Dr Jennifer Harland


Dr Jen Harland

Jen Harland started teaching part-time at the Institute in September 2014.  She currently researches the zooarchaeology of the North Atlantic, with a particular focus on the identification and analysis of fish remains using both traditional and biomolecular methods. 

After completing a BSc in Archaeological Science at York in 2000, she remained at York to study for an MSc in Archaeological Information Systems in 2001.  She then obtained AHRB funding for a PhD entitled ‘Zooarchaeology in the Viking Age to Medieval Northern Isles, Scotland: An investigation of spatial and temporal patterning’, supervised by Dr James Barrett. Her PhD was interspersed with several excavation seasons at Quoygrew, on Westray, where Jen was in charge of environmental processing. 

Jen started working as one of the two primary post-docs on James Barrett’s ‘The Medieval Origins of Commercial Sea Fishing Project’ in 2006.  This 3 year Leverhulme-funded project involved using stable isotope analysis in conjunction with traditional zooarchaeological methods to track preserved cod, and it was hosted by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. 

Following a period of maternity leave, Jen completed a 10 month AHRC-funded part-time post-doc with Prof Matthew Collins at York investigating innovative new methods of fish bone identification using bone collagen sequencing (ZooMS, zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry). 

After a relocation to Orkney, a second spell of maternity and a few years at home with the kids, Jen is delighted to have joined the team at the archaeology institute as a part-time staff member.

Research Interests

Jen’s primary research is the zooarchaeology of the North Atlantic, particularly anything relating to fish remains.  Although her research to date has focussed on the Viking Age to the recent past, she is also interested in fishy aspects of earlier time periods.  She is also interested in biomolecular methods of analysis, historical ecology, marine conservation, the study of human remains and digital heritage.


Jen currently contributes to the following modules:

  • Archaeobotany to Zooarchaeology (SCQF 11)
  • Archaeological Project (SCQF 9)
  • Archaeological Science (SCQF 9)
  • Archaeological Theory and Method (SCQF 7)
  • Archaeology and the Sea (SCQF 11) module leader
  • Archaeology of the Highlands and Islands (SCQF 11)
  • Biomolecular Archaeology (SCQF 10) to start 2021/22 module leader
  • Digital Heritage (SCQF 8) module leader
  • Dissertation Archaeology (SCQF 10)
  • Dissertation (Archaeological Practice) (SCQF 11)
  • Early Medieval Archaeology (SCQF 11)
  • From the Vikings to VE Day (SCQF 11)
  • People, plants and animals (SCQF 10)
  • Research and Communication Skills (SCQF 11)
  • Scottish Archaeology (SCQF 8)
  • Science and Archaeology (SCQF 7) module leader
  • Sea and Society in the North Atlantic World (SCQF 11) module leader
  • Sustainability: Past, present and future (SCQF 10)
  • Viking and Norse Archaeology in the North Atlantic (SCQF 10, 11)

Recent Publications

Harland, J. (2019). ‘The origins of aquaculture’. Nature: Ecology and Evolution 3: 1378-79.

Harland, JF and Van Neer, W. 2018. ‘Weird Fish: Defining a role for fish palaeopathology’, in Bartosiewicz, L and Gal, E (eds.) Care or Neglect? Evidence of animal disease in archaeology. Oxbow: Oxford, 256-275.

Barrett JH and JF Harland (2012). ‘Ecofact recovery and patterns of deposition’, in JH Barrett (ed.), Being an Islander: Production and Identity at Quoygrew, Orkney, AD 900–1600. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 97-102.

Harland, JF. 2018. ‘Fish bone from Roman phases’, in Wilmott, T, Garner, D (eds.) The Roman Amphitheater of Chester Vol 1: The Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology. Oxbow: Oxford, 414-430.

Harland, JF, AKG Jones, DC Orton and JH Barrett. 2016 'Fishing and fish trade in medieval York: The zooarchaeological evidence', in Barrett, JH and Orton, DC (eds.) Cod and Herring: The archaeology and history of medieval sea fishing. Oxbow: Oxford, 172-204.

Harland, JF (2012). 'Chapter 8: Animal Husbandry: The Mammal Bone', in JH Barrett (ed.) Being an Islander: Production and identity at Quoygrew, Orkney, AD 900-1600. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 139-154.

Harland, JF and JH Barrett (2012). ‘Chapter 7: The Maritime Economy, Fish Bone’, in JH Barrett (ed.) Being an Islander: Production and identity at Quoygrew, Orkney, AD 900-1600. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 115-138.

Harland JF, RA Bennett, JI Andrews, TP O'Connor and JH Barrett (2012). ‘Fowling: The bird bones’, in JH Barrett (ed.), Being an Islander: Production and Identity at Quoygrew, Orkney, AD 900–1600. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 155-160.

Barrett, JH, D Orton, C Johnstone, J Harland, W Van Neer, A Ervynck, C Roberts, A Locker, C Amundsen, I Bødker Enghoff, S Hamilton-Dyer, D Heinrich, A Karin Hufthammer, AKG Jones, L Jonsson, D Makowiecki, P Pope, TC O’Connell, T de Roo and M Richards (2011). ‘Interpreting the expansion of sea fishing in medieval Europe using stable isotope analysis of archaeological cod bones’.   Journal of Archaeological Science 38. 1516-1524.

Orton, DC, D Makowiecki, T de Roo, C Johnstone, J Harland, L Jonsson, D Heinrich, I Bødker Enghoff, L Lougas, W Van Neer, A Ervynck, AK Hufthammer, C Amundsen, AKG Jones, A Locker, S Hamilton-Dyer, P Pope, BR MacKenzie, M Richards, TC O’Connell and JH Barrett (2011). ‘Stable isotope evidence for late medieval (14th-15th C) origins of the Eastern Baltic cod (Gadus morhua) fishery’, PLOS One. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0027568.

Collins, MJ, J Harland, O Craig, K Korzow Richter, N van Doorn and C Trueman. (2010) ‘What use are old fish bones in helping to understand the history of marine animal populations?’ in Gertwagen, R, T Fortibuoni, O Giovanardi, S Libralato, C Solidoro and S Raicevich (eds.) When Humanities Meet Ecology: Proceedings of the HMAP International Summer School: Historic changes in Mediterranean and Black Sea marine biodiversity and ecosystems since the Roman period until nowadays. Languages, methodologies and perspectives. Proceedings of the HMAP In- ternational Summer School. 31st August – 4th September 2009, Trieste (Italy). Rome: ISPRA Serie Atti 2010: 61-72.

Harland, JF and RL Parks (2009). ‘The Fish Remains’, in A Ritchie (ed.) On the fringe of Neolithic Europe: Excavation of a chambered cairn on the Holm of Papa Westray, Orkney. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Barrett, JH, C Johnstone, J Harland, W Van Neer, A Ervynck, D Makowiecki, D Heinrich, AK Hufthammer, I Bødker Enghoff, C Amundsen, JS Christiansen, AKG Jones, A Locker, S Hamilton-Dyer, L Jonsson, L Lougas, C Roberts and M Richards (2008). ‘Detecting the medieval cod trade: A new method and first results’ Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 850-861.

Harland, JH, C Johnstone and AKG Jones (2008).  ‘A case study from the Medieval Origins of Commercial Sea Fishing Project: Zooarchaeological results from York (UK)’ in Béarez, P, S Grouard and B Clavel (eds.) Archéologie du Poisson. 30 Ans D’Archéo-Ichtyologie au CNRS: Hommage aux travaux de Jean Desse et Nathalie Desse-Berset XXVIIIe rencontres internationales d’archéologie et d’histoire d’Antibes XIVthICAZ Fish remains working group meeting. 15-26.

Harland, JF (2007).  ‘Status and space in the ‘Fish Event Horizon’: initial results from Quoygrew and Earl’s Bu, Viking Age and medieval sites in Orkney, Scotland’, in HH Plogmann (ed.) The Role of Fish in Ancient Time, Rahden: Verlag Marie Leidorf: 63-68.


  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Member of the Association for Environmental Archaeology (Committee)
  • Member International Council for Archaeozoology (including membership of the Fish Remains Working Group)
  • Member Orkney Maritime Archaeology Forum

Grey literature

Jen has undertaken the analysis of fish remains from several commercial sites and projects, firstly undertaken as part of the commercial wing of the Centre for Human Palaeoecology at York and subsequently as a freelance zooarchaeologist.  Most of these reports are available on her academia.edu page, and it is hoped many of these will eventually be incorporated into excavation monographs.