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Dr Frances Healy

Honorary Research Fellow

School of History, Archaeology and Religion


Research interests

The earlier Holocene archaeology of Britain and north-west Europe, with an  emphasis on lithic industries and the contexts of their development.

Research projects

Dating causewayed enclosures.



Dating causewayed enclosures 

2003–2007. The project has been undertaken jointly by Professor Alasdair Whittle (Cardiff University), Dr Alex Bayliss (Scientific dating Co-ordinator for English Heritage) and Frances Healy.

The fourth millennium cal BC in Britain is coming into sharper chronological focus. Change and development are increasingly visible within what was even recently seen as an almost undifferentiated early Neolithic hundreds of years long. This is the result both of the general accumulation of radiocarbon dates and of research projects which have targeted chronological questions.

Gains in precision have, however, been uneven. It is possible to date a few events in the fourth millennium to periods of 50 years or less. This makes it difficult to relate them to the bulk of the record which still floats between far wider limits. This level of resolution has been achieved for some long barrows and cairns, for some components of the Hambledon Hill causewayed enclosure complex in Dorset and for some components of Stonehenge.

Its achievement for causewayed enclosures, the first large-scale, communal monuments to be built by farming populations in Britain, would make it possible to answer questions such as those below.

  • Did causewayed enclosures begin to be built at the same time throughout Britain?
  • Or is there any geographical pattern?
  • Were enclosures in clusters used successively, concurrently, alternately?
  • How did their construction and use relate to that of other kinds of monument?
  • Did they all go out of use at the same time?
  • Or does the development of monuments in each area have its own dynamic?
  • What are the implications for contemporary society?

The project is funded by English Heritage and AHRC and the project value is approximately £300,000

Research groups

British and European Neolithic archaeology


Education and qualifications

1962–1965 London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. B.Sc.(Econ.), special subject International Relations, 2nd class honours, upper division

1965–1967 Institute of Archaeology, University of London. Academic Postgraduate Diploma in Prehistoric Archaeology

1970–1980 (intermittently) Institute of Archaeology, University of London. Ph.D. (thesis entitled 'The Neolithic in Norfolk')

Career overview

1976–1989 Freelance prehistorian, working mainly for the Norfolk Archaeological Unit, mainly writing artefact and excavation reports.

1985–1987 (part-time) Field Monument Warden for English Heritage, covering Norfolk and Suffolk.

1989–1990 Assistant Finds Officer, Wessex Archaeology

1990–1992 Researcher/Project Officer, Wessex Archaeology

1992–1995 Senior Research Officer in Post-Excavation Department of Oxford Archaeological Unit (now Oxford Archaeology)

1995–2000 Freelance, principally engaged in collaborating with Roger Mercer on the analysis, writing-up and publication of Hambledon Hill, Dorset.

2000–2002 Research Associate, School of Historical Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, working on publication of pre-Iron Age aspects of the Raunds Area Project

2003–2007 Research Associate, School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University, working with Professor Alasdair Whittle on the Dating Causewayed Enclosures project.

2007– Honorary Research Fellow, School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University

Professional memberships

1981–2002 Committee Member, Lithic Studies Society

1985–1989 Editor, Lithic Studies Society, producing its Newsletter, Lithics

1985–2007 Member, Institute of Field Archaeologists

1986–1988 Council Member, Prehistoric Society

1988–1993 Secretary, Prehistoric Society

1990– Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London

1994–1999 Chair, Lithic Studies Society

1996– Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

1997– Member, Prehistoric Society Editorial Advisory Committee

2000–3 Trustee, Council for British Archaeology

2001–2006 Vice-President, Prehistoric Society

2003–4 Visiting Fellow, School of Historical Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne