Dr Simon Mays (BSc, MSc, PhD)

Honorary Fellow; Archaeology


After completing a degree in Chemistry in 1982, I decided life as an industrial chemist was not for me, so I switched to archaeology (which had long been an interest) by taking a MSc in Archaeological Science at Southampton.

I followed this up with a PhD in Archaeology, my thesis being an attempt to meld Marxist social theory with human osteology.

When I finished my PhD, I then spent a year working on a project teaching archaeology in schools. I began working for English Heritage as a Human Skeletal Biologist in 1988. The organisation has since mutated into Historic England, but I’m still there..

My work involves providing advice to the organisation on all aspects of human remains, and helping to formulate policy and standards for treatment of human remains in English archaeology.

Responsibilities & affiliations

I helped found the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), the Advisory Panel on the Archaeology of Human Remains in England (APABE) and the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past (SSCIP). I am currently still a member of the managing committees of these organisations.

I am currently Book Reviews Editor for the periodical Childhood in the Past: An International Journal, and in 2013 I finished a stint as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

I am a member of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, the Palaeopathology Association, and of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

Useful Links

Historic England

Research summary

My research interests span all areas of human osteoarchaeology. In particular:

  • Estimation of age at death from human skeletal remains
  • Disease in earlier human populations
  • Legal and ethical issues regarding archaeological burials in England
  • Earlier British populations
  • The Mediaeval village of Wharram Percy
  • Childhood in the past
  • Treatment of human remains in development-led archaeology

Project activity

Major current research projects include:

  • Vitamin D deficiency in the Roman Empire (collaboration with McMaster University)
  • Teeth & their use for estimating age-at-death in British archaeological human remains (collaboration with University of Southampton)
  • Ghosts in Mediaeval England
  • The biology of age indicators in skeletal remains
  • Identification of erosive arthritis in skeletal remains (collaboration with University of Exeter & Oxford Archaeology)


Mays S. 2015. Age-associated reduction in cortical bone in males, trends from the 3rd century AD to the present day.  Calcified Tissue International 96: 370-371.

Mays S, Zakrzewski, Inskip S, Wright S, Sofaer J. 2015. Anglo-Saxon concepts of disability: placing disease at Great Chesterford in its wider context.  American Journal of Physical Anthropology Supplement 60: 219 (abs)

Mays S. 2015. Bilateral scapular fracture in a likely case of assault from Mediaeval Ipswich, England. International Journal of Palaeopathology 10: 13-15 (2015).

Mays S. 2015. Review of Medicine, Healing and Performance, edited by Effie Gemi-Iordanou, Stephen Gordon, Robert Matthew, Ellen McInnes and Rhiannon Pettitt. Oxford: Oxbow. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 25: 537-538.

Mays S. 2015. Mandibular morphology in two archaeological human populations from northwest Europe with different masticatory regimes.  Homo – Journal of Comparative Human Biology 66: 203-215.

Inskip S, Taylor GM, Zakrzewski S, Pike A, Llewellyn G, Williams C, Lee O, Wu H , Minnikin D, Besra G, Stewart G. 2015. Osteological,  Biomolecular and Geochemical Examination of an Early Anglo-Saxon Case of Lepromatous Leprosy. PloS One 10(5): e0124282

Mays S, Maat G, DeBoer H. 2015. Scurvy as a factor in the loss of the 1845 Franklin expedition to the Arctic: a reconsideration.  International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25: 334-344.

Britton K, Fuller B, Tütkin T, Mays S, Richards M. 2015. Oxygen Isotope Analysis of Human Bone Phosphate Evidences Weaning Age in Archaeological Populations. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 157: 226-241.

Mays S, Vincent S. 2015. Thomas Henry Huxley (AD1825-1895): pioneer of forensic anthropology. In (Gerdau-Radonić K, McSweeney K, eds) Proceedings of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology 13th and 14th Annual Conferences in Edinburgh (2nd-4th September 2011) and Bournemouth (14th-16th September 2012).  Trends in Biological Anthropology Volume 1.  Oxbow, Oxford, pp. 89-94.

Mays S, Sidell J, Sloan B, White W, Elders J. 2015. Large Burial Grounds. Guidance on sampling in archaeological fieldwork projects.  Advisory Panel on the Archaeology of Burials in England, London (2015)

Mays S. 2015. The effect of factors other than age upon skeletal age indicators in the adult.  Annals of Human Biology 42: 330-339.

Mays S. 2014. A test of a recently devised method of estimating skeletal age at death using features of the adult acetabulum.  Journal of Forensic Sciences 59: 184-187

Mays S, Robson-Brown K, Vincent S, Eyers J, King H, Roberts A. 2014. An infant femur bearing cut-marks from Roman Hambleden, England.  International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24: 111-115.

Hassan N, Brown K, Eyers J, Brown T, Mays S 2014. Ancient DNA study of the remains of putative infanticide victims from the Yewden Roman villa site at Hambleden, England.  Journal of Archaeological Science 43: 192-197.

Mays S. 2014. Resorption of mandibular alveolar bone following loss of molar teeth and its relationship to age at death in a human skeletal population. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 153: 643-652.

Mays S. 2014. The palaeopathology of scurvy in Europe International Journal of Palaeopathology 5: 55-62.

Mays S. 2014. The Bioarchaeology of Infant and Child Homicide.  In (Thompson, J.L., Alfonso-Durruty, M.P. and Crandall, J.J., eds) Tracing Childhood: Bioarchaeological Investigation of Early Lives in Antiquity, pp. 99-122.  University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Mays S. 2014. Part 1: Holding and Displaying Human Remains. Introduction. In (Fletcher A, Antoine D & Hill JD, eds) Regarding the Dead.  London: British Museum Press, pp. 1-2.

Mays S. 2014. Human Remains, in Booth, P. A Late Roman Military Burials from the Dyke Hills, Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire.  Britannia 45: 254-260.

Mays S, Pett J. 2014. Wear on the deciduous molars in a Mediaeval English human population: a study using crown height.  Journal of Archaeological Science 50: 394-502.

Mays S. 2014. Age-related loss of cortical bone in males: trends from the 3rd century AD to the present day in north-west Europe, a study using archaeological skeletons.  Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 29 (Supplement 1): 260 (abs).

Mays S. Mavrogordato M, Lambert J, Sofaer J. 2014. Prevalence and health implications of concha bullosa in a Mediaeval population.  International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24: 614-622.

Mays S. 2014. Human Remains. In (Last J.) The Excavation of Two Round Barrows on Longstone Edge, Derbyshire.  Derbyshire Archaeological Journal 134: 127-132.