Rowley-Conwy was born of Welsh and Danish parents in 1951. He is the son of Geoffrey Alexander Rowley-Conwy, 9th Baron Langford. He was educated at Marlborough College, and then read Archaeology at Magdalene College, Cambridge, graduating in 1973. For his PhD (awarded in 1980) he studied the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Denmark, under the supervision of Professor Grahame Clark.
After completing his PhD, from 1982 to 1985 Rowley-Conwy worked on the Tell Abu Hureyra project, directed by Anthony Legge, and later held the position of research fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (1986–88, 1989–90). He spent the year 1988–89 as an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 1990, Rowley-Conwy was appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, where he was promoted to Reader in 1996 and professor in 2007.
Rowley-Conwy’s research has focussed on hunter-gatherers and early farmers, in particular the nature of the transition between these cultural episodes. He also has an interest in the history of archaeological approaches to that period. A specialist on faunal remains and their contribution to archaeology, he has published widely on European material, including in Scandinavia and Britain, and analysed the major faunal assemblage from Arene Candide in Italy. Since 2000 he has run the Durham Pig Project, which has examined pig domestication around the world by a variety of means. Beyond Europe, his work on the animal bones from Tell Abu Hureyra has been published. Rowley-Conwy has collaborated in a book on the anthropology and archaeology of hunter-gatherers. His work on the remains of agricultural crop plants from Qasr Ibrim (in collaboration with Dr. Alan Clapham) is in course of publication.
His Danish background has enabled him to study the original publications on the 3 age system of Stone-Bronze-Iron Ages, put forward by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen and others in the 1830s. He has written a book on this subject, and on its differential impact on the archaeological communities of England, Scotland and Ireland.
- Mosley, Charles (2003). Burke's peerage, baronetage & knightage, clan chiefs, Scottish feudal barons (107th ed.). Wilmington: Burke's Peerage & Gentry. ISBN 0971196621.
- "University news". The Times. 31 July 1996. p. 16.
- Rowley-Conwy, P. 1999. 'Economic prehistory in southern Scandinavia.' In World Prehistory. Studies in Memory of Grahame Clark, eds. J. Coles, R.M. Bewley and P. Mellars, 125-159. Oxford University Press (Proceedings of the British Academy 99).
- Legge, A.J. and Rowley-Conwy, P.A. 1988. Star Carr Revisited. A Re-Analysis of the Large Mammals. University of London, Centre for Extra-Mural Studies.
- Rowley-Conwy, P. 1997. 'The Animal Bones from Arene Candide. Final Report.' In Arene Candide: Functional and Environmental Assessment of the Holocene Sequence, ed. R. Maggi, 153-277. Rome: Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali.
- Albarella, A., Dobney, K., Ervynck, A. and Rowley-Conwy, P. 2007. Pigs and Humans. 10,000 Years of Interaction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Legge, A.J. and Rowley-Conwy, P. 2000. 'The exploitation of animals.' In Village on the Euphrates, From Foraging to Farming at Abu Hureyra. eds. A.M.T. Moore, G.C. Hillman and A.J. Legge, 475-525. Oxford University Press.
- Panter-Brick, C., Layton, R. and Rowley-Conwy, P. 2001. Hunter-Gatherers. An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Cambridge University Press.
- Clapham, A.J. and Rowley-Conwy, P. 2007. 'New discoveries at Qasr Ibrim, Lower Nubia.' In Fields of Change. Progress in African Archaeobotany, ed. R. Cappers, 157-164. Groningen Archaeological Studies 5.
- Rowley-Conwy, P. 2007. From Genesis to Prehistory. The archaeological Three Age System and its contested Reception in Denmark, Britain and Ireland. Oxford University Press.
- "List of Fellows - R". Society of Antiquaries of London. Retrieved 25 January 2014.