Clive Orton

  • BA, MA, FSA, MIFA, CStat
  • Emeritus Professor in Quantitative Archaeology
  • Degree Programme Co-ordinator: MA Archaeology of London

Research Interests

His main interests are in archaeological method, from research design through data acquisition and analysis to interpretation, all of which he sees as inextricably linked with statistics and quantitative methods. These interests have been pursued in various aspects of archaeology, in particular ceramic studies, sampling and surveys in fieldwork and museums, and ‘everyday’ uses of statistical approaches to refine archaeological arguments.

He has developed a unique computer package, called Pie-slice, for the comparative analysis of ceramic assemblages, which has also been used successfully on animal bone assemblages.

He has written part or all of Spatial Analysis in Archaeology (1976), Mathematics in Archaeology (1980), Pottery in Archaeology (1993) and Sampling in Archaeology (2000). Pottery in Archaeology has become a best seller in the Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology series, and a second edition is being planned.


  • Clive Orton is collaborating in an INTAS-funded project involved in the excavations of medieval Novgorod in Russia. He brings to this project his specialisms in both medieval ceramics and archaeological statistics. This project is about to come to fruition in a book that he has edited, titled The Pottery from Medieval Novgorod and its Region, with contributions from several Russian authors.
  • He has also recently collaborated with the Wiltshire Museums Service over the design of a survey of the conditions of the collections in all sixteen of the museums in the Service. This has broken new ground in the design of surveys to meet a wide range of objectives simultaneously. The technical details were published as ‘Keeping Everybody Happy: Museum Surveys with Multiple Objectives’ in Bekairi, K. (ed.) CAA2002 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (2003).
  • He has recently (November 2002 to March 2004) been funded by English Heritage to train a researcher in the field of Chronological Modelling, in order to improve the efficiency and interpretation of scientific dating determinations funded by English Heritage.
  • Grant of £249,534 awarded for ‘Learning, Access, Teaching, Employability and Research in the London Archaeological Archive’ HEFCE Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FTDL5), 2004.

Other information

Clive Orton edits London Archaeologist which is London’s only archaeological magazine, with a world-wide readership. Published quarterly, with reports on excavations, artefact studies, syntheses and archaeological politics, plus an annual supplement giving summaries of all archaeological fieldwork in London, and listing archaeological publications relating to the London area.

Pie-slice is an innovative computer package for the statistical comparison of ceramic assemblages, or of any assemblages containing broken material. It was developed at the Institute of Archaeology with funding from the (then) Science and Engineering Research Council. It is being disseminated into the archaeological community by means of a series of training days. The cost of the package is £50 including a day’s training; it is not usually available without the training element. For details, bookings, etc. contact Clive at: c.orton@ucl.ac.uk.

Educational Background

  • 1966 BA in Mathematics (Cambridge)
  • 1967 Diploma in Mathematical Statistics (Cambridge)
  • 1969 MA in Mathematics (Cambridge)
  • 1972 Certificate in Field Archaeology (Extra-Mural Department, University of London)
  • Brisbane, M., Orton, C. (2006). The Study of Medieval Ceramics from North-West Russia: a view from the West. Chapter 1 in Orton, C. (ed.) The Pottery from Medieval Novgorod and its Region. London: UCL Press, 1-10
  • Orton, C. (2006). Medieval Pottery - Europe-wide. The Archaeologist (60), 46-47. ISSN: 1368 9169
  • Orton, C. (2006). Adding value to GIS – some spatial-analytical techniques and their applications. Reading Historical Spatial Information from around the World: Studies of Culture and Civilization based on Geographic Information Systems Data, Kyoto, Japan: International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, 3-16
  • Orton, C. (2006). Handling Large Urban Assemblages and their Statistics. Chapter 6 in Orton,C. (ed.) The Pottery from Medieval Novgorod and its Region. London: UCL Press, 111-119
  • Orton, C. (ed.) (2006), The Pottery from Medieval Novgorod and its Region, London: UCL Press. ISBN: 1-84472-085-3.
  • Orton, C. (2005). Point pattern analysis revisited. Archaeologia e Calcolatori 15, 299-315. ISSN: 1120-6861
  • Orton, C. (2005). Some thoughts on the history of reference collections in the UK. Chapter 1 in Lange, A.G. (ed.) Reference Collections Foundations for Future Archaeology. Amersfoort: ROB, 23-34. ISBN: 90-5799-059-8
  • Orton, C., Rennie, A. (2005). Can you trust a correlation coefficient? Journal of Roman Pottery Studies 11, 53-59. ISSN: 0958-3491
  • Orton, C., Streeten, A., Barber, L. (2005). The pottery. in Martin, D., Rudling, D.R. (ed.) Excavations in Winchelsea, Sussex, 1974–2000. UCL Field Archaeology Unit Monographs series. , 115-138
  • Orton, C., (2004). ‘Adaptive Sampling in Real Life: Large Objects and Stopping Rules’ in Fennema, K. and Kamermans, H. (eds) Making the connection to the Past CAA99 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 61-66. Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University.
  • Orton, C., (2004). ‘Mathematical Modelling’ in Huggett, J. and Ross, S. (eds.) Archaeological Informatics: Beyond Technology. Internet Archaeology 15. http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue15/6/
  • Orton, C., (2003). ‘The sherds tell a story: Roman rural potters in the London area’ Archaeology International (2002/2003) 18-20.
  • Orton, C., (2003). ‘Keeping Everybody Happy: Museum Surveys with Multiple Objectives’ in Doerr, M. and Sarris, A. (eds) The Digital Heritage of Archaeology CAA2002. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 391-397.
  • Orton, C. (2003). ‘Reinventing the sherd: 25 years of pottery statistics’ Medieval Ceramics 24, 73-78.
  • Malygin, P. and Orton, C., (2002). ‘Approaches to a large, relatively uniform assemblage of ceramics’ in Brisbane, M. and Gaimster, D. (eds.) Novgorod: The Archaeology of the Medieval Town and its Hinterland. British Museum Occasional Paper 141, 59-66.
  • Orton, C., (2002). ‘Never under-estimate the power of a model’ in Burenhalt, G. (ed.) Archaeological Informatics: Pushing the Envelope. CAA2001 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology BAR Int Ser 1016, 495-9.
  • Orton, C., (2000). Sampling in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press
  • Orton, C. (2000). ‘A bayesian approach to a problem of archaeological site evaluation’ in Lockyear, K., Sly, T. J. T. and Mihailescu-Bîrliba, V. (eds.) Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. CAA96 British Archaeological Reports International Series 845, 1-7.

Current Students

  • Diana Briscoe The stamped wheel-turned pottery of fourth century Britain and its relationship to the stamped hand-made pottery of the Post-Roman period in Britain (second supervisor Andrew Reynolds)

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