Wednesday 15 May 18:00 - 21:00

UCL Institute of Archaeology
31-34 Gordon Square

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Gordon Childe Lecture 2024: Prof Richard Bradley


Join us for the Gordon Childe Lecture 2024 by Prof Richard Bradley, , Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, University of Reading.

Hidden valuables: hidden variables. Hoards and other deposits from the Mesolithic to modern times

For Gordon Childe deposits of intact or broken metalwork were a key component of the European Bronze Age. They shed light on the important role played by smiths in the processing of ores and the distribution of valuable objects. More recent work has extended his analysis in two ways. Firstly, it is obvious that the artefacts found in hoards also occur in graves, and that some of the same types were deposited in rivers and lakes. And, secondly, these practices extended to other materials and other periods. They began as early as the Mesolithic phase and retained their importance into the early medieval period and even after. The lecture will review some of the main ways of interpreting these finds and will extend from late prehistoric hunter gatherers in Scandinavia to the curious behaviour of a retired archbishop during the 1980s.

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the Leventis Gallery, UCL Institute of Archaeology. Please note tickets will be checked on the door, so do bring your tickets with you, either electronically or printed.


Professor Richard Bradley has written a number of books on prehistoric archaeology. His fieldwork has centred on prehistoric settlements, landscapes and monuments in England, Scotland, Spain and Scandinavia. These include studies of Cranborne Chase, the Neolithic axe quarries of Great Langdale (Cumbria), the stone circles of north-east Scotland, the Clava Cairns of northern Scotland, the megalithic art of Orkney, the prehistoric land boundaries of Salisbury Plain, and the Copper Age cave sanctuary of El Pedroso (northern Spain). He has conducted other field investigations of megalithic tombs in the west of Sweden, and a study of the siting of Bronze Age metalwork hoards in southern England, and has also investigated prehistoric rock art in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Norway.

Recent projects include a book on approaches to studying prehistoric art, another on ritual and domestic life in prehistoric Europe, and accounts of both the prehistory of Britain and Ireland and the role of circular architecture in the ancient world. Field projects published in the last three years include an investigation of henge monuments in Aberdeenshire and Caithness, excavation around prehistoric rock carvings on the National Trust of Scotland's Ben Lawers estate, and a study of the Bronze Age ship settings on the Baltic island of Gotland. Together with three colleagues he is writing a new account of the Continental background to British and Irish Prehistory. The latter project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and conducted jointly with Leicester University.

Richard's most recent fieldwork is concerned with three stone circles in Scotland: Croftmoraig, Waulkmill and Hillhead.

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