Barry Cunliffe

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Sir Barry Cunliffe

Three Wise Men (Barry Cunliffe cropped).jpg
Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe in 2008
Barrington Windsor Cunliffe

(1939-12-10) 10 December 1939 (age 82)
Academic background
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
Academic work

Sir Barrington Windsor Cunliffe, CBE, FBA, FSA (born 10 December 1939), known as Barry Cunliffe, is a British archaeologist and academic. He was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2007. Since 2007, he has been an Emeritus Professor.


The dolphin mosaic found by Cunliffe's team at Fishbourne

Cunliffe's decision to become an archaeologist was sparked at the age of nine by the discovery of Roman remains on his uncle's farm in Somerset.[1] After studying at Portsmouth Northern Grammar School (now the Mayfield School) and reading archaeology and anthropology at St John's College, Cambridge, he became a lecturer at the University of Bristol in 1963.[2] Fascinated by the Roman remains in nearby Bath he embarked on a programme of excavation and publication.

In 1966 he became an unusually young professor when he took the chair at the newly founded Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton. There he became involved in the excavation (1961–1968) of the Fishbourne Roman Palace in Sussex. Another site in southern England led him away from the Roman period. He began a long series of summer excavations (1969–1988) of the Iron Age hill fort at Danebury, Hampshire and was subsequently involved in the Danebury Environs Programme (1989–1995). His interest in Iron Age Britain and Europe generated a number of publications and he became an acknowledged authority on the Celts.

Other sites he has worked on include Hengistbury Head in Dorset, Mount Batten in Devon, Le Câtel in Jersey, and Le Yaudet in Brittany, reflecting his interest in the communities of Atlantic Europe during the Iron Age. In his later works he sets out the thesis that Celtic culture originated along the length of the Atlantic seaboard in the Bronze Age before being taken inland, which stands in contrast to the more generally accepted view that Celtic origins lie with the Hallstatt culture of the Alps. One of his most recent projects has been in the Najerilla valley, La Rioja, Spain, which straddles "the interface between the Celtiberian heartland of central Iberia and the Atlantic zone of the Bay of Biscay".[3]

Cunliffe was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1979.[4] He lives with his wife in Oxford.

Cunliffe inspired the name for the character "Currant Bunliffe", an archaeologist in David Macaulay's 1979 book, Motel of the Mysteries.

Positions and honours[edit]


  • The Roman Occupation, Introduction, Cumberland and Westmorland, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Harmondsworth: Penguin (1967)
  • Roman Hampshire, Introduction, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Harmondsworth: Penguin (1967)
  • The Roman Occupation, Introduction, Worcestershire, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Harmondsworth: Penguin (1968)
  • Roman Kent, Introduction, North East and East Kent, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Harmondsworth: Penguin (1969)
  • Fishbourne: A Roman Palace and Its Garden (1971)
  • The Regni (1973) in the 'Peoples of Roman Britain series Ed.Keith Brannigan, pub. Duckworth (1973) ISBN 0-7156-0699-9
  • Iron Age Communities in Britain (1974) ISBN 0-7100-8725-X (4th edition, Jan 2005)
  • Excavations in Bath 1950-1975 (1979)
  • Danebury: Anatomy of an Iron Age Hillfort (1983)
  • Roman Bath Discovered (1984)
  • The Celtic World (1987)
  • Greeks, Romans and Barbarians (1988)
  • Wessex to AD 1000 (1993)
  • Cunliffe, Barry (1998). Fishbourne Roman Palace. Cheltenham: Tempus. ISBN 9780752414089.
  • Facing the Ocean: The Atlantic and Its Peoples, 8000 BC to AD 1500 (2001, Oxford University Press)
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe (2001)
  • The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek: The Man Who Discovered Britain (2001), Walker & Co; ISBN 0-8027-1393-9 (2002 Penguin ed. with new post-script: ISBN 0-14-200254-2)
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2003). The Celts: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192804181.
  • England's Landscape: The West (English Heritage 2006)
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2008). Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC – AD 1000. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300119237.
  • Cunliffe, Barry; Lock, Gary (2010). A Valley in La Rioja: The Najerilla Project. Oxford: Oxford University School of Archaeology. ISBN 9781905905157.
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2010). Druids: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199539406.
  • Celtic from the West. Alternative perspectives from archaeology, genetics and literature. (Oxford: Oxbow Books). 2010.
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2012). Britain Begins. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199609338.
  • Koch, John T.; Cunliffe, Barry, eds. (2013). Celtic from the West 2: Rethinking The Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-european in Atlantic Europe. Oxford: Oxbow Books. ISBN 9781842175293.
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2015). By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199689170.
  • Cunliffe, Barry; Galliou, Patrick (2015). Le Yaudet en Ploulec'h, Côtes-d'Armor: Archéologie d'une Agglomération (IIe siècle av. J.-C. – XXe siècle apr. J.-C.) (in French). Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes. ISBN 9782753541740.
  • Koch, John T.; Cunliffe, Barry, eds. (2016). Celtic from the West 3: Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages – Questions of Shared Language. Oxford: Oxbow Books. ISBN 9781785702273.
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2017). On the Ocean: The Mediterranean and the Atlantic from Prehistory to AD 1500. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198757894.
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2018). The Ancient Celts (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198752936.
  • Cunliffe, Barry; Koch, John T., eds. (2019). Exploring Celtic Origins: New Ways Forward in Archaeology, Linguistics, and Genetics. Oxford: Oxbow Books. ISBN 9781789250886.
  • Cunliffe, Barry; Durham, Emma (2019). Sark: A Sacred Island?. Vol. 1: Fieldwork and Excavations 2004–2017. Oxford: Oxford University School of Archaeology. ISBN 9781905905461.
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2019). The Scythians: Nomad Warriors of the Steppe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198820123.
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2020). Exploring Celtic Origins: New Ways Forward in Archaeology, Linguistics, and Genetics. Oxford: Oxbow Books. ISBN 9781789255508.
  • Cunliffe, Barry (2021). Bretons and Britons: The Fight for Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198851622.


  1. ^ History Today, vol 50, issue #9 "Digging for Joy"
  2. ^ "CUNLIFFE, Sir Barrington Windsor, (Sir Barry)". Who's Who. Vol. 2020 (online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ publisher notes, Cunliffe, B, Lock, G, A Valley in La Rioja: The Najerilla Project
  4. ^ "Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe FBA". The British Academy. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". University of Bath. Archived from the original on 19 December 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  6. ^ "No. 53696". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1994. p. 9.
  7. ^ "Honours: 'Jewel in the Crown' star appointed OBE" Archived 25 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. The Independent. 17 June 2006. Accessed 2 October 2008.
  8. ^ "Andy Burnham appoints interim chair for English Heritage". Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  9. ^ "Académicos Correspondientes extranjeros". Real Academia de la Historia.

External links[edit]