Dr Tertia Barnett (BA, BSc, PhD, MIFA)

Honorary Fellow; Archaeology


I have worked on a wide range of archaeological projects in Britain, Europe and Africa in association with Universities, the public sector and the private sector. My interest in African archaeology was fuelled through a graduate scholarship in 1993 with the British Institute in East Africa. On returning to Britain, my PhD at Bristol University focused on the development of food production in Ethiopia. Between 1997 and 2000, I lectured in Archaeology at Newport, Nottingham and Cardiff Universities. I subsequently worked on various projects for English Heritage, Oxford Archaeology North, and Headland Archaeology, during which time I nurtured a growing interest in rock art. Between 2004 and 2009, I directed the Wadi al-Ajal Rock Art Project to survey and record rock carvings in south west Libya.

Back in Britain, I was involved in a number of rock art research projects and community-led initiatives with Durham University, Bradford Council, and English Heritage. I was project officer for the Northumberland and Durham Rock Art project between 2004 and 2006, working with volunteers to develop a national methodology for rock art recording, and a national archive for British rock art. Between 2006 and 2011, I extended my experience of community engagement by managing the Scotland’s Rural Past project for the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). Following completion of this project, I developed a new initiative to work with communities to record, research and raise awareness of rock art in Scotland (Scotland’s Rock Art Project). 

Undergraduate teaching

  • From Scotland to the Sahara: prehistoric rock art and archaeology

Research summary


  • Africa
  • Britain & Ireland
  • Europe
  • Mediterranean
  • Scotland


  • Ancient Civilisations
  • Landscapes & Monuments
  • Material Culture


  • Prehistory

Rock Art: My research focuses mainly on rock art, especially in Britain and North Africa. My fieldwork in the Wadi al-Ajal, south west Libya identified and recorded thousands of rock carvings, spanning a period from around 6000 BC up to recent times. Analysis of the carvings explored, among other things, their contextual relationships, their material dimensions, and their role in social adaption within a rapidly changing environment. This research was supported by the Department of Antiquities in Libya, the British Academy, the British Council in Tripoli, and the Leverhume Trust.

Community Archaeology: I have worked within the sphere of community archaeology for over 15 years and, during this time, I have examined the evolution of community engagement and social value of heritage, and the agents that shape and contribute to this evolution. In 2004-2006, I working with volunteers in the Northumberland and Durham Rock Art Project (NADRAP), funded by English Heritage as a pilot study for a national re-evaluation of British prehistoric rock art. This project pioneered new techniques for recording rock carvings, while developing a comprehensive website and database in order to facilitate study and conservation and establish priorities for the future research and management of rock art in the UK [England’s rock art website/database: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/era/]. Between 2006 and 2011, I managed the Scotland’s Rural Past (SRP) for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) [http://www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk/]. This five-year national initiative worked with hundreds of local volunteers across Scotland to research, record and raise awareness of abandoned medieval and later rural settlements. I subsequently worked on a number of community engagement projects, including the Carved Stones Investigations – a community-let rock art recording project based around Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire – and the development of the Scotland’s Urban Past project – a Heritage Lottery Funded project run by Historic Environment Scotland.

Current research interests

I am currently Principal Investigator on the Scotland's Rock Art Project (www.rockart.scot), a five year AHRC funded programme that is working with communities to research, record and raise awareness of rock art across Scotland. This is the first major research project to collect and analyse rock art data from the whole country. The project is training community groups to use a suite of tools, including 3D photography (photogrammetry) to gather detailed information about prehistoric rock carvings (cup and ring marked rocks). The data will be subjected to comparative, multi-scalar analysis in order to investigate the contextual relationships of the rock art in the Neolithic/Early Bronze Age, and the subsequent re-use of the carvings through time. The project is also working closely with community groups to assess the social value of rock art, and the implications of engagement for enhancing or altering perceptions of value.

Project activity


Sole Author

Barnett T F (1999) The emergence of food production in Ethiopia. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 45. BAR International Series 763, Oxford

Barnett T F (2018) An Engraved Landscape: the rock carvings of the Wadi al-Ajal, south west Libya. London: Society for Libyan Studies/Silphium Press

Edited Volumes

Barnett T F and Sharpe K E (eds) (2010) Carving a future for British rock art: new approaches to research, management and presentation. Oxford: Oxbow Books

Barnett T F (ed) (2011) Scotland’s Rural Past: community archaeology in action. Edinburgh: RCAHMS

Barnett T F (ed) (2011) A practical guide to recording archaeological sites. Edinburgh: RCAHMS

Contributions to Edited Volumes

Barnett T F with Mattingly D M (2003) The Engraved Heritage: Rock-Art and Inscriptions. In Mattingly D J, Daniels C M, Dore J N, Edwards D, and Hawthorne J (eds) The archaeology of Fazzan: synthesis. Vol I. London/Tripoli: Libyan Studies Society/Department of Antiquities: 279-326

Barnett T F (2004) Secrets of the Stones: rock art of Libya and the Sahara. In Splendours of Libya. Single Line: Cambridge, Mass, sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America

Barnett T F (2006) Libyan rock art as a cultural heritage resource. In Mattingly D, McLaren S, Savage E, al-Fasatwi Y and Gadgood K (eds) The Libyan Desert: natural resources and cultural heritage. London: Society for Libyan Studies: 95-110

Barnett T F, Diaz-Andreu M and Longhurst P (2006) Recording and monitoring rock art in Britain and Libya with 3D laser scanning. In Chenna Reddy P (ed) Exploring the mind of ancient man. Festchrift to Robert Bednarick. New Delhi: Research India Press: 276-281

Barnett T F (2007) Rock art gazetteer. In Mattingly D J, Daniels, C M, Dore, J N, Edwards, D and Hawthorne, J (eds) The archaeology of the Fezzan: gazetteer, pottery and other survey finds. Vol II. London/Tripoli: Libyan Studies Society/Department of Antiquities: 3-292

Barnett T F (2010) Putting people in the picture: community involvement in rock art recording. In Barnett T F and Sharpe K E (eds) Carving a future for British rock art. Oxford: Oxbow Books: 25-36

Barnett T F and Sharpe K E (2010) Introduction. In Barnett T F and Sharpe K E (eds) Carving a future for British rock art. Oxford: Oxbow Books: xiii-xv


Barnett T F (1999) Inter-regional contacts in Ethiopian prehistory: the evidence from Quiha rock shelter. Azania. 34: 11–24.

Mattingly D J, al-Mashai M, Balcombe P, Barnett T, Brooks N, Cole F, Dore J, Drake N, Edwards D, Hawthorn J, Helm R, Leone A, McLaren S, Pelling R, Prston J, Reynolds T, Townsend A, Wilson A and White K (2000) The Fezzan Project 2000: Preliminary report on the fourth season of work. Libyan Studies 31: 103-20

Barnett T F (2001) Recent discoveries of rock-art in Libya. International Newsletter on Rock Art (INORA) 30: 9-14

Barnett T F (2002) Rock-art, landscape and cultural transition in the Wadi al-Ajal, Libyan Fezzan. Libyan Studies 33: 71-8

Barnett T F (2003) Saharan landscapes: contextualised rock art as a cultural heritage resource in Libya. Rock Art Research 20(2):137-142

Barnett T F and Roberts M S (2003) Rock engravings and context in the Libyan Fezzan. International Newsletter on Rock Art (INORA) 35: 1-7

Barnett T F, Chalmers A, Diaz-Andreu M, Ellis G, Longhurst P, Sharpe K and Trinks I (2005) 3D laser scanning for recording and monitoring rock art erosion. International Newsletter on Rock Art (INORA) 41:25-29

Barnett T F and Diaz-Andreu M (2005) Knowledge capture and transfer in rock art studies: results of a questionnaire on rock art decay in Britain. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 7(1): 35-48

Barnett T F (2005) Community involvement in British Rock Art. The Archaeologist 56: 26-28

Barnett T F (2005) The Northumberland and Durham rock art project unveiled. The Archaeology of Northumberland 15: 56-58

Barnett T F (2005) Patterns on the rocks: spatial distribution of rock art in the Wadi al-Ajal. Libyan Studies 36: 121-134

Oswald A, Bryan P and Barnett T F (2006) The rock art recording pilot project in Northumberland and County Durham. English Heritage Research News 2: 24-27

Barnett T F (2006) The changing rock art landscape of Co Durham and Northern England. Archaeology County Durham 1: 6-10

Barnett T F (2006) Recording rock art in several dimensions. The Archaeology of Northumberland 16: 45-48

Barnett T F (2006) Gods on the rocks. Current Archaeology 204: 618

Barnett T F (2006) Dancing girls and insect headed gods: recent rock art survey in the Wadi al-Hayat, Fezzan. Libyan Studies 37: 95-116

Barnett T F (2007) Images on stone: report on recent survey of rock art sites in the Wadi al-Hayat, Fezzan. Libya Antiqua 5: 40-53

Barnett T, Bryan P, and Chandler J (2007) Case Study 8: Recording prehistoric rock art by photogrammetry and laser scanning, in: Barber D, and Mills J (eds) 3D Laser Scanning for Heritage: Advice and guidance to users on Laser Scanning in Archaeology and Architecture. English Heritage, pp. 28–29

Sharpe K, Barnett T, and Rushton S (2008) The Prehistoric Rock Art of England: Recording, managing and enjoying our carved heritage. English Heritage and Northumberland County Council

Barnett T F (2008) Scotland’s Rural Past in the Forth Valley. The Forth Naturalist and Historian 31: 67-74

Barnett T F (2009) Style, symbolism and cultural identity in the Wadi al-Hayat. Libyan Studies 40: 155-170

Barnett T (2012) Carved Stones Investigations on Rombalds Moor: volunteers to the rescue! Prehistoric Yorkshire 49: 20-23

Brown L, Stroud R, Sharpe K E, and Barnett T (2013) Keeping the ‘Rock Art’ Record Straight: An Update on the Work of the CSI: Rombalds Moor Project. Prehistoric Yorkshire 50: 21-28

Barnett T F and Guagnin M (2014) Changing places: rock art and Holocene landscapes in the Wadi al-Ajal, south west Libya. Journal of African Archaeology


Barnett T F (2003) Ithyphalliques, Traditions orales, Monuments lithiques et Art rupestre au Sahara: Hommages a Henri Lhote. Collections Sable et Etoiles, Association des Amis de l’Art Rupestre Saharien. Les Cahiers de l’AARS no. 7, Libyan Studies 34: 229

Barnett T (2009) British rock art: from discovery to interpretation. Antiquity 83: 858-860

Peer Reviews of Journal Articles

Antiquity (2009, 2011, 2012, 2014); Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (2014); Journal of African Archaeology (2011); Journal of Archaeological Science (2005); Journal of Libyan Studies (2005, 2008); Time and Mind (2010)