Prof Colin Richards


After graduating with BA Hons in Archaeology from the University of Reading, Colin undertook his PhD at the University of Glasgow, where he went on to be a Research Fellow and Lecturer in Archaeology. In 2000 he became Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Manchester and obtained a chair as Professor of World Prehistory in 2011. He moved to the University of Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute in 2017.

Prof Collin Richards
Research Interests and Current projects

Up until 2004, Colin specialised in Neolithic archaeology, being well-known for his research into Neolithic Orkney, architecture and monumentality. Since, then he became a co director of the Stonehenge Riverside Project (with Mike Parker Pearson (UCL), Josh Pollard (Southampton), Julian Thomas (Manchester), Chris Tilley (UCL) and Kate Welham (Bournemouth)), and has also become involved in Polynesian archaeology, particularly the archaeology of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and with Sue Hamilton (UCL) and Kate Welham (Bournemouth) is a co-director of the AHRC funded Rapa Nui: landscapes of construction project.

Many years of research into the Neolithic period of Orkney (collaborating with Jane Downes (UHI) Andrew Jones (Southampton), Richard Jones (Glasgow) and Sian Jones (Stirling)) has resulted in a number of field projects investigating settlements, passage graves and stone circles. Published as a trilogy of research monographs, initial research on Mainland, Orkney, led to the discovery and excavation of the late Neolithic village of Barnhouse adjacent to both the Stones of Stenness and Maeshowe (Dwelling among the monuments -2005).

A second phase of fieldwork examining an area of central Mainland Orkney away from the monuments (The development of Neolithic house societies - 2016), was run in tandem with a project examining stone circles (Building the great stone circles of the north – 2013). An interesting project of Dolmen (with Vicki Cummings (UCLan) is now nearing completion, and Colin is beginning a substantial new project (collaborating with Jane Downes (UHI), Christopher Gee (ORCA), Vicki Cummings (UCLan), Mike Parker Pearson (UCL), Niall Sharples (Cardiff) and Ian Simpson (Stirling)) investigating the end of the Neolithic in the Highlands and Islands. He is also developing (with Jane Downes (UHI) and Kate Welham (Bournemouth)) a project examining the location of Polynesian temples (Marae) in Raratonga, Cook Islands.

Download Colin's research on Ara Metua Rarotonga, Aitutaki Sites and Monuments, Cook Islands and Cata Sand.

Recent Publications

Richards, C. and R. Jones, 2016. The development of Neolithic house societies in Orkney. Oxford: Windgather Press (556 pp).

Richards, C., A. M. Jones, A. MacSween, A. Sheridan, E. Dunbar, P. Reimer, A. Bayliss, S. Griffiths & A. Whittle, 2016. Settlement duration and materiality: formal chronological models for the development of Barnhouse, a Grooved Ware settlement in Orkney. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 82: 193-225.

Richards, C, A. Clarke, C. Ingrem, J. Mulville, &  I.Mainland, 2016. Containment, closure and red deer: a Late Neolithic butchery site at Skaill Bay, Mainland, Orkney, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 145: 91-124.

Richards, C. 2016. Making moai: reconsidering concepts of risk in the construction of megalithic architecture in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), in I. Conrich & H. Mückler (eds) Rapa Nui – Easter Island: cultural and historical perspectives. Berlin: Frank & Timme, 149-66.

Hamilton, S. & C. Richards, 2016. Between realms: entering the darkness of the hare paenga in ancient Rapa Nui (Easter Island), in M. Dowd & R. Hensey (eds) The archaeology of darkness. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 85-100.

Cummings, V. & C. Richards 2015. A monumental task: building the dolmens of Britain and Ireland, in L. Laporte & C. Scarre (eds) The megalithic architecture of Europe. Oxford: Oxbow, 49-58.

Richards, C. & B. Sitch, 2015. Making monuments: the statues of Rapa Nui. Manchester: Manchester Museum.

Parker Pearson, M., J. Pollard, C. Richards, K. Welham & J. Thomas, 2015. Stonehenge: making sense of a prehistoric mystery. London: Council for British Archaeology.

Allen, M. J., B. Chan, R. Cleal, C. French, P. Marshall, J. Pollard, R. Pullin, C. Richards, C. Ruggles, D. Robinson, J. Rylett, J. Thomas, K. Welham & M. Parker Pearson, 2015. Stonehenge’s avenue and Bluestonehenge. Antiquity 89: 1-14.

Croucher, K. & C. Richards, 2014. Wrapped in images: body metaphors, petroglyphs, and landscape in the island world of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), in S. Harris & L. Douny (eds) Wrapping and unwrapping material culture. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 209-28.

Cummings, V. & C. Richards 2014. The essence of the dolmen: the architecture of megalithic construction. Prehistories Mediterraneennes (2014): 2-14.

Richards, C. 2013. Building the great stone circles of the north. Oxford: Windgather Press.