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Kevin Colls

  • Job title: Associate Professor
  • Department: School of Law, Policing and Forensics


I am a professional archaeologist and researcher working for the Centre of Archaeology at Staffordshire University as the lead Archaeological Project Manager. I have directed and published archaeological projects throughout the United Kingdom and Europe and hold over 20 years’ experience in professional archaeology. In addition, I hold academic duties and teach on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules across the University including forensic archaeology, a residential summer school in archaeology, conflict and genocide studies, and practical archaeology.

My specialist subjects include advanced field archaeological field techniques including geophysical survey, urban archaeology, forensic archaeology and the archaeology of islands. My project portfolio includes major archaeological excavations in many of the UK’s urban centres including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol, archaeological survey and remote sensing on Scottish Islands, and rural archaeological surveys in central Greece, Poland and Serbia Of his current and recent projects, the highest profile is the prestigious ‘Finding Shakespeare’ Project. This globally important research project focuses upon novel and innovative archaeological techniques to uncover new evidence of the life of William Shakespeare. This includes the excavation of the final residence of William Shakespeare (called New Place; the house in which the Bard passed away), and the first archaeological investigation of Shakespeare’s Tomb using a wide range of advanced non-invasive survey methods.

This and other projects have led to several high profile appearances on television programmes for the BBC (Digging for Britain BBC2, and BBC Alba in Scotland), Channel 4 (Shakespeare’s Tomb), Channel 5 (Treblinka: Hitler’s Killing Machine) and an hour long Time Team special in 2012 (Channel 4). I work closely with my wife (Professor of Conflict Archaeology and Genocide Investigations, Staffordshire University) on forensic research projects throughout Europe including Treblinka in Poland, Alderney in the Channel Islands, Staro Sajmiste in Belgrade, Serbia, and mass grave sites across Ukraine.

I am an active member of the Recording Cultural Genocide and Killing Sites in Jewish Cemeteries and Accessing Campscapes: Inclusive Strategies for Using European Conflicted Heritage projects, bringing his expertise in project management, archaeological field survey and the application of innovative non-invasive techniques to this research. I also work with numerous police forces as an external consultant associated with the search for buried human remains. I am undertaking a PhD which is investigating the archaeological remains on the Isle of Harris, the Western Isles of Scotland, and have research projects focused on Island Archaeology, the archaeology of Shakespeare and the archaeological of Alderney in the Channel Islands.

October 2013 – Present
Archaeological Project Manager for the Centre of Archaeology at Staffordshire University.
Acquiring, managing and directing prestigious archaeological projects for the new Centre of Archaeology at Staffordshire University. The organisation offers world-class services in commercial, research and community archaeology supported by cutting-edge equipment and facilities. The Centre also offers a diverse range of training courses, summer schools and short Continuing Professional Development (CPD) workshops to develop archaeological skills for students, professionals and the general public.

May 2004 – September 2013
Project Manager and Research Fellow, University of Birmingham
I was a professional archaeologist and researcher who directed and published archaeological projects throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. My project portfolio includes major archaeological excavations in many of the UK’s urban centres including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol as well as the archaeology of the Western Isles of Scotland. My project income through tendered projects and grants between March 2008 and

July 2011 totals £1,271,875. I regularly supervised archaeological training projects and is a course tutor for the Excavation Module on the MA Practical Archaeology. I give lectures on archaeological field techniques to undergraduates and postgraduates studying various archaeological degrees at Birmingham University including the Distance Learning courses. My summary publication portfolio is given below.

April 2000 – May 2004
Senior Archaeologist, Cotswold Archaeology
As a Senior Archaeologist, I was responsible for the direction and overall management of large-scale archaeological projects across the UK. Major projects included urban archaeology in Bristol and Roman excavations in Chesterfield and Cirencester. I line managed a number of junior staff and directed projects through to publication. .
April 1999 – November 1999 Surveyor, Wessex Archaeology
March 1999 – April 1999 Project Archaeologist, Archaeological Project Services
September 1998 – February 1999 Archaeologist, University of Manchester Archaeology Unit
June 1998 – September 1998 Archaeologist, Giffords LTD, Chester Office


Recent papers

Sturdy Colls, C. COLLS, K, and Kerti, J. (2020) Nazi Terror on British Soil: Forensic Archaeological Investigations of Sylt Labour and Concentration Camp. Antiquity. Durham

Sturdy Colls, C. and Colls, K. 2018 (In Print). The Heart of Terror: A Forensic and Archaeological Assessment of the Old Gas Chambers at Treblinka. In: Vareka, P. and Symonds, J. Dark Modernities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sturdy Colls, C. and COLLS, K. (In Prep 2019) ‘Adolf Island: The Archaeology of the Occupation of Alderney’. Manchester University Press, Manchester. Book contract signed for delivery late 2019.

Colls, K, Sturdy Colls, C., and Mitchell, W. (in prep) Holocaust Archaeology in practice: Killing sites in Ukraine. Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Manchester University Press.

Mitchell, W and COLLS, K, 2019 An evaluation of community-led archaeology projects funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund: Two case studies. Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage. Taylor & Francis

Sturdy Colls, C, COLLS, K, and Mitchell, W. (In prep) Death and burial during the occupation of Alderney: A forensic investigation of Longy common slave worker cemetery. Forensic Science International. Elsevier.

Sturdy Colls, C. Bolton-King, R.. Colls, K. and Harris, T. 2018 Proof of Life: Mark-Marking Practices on the Island of Alderney. European Journal of Archaeology. Cambridge University Press.

Colls, K.S and Carrick Utsi, E. 2017. The GPR Investigation of the Shakespeare Family Graves. Archaeological Prospection 2017; 24: pp 335-352. Wiley. London

Edmonton, P. Colls, K. and Mitchell, W. 2016. Finding Shakespeare’s New Place. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Paul, S. Colls, K. and Chapman, H. 2015. ‘Living with the Flood: Mesolithic to Post-Medieval Archaeological Remains at Mill Lane, Sawston, Cambridgeshire a Wetland/Dryland Interface. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Colls K. and Hunter J. 2015. ‘A Changing Hebridean Landscape: Recent Survey And Excavation Along The West Coast of Harris’ International Journal of the North Atlantic, Volume 9, 108-124.

Colls, K. and Mitchell, W. 2013 ‘A cycle of Recession and Recovery AD 1200-1900: Archaeological Investigations at Much Park Street, Coventry’. British Archaeology Report series. Archaeopress

Colls, K. and Hunter J. 2011 ‘Defining the archaeological resource on the Isle of Harris: an assessment of the impact of environmental factors and topography on the identification of buried remains’. In The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures Volume 4, number 2

Colls, K. and Halsted, J. 2010 ‘New evidence for monument reuse in Bronze Age Wales: Archaeological excavation at Llanymynech, Powys, 2007’ Archaeologia Cambrensis 158 69-96

Colls, K. 2011 ‘The Avon Floodplain at Bristol: Excavations at Templar House, Temple Way, in Bristol 2004 and 2005’. Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucester Archaeological Society vol 128 pp 75-122

Colls, K. & Adams, J. 2007 ‘Out of darkness, cometh light. Excavations in the overflow burial ground of St. Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton. British Archaeology Report series 442. Archaeopress

Conference Presentations

  • Finding New Place: Shakespeares’s Lost Family Home
  • Director of Studies: Archaeology of Shakespeare. University of Oxford Centre for Continuing Education, Rewley House, Oxford. January 2012
  • Current Archaeology Conference, British Museum Feb 2011, presenting Dig for Shakespeare
  • European Archaeology Association (EAA) Conference
  • Institute for Archaeologists (IFA) conference
  • Hebridean Archaeology Forum (HAF) Conference
  • Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) Conference
  • Award winner (best presentation) at Postgraduate Colloquium (University of Birmingham)