Nick Ashton

Curator of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic collections

Department: Britain, Europe and Prehistory

Contact

+44 (0)20 7323 8093
nashton@britishmuseum.org

Nick Ashton has been a curator at the British Museum for over 35 years, specializing in Lower and Middle Palaeolithic archaeology and helps curate the extensive stone tool collections from these periods. He has directed and published major excavation projects at the Lower Palaeolithic sites of High Lodge, Barnham, Elveden, Hoxne (all Suffolk) and Happisburgh (Norfolk).

He was Deputy Director of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project (AHOB) funded by the Leverhulme Trust and currently co-Director of the Pathways to Ancient Britain project funded by the Calleva Foundation. These projects have been examining the presence and habitat preferences of early humans in north-west Europe over the last 800,000 years. His particular interests are: the earliest occupation of northern Europe; the early human adaptation to northern environments; and the effect of changes in climate and island/peninsula status of Britain on new populations entering from Europe.

Current projects

Pathways to Ancient Britain Project (2012-2022)

Breckland Palaeolithic Project (2016-2019)

Barnham excavations (2013-2020)

Western European Acheulean Project (2017-2019)

Previous projects

Mapping Palaeolithic Britain Project (2014-2017)

Happisburgh Project (2004-2012)

Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project (AHOB) (2001-2012)

Hoxne Dating and Environmental Project (2000-2003)

Barnham and Elveden Lower Palaeolithic Project (1989-1999)

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Honorary Professor, UCL

Honorary Professor, Durham University

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries

Editorial Board Journal of Quaternary Science

Editorial Board Prehistoric Society

Recent publications

White, M.J., Ashton, N. & Bridgland, D.R. ‘Twisted handaxes in Middle Pleistocene Britain and their implications for regional-scale cultural variation and the deep history of Acheulean hominin groups’. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (in press).

C. R. E. Harris, N. M. Ashton and S. G. Lewis. ‘From Site to Museum: a Critical Assessment of Collection History on the Formation and Interpretation of the British Early Palaeolithic Record’. Journal of Palaeolithic Archaeology (2019) .

N. M. Ashton, C. R. E. Harris and S. G. Lewis. ‘Frontiers and routeways from Europe: the Early Middle Palaeolithic of Britain’. Journal of Quaternary Science 33 (2018) pp. 194–211.
 
N. M. Ashton. ‘Landscapes of habit and persistent places during MIS 11 in Europe. A return journey from Britain’. In M. Pope, J. McNabb and C. S. Gamble (eds), Crossing the Human Threshold. Dynamic Transformation and Persistent Places during the Middle Pleistocene. (London, Routledge, 2018, pp. 142-164).

P. García-Medrano, A. Ollé, N. M. Ashton, M. B. Roberts. ‘The Mental Template in Handaxe Manufacture: New Insights into Acheulean Lithic Technological Behavior at Boxgrove, Sussex, UK’. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (2018).

M-H. Moncel and N. M. Ashton. ‘From 800 to 500 ka in Western Europe. The Oldest Evidence of Acheuleans in Their Technological, Chronological, and Geographical Framework’. In R. Gallotti and M. Mussi (eds), The Emergence of the Acheulean in East Africa and Beyond: Contributions in Honor of Jean Chavaillon. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology (London, Springer-Nature, 2018, pp.215-235).

R. J. Davis, S. G. Lewis, N. M. Ashton, S. A. Parfitt, M. T. Hatch and P. G. Hoare. ‘The early Palaeolithic archaeology of the Breckland: current understanding and directions for future research’. The Journal of Breckland Studies 1 (2017) pp. 28-44.
 
M. T. Hatch, R. J. Davis, S. G. Lewis, N. M. Ashton, R. M. Briant and S. Lukas. ‘The stratigraphy and chronology of the fluvial sediments at Warsash, UK: implications for the Palaeolithic archaeology of the River Test’. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 128 (2017) pp. 198-221.
 
N. M. Ashton. The human occupation of Britain during the Hoxnian Interglacial. Quaternary International 409B (2016) pp. 41-53.

N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis, S. A. Parfitt, R. J. Davis and C. B. Stringer. ‘Handaxe and non-handaxe assemblages during Marine Isotope Stage 11 in northern Europe: Recent investigations at Barnham, Suffolk, UK’. Journal of Quaternary Science 31 (2016) pp. 837-843.

N. M. Ashton and B. Scott. ‘The British Middle Palaeolithic’. Quaternary International 411 (2016) pp. 62-76.
D. Hérisson, M. Brenet, D. Cliquet, M-H. Moncel, J. Richter,B. Scott, A. Van Baelen, K. Di Modica, D. De Loecker, N. Ashton, L. Bourguignon, A. Delagnes, J-Ph. Faivre, M. Folgado-Lopez, J-L. Locht, M. Pope, J-P. Raynal, W. Roebroeks, J. Santagata, A. Turq and P. Van Peer, P. ‘The emergence of the Middle Palaeolithic in north-western Europe and its southern fringes’. Quaternary International 411 (2016) pp. 233-283.

N. M. Ashton. ‘Ecological niches, technological developments and physical adaptations of early humans in Europe: the handaxe-heildelbergensis hypothesis’. In F. Wenban-Smith, F. Coward and R. Hosfield, R., (eds) Settlement, Society and Cognition in Human Evolution: Landscapes in Mind. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 138-153).

N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis, C. R. E. Harris. The distribution of early Palaeolithic sites in Britain. In N. M. Ashton, C. R. E. Harris, (eds), No Stone Unturned. Papers in Honour of Roger Jacobi (London: AHOB and Lithic Studies Society, 2015, pp. 19-30).

R. J. Davis, R. J., M. T. Hatch, N. M. Ashton, R. T. Hosfield and S. G. and Lewis. ‘The Palaeolithic record of Warsash, Hampshire, UK: implications for late Lower and early Middle Palaeolithic occupation history of Southern Britain’. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 127 (2015) pp. 558-574.

M-H. Moncel, N. M. Ashton, A. Lamotte, A. Tuffreau, D. Cliquet and J. Despriée. ‘North-west Europe early Acheulian’. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 40 (2015) pp. 302-331.

P. Voinchet, D. Moreno, J-J. Bahain, H. Tissoux, O. Tombret, C. Falgueres, M-H. Moncel, D. Schreve, I.  Candy, P. Antoine, N. Ashton, M. Beamish, D. Cliquet, J. Despriee, S. Lewis, N. Limondin-Lozouet, J-L. Locht, S. Parfitt and M. Pope.’ New chronological data (ESR and ESR/U-series) for the earliest Acheulean sites of northwestern Europe’.  Journal of Quaternary Science 30 (2015) pp.610-622.

N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis, I. De Groote, S. Duffy, M. B. Bates, C. R. Bates, P. R. Hoare, M. Lewis, S. A. Parfitt, S. Peglar, C. Williams and C.B. Stringer. ‘Hominin footprints from Early Pleistocene deposits at Happisburgh’, UK. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88329 (2014). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088329.

Ashton, N. & Lewis, S.G. 2012. The environmental contexts of early human occupation of northwest Europe: The British Lower Palaeolithic record. Quaternary International 271: 50-64.

N. M. Ashton and S. G. Lewis. ‘The environmental contexts of early human occupation of north-west Europe: the British Lower Palaeolithic record’. Quaternary International 271 (2012) pp.50-64.

N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis and R. Hosfield. ‘Mapping the human record: Population change in Britain during the later Middle Pleistocene’. In N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis and C. B. Stringer (eds) The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. (Amsterdam, Elsevier, 2011, pp. 39-51)

S. G. Lewis, N. M. Ashton and R. M. Jacobi. ‘Testing human presence during the Last Interglacial (MIS 5e): A review of the British evidence’. In N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis and C. B. Stringer (eds) The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. (Amsterdam, Elsevier, 2011, pp. 125-164)

B. Scott and N. M. Ashton ‘The Early Middle Palaeolithic: the European context’. In N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis and Stringer, C.B. (eds) The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. (Amsterdam, Elsevier, 2011, pp. 67-89)

B. Scott, N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis, S. A. Parfitt and M. J. White. ‘Technology and land use in the early Middle Palaeolithic of the Thames valley’. In N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis and C. B. Stringer (eds) The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. (Amsterdam, Elsevier, 2011, pp. 91-112)

M. J. White, N. M. Ashton and B. Scott. ‘The emergence, diversity and significance of the Mode 3 (prepared core) technologies’. In N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis and C. B. Stringer (eds) The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. (Amsterdam, Elsevier, 2011, pp. 53-65)

N. M. Ashton and R. T. Hosfield.’ Mapping the human record in the British early Palaeolithic: evidence from the Solent River system’, Journal of Quaternary Science, 25 (2010), pp. 737-753

S. A. Parfitt, N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis, R. L. Abel, G. R. Coope, M. H. Field, R. Gale, P. G. Hoare, N. R. Larkin, M. D. Lewis, V. Karloukovski, B. A. Maher, S. M. Peglar, R. C. Preece, J. E. Whittaker and C. B. Stringer. ‘Early Pleistocene human occupation at the edge of the boreal zone in northwest Europe’. Nature 466 (2010), pp. 229-233.

Recent books
N. M. Ashton. Early Humans (HarperCollins, 2017)

N. M. Ashton and C. E. Harris (eds). No Stone Unturned. Essays in Honour of Roger Jacobi. (London, Lithic Studies Society, 2015)

N. M. Ashton, S. G. Lewis and C. B. Stringer (eds). The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. (Amsterdam, Elsevier, 2011)