Skip to content

Toggle service links

Coronavirus: Course registration is open, but please be aware it may take us longer to respond than usual. Find out about our coronavirus response and current contact hours.

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Robert Wallis

Dr Robert Wallis

Dr Robert J Wallis FSA, FRAI, SFHEA, Staff Tutor, Art History, The Open University

Profile summary

Professional biography

I completed my BA (Hons) Archaeology (1995), MA Archaeology and Anthropology of Rock Art (1996) and PhD Archaeology (2000) at the University of Southampton, where I was then appointed as Lecturer in Archaeology, Convenor of the MA Archaeology and Anthropology of Rock Art and Co-ordinator of Archaeology Adult Education. I joined Richmond University, the American International University in London, as Assistant Professor of Visual Culture and Director of the MA Art History and Visual Culture in 2002, and over 18 years became Professor of Visual Culture and Associate Dean in the School of Communications, Arts and Social Sciences, as well as Director of the Research Centre for International Visual Arts and Cultures (IVAC). From 2003-2017, I was an Associate Lecturer at the Open University, teaching AA100 The Arts Past and Present. I joined The Open University as Staff Tutor in Art History in 2020. I am a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research interests

I am interested in the archaeology and anthropology of art and religion, the re-presentation of the past in the present, and the anthropology and archaeology of falconry. I focus on prehistoric art, shamanism, animism and their interface with modern and contemporary art, the uses of heritage by today’s Pagans, and the origins of and earliest evidence for falconry. My latest publications include an article examinig the interface of shamanism and art, ‘from cave painting to the white cube’ (Religions journal), a chapter about the construction of the artist Austin Osman Spare as a ‘shaman’ (Fulgur Press), chapters on the archaeology (Routledge) and museum display (Archaeopress) of cave art, and the art of falconry during the Conversion Period in early medieval England (Cambridge Archaeological Journal). I am currently editing a volume entitled Relating to Raptors: the Art, Materiality and Representation of Human Engagements with Birds of Prey, co-editing a Special Issue of the open access journal Religions, on ‘Art, Shamanism and Animism’, and co-authoring a book examining racist and anti-racist Heathenry in the UK. I have presented in a wide range of international academic fora, and will be next delivering a paper on the archaeology of falconry in early England at the Raptor Research Foundation Annual Conference, Boise Conference Centre, Idaho in October 2021. My planned research output includes a monograph and journal article on the art and archaeology of falconry, a co-authored book chapter on popular representations of Stonehenge, and various publications on early medieval falconry in England. I am on the Editorial Boards of Time & Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture, and previously for The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies.




Wallis, R. J. In preparation. Falconry: Origins, Art and Archaeology.

Wallis, R. J. (ed.) In preparation. Relating to Raptors: The Art of Human Engagements with Birds of Prey.

     Book proposal in preparation for Cambridge University Press.

Wallis, R.J. 2003. Shamans / neo-Shamans: Ecstasy, Alternative Archaeologies and Contemporary Pagans.

     London: Routledge, 306 pages, 041530203X (Short-listed for The Folklore Society’s Katherine Briggs

     Folklore Award 2003).

Wallis  R. J. and K. Lymer (eds) 2001. A Permeability of Boundaries: New Approaches to the Archaeology of

     Art, Religion and Folklore. BAR International Series 936. Oxford: BAR, 104 pages in quarto format.

Aldrich, A. and R.J. Wallis (eds) 2009. Antiquaries and Archaists: The Past in the Past, the Past in the

     Present. Reading: Spire Books, 170 pages quarto format, 1904965237. (Launched at

     Sotheby’s Institute of Art, 12 Nov 2009; review by Rosemary Hill entitled ‘Giant Steps’ in the Times

     Literary Supplement, 13 November 2009: 38).

Alessio, D. and R. J. Wallis. In preparation. The All-Father Versus the Some-Father: Racist and Anti-Racist

     Heathenry in Twenty-First Century Britain. London: Routledge.

Blain, J. and R. J. Wallis. 2007. Sacred Sites, Contested Rites/Rights: Contemporary Pagan Engagements

     with Archaeological Monuments. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 252 pages, 1845191307.

Harvey, G. and R.J. Wallis. 2016. Historical Dictionary of Shamanism. Second edition. Lanham, Maryland:

     Rowman and Littlefield. 366 pages. First published 2007, reprinted in paperback as The A to Z of

     Shamanism 2010, revised and expanded second edition 2016.


Recent Journal Articles

Wallis, R. J. and M. Carocci (eds) ‘Art, Animism and Shamanism’. Special Issue of Religions journal.

Wallis, R. J. in preparation. ‘To claim a great antiquity for that diversion’: re-examining the earliest evidence for falconry.

- 2020. The ‘North-West Essex Anglo-Saxon Ring’, falconry and pagan-Christian discursive space. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 30(3): 413-     432.

- 2019. Art and Shamanism: from Cave Painting to the White Cube. Religions (Special Issue: ‘Explorations in the Practice and Theory of

     Shamanism: A Collaborative Project Between China and the West’) 10(54): 1-21.

- 2017. ‘As the falcon her bells’ at Sutton Hoo?: Falconry in Early Anglo-Saxon England. The Archaeological Journal of The Royal Archaeological

     Institute 174(2): 409-436.

- 2015. Paganism, archaeology and folklore in twenty-first century Britain: the case study of ‘The Stonehenge Ancestors’. Journal for the Academic

     Study of Religion (special issue: Religion, Archaeology and Folklore) 28(2): 129-157.

- 2014. Re-examining prehistoric stone ‘wrist-guards’ as evidence for falconry in later prehistoric Britain. Antiquity 88(340): 411-424.

- 2013. Bouncing on a huge inflatable Stonehenge: Considering Sacrilege by Jeremy Deller. World Art 3(2): 319-341.

- 2013. Animism and the interpretation of rock art. Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture (Special issue on rock

     art) 6(1): 21-28.

Wallis, R.J. and J. Blain. 2011. From respect to reburial: negotiating Pagan interest in prehistoric human remains in Britain, through the Avebury

     consultation. Public Archaeology 10(1): 23-45.


Recent Chapters in edited volumes

Hampson, J. and R. J. Wallis. In preparation. Popular Representations of Stonehenge.

Wallis, R. J. In preparation. ‘The Hawk in Hand: Falconry in Early Medieval England’. In: G. Owen-Crocker and M. Clegg Hyder (eds) Animals in

     Early Medieval England. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Wallis, R.J. In press. Hunters and Shamans, Sex and Death: Relational Ontologies and the Materiality of the Lascaux ‘shaft-scene’. In: M. Porr and

     O. Moro-Abadia (eds), Ontologies of Rock Art: Images, Relational Approaches and Indigenous Knowledge. London: Routledge.

- In press. Reproduction, Simulation and the Hyperreal: A Case Study of ‘Lascaux III’ 2015-2017. In: Andrzej Rozwadowski and Jamie Hampson

     (eds). Visual Culture and Identity: Using Rock Art to Reconnect Past and Present. Oxford: Archaeopress.

- 2020. Entangled in Ward’s Liberty Realm. Introductory essay to artist’s monograph, Liberty Realm: Works by Cathy Ward: 15-18. London: Strange

     Attractor Press.

- 2018. ‘I know those spells’: Staves for ‘Sayings of the High One’. Introductory essay to artist’s monograph by Jesse Bransford, A Book of Staves:

     Galdrastafabók: xv-xxiii. London: Fulgur.

- 2017. Witchcraft and magic in the age of anthropology. In: O. Davies (ed.) The Oxford Illustrated History of  Witchcraft and Magic: 225-252.

     Oxford: Oxford University Press.

- 2014. Animism, ancestors and adjusted styles of communication: hidden art in Irish passage tombs. In: T. Meier and P. Tillessen (eds)

     Archaeological Imaginations of Religion: 283-314. Budapest: Archaeolingua.

- 2013. Exorcising ‘spirits’: approaching ‘shamans’ and rock art animically. In: G. Harvey (ed.) Handbook of Contemporary Animism: 307-324.

     Durham: Acumen.

- 2012. Pagans in place, from Stonehenge to Seahenge: ‘sacred’ archaeological monuments and artefacts in Britain. In: T. A. Heslop, E. Mellings

     and M. Thøfner (eds) Art, Faith and Place in East Anglia: From Prehistory to the Present: 273-286. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer.

- 2011. Shimmering steel / standing stones: reflections on the intervention of Anish Kapoor at the Rollright Stones. In: P. Bonaventura and A. Jones

     (eds) Sculpture and Archaeology: 133-160. Subject/Object: New Studies in Sculpture Series. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate / Leeds: Henry Moore    


Wallis, R.J. and J. Blain 2012. Negotiating archaeology/spirituality: Pagan engagements with the prehistoric past in Britain. In: K. Rountree, C.

     Morris and A. Peatfield (eds) Archaeology of Spiritualities: 47-68. One World Archaeology Series. London and New York: Springer.


Recent Public Reports

Alessio, D. and R. J. Wallis 2020. Racist occultism in the UK: behind the Order of Nine Angles (O9A). Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right

     blog. Available:



Teaching interests


My teaching interests relate to my ongoing research on the archaeology and anthropology of art, representation and heritage. Having taught in archaeolgy at the University of Southampton, cultural studies at the University of Winchester, and on the BA and MA Art History and Visual Culture at Richmond University, at The Open University I contribute to the level 1 modules A111 Discovering the Arts and Humanities, and A112 Cultures, the level 2 module A236 Exploring Art History and Visual Culture, and the MA in Art History and Visual Culture. I am External Examiner of the MA Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, Department of Archaeology, University of Wales Trinity St David’s and Standing Panel Member for External Examiners, Southampton Solent University. I am interested in supervising research students on topics which embrace a wide-range of themes relating to my research and teaching interests on the archaeology and anthropology of art, representation and heritage. 

Impact and engagement

I have presented on my research on the archaeology and anthropology of art in a variety of public fora, including at such museums, galleries and art fairs as the National Portrait Gallery, Institute for Contemporary Art, Cuming Museum, Wellcome Collection, Horse Hospital, October Gallery, Arts Catalyst, Cob Gallery, Viktor Wynd Fine Art, and ArtRooms Art Fair. I have an Instagram account exploring art and archaeology, artarchaeologynow.

My research on contenmporary Paganism and archaeology has been presented at varoious Pagan conferences, workshops and events, including the Pagan Federation Conference and I have written in a variety of public fora including British Archaeology, Strange Attractor Journal, Folkwitch, White Dragon, 3rd Stone, and Idunna: A Journal of Northern Tradition. I have also co-authored a book for Heathens entitled Galdrbok: Practical Heathen Runecraft, Shamanism and Magic (2015). I am a Trustee of the Dragon Project Trust.

Regarding my research on falconry and as a practicing falconer, I am Council Representative of the Wessex Region of the British Falconers’ Club, and Honorary Co-Editor of their journal The Falconer, for which I have also written on the archaeology of falconry.

External collaborations

In addition to public engagements noted above, I have written essays for artist's monographs by Jessie Bransfoot and Cathy Ward. I have done some PR work on falconry for English Heritage at Stonehenge and presented on the subject to the National Trust of Guernsey.

I am a member of the Humans and Other Living Beings (HOLB) Network, affiliated to European Association Social Anthropologists (EASA), the Pagan Studies Network, affiliated to American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Raptor Research Foundation. I am also a member of the Prehistoric Society, the Council for British Archaeology, the Folklore Society, and an occasional member of the College Art Association.