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Archaeology and History

Photo of Dr Susan Greaney

Dr Susan Greaney

Lecturer in Archaeology


Dr Susan Greaney is a Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Exeter.

Susan is an archaeologist who specialises in the study of British prehistory, particularly monuments of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. Her PhD (funded by the AHRC, and completed at Cardiff and Southampton Universities) focused on the Neolithic monument complexes of Britain and Ireland. This work involved new radiocarbon dating of several major monuments in the Dorchester complex, Dorset, as well as a synthesis of how these complexes were built to relate to the natural features and the skies. Current research interests include ancient DNA, middle Neolithic proto-henges and burials and the late Neolithic-Chalcolithic transition.

Prior to joining University of Exeter, Susan worked for English Heritage as Senior Properties Historian, where she researched and wrote interpretation for various historic properties. Projects ranged from an exhibition and outdoor interpretation at Tintagel Castle, to a guidebook for Chysauster and Carn Euny Ancient Villages, to being lead archaeologist and curator for the Stonehenge visitor centre, including several temporary exhibitions there. Susan was named BBC New Generation Thinker in 2019, and has taken part in several BBC radio and TV programmes and podcasts.

Susan is currently accepting applications from PhD students.

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My research interests encompass Neolithic and early Bronze Age monuments, landscapes and place. I am particularly interested in social inequalities and relations of power in prehistory, both between people, and between people and places, geological features, rivers, and celestial bodies.

I am currently working to publish key papers and a monograph of my PhD research (The Archaeology of Power: Understanding the Emergence and Development of Neolithic Monument Complexes in Britain and Ireland), and developing new research projects relating to Neolithic square-in-circle monuments, and middle and late Neolithic monument chronologies.

Other research interests include heritage interpretation, public engagement, radiocarbon dating, ancient DNA and Neolithic material culture.

Research collaborations

I am currently director of our UK archaeological fieldschool, developed and run in partnership with the National Trust at Killerton.

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I am open to discussing research proposals on any relevant subject in my research expertise. I am especially happy to consider working with candidates with interests in:

Neolithic and early Bronze Age Britain and Ireland

Radiocarbon dating


Heritage and museum interpretation

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External impact and engagement

Public engagement remains at the heart of my archaeological interests. In my previous role at English Heritage I curated a number of exhibitions and interpretation schemes, including permanent and temporary exhibitions at the Stonehenge visitor centre. I continue to write magazine articles and popular books. Previous public engagement projects have involved being Project Partner in 'Consuming Prehistory' an AHRC Follow-On Fund project (English Heritage, Cardiff University, University of York) (2017-8), and involvement with Guerilla Archaeology outreach project.

Contribution to discipline

I am currently a Trustee and Council Member of the Prehistoric Society, and edit their newsletter, PAST.

I am on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, and the BAR Monograph Series 'Archaeology of Prehistoric Ireland and Britain'.

I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.


I have appeared on numerous radio and television programmes. Some examples include:

Channel 5, ‘Stonehenge: The Hidden Truth’, expert contributor (Dec 2021)

BBC Radio 3, Free Thinking, 'Winter Light', contributor (Dec 2020)

BBC Radio 3, Sunday Feature, 'The Jomon Connection', writer and performer (Apr 2020)

BBC Radio 4 and podcast, 'You're Dead to Me' on Stonehenge (October 2019)

BBC Radio 3, Free Thinking 'Rivers, Poetry and Ecology', contributor (May 2019)

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I contribute to teaching in the archaeology department at all levels, from first year undergraduates to masters students. My teaching covers British archaeology, artefacts and materials, museums and heritage studies, research skills and our undergraduate fieldschool. I teach specialist a thematic module on Neolithic and early Bronze Age Britain and Ireland.

Modules taught

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After studying for a BA in Archaeology and Prehistory at the University of Sheffield, I worked for a short time in commercial archaeology before taking an MSc in Professional Archaeology at the University of Oxford, a vocational course. Between 2005 and 2022 I worked for English Heritage as a Properties Historian, having oversight of archaeological and curatorial content of visitor displays at prehistoric sites, particularly Stonehenge, but also with major projects at Avebury, Grimes Graves, Thornborough Henges, Tintagel and Chysauster Ancient Village. My PhD was completed part-time at Cardiff University between 2014 and 2022, during which time I also worked as a postgraduate tutor and also as a freelance public engagement consultant for L-P Archaeology.

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