Dr Francis Wenban-Smith is Principal Enterprise Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton (Faculty of Arts and Humanities)
It all started for me on a peat bog in Yorkshire in 1981, where an interest in lithic technology was stimulated in my teens by fieldwork at the Mesolithic site of Seamer Carr. This was followed by a BA at the London Institute of Archaeology, where I became enthused by human origins research through involvement with Boxgrove Lower Palaeolithic site. I then studied for an MA in Lithic Analysis and Microwear at University College London before carrying out a PhD at the University of Southampton, completing in 1996. My PhD was based on the classic British Levalloisian site of Baker's Hole in Kent. This was used as a case-study for a behaviour-focused organisational approach to lithic analysis, rather than merely being the usual atheoretical technological and typological analysis of "the Levalloisian".
I returned to work at Boxgrove alongside completing my PhD, culminating as Senior Supervisor and Lithic Analyst on the Hominid Site project in the mid-1990s. Fortuitously for me, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link - now rebranded as HS1 - was then put straight through my PhD site (50 yards from Ebbsfleet International station), leading to my becoming heavily involved as a Palaeolithic specialist in the HS1 route-planning and pre-construction archaeological work in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Since then, I have had a position at the University of Southampton Archaeology Department that has involved a combination of pre-development commercial contract work, and developing/leading grant-funded research projects. My current enterprise-focused position involves acting as a Palaeolithic and geo-archaeological specialist for developers, archaeological consultants, curators and contractors for all aspects of desk-based study and field investigation, and post-excavation assessment, analysis and reporting. I also work with various national agencies and curatorial authorities (eg. Historic England, Natural England, National Highways and local/county planning authorities) in developing approaches to mitigating development impact on the Palaeolithic historic environment. As an independent university-based specialist, I collaborate with numerous organisations and companies.