in the News

Brexit could devastate UK archaeology

Matthew Collins is interviewed on his concerns regarding the Impact of Brexit for UK Archaeology.

The quality of archaeology research and teaching in UK universities, as measured by QS World University Rankings, has never been higher. British departments fill the top four archaeology places in 2017. “I put down most of this success”, says Matthew Collins, professor of archaeology at York University (ranked 11th for archaeology in the world) “to the ability of my colleagues to craft winning European funding applications and to draw in leading European scholars.” Such funding has enabled York to grow its department with specialists in DNA, lipid, protein and stable isotope studies. A shift in archaeology towards more scientific research, adds Collins, is not unique to York: all the world-ranking UK departments are noted for their strong science base.

European Research Council (ERC) data support this claim. Collins, who is also Niels Bohr professor at the University of Copenhagen, says that while UK universities on average received 14% of ERC funding, nearly half those awards went to archaeology. He further finds that the total UK contribution to archaeological research from the ERC, at €41.5m, matches the £35m from Research Councils UK. If not replaced, the loss of ERC funding could devastate archaeological research.