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Dr Robert Wallis

Dr Robert J Wallis FSA, FRAI, SFHEA, Lecturer and Staff Tutor, Department of 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's Department of Art History as a Lecturer and 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 human engagements with birds of prey. 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 earliest evidence for falconry and human-raptor sociality. I am a member of the University's Open Ecologies and Medieval and Early Modern Research research groups. I am currently editing a volume entitled The Art and Archaeology of Human Engagements with Birds of Prey: From Prehistory to the Present (Bloomsbury, due 2023), and co-authoring a book examining racist and anti-racist Heathenry in the UK. My planned research output includes a monograph on the art and archaeology of falconry 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. The Art and Archaeology of Falconry.

Wallis, R. J. (ed.) In preparation, due 2023. The Art and Archaeology of Human Engagements with Birds of Prey: From Prehistory to the Present. London: Bloomsbury.

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

Aldrich, A. and R.J. Wallis (eds) 2009. Antiquaries and Archaists: The Past in the Past, the Past in the Present. Reading: Spire Books. (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. Faith, Folk and the Far-Right: Racist and Anti-Racist Heathenry in Twenty-First Century Britain. Contract under discussion with Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Blain, J. and R. J. Wallis. 2007. Sacred Sites, Contested Rites/Rights: Contemporary Pagan Engagements with Archaeological Monuments. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press.

Harvey, G. and R.J. Wallis. 2016. Historical Dictionary of Shamanism. Second edition. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield. 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) 2021. ‘Art, Animism and Shamanism’. Special Issue of Religions journal. Religions | Special Issue : Art, Shamanism and Animism (

Wallis, R. J. 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

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. 2021. 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: 319-334. London: Routledge.

- 2021. Reproduction, Simulation and the Hyperreal: A Case Study of ‘Lascaux III’ 2015-2017. In: Andrzej Rozwadowski and Jamie Hampson (eds). Visual Culture, Heritage and Identity: Using Rock Art to Reconnect Past and Present: 132-144. 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 Institute.

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 2021. 'The Musical Is Political: Black Metal and the Extreme Right'. Fair Observer, 10 August 2021:


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:



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, as well as art history and visual culture at Richmond University, at The Open University I cluster manage the level 1 module A111 Discovering the Arts and Humanities, and I am a module team member on the MA in Art History and Visual Culture, A236 Exploring Art History and Visual Culture, A237 Art and Life Before 1800, and A336 Art History and Visual Culture Dissertation Project. I am External Examiner of the MA Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, Department of Archaeology, University of Wales Trinity St David’s. I am interested in supervising Doctoral 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 contemporary Paganism and archaeology has been presented at various 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 (paperback 2022). I am a Trustee of the Dragon Project Trust exploring anomalous phenomena at archaeological monuments and 'sacred' sites.

Regarding my research on falconry and as a practicing falconer, I am Council Representative of the Wessex Region of the British Falconers’ Club, and have served as Honorary Co-Editor of their journal The Falconer, for which I have written regularly 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, and an occasional member of the Folklore Society and the College Art Association.


[Book review] The rock art landscapes of Rombalds Moor, West Yorkshire, by Vivien Deacon (2021)
Wallis, Robert
Time and Mind, 14(4) (pp. 547-548)

Introduction to the Special Issue Art, Shamanism and Animism (2021)
Wallis, Robert J. and Carocci, Max
Religions, 12, Article e853(10)

[Book Review] The Viking Way: Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia. by Neil Price Oxford: Oxbow. ISBN 978-1-84217260-5 (2020-11-30)
Wallis, Robert
Time & Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness & Culture, 13(3) (pp. 333-335)

Hunters and shamans, sex and death: relational ontologies and the materiality of the Lascaux 'shaft-scene' (2021-03-04)
Wallis, Robert J.
In: Moro Abadía, Oscar and Porr, Martin eds. Ontologies of Rock Art: Images, Relational Approaches and Indigenous Knowledge (pp. 319-334)
ISBN : 9780367337803 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Reproduction, Simulation and the Hyperreal: A Case Study of 'Lascaux III' (2021)
Wallis, Robert
In: Rozwadowski, Anrzej and Hampson, Jamie eds. Visual Culture and Identity: Using Rock Art to Reconnect Past and Present
ISBN : 978-1-78969-846-6 | Publisher : Archaeopress | Published : Oxford