University of Buckingham professor wins Archaeologist of the Year award

David Jacques’ work has transformed understanding of the Stonehenge landscape
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A University of Buckingham archaeologist has won the ‘Oscars of the archaeology world’. Prof David Jacques has been voted Archaeologist of the Year 2023 for his achievements at the Blick Mead excavation site near Stonehenge.

The award, from Current Archaeology magazine, was announced at the Current Archaeology Live! conference on Saturday, February 25.

Since Prof Jacques started leading digs at Blick Mead in 2005, volunteers have unearthed more than 30,000 Mesolithic tools and his work has transformed understanding of the Stonehenge landscape, revealing that there were settlers there much earlier than previously thought.

David Jacques at Blick MeadDavid Jacques at Blick Mead
David Jacques at Blick Mead

Over 50 per cent of the animal remains found at the site were from aurochs, a species of enormous wild cattle, now extinct, that once dominated grasslands of upland southern Britain.

Prof Jacques said he was “blown away” and “thrilled for the team, the University of Buckingham, for all our volunteers and everyone who has contributed to the project's success one way or the other”.

He added: “It has been a privilege leading a project which has involved so many great people in finding the first place in the Stonehenge landscape, and this result is the cherry on a cherry-filled cake."

Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts said Blick Mead is an important site, and David has achieved so much there, both in terms of keeping it running for so long on such a shoestring budget, and in the significance of the finds. With the final excavation on the site now concluded and David being the lynchpin, the editorial team felt strongly that he would be a very deserving nominee for this year.

University of Buckingham vice-chancellor James Tooley said: "University of Buckingham archaeology students have loved visiting Blick Mead and had the joy of unearthing Mesolithic flints and other items themselves.

"David has done amazing work which has helped provide the back story to Stonehenge. He is a very deserving winner for all his painstaking work and great discoveries. Congratulations, David."

Prof Jacques headed up the University of Buckingham’s Archaeology MA course, which has now been discontinued, and the university provided some funding for the Blick Mead digs.