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Research interests:

Research Soils, sediments and landscape history considers soils and sediments as historical narratives that define land resource utilisation and organisation by early societies together with their environmental and landscape consequences.

These narratives are elucidated through innovative theoretical frameworks of landscape that give new understanding of the Anthropocene together with innovative techniques in thin section micromorphology, soil biomarker analyses and modelling applied to anthrosols, podzols, andosols and archaeo-sediments.

In doing so, historical depth is given to long-term human interactions with environmental processes; new understanding of ‘completed human ecodynamics experiments of the past’ in relation to sustainability and resilience emerges; contribution is made to discussions on cultural and national identities as they relate to environments and landscapes, and foundations for natural and cultural heritage resources management are provided.

Career history:

Professor of Environmental Geography

Head of School, Natural Sciences

PhD – University of Strathclyde

BSc – University of Strathclyde

I graduated from the University of Strathclyde with BSc and PhD degrees in Geography. I then worked from 1985 as a researcher on land use and environmental policy issues with the UK Government’s Civil Service – Ministry of Agriculture. Joining the University of Stirling in 1990 as Lecturer in Environmental Science, I became Professor in 2002.

I have previously held the posts of Vice-Dean (Research) in Natural Sciences and Head of the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, before becoming Deputy Principal in 2007.

Active research projects:

The scope of this work is inter-disciplinary and international with current research programmes focussed in –

-North Atlantic region (including Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Faeroes, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles).Current programmes include the emergence and formation of early fishing sites (supported by UK AHRC); landscapes of Norse – indigenous interaction (supported by the UK Leverhulme Trust – Footprints on the edge of Thule programme); farm resilience in marginal environments (supported by the US National Science Foundation, Human and Social Ecodynamics programme); soil and field system inheritance (supported by the Shetland Amenity Trust); the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site (supported by Historic Scotland).

-South and West Asia (Sri Lanka, Nepal and Iran). Current programmes include the use of water in early urban hinterlands programmes, Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka) and Sialk – Kashan (Iran) (supported by AHRC and Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada); modern human settlement in tropical South Asia, evidence from late Pleistocene-early Holocene rockshelter sites in Sri Lanka (supported by the British Academy); protecting and preserving the natal landscape, Lumbini, Nepal (supported by UNESCO).

-Rescue archaeology and ‘preservation by record’. Working in UK locations where the soils and sedimentary record in archaeological sites and landcapes is threatened by development (supported by development funding).

Recent publications:

Golding KA, Simpson I, Wilson C, Lowe EC, Schofield JE & Edwards KJ (2015) Europeanization of sub-Arctic environments: perspectives from Norse Greenland’s outer fjords, Human Ecology, 43 (1), pp. 61-77.

Mills C, Simpson I & Adderley WP (2014) The lead legacy: The relationship between historical mining, pollution and the post-mining landscape, Landscape History, 35 (1), pp. 47-72.

Maghsoudi M, Simpson I, Kourampas N & Nashli HF (2014) Archaeological sediments from settlement mounds of the Sagzabad Cluster, central Iran: Human-induced deposition on an arid alluvial plain, Quaternary International, 324, pp. 67-83.

Coningham R, Acharya KP, Strickland KM, Davis C, Manuel M, Simpson I, Gilliland K, Tremblay J, Kinnaird TC & Sanderson DCW (2013) The earliest Buddhist shrine: Excavating the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini (Nepal), Antiquity, 87 (338), pp. 1104-1123.

Coningham R, Gunawardhana P, Adikari G, Manuel M, Davis C & Simpson I (2013) Discussion. In: Coningham R, Gunawardhana P (ed.). Anuradhapura Volume III: The Hinterland. BAR International Series, 2568, London: Archaeopress, pp. 459-479.