Document Actions

Dr Lesley McFadyen

MA Honours in Archaeology (University of Glasgow), MA in Archaeological Theory (University of Southampton), Ph.D. (University of Wales, Newport). Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Senior Lecturer in Archaeology

Contact Details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 301
28 Russell Square

Tel: 020 7631 6459


  • I have worked at Birkbeck since 2011, and before that was a researcher in the University of Porto working on the project Material Culture as Architecture: from Neolithic Britain to Chalcolithic Portugal (funded by Fundação para Ciência e a Tecnologia).
  • My research works across chronology and geography, and engages with evidence for the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age, particularly in Britain, France and Portugal.
  • I have worked in developer-funded archaeology in Britain with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, excavating prehistoric landscapes in East Anglia. Other projects include: Neolithic houses on Orkney and in Normandy; Neolithic long barrows in Dorset, Normandy and Brittany; and Chalcolithic walled enclosures in the Alto Douro of Portugal.

Research and teaching

  • Introduction
  • My main interests are architecture in prehistory, and the history of ideas between archaeology and architecture.
  • My research on Chalcolithic walled enclosures examines what happens when material culture studies are directly connected to histories of architecture. Rather than thinking in traditional terms about a building and its subsequent use, I use my work on pottery to turn things around and think about occupation as a precedent for the design of architecture, and so building projects are a series of creative activities that emerge out of the rhythm and tempo of occupation.
  • In other work, I have argued that Neolithic long barrows need to be understood through the detail of practices of making. I have written about architecture as practice, experience and participation in acts of building, and quick and slow architecture.
  • Within Mesolithic studies on worked flint, I have looked at how material culture and landscape became entangled through people’s actions, and how through these energetic connections space was mobilised in the past.
  • I am currently interested in redefining design practice and creativity in prehistory, and I participate in design studio teaching in Departments of Architecture. Themes that I explore are thinking-through-drawing, drawing lines and time, and drawing the materiality of time in materials.
  • Research interests
  • Architecture in prehistory
  • History of ideas between archaeology and architecture
  • Teaching interests
  • Discovering Archaeology: From Field to Finds Room (BA)
  • Beginnings: The Archaeology of Prehistory (BA)
  • Buried Humanities: Field School (BA/MA)
  • Themes and Concepts in Archaeology (MA)
  • Archaeological Architecture (MA)
  • Material Worlds (MA)
  • I am the programme director of the BA in Archaeology and Geography and the MA in Archaeological Practice, and Exams Officer.
  • PhD supervision
  • I welcome students that are interested in prehistory, especially the archaeology of Britain, France and Portugal. A key area is research generated through artefact-based study or archive work, and archaeologists that take time over the detail in the evidence in order to rethink relationships between material culture, architecture and landscape in prehistory.
  • I will happily supervise work that focuses on the relationship between archaeology and architectural history, or archaeology and design.


  • Books
  • Marcigny, C. and McFadyen, L. (eds.) (forthcoming) The Prehistory of France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • McFadyen, L. and Hicks, D. (eds.) (2019) Archaeology and Photography: Time, Objectivity and Archive (London: Bloomsbury Publishing).
  • Articles
  • McFadyen, L. (2015) “Actions in Time: After the breakage of pottery and before the construction of walls at the site of Castelo Velho de Freixo de Numão”. Estudos do Quaternário/Quaternary Studies, 15, 71-90.
  • Baird, J. and McFadyen, L. (2014) “Towards an Archaeology of Archaeological Archives”. Archaeological Review from Cambridge, 29(2), 15-33.
  • Thomas, R. and McFadyen, L. (2010) “Animals and Cotswold-Severn long-barrows: a re-examination”. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 76, 95-113.
  • McFadyen, L, and Barac, M (eds.) (2007) “Introduction: connected space”. Home Cultures Special edition Berg 4(2), 109-115.
  • McFadyen, L. (2007) “Mobile space in the Late Mesolithic of Britain: connected space”. Home Cultures Special edition Berg 4(2), 117-128.
  • Bayliss, A; Benson, D; Galer, D; Humphrey, L; McFadyen, L. and Whittle, A. (2007) “One thing after another: the date of the Ascott-under-Wychwood long barrow”. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 17(1), 29-44.
  • Whittle, A; Barclay, A; Bayliss, A; McFadyen, L; Schulting; R. and Wysocki, M. (2007) “Building for the dead: events, processes and changing worldviews from the 38th to the 34th centuries cal BC in southern Britain”. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 17(1), 123-147.
  • McFadyen, L. (2006) “Material culture as architecture - Neolithic long barrows in Southern Britain”. Journal of Iberian Archaeology 8, 91-102.
  • McFadyen, L. (2006) “Building technologies, quick and slow architectures and early Neolithic long barrow sites in southern Britain”. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 21(1), 117-134.
  • Chapters
  • Marcigny, C. and McFadyen, L. (forthcoming) “The Middle Neolithic in Normandy and Northern Armorica” in Darvill, T. and Sheridan, A. (eds.) Hands Across the Water. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Proceedings of the British Academy.
  • McFadyen (2019) “Northwest Europe to c. 1000 BCE” in Fraser, M. (ed.) 21st edition of Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, Royal Institute of British Architects).
  • McFadyen, L. (2018) “Outer worlds inside” in Brysbaert, A., Klinkenberg, V., Garcia-M, A. and Vikatou, I. (eds.) Constructing Monuments, Perceiving Monumentality and the Economics of Building. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 87-102.
  • McFadyen. L. (2016) “Immanent Architecture” in Bille, M. and Flohr-Sorensen, T. (eds.) Elements of Architecture: Assembling Archaeology, Atmosphere and the Performance of Building Space. London: Routledge, 53-62.
  • McFadyen. L. and Vale, A. (2014) “Buildings that wrap objects and objects that wrap buildings” in Rebay-Salisbury, K., Brysbaert, A. and Foxhall, L. (eds.) Knowledge Networks and Craft Traditions in the Ancient World, Material Crossovers. London: Routledge, 23-36.
  • McFadyen, L. (2013) “Designing with living – a contextual archaeology of dependent architecture”, in Alberti, A. Jones, A. and Pollard, J. (eds.) Archaeology after Interpretation. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 135-150.
  • McFadyen, L. (2013) “House, household, home”, in Hofmann, D. and Smyth, J. (eds.) Tracking the Neolithic House in Europe - Sedentism, Architecture and Practice. New York: Springer, 363-372.
  • McFadyen, L. (2012) “The time it takes to make: design and use in architecture and archaeology”. In Gunn, W. and J. Donovan (eds.) Design and Anthropology. London: Ashgate Press, 101-120.
  • McFadyen, L. (2012) “Practice, drawing, writing and object”. In Ingold, T. (ed.) Redrawing Anthropology. London: Ashgate Press, 33-44.
  • McFadyen, L. (2011) “Making space in the late Mesolithic of Britain”. In Cannon, A. (ed.) Structured Worlds: The Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherer Thought and Action. London: Equinox Publishing, 116-127.
  • McFadyen, L. (2010) “Spaces that were not densely occupied – questioning ‘ephemeral’ evidence”. In Garrow, D. and T. Yarrow T. (eds.) Archaeology and Anthropology: Understanding Similarity, Exploring Differences. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 40-52.
  • Bailey, D. and McFadyen, L. (2010) “Built Objects”. In Beaudry, M.C. and D. Hicks (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 562-587.
  • McFadyen, L. (2008) “Building and architecture as landscape practice”. In David, B. and J. Thomas (eds.) The Handbook of Landscape Archaeology. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, World Archaeological Congress (WAC) Research Handbook Series, 307-314.
  • McFadyen, L. (2008) “Temporary spaces in the Mesolithic and Neolithic”. In Pollard, J. (ed.) Prehistoric Britain. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 121-134.
  • McFadyen, L. (2008) “The long barrows and their regional setting”. In French, C.; H. Lewis, M. Allen; R. Scaife and M. Green (eds.) The Changing Landscape of Cranbourne Chase: Wyke Down and Knowlton Environs. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs.
  • McFadyen, L. (2007) “Neolithic architecture and participation - practices of making in early Neolithic Britain”. In Last, J. (ed.) Beyond the Grave: New Perspectives on Barrows. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 22-29.
  • McFadyen, L. (2006) Chapters 2, 4, 7 and 15. In Benson, D and Whittle, A. (eds.) Building Memories: the Neolithic Cotswold Long Barrow at Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • McFadyen, L. (2006) “Landscape”. In Conneller, C. and G. Warren (eds.) Mesolithic Britain and Ireland: New Approaches. Stroud: Tempus Publishing Ltd, 121-138.

Professional membership

  • Society of Antiquaries, London
  • Architecture, Space and Society Centre, Birkbeck
  • History and Theory of Photography Centre, Birkbeck
  • Centro de Estudos Arquológicos das Universidades de Coimbra e Porto
  • Associação de Amigos do Parque e Museu de Côa

Current activities

  • To assemble my work in a single-authored monograph that integrates theories from the disciplines of archaeology and architectural history in order to rework an understanding of Neolithic and Bronze Age architecture in Western Europe for prehistory, Between Material Culture, Architecture and Landscape – Archaeology, Architecture and Scale (Oxford University Press).