector scan sonar techniques (Henderson and Abbott 2017). Equally I have been involved in GIS recording of archaeological sites from an early stage (Burgess et al. 1996) as well as the use of photogrammetry and GIS to create a complete 3D archaeological site record (Cavers et al. 2011). My underwater survey skills were first developed recording submerged lake dwellings or crannogs in Scotland (Henderson 1999) and further enhanced directing the survey of submerged Bronze Age town of Pavlopetri in Laconia, Greece on behalf of the British School at Athens (Henderson et al. 2011). Following this work I was invited by UNESCO to disseminate underwater survey techniques in China (Henderson 2015) as well as conduct in 2016 a combined digital photogrammetric and robotic sonar survey of the famous sunken pirate town of Port Royal in Jamaica to support the Jamaican government in their application for UNESCO World Heritage Status. It was this survey work that enabled me to work more closely with local communities and consider the role of marine heritage in sustainable development strategies. In 2017 I was invited to be part of the official UNESCO delegation at the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York supporting the implementation of SDG 14 ‘Life Below Water’ to raise awareness of the role marine cultural heritage can play in the sustainable development of the oceans. I continue to use photogrammetric survey to bring underwater heritage, as a hidden resource, to marine stakeholders and the public through my research projects.
• Submerged settlements and coastal societies: My interest in the impact of the Ocean on human society stems from my interest in Scottish crannogs (Henderson 1998; 2007), Iron Age coastal societies (Henderson 2000; 2007) and my subsequent work on submerged settlements in in Italy, Greece, Egypt, Poland, Jamaica, China and Africa. I have carried out two of the three underwater excavations on crannogs in Scotland (Henderson 2007; Henderson and Cavers 2012) and surveyed in crannogs in Loch Awe, the Lake of Menteith and throughout South West Scotland (Henderson ; 2005; 2009; et al. 2003).
Current research projects
PI ODHN Collaboration Grant: ‘Cultural Heritage Framework Programme’ (Lloyds Register Foundation/ODHN)’ (£373,680) Oct 2022 to Dec 2026.
PI UKRI ODA Impact and Development Grant: ‘Linking nature and culture to support sustainable coastal livelihoods: establishing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) at the Island of Mozambique, East Africa’ (£66,178) Oct 2022 to April 2023
PI Holyrood Archaeology. A research collaboration between The University of Edinburgh, AOC Archaeology, and Historic Environment Scotland. The aim of the project is to assess the impacts of erosion to archaeological sites caused by climate change and increasing visitor numbers to the park every year.
Current research interestsI am an archaeologist interested in the potential of heritage, particularly coastal and marine heritage, to lead research that addresses the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. A particular focus of my work is the development of innovative digital techniques for the survey and presentation of underwater sites. I have specific research interests in coastal societies, submerged settlements, underwater archaeology and the development of innovative digital techniques for the survey and presentation of underwater cultural heritage. The settlement archaeology of Scotland and Atlantic Europe during the Iron Age forms a further area of interest.
Past research interestsPI AHRC GCRF Grant: ‘Cultural Heritage and Development in Egypt: Wrecks at Risk: stabilising and enhancing submerged cultural heritage in the Red Sea’ (£172,574). 24 months. PI GCRF AHRC Area-Focused Network+: ‘Rising from the Depths: Utilising Marine Cultural Heritage in East Africa to help develop sustainable social, economic and cultural benefits’ (£2,000,000). Project last 4 years and is due to finish at the end of 2021hs: starting Oct 2019 until Sep 2021. www.risingfromthedepths.com
I have a strong media profile and regularly appear on radio and TV discussing maritime archaeological topics.
I am active in the writing, presenting and production of factual documentaries including:
City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri BBC2 (2011)
The Last Battle of the Vikings BBC2 (2012)
Drain the Sunken Pirate City Discovery/National Geographic (2017)
Rise of the Roman Empire National Geographic (2019).
I am currently an academic consultant for the National Geographic Drain the Ocean series.
Brown, S., Henderson, J. C., Mustard, A. and Postons, M. 2020: Diving the Thistlegorm. The ultimate guide to a World War II shipwreck. Dived Up Publications, Oxford.
Henderson, J. C. (ed.) 2012: Beyond Boundaries: The 3rd International Congress on Underwater Archaeology, IKUWA 3 London 2008 Römisch-Germanische Kommission.
Henderson, J. C. 2007: The Atlantic Iron Age: Settlement and Identity in the First Millennium BC. London: Routledge.
Barber, J., Clarke, C., Crone, A., Hale, A., Henderson, J.C., Housely, R., Sands, R. and Sheridan, A. (eds.) 2007: Archaeology From The Wetlands: Recent Perspectives, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monograph, Edinburgh.
Henderson, J. C. (ed.) 2000: The Prehistory and Early History of Atlantic Europe. Papers from a session held at the European Association of Archaeologists Fourth Annual Meeting in Göteborg 1998. British Archaeological Reports International Series 891, Oxford.
Articles and Book Chapters
Gallou, C., Cavanagh, W.G, Henderson, J. and Spondylis, I. 2022: Localism and interconnectivity in a post-palatial Laconian maritime landscape (Late Helladic IIIC to Submycenaean/Early Protogeometric). In: Smith, D. et al. (eds.), The Wider Island of Pelops: Proceedings of a workshop on Prehistoric pottery in memory of Professor Christopher MeeArchaeopress: 70-88.
Holly G., Rey da Silva A., Henderson J., Bita C., Forsythe W., Ombe Z.A., Poonian C. and Roberts H. 2022: Utilizing Marine Cultural Heritage for the Preservation of Coastal Systems in East Africa. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 10(5): 693. https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse10050693
Cavanagh, W.G, Gallou, C., Spondylis, I. and Henderson, J. 2022. Southern Laconia in the Middle and Earlier Late Bronze Age. In Wiersma, C. and Tsouli, M. (eds.), Middle and Late Helladic Laconia: Competing principalities?Sidestone Press: 33-45.
*Henderson, J., Breen, C., Esteves, L., La Chimia, A., Lane, P., Macamo, S., Marvin, G. and Wynne-Jones, S. 2021: Rising from the Depths Network: A Challenge-Led Research Agenda for Marine Heritage and Sustainable Development in Eastern Africa. Heritage 4, 1026-1048. https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4030057
Henderson, J.C., Holley, M.W., Stratigos, M.J. 2021: Iron Age construction and Early Medieval reuse of crannogs in Loch Awe, Argyll: new radiocarbon dates and analysis. Proceedings of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 150, 435-449.
Gilmour, S. and Henderson, J. 2020: Brochs and beyond: excavations at Old Scatness, Shetland. Antiquity 94, Issue 75, 797-801.
Henderson, J. 2019: Oceans without History? Marine Cultural Heritage and the Sustainable Development Agenda. Sustainability 11 (18): 5080. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11185080
Trakadas, A., Firth, A., Gregory, D., Elkin, D., Guerin, U., Henderson, J., Kimura, J., Scott-Ireton, D., Shashoua, Y., Underwood, C. and Viduka, A. 2019: The Ocean Decade Heritage Network: Integrating cultural heritage within the UN Decade of Ocean Science 2021–2030. Journal of Maritime Archaeology 14, 153–16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11457-019-09241-0
Faber, E., Henderson, J.C. and Weeks, L. 2019: Metallurgical analysis of the bronze eyebolt. In Royal, J.G. and Tusa, S. (eds), The Site of the Battle of the Aegates Islands at the end of the First Punic War. Fieldwork, analyses and perspectives, 2005-2015. Bibliotheca Archaeologica, 60: 231-235.
Henderson, J. C. and Abbott, B. 2017: Using Sector-Scan Sonar for the Survey and Management of Submerged Archaeological Sites. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 46(2).
Johnson-Roberson, M., Bryson, M., Freidman, A., Pizarro, O., Troni, G., Ozog, P. and Henderson, J. C., 2016. High-Resolution Underwater Robotic Vision-Based Mapping and Three-Dimensional Reconstruction for Archaeology, Journal of Field Robotics. 33(4), 1-19.
Henderson, J. C. 2015: The recording, management and presentation of Underwater Cultural Heritage. In The First Ningbo Forum of Underwater Archaeology, China: 5-20.
Henderson, J. C., O. Pizarro, M. Johnson-Roberson, and I. Mahon, 2013, Mapping Submerged Archaeological Sites Using Stereo-Vision Photogrammetry, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 42(2): 243-256.
Henderson, J. C. 2012: Meeting Expectations? The underwater investigation of Scottish Lake Dwellings. In Henderson, J. C. (ed.) Beyond Boundaries, Proceedings of IKUWA 3, The 3rd International Congress on Underwater Archaeology, Römisch-Germanische Kommission (RGK), Frankfurt.
Henderson, J. C. and Cavers, M. G. 2012: An Iron Age crannog in south west Scotland: Underwater survey and investigation at Loch Arthur Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 141, 103-124.
Henderson, J. C. and Gilmour, S. 2012: A first millennium BC dun in Argyll: Excavations at Dun Glashan. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 141: 75-102.
Henderson, J.C. and Sands, R. 2012: Irish and Scottish crannogs. In Menotti, F. and O’Sullivan, A., (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Wetland Archaeology. Oxford University Press: 269-282.
Pizarro, O., Jakuba, M., Flemming, N., Sakellariou, D., Henderson, J., Johnson-Roberson, M., Mahon, I., Toohey, L., Dansereau, D. and Lees, C. 2012: AUV-assisted characterization of beachrock formations in Vatika Bay, Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece and their relevance to local sea level changes and Bronze Age settlements. Proceedings of the MTS/IIEEE Oceans Conference, 2012.
Gallou, C. and Henderson, J.C., 2012. Pavlopetri, an Early Bronze Age Early harbour town in south-east Laconia, Pharos, Journal of the Netherlands Institute in Athens 18.1: 79-104.
Henderson, J. C., Gallou, C., Flemming, N. and Spondylis, E., 2011: The Pavlopetri Underwater Archaeology Project: investigating an ancient submerged town. In Benjamin, J., Bonsall, C., Pickard, C. and Fischer, A. (eds.), Underwater Archaeology and the Submerged Prehistory of Europe. Oxbow Books: 207-218.
Mahon, I., Pizarro, O., Johnson-Roberson, M., Friedman, A., Williams, S. and Henderson, J.C. 2011: Reconstructing Pavlopetri – Mapping the World’s Oldest Submerged Town Using Stereo Vision. In Robotics and Automation, (ICRA) IEEE International Conference, Shanghai 2011: 2315-2321
Cavers, G., Henderson, J. C., Barber, J. and Heald, A., 2011: Towards a Total Archaeological Record: Terrestrial Laser Scanning and Archaeological Recording at Keiss, Caithness, Scotland. In Jerem, E., Redo, F. and Szeverenyi, V., (ed.) On the Road to Reconstructing the Past: Computer Applications and Quantitive Methods in Archaeology. Proceedings of the 36th International Conference, Budapest, April 2-6, 2008. Archaeolingua: 25-34.
Pydyn, A. and Henderson, J.C. 2010: Application of a Total Station in the interpretation of underwater archaeological sites based on the example of the settlement at Polanowo, Gniezno Lake District, Poland. In Pydyn, A., (ed.), Archeologia Jeziora Powidzkiego Nicolaus Copernicus University Scientific Publishing House: 259-270.
Henderson, J.C. 2009: Taking the Waters: Scottish crannogs and the Atlantic Iron Age. In Cooney, G., Becker, K., Coles, J., Ryan, M. and Sievers, S., (eds.), Relics of Old Decency: Archaeological Studies in Later Prehistory. Wordwell: 39-49.
Henderson, J.C. 2008: Finding the V-81: a Scapa Flow wreck in Caithness Archaeology Scotland. 8-9.
Henderson, J.C. 2007: The Atlantic West in the Early Iron Age. In Haselgrove, C. and Pope, R. (eds.), The Earlier Iron Age in Britain ad the Near Continent, Oxford, Oxbow Books: 306-327.
Henderson, J.C. 2007: Recognising complexity and realizing the potential of Scottish Crannogs. In Barber, J., Clarke, C., Crone, A., Hale, A., Henderson, J.C., Housely, R., Sands, R. and Sheridan, A. (eds.), Archaeology From The Wetlands, Recent Perspectives, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monograph, Edinburgh: 231-241
Henderson, J.C. 2007: Resisting decay, wind and waves: new research on the lake dwellings of South West Scotland. In Barber, J., Clarke, C., Crone, A., Hale, A., Henderson, J.C., Housely, R., Sands, R. and Sheridan, A. (eds.), Archaeology From The Wetlands: Recent Perspectives, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monograph, Edinburgh: 289-302.
Henderson, J. C. and Cavers, M. G. and crone, B. A. 2006: The South West Crannog Survey. Recent work on the lake dwellings of Dumfries and Galloway. Transactions of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society. Vol. 80: 2951.
Henderson, J. C. 2005: An underwater survey of Loch Glashan, Argyll. In Campbell, E. and Crone, A., A crannog of the 1st millennium AD; excavations by Jack Scott at Loch Glashan, Argyll, 1960, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monograph: 20-25.
Cavers, M. G. and Henderson, J. C. 2005: Underwater excavation at Ederline Crannog, Loch Awe, Argyll, Scotland. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 34.2: 282298.
Pydyn, A. and Henderson, J. C. 2004: Wykorzystanie tachimetru elektronicznego w archeologicznych badaniach podwodnych na przykladzie stanowiska 1 w Polanowie (województwo wielkopolskie). Wielkopolski Biuletyn Konserwatorski: 71-78.
Henderson, J. C. 2004: The Scottish Wetland Archaeology Programme: Assessing and Monitoring the Resource. Journal of Wetland Archaeology 4: 61-75.
Henderson, J. C., Crone B. A. and Cavers, M. G. 2003: A condition survey of selected crannogs in south west Scotland. Transactions of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society. Vol. 77: 79-102.
Henderson, J.C., Crone, A. and Sands, R., 2002: Scottish crannogs: construction, collapse and conflation - problems of interpretation. In: Recent Developments in Wetland Research 2. 55-68
Henderson, J.C., 2001: The continuity of coastal lives. Times Higher Education Supplement. 24 Aug, 26
Henderson, J.C., 2000. Shared Traditions? The Drystone Settlement Records of Atlantic Scotland and Ireland 700 BC-AD200 In: The Prehistory and Early History of Atlantic Europe, Proceedings of the 4th European Association of Archaeologists Annual Meeting: 117-154
Henderson, J. C. 1999: A survey of crannogs in the Lake of Menteith, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 128: 273-292.
Henderson, J. C. 1998: Islets through time: the definition, dating and distribution of Scottish crannogs. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 17:2: 227-244.
Henderson, J. C. and Burgess, C. 1996: Close contour survey of submerged sites to create data terrain models with particular reference to Scottish crannogs. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 25:3: 250-256.
Burgess, C., Gilmour, S. and Henderson, J. C. 1996: Recording archaeological sites using GIS. Archaeological Computing Newsletter 46: 2-9.