Ian Ralston - Biography#


Ian Ralston is a field archaeologist primarily of Scotland and western Europe. His principal excavations (as co-Director) have been on the Late Iron Age major gate and fortifications of the Mont Beuvray oppidum in Burgundy (Mitterand's last Grand Projet) and at the major urbanized complex of c. 500 BC at Bourges-Avaricum (Berry). He has conducted other field survey – notably in Limousin - and excavation in France, as well as on sites of Neolithic to Pictish date within Scotland, where he has also undertaken many aerial archaeology sorties. His main contributions have been to issues of scale and complexity with regard to later prehistoric, especially, Iron age, societies, as evidenced by their settlement records and their spatial patterning.

He joined the staff of Aberdeen University in 1974, and thereafter moved to Edinburgh, taking up a Personal Chair in 1998 and being made Abercromby Professor of Archaeology in 2012. Involved in the development of University archaeology, he was UK Chair of the Subject Committee for 3 years until 2010.

He has been heavily involved in the development of applied archaeology, establishing the Centre for Field Archaeology within Edinburgh University in 1990 and remains non-executive Chair of its privatized successor, which now operates across the UK. He played a role in the development of the new professional body, the Institute for Archaeologists, serving as its chair in 1991-2. Other service includes eight years (to 2011) as Chair of the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel, whose workings and public interface he codified.

He is currently Head of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Edinburgh, one of the largest institutes (with over 100 academic staff) devoted to the study of the past in the UK.
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