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Richard Madgwick

Dr Richard Madgwick

Reader in Archaeological Science

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 29208 74239
John Percival Building, Room 4.01, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am an archaeological scientist who uses molecular, microscopic and macroscopic methods in the analysis of animal and human remains. My research focuses broadly on reconstructing human-animal relations and I am particularly interested in the analysis of mobility, animal management and the pre- and post-depositional treatment of human and faunal remains. I have worked on projects ranging from the Mesolithic to Post-Medieval period at sites across Europe and beyond. Specific themes I’m interested in include:

·         The application of multi-isotope analysis (carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, oxygen, strontium, lead) on osseous remains for investigating diet and mobility

·         Animal management and provisioning

·         Feasting in prehistory

·         Macroscopic and microscopic bone taphonomy

·         The treatment of human and animal remains in funerary contexts

Current projects include:

FRAB: Feeding the Roman Army in Britain (PI, £355,687, Leverhulme Trust-funded, 2022-2025)


FEASTNET: Feasting networks and Resilience at the end of the British Bronze Age (PI, £261,027, AHRC/UKRI-funded, 2021-2023)


PHEMOR: PostHumous Exhumation and Movement of Osteological Remains: An innovative iso-histological approach to Prehispanic Maya mortuary practices and migration (Supervisor, £186,392, Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship [Asta Rand], 2023-2025)


ZOOCRETE: The ZOOarchaeology of Historical CRETE: A Multiscalar Approach to Animals in Ancient Greece (Supervisor, £197,921, Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship [Flint Dibble], 2021-2024)


BONEZ: Baltic Paganism, Osteology, and New Examinations of Zooarchaeological Evidence (Supervisor, £197,208, Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship [Katie French], 2021-2023)


Animal Mobility and Biomechanics (Supervisor, €118,700, Margarita Salas Fellowship [Roger Alcàntara Fors], 2022-2025)


Multi-Isotope Analysis: Exploring Commercial Opportunities (PI, £48,827, UKRI-Funded, 2023-2024)


Passage Tomb People (Co-I, €600,000, Irish Research Council-funded, 2018-2023)


Commercial Research Collaborations: I regularly undertake research collaborations with commercial units, international universities and heritage organisations (see research tab). Please get in touch for more information.






















Book sections




Current research projects include:

FEASTNET: Feasting networks and Resilience at the end of the British Bronze Age

Funded by AHRC/UKRI (£261,027, PI, 2021-4)

This project uses a multi-isotope (strontium, sulphur, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen) approach on domestic animals to explore responses to a deteriorating climate and trade collapse at the end of the Bronze Age in Britain.  Angela Lamb (British Geological Survey) is the Co-I. Carmen Esposito is the project PDRA. Project partners include Operation Nightingale, The Wiltshire Museum, The British Museum and Breaking Ground Heritage. Project website:


FRAB: Feeding the Roman Army in Britain

Funded by The Leverhulme Trust (£355,687, PI, 2022-5)

This project is advancing understanding of the Roman army and Roman imperialism by generating new evidence for the logistical networks and economic strategies that supplied soldiers in the province of Britannia. Using multi-isotope (strontium, oxygen, sulphur, carbon and nitrogen) analysis on domestic fauna, strategies for provisioning soldiers are being reconstructed at three frontier regions - Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine Wall and southeast Wales. Angela Lamb (British Geological Survey) is the Co-I and Peter Guest (Vianova) is the consultant collaborator, with Leïa Mion (collagen) and Hongjiao Ma (enamel) being PDRAs. The project follows a scoping project funded by the Roman Research Trust and a pilot project on the legionary fortress at Caerleon has been published: This pilot featured on BBC Radio 4 Making History:

Project website:


Passage Tomb People

Funded by the Irish Research Council (€600,000, 2020-3, Co-I)

Passage Tomb People explores the social drivers of passage tomb construction along the Atlantic Façade, focusing on the archaeology of three key zones: Ireland, North Wales and Orkney. It employs a novel multifactorial methodology on ceramics and human and faunal remains, employing macroscopic and molecular analyses (14C, multi-isotope analysis, organic residues and proteomics).  The PI is Jessica Smyth (UCD), I am leading the programme of multi-isotope analysis on humans and animals. Katie Faillace (PhD student) is undertaking the isotope research.

Project website:


PHEMOR: PostHumous Exhumation and Movement of Osteological Remains: An innovative iso-histological approach to Prehispanic Maya mortuary practices and migration

Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship [Asta Rand] (£186,392, 2023-2025, Supervisor)

Phemor combines multiple isotopic methods with histological analysis of human bone microstructures to better understand mortuary practices (i.e., body treatment) and the postmortem movement of human remains in Prehispanic Maya contexts. The project will explore whether the post-mortem movement of exhumed bones can be reconstructed isotopically, with chemical signals from original burial environments potentially archived in bone.



ZOOCRETE: The ZOOarchaeology of Historical CRETE: A Multiscalar Approach to Animals in Ancient Greece

Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship [Flint Dibble] (£197,921, 2021-2024, Supervisor)

ZOOCRETE adopts an interdisciplinary approach to examine the development and resilience of citizen-states in ancient Crete through the lens of communal feasting and food production. The research focuses on skeletal and multi-isotope analyses (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and strontium) of faunal remains from civic dining buildings and residential spaces in four Cretan settlements from the first millennium BCE, compared with quantitative analysis of ancient Greek textual sources describing the production and consumption of animals.


BONEZ: Baltic Paganism, Osteology, and New Examinations of Zooarchaeological Evidence

Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship [Katie McCullough French] (£197,208, 2021-2023, Supervisor)

Baltic Sea communities faced intense pressures from the 12th to 13th century AD, including colonization, forced conversions, and environmental change. The clearest measure of these seismic social shifts is how religious and mortuary behaviour changed in response, as communities create and negotiate a shared identity through the performance of ritual. The BONEZ project integrates multi-proxy (histological, isotope, and proteomic) osteological methods to investigate funerary and non-funerary ritual deposition of animals in Poland, Lithuania, and Kaliningrad before, during, and after colonization (1st to 13th AD).


AMTIB: Animal Mobility through Isotopes and Biomechanics

Margarita Salas Fellowship [Roger Alcantara Fors] (€118,700, 2021-2024, Supervisor)

This project explores how biomechanics, an approach that is commonly utilised in human osteoarchaeology, can be advanced in zooarchaeology. It focuses on the Neolithic of the Iberian Peninsula, a zone which showcases a fast adoption of domesticates and diversification of exploitation strategies that enable the occupation of a wide range of ecosystems. This project seeks to produce a high resolution reconstruction of animal mobility and management regimes using integrated bone biomechanics combined with isotope analysis to understand land use, animal management and exploitation.


ZANBA: Zooarchaeology of the Nuragic Bronze Age

Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship [Emily Holt] (£185,083, 2020-2022, Supervisor)

This multidisciplinary project is advancing understanding of internal power negotiations in the Nuragic Culture of Bronze Age Sardinia through novel analyses of faunal remains. ZANBA applies cutting-edge techniques in isotope analysis and zooarchaeology to discover elite economic practices and contextualize them against changing control of the landscape. Additionally, ZANBA is creating a strontium isotope biosphere map that will unleash the potential of provenancing studeies in Sardinia.


Advancing Multi-Isotope Analysis in Commercial Archaeology

UKRI Commercialisation Award (£48,827, 2023-4, PI)

This project aims to forge stronger links between the academic and commercial archaeology sectors, specifically in relation to multi-isotope analysis. Isotope methods have advanced rapidly in recent years, delivering higher resolution interpretations and requiring ever smaller samples. However, uptake in commercial archaeology remains relatively rare. Through workshops with commercial units, training and lab sessions, this project will demonstrate the potential of multi-isotope analysis to commercial collaborators and explore the potential of increased commercialisation of the approach. Project officer Ciara Butler is employed on this project.


The Xuanzang Trail

British Academy Stein Arnold Award, UKRI Impact Accelerator (£16,720, 2022-5)

Xuanzang, a 7th century AD Chinese Buddhist monk, travelled extensively across Asia, keeping detailed travelogues. PI of the overarching project Max Deeg is providing a new translation of these extensive works. This has led to a collaborative archaeological, historical and religious studies project identifying key Buddhist sites described in the travelogue archaeologically and creating an evidence-based, historically informed trail of his journey, specifically in the state of Bihar, one of India’s most under-privileged states. Beyond academic outputs, the project aims to develop heritage tourism for the benefit of Bihar. Bijoy Choudary (Bihar Heritage Development Society) is Co-I and the Bihar Museum is a collaborator.


Commercial research collaborations

I regularly undertake research collaborations with commercial units, international universities and heritage organisations. Current and recent collaborators include Historic England, Wessex Archaeology, Oxford Archaeology, AC Archaeology, Red River Archaeology, Cotswold Archaeology, Archaeology Wales, Colchester Archaeological Trust, Glamorgan and Gwent Archaeological Trust, Dyfed Archaeological Trust, Cardiff Archaeological Consultants, CFA Archaeology, Black Mountain Archaeology, LP Archaeology, Hollinrake Archaeology, York Archaeological Trust, University of Bristol, Queen’s University Bristol, University of Cambridge, CAU Kiel, University of Oslo, Eötvös Loránd University, La Sapienza University, Rome, University of Algarve, IPHES Tarragona, University of Cordoba, University of Bologna, ICAC Tarragona, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, Memorial University Newfoundland, Deutsche Archaeologishe Institut, Autonomous University of Barcelona, University of Padua, Lund University.



Teaching profile

I am programme convenor for MSc Archaeological Science.

I am convenor for the following modules:

* Biomolecular Archaeology (MSc)

* MSc Archaeological Science Dissertation (MSc)


I contribute to the following modules:

* Human Osteoarchaeology (MSc)

* Zooarchaeology (MSc)

* Death and Commemoration (MA/MSc)

* Postgraduate Skills in Archaeology and Conservation (MA/MSc)

* Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Study (MA/MSc)

* Forensic and Osteoarchaeology (Year 3)

* Death and Burial in the Roman World (Year 3)

* Archaeology Dissertation (Year 3)

* Archaeological Science Dissertation (Year 3)

* Applied Archaeological Science (Year 2)

* Independent Study (Year 2)

* Independent Science Project (Year 2)

* Archaeology of Britain (Year 1)

* Analysing Archaeology (Year 1)

* World Full of Gods (Year 1)


Administrative Responsibilities

2018-present Human Tissue Officer for College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

2023-present Research Lead (Archaeology)

2017-present: Programme convenor (MSc Archaeological Science)

2018-2022 Director of Postgraduate Research (School of History, Archaeology and Religion)

2019-2022 Research Ethics Committee (School of History, Archaeology and Religion)

2019-2021 Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator (Archaeology)

2016-2018: Timetable/Module catalogue co-ordinator

2016-2018: Library representative

2016-2018: Health and Safety committee

2014-2018: Equality and Diversity committee

2013-2016: Research committee

2013-2016: Committee of the Cardiff University Research Staff Association

2013-2015: Seminar series organiser



Education and qualifications

PhD: January 2008-April 2011. Cardiff University, Colum Drive, Cardiff. AHRC funded. Thesis title: Investigating the Potential of Holistic Taphonomic Analysis in Zooarchaeological Research. Viva completed July 2011

MA: October 2005-September 2006. University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. Osteoarchaeology (AHRC funded) – grade Distinction

BA: September 2001–June 2004. University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. BA (Hons) Archaeology – grade 1:1

Career overview

After finishing an AHRC-funded MA in Osteoarchaeology at the University of Southampton, I worked as a field archaeologist for Wessex Archaeology prior to taking up an HLF-funded IfA internship in Bioarchaeology at Cardiff University. After this one year post, I commenced an AHRC-funded PhD at Cardiff University, supervised by Dr Jacqui Mulville. I submitted the thesis, entitled Investigating the Potential of Holistic Taphonomic Analysis in Zooarchaeological Research in April 2011 and took up a temporary position as Lecturer in Archaeology at Bournemouth University. My teaching focussed on Zooarchaeology, Prehistory, Post-Excavation studies and Archaeological Skills.

I was next employed as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the Dama International Project at the University of Nottingham. This 3 year AHRC-funded project involved a multi-disciplinary investigation into the biogeography and management of the European fallow deer (Dama dama dama). I was responsible for zooarchaeological, biometric and isotope (δ15N, δ13C, δ34S, δ18O,87Sr/86Sr) analysis. After almost a year at Nottingham, I returned to Cardiff in January 2013 to embark on my own research project as a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow on a 3 year project 'Reconstructing the Feasts of Late Neolithic Britain'. I took up a position as Lecturer in Archaeological Science in 2016, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2019 and Reader in 2022.

Honours and awards

Selected Awards/Grants

  • Leverhulme Research Grant: Feeding the Roman Army in Britain (£355,687, 2022)
  • AHRC/UKRI Early Career Research Grant (£261,027, 2021): Feasting Networks and Resilience at the end of the British Bronze Age.
  • British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship: Reconstructing the Feasts of Late Neolithic Britain (£234,512, 2013).
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship (£199,212, 2021): ZOOCRETE: The ZOOarchaeology of Historical CRETE: A Multiscalar Approach to Animals in Ancient Greece (with F. Dibble, scored 97.3%).
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship (£197,208, 2021): BONEZ: Baltic paganism, Osteology, and New Examinations of Zooarchaeological evidence (with K. French, scored 95.6%)
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship (£185,082, 2020): ZANBA: Zooarchaeology of the Nuragic Bronze Age (with E. Holt, scored 94.2%)
  • NERC grant (£298,350, 2020): Towards ultra-trace element measurements in organic-rich samples, tracing past and modern environmental changes (Co-I, PI: Morten Andersen)
  • Eight NEIF (previously ORADS/NIGFSC) grants (c. £135,000; 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2020, 2021, 2022) for isotope analysis and 14C dates
  • BA/Leverhulme Small Grant (£9,861, Mar 2019): Wet Feet: δ34S isotope analysis in wetland environments (with A. Lamb, Mar 2019)
  • Cardiff University Outstanding Contribution Award
  • Two Cardiff University nominations for Outstanding PhD supervisor of the year
  • Cardiff University nomination for Personal Tutor of the year


Academic positions

2016- present: Lecturer in Archaeological Science, Cardiff University

2013-2016: British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cardiff University

2012: Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Dama International Project, University of Nottingham,

2011-2012 Lecturer in Zooarchaeology (temporary), Bournemouth University

Committees and reviewing

  • Elected as Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
  • Elected to International Committee of the International Council for Archaeozoology
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • AHRC Peer Review College member
  • Panel member: The Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation (RPF), Netherlands Organisations for Scientific Research (NWO).
  • Grant reviewer: National Science Foundation, USA (NSF), Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), Natural Environment Research Council, UK (NERC), National Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), Eutopia-SIF, The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, National Science Centre, Poland (NCN)
  • Elected as Publicity officer for the Association for Environmental Archaeology (2009-2015)
  • Appointed Archaeological Science editor for De Gruyter journal Open Archaeology


Research Supervision

I currently supervise six post-doctoral research fellows and associates on the projects listed in the ‘Projects’ tab. In addition, I supervise six PhD students, with a further six having completed. 

I would be interested to hear from potential postgraduate students looking to develop research projects in the following areas:

* Isotope analyses relating to mobility, diet and animal husbandry.

* Human-Animal relations in Later Prehistoric Britain

* The archaeology of the Bronze Age - Iron Age transition in Britain

* The archaeology of feasting

* Bone taphonomy

Current PhD students:

Katie Faillace: Biodistance in Britain: a dental morphometric analysis of migration in Wessex from the Iron Age to Early Medieval Period (funded by an Ursula Henriques scholarship and analyses funded by Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society and the Cambrian Archaeological Association, with Jacqui Mulville)

Anton Axelsson: Health and Stature in Medieval Southern Britain (with Ben Jervis [Leicester])

Iulia Rusu: The Christianisation of the Magyar: Diet, health and mobility in 10th to 14th century Hungary (analyses funded by NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility and BABAO, with Jacqui Mulville)

Jessica Peto: Assessing bio-cultural impacts on British biodiversity, AD 0 – 1000 (NERC-funded, with Naomi Sykes [Exeter])

Bethan Price: Exploring metric, non-metric and molecular approaches to sexing human dentition (with Jacqui Mulville)

Yasmine de Gruchy: Bone collagen remodelling and isotope analysis: A histological approach (AHRC SWWDTP-Funded, with Nicholas Marquez-Grant [Cranfield]) 

Current supervision

Iulia Rusu

Iulia Rusu

Research student

Anton Axelsson

Anton Axelsson

Research student

Yasmine De Gruchy

Yasmine De Gruchy

Research student

Past projects

Completed PhD students:

Ciara Butler: Osteobiographies and connectivity in Early Medieval Wales (fully funded by Brython Archaeology, analysis funded by the National Environmental Isotope Facility, with Alan Lane)

Eirini Konstantinidi: Neolithic cave burial in Western Britain: A Taphonomic approach (analyses funded by the Prehistoric Society, the British Cave Research Association and the National Environmental Isotope Facility, with Jacqui Mulville)

Adelle Bricking: Iron Age mortuary practice in South West Britain (analyses funded by Cambrian Archaeological Association, Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society and British Cave Research Association, with Niall Sharples)

Poppy Hodkinson: Archaeology and STEM in Primary school education: Integration and Development (AHRC SWWDTP-funded, with Jo Sofaer [Southampton])

Tiffany Treadway: Wetland deposition in Iron Age Wales and Scotland (with Niall Sharples)

Leah Reynolds: Roman rural settlement in Wales and the Marches (funded by the James Pantyfedwen foundation, with Peter Guest).