Portrait of Dr Ceiridwen Edwards Dr Ceiridwen Edwards

c.j.edwards@hud.ac.uk | 01484 471650


Ceiridwen received her B.Sc. (Hons.) in Genetics from the University of York in 1996, and an M.Sc. in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Sheffield in 1998. Her Ph.D., completed in 2002 at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, involved the study of genetic variation in domesticated cattle and wild aurochsen using ancient and modern DNA analyses. Between 1999 and 2008, she was solely responsible for the Bioarchaeology Laboratory at Trinity College Dublin.

She was a Researcher in Ancient DNA Studies at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology, University of Oxford, for six years (2009–2015), during which time she successfully applied for funding to set up an ancient DNA lab. She was appointed by the University of Huddersfield as a Senior Research Fellow in Archaeogenetics in June 2015.


  • Ph.D. in Genetics from Trinity College, University of Dublin (2002)

    Thesis title: Genetic Variation in Domesticated Cattle and Wild Aurochsen using Ancient and Modern DNA

  • M.Sc. in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Sheffield (1998)

    Research project: Y-chromosome Microsatellite Variation in Domesticated Cattle and Related Species

  • B.Sc. (Hons.) in Genetics from the University of York (1996)

    Research project: A Rapid, Simple DNA Sex-Determination Assay in Archaeological Sheep Specimens by Amplification of the X-Y Homologous Gene Amelogenin

  • Elected to Chartered Biologist (C.Biol.) status by the Society of Biology, London, UK. (2004)

Research career

  • Researcher in Ancient DNA Studies, Research Laboratory for Archaeology, University of Oxford (2009–2015)

    • 2012–2014 Project 4: Mass Migration and Apartheid in Anglo-Saxon Britain?: An Ancient DNA Re-evaluation [The Leverhulme Trust]
    • 2010–2011 Value in People Award [The Wellcome Trust]
  • Research Fellow, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (2002–2008)

    • 2007–2008 Project 3: Spatio-temporal Modelling in Archaeogenetics [Science Foundation Ireland]
    • 2005–2008 Administrator of GeneTime, an EU-funded Marie Curie Early Fellowship Training Scheme [European Union]
    • 2004–2007 Project 2: Human Colonisation Routes and the Origins of Irish Mammals [Science Foundation Ireland]
    • 2002–2004 Project 1: Ancient DNA Analysis of Irish Mammals: Temporal and Spatial Phylogeography [Enterprise Ireland]

Research and Scholarship

Ceiridwen’s research focus is the study of mammalian population genetics and phylogeography using the retrieval of DNA sequences from archaeological specimens. Ancient DNA can add an innovative temporal dimension to analyses, and she has worked in the field for over 20 years. She has studied mitochondrial DNA of multiple archaeological samples, from contexts dating to between 40,000 and 500 years, and from many species, including giant Irish deer, domestic horse, wild boar, domestic pig, brown bear, and red deer. However, the majority of her work has concerned cattle biogeography, including a large-scale Y-chromosome study of extant European cattle breeds. Examining Viking Dublin cattle bones, she published one of the first population-based studies using ancient nuclear DNA and has analysed 100+ ancient domestic cattle and 50+ extinct aurochs bones. She has first-authored several seminal papers using ancient DNA to analyse questions of cattle domestication, with her 2007 aurochs paper (Edwards et al. Proc. R. Soc. B 274:1377) being cited over 100 times. Other research has involved sequencing the entire mitochondrial genome from a 6,800-year-old aurochs, and the whole nuclear genome of this specimen will be published in 2015.

More recently, she attracted funding from the Leverhulme Trust to study the Romano-British to Anglo-Saxon transition using ancient DNA of contemporaneous populations. Work associated with this project is still on-going.

General Research Interests

  • ancient DNA
  • archaeology
  • migration patterns
  • population genetics and conservation
  • animal domestication
  • the nature of the Mesolithic/Neolithic subsistence change
  • phylogeography of European mammals
  • pre- and post-glacial mammals in the British Isles and (re)colonisation signatures
  • the Romano-British to Anglo-Saxon transition

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Edwards, C., MacHugh, D. and Magee, D. (2017) ‘How Modern and Ancient Genomic Analyses Can Reveal Complex Domestic Histories Using Cattle as a Case Study’. In: Routledge Handbook of Agricultural Biodiversity. : Routledge. pp. 30-44. ISBN 9780415746922

Silva, M., Oliveira, M., Vieira, D., Brand�o, A., Rito, T., Pereira, J., Fraser, R., Hudson, B., Gandini, F., Edwards, C., Pala, M., Koch, J., Wilson, J., Pereira, L., Richards, M. and Soares, P. (2017) ‘A genetic chronology for the Indian Subcontinent points to heavily sex-biased dispersalsBMC Evolutionary Biology , 17 (1). ISSN 1471-2148

Colominas, L. and Edwards, C. (2017) ‘Livestock trade during the Roman period: first clues from the trading post of Empúries (Catalonia)International Journal of Osteoarchaeology , 27 (2), pp. 167-179. ISSN 1047482X


Park, S., Magee, D., McGettigan, P., Teasdale, M., Edwards, C., Lohan, A., Murphy, A., Braud, M., Donoghue, M., Liu, Y., Chamberlain, A., Rue-Albrecht, K., Schroeder, S., Spillane, C., Tai, S., Bradley, D., Sonstegard, T., Loftus, B. and MacHugh, D. (2015) ‘Genome sequencing of the extinct Eurasian wild aurochs, Bos primigenius, illuminates the phylogeography and evolution of cattleGenome Biology , 16 (1), p. 234. ISSN 14656906

Colominas, L., Edwards, C., Beja-Pereira, A., Vigne, J., Silva, R., Castanyer, P., Tremoleda, J., Sa�a Segu�, M., P�rez-Ripoll, M., Goyache, F., Howe, C., Barker, G. and Bower, M. (2015) ‘Detecting the T1 cattle haplogroup in the Iberian Peninsula from Neolithic to medieval times: new clues to continuous cattle migration through timeJournal of Archaeological Science , 59, pp. 110-117. ISSN 0305-4403


Magee, D., MacHugh, D. and Edwards, C. (2014) ‘Interrogation of modern and ancient genomes reveals the complex domestic history of cattleAnimal Frontiers , 4 (3), pp. 7-22. ISSN 2160-6056

Edwards, C (2014) ‘Comments on ‘Origin of British and Irish mammals: disparate post-glacial colonisation and species introductions’ by W.I. Montgomery, J. Provan, A.M. McCabe, and D.W. YaldenQuaternary Science Reviews , 105, pp. 244-246. ISSN 0277-3791

Edwards, C. and Barnett, R. (2014) ‘Himalayan 'yeti' DNA: polar bear or DNA degradation? A comment on 'Genetic analysis of hair samples attributed to yeti' by Sykes et al. (2014)Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 282 (1800), pp. 20141712-20141712. ISSN 0962-8452

Cole, G., Waldron, T. and Edwards, C. (2014) ‘Letter to the editor: Apple down 152 putative syphilis: Pre-colombian date confirmedAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology , 156 (3), pp. 489-489. ISSN 0002-9483

Statham, M., Murdoch, J., Janecka, J., Aubry, K., Edwards, C., Soulsbury, C., Berry, O., Wang, Z., Harrison, D., Pearch, M., Tomsett, L., Chupasko, J. and Sacks, B. (2014) ‘Range-wide multilocus phylogeography of the red fox reveals ancient continental divergence, minimal genomic exchange and distinct demographic historiesMolecular Ecology , 23 (19), pp. 4813-4830. ISSN 0962-1083

Edwards, C., Ho, S., Barnett, R., Coxon, P., Bradley, D., Lord, T. and O'Connor, T. (2014) ‘Continuity of brown bear maternal lineages in northern England through the Last-glacial periodQuaternary Science Reviews , 96, pp. 131-139. ISSN 0277-3791

Lenstra, J., Ajmone-Marsan, P., Beja-Pereira, A., Bollongino, R., Bradley, D., Colli, L., De Gaetano, A., Edwards, C., Felius, M., Ferretti, L., Ginja, C., Hristov, P., Kantanen, J., Lir�n, J., Magee, D., Negrini, R. and Radoslavov, G. (2014) ‘Meta-Analysis of Mitochondrial DNA Reveals Several Population Bottlenecks during Worldwide Migrations of CattleDiversity , 6 (1), pp. 178-187. ISSN 1424-2818


Bower, M., Edwards, C. and Downes, C. (2013) ‘DNA analysis of the Langdale Hale/Colne Fen horses’. In: Romano-British Communities at Colne Fen, Earith: An Inland Port and Supply Farm (Process and History at Colne F). Cambridge: Cambridge Archaeological Unit. pp. 140-143. ISBN 978-0957559202


Schlumbaum, A. and Edwards, C. (2012) ‘Ancient DNA Research on Wetland Archaeological Evidence’. In: The Oxford Handbook of Wetland Archaeology. : Oxford University Press. pp. 569-583. ISBN 978-0-19-957349-3

Edwards, C., Soulsbury, C., Statham, M., Ho, S., Wall, D., Dolf, G., Iossa, G., Baker, P., Harris, S., Sacks, B. and Bradley, D. (2012) ‘Temporal genetic variation of the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, across western Europe and the British IslesQuaternary Science Reviews , 57 (4), pp. 95-104. ISSN 0277-3791

Edwards, C (2012) ‘Ancient DNA and analyses of mammalian remains from Ireland’. In: All-Ireland Mammal Symposium 2009. Belfast: Irish Naturalists' Journal Ltd. pp. 55-63. ISBN 9780956970411

McDevitt, A., O'Toole, P., Edwards, C. and Carden, R. (2012) ‘Landscape genetics of red deer (Cervus elaphus, L. 1758) in Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland’. In: All-Ireland Mammal Symposium 2009. : Irish Naturalists' Journal Ltd. pp. 23-30. ISBN 978-0956970411

Bower, M., Campana, M., Nisbet, R., Weller, R., Whitten, M., Edwards, C., Stock, F., Barrett, E., O'Connell, T., Hill, E., Wilson, A., Howe, C., Barker, G. and Binns, M. (2012) ‘Truth in the bones: Resolving the identity of the founding elite thoroughbred racehorsesArchaeometry , 54 (5), pp. 916-925. ISSN 0003-813X

O'Meara, D., Edwards, C., Sleeman, D., Cross, T., Statham, M., McDowell, J., Dillane, E., Coughlan, J., O'Leary, D., O'Reilly, C., Bradley, D. and Carlsson, J. (2012) ‘Genetic structure of Eurasian badgers Meles meles (Carnivora: Mustelidae) and the colonization history of IrelandBiological Journal of the Linnean Society , 106 (4), pp. 893-909. ISSN 0024-4066

Carden, R., McDevitt, A., Zachos, F., Woodman, P., O�Toole, P., Rose, H., Monaghan, N., Campana, M., Bradley, D. and Edwards, C. (2012) ‘Phylogeographic, ancient DNA, fossil and morphometric analyses reveal ancient and modern introductions of a large mammal: the complex case of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in IrelandQuaternary Science Reviews , 42, pp. 74-84. ISSN 0277-3791


Felius, M., Koolmees, P., Theunissen, B., Lenstra, J. and Edwards, C. (2011) ‘On the Breeds of Cattle—Historic and Current ClassificationsDiversity , 3 (4), pp. 660-692. ISSN 1424-2818

Edwards, C., Suchard, M., Lemey, P., Welch, J., Barnes, I., Fulton, T., Barnett, R., O'Connell, T., Coxon, P., Monaghan, N., Valdiosera, C., Lorenzen, E., Willerslev, E., Baryshnikov, G., Rambaut, A., Thomas, M., Bradley, D. and Shapiro, B. (2011) ‘Ancient Hybridization and an Irish Origin for the Modern Polar Bear MatrilineCurrent Biology , 21 (15), pp. 1251-1258. ISSN 0960-9822

Hall, S., Lenstra, J., Deeming, D. and Edwards, C. (2011) ‘Prioritization based on neutral genetic diversity may fail to conserve important characteristics in cattle breedsJournal of Animal Breeding and Genetics , 129 (3), pp. 218-225. ISSN 0931-2668

Bower, M., Campana, M., Whitten, M., Edwards, C., Jones, H., Barrett, E., Cassidy, R., Nisbet, R., Hill, E., Howe, C. and Binns, M. (2011) ‘The cosmopolitan maternal heritage of the Thoroughbred racehorse breed shows a significant contribution from British and Irish native maresBiology Letters , 7 (2), pp. 316-320. ISSN 1744-9561

Campana, M., Lister, D., Whitten, C., Edwards, C., Stock, F., Barker, G. and Bower, M. (2011) ‘Complex relationships between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA preservation in historical DNA extractsArchaeometry , 54 (1), pp. 193-202. ISSN 0003-813X

Edwards, C., Ginja, C., Kantanen, J., P�rez-Pardal, L., Tresset, A., Stock, F., Gama, L., Penedo, M., Bradley, D., Lenstra, J. and Nijman, I. (2011) ‘Dual Origins of Dairy Cattle Farming – Evidence from a Comprehensive Survey of European Y-Chromosomal VariationPLoS ONE , 6 (1), p. e15922. ISSN 1932-6203


Fleischer, R., Campana, M., Whitten, C., Edwards, C., Stock, F., Murphy, A., Binns, M., Barker, G. and Bower, M. (2010) ‘Accurate Determination of Phenotypic Information from Historic Thoroughbred Horses by Single Base ExtensionPLoS ONE , 5 (12), p. e15172. ISSN 1932-6203

Campana, M., Bower, M., Bailey, M., Stock, F., O'Connell, T., Edwards, C., Checkley-Scott, C., Knight, B., Spencer, M. and Howe, C. (2010) ‘A flock of sheep, goats and cattle: ancient DNA analysis reveals complexities of historical parchment manufactureJournal of Archaeological Science , 37 (6), pp. 1317-1325. ISSN 0305-4403

Knapp, M., Edwards, C., Magee, D., Park, S., McGettigan, P., Lohan, A., Murphy, A., Finlay, E., Shapiro, B., Chamberlain, A., Richards, M., Bradley, D., Loftus, B. and MacHugh, D. (2010) ‘A Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequence from a Mesolithic Wild Aurochs (Bos primigenius)PLoS ONE , 5 (2), p. e9255. ISSN 1932-6203


Lei, C., Su, R., Bower, M., Edwards, C., Wang, X., Weining, S., Liu, L., Xie, W., Li, F., Liu, R., Zhang, Y., Zhang, C. and Chen, H. (2009) ‘Multiple maternal origins of native modern and ancient horse populations in ChinaAnimal Genetics , 40 (6), pp. 933-944. ISSN 0268-9146

McDevitt, A., Edwards, C., O�Toole, P., O�Sullivan, P., O�Reilly, C. and Carden, R. (2009) ‘Genetic structure of, and hybridisation between, red (Cervus elaphus) and sika (Cervus nippon) deer in IrelandMammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde , 74 (4), pp. 263-273. ISSN 1616-5047

Kantanen, J., Edwards, C., Bradley, D., Viinalass, H., Thessler, S., Ivanova, Z., Kiselyova, T., ?inkulov, M., Popov, R., Stojanovi?, S., Ammosov, I. and Vilkki, J. (2009) ‘Maternal and paternal genealogy of Eurasian taurine cattle (Bos taurus)Heredity , 103 (5), pp. 404-415. ISSN 0018-067X

Stock, F., Edwards, C., Bollongino, R., Finlay, E., Burger, J. and Bradley, D. (2009) ‘Cytochrome bsequences of ancient cattle and wild ox support phylogenetic complexity in the ancient and modern bovine populationsAnimal Genetics , 40 (5), pp. 694-700. ISSN 02689146

Tresset, A., Bollongino, R., Edwards, C., Hughes, S. and Vigne, J. (2009) ‘Early diffusion of domestic bovids in Europe’. In: Becoming Eloquent: Advances in the emergence of language, human cognition, and modern cultures. : John Benjamins Publishing Co.. pp. 69-90. ISBN 978 90 272 3269 4

Edwards, C. and Bradley, D. (2009) ‘Human colonisation routes and the origins of Irish mammals’. In: Mesolithic Horizons. Papers presented at the Seventh International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe, Belfast 2005. Oxford: Oxbow books. pp. 217-224. ISBN 9781842173114


Finnegan, L., Edwards, C. and Rochford, J. (2008) ‘Origin of, and conservation units in, the Irish red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) populationConservation Genetics , 9 (5), pp. 1099-1109. ISSN 1566-0621

Ho, S., Larson, G., Edwards, C., Heupink, T., Lakin, K., Holland, P. and Shapiro, B. (2008) ‘Correlating Bayesian date estimates with climatic events and domestication using a bovine case studyBiology Letters , 4 (4), pp. 370-374. ISSN 1744-9561


Edwards, C., Baird, J. and MacHugh, D. (2007) ‘Taurine and zebu admixture in Near Eastern cattle: a comparison of mitochondrial, autosomal and Y-chromosomal dataAnimal Genetics , 38 (5), pp. 520-524. ISSN 0268-9146

Larson, G., Albarella, U., Dobney, K., Rowley-Conwy, P., Schibler, J., Tresset, A., Vigne, J., Edwards, C., Schlumbaum, A., Dinu, A., Balacsescu, A., Dolman, G., Tagliacozzo, A., Manaseryan, N., Miracle, P., Van Wijngaarden-Bakker, L., Masseti, M., Bradley, D. and Cooper, A. (2007) ‘Ancient DNA, pig domestication, and the spread of the Neolithic into EuropeProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 104 (39), pp. 15276-15281. ISSN 0027-8424

Edwards, C., Bollongino, R., Scheu, A., Chamberlain, A., Tresset, A., Vigne, J., Baird, J., Larson, G., Ho, S., Heupink, T., Shapiro, B., Freeman, A., Thomas, M., Arbogast, R., Arndt, B., Bartosiewicz, L., Benecke, N., Budja, M., Chaix, L., Choyke, A., Coqueugniot, E., Dohle, H., Goldner, H., Hartz, S., Helmer, D., Herzig, B., Hongo, H., Mashkour, M., Ozdogan, M., Pucher, E., Roth, G., Schade-Lindig, S., Schmolcke, U., Schulting, R., Stephan, E., Uerpmann, H., Voros, I., Voytek, B., Bradley, D. and Burger, J. (2007) ‘Mitochondrial DNA analysis shows a Near Eastern Neolithic origin for domestic cattle and no indication of domestication of European aurochsProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 274 (1616), pp. 1377-1385. ISSN 0962-8452

Edwards, C. and Bradley, D. (2007) ‘Ancient DNA analysis of aurochsen’. In: The Early Neolithic on the Great Hungarian Plain: Investigations of the Körös Culture Site of Ecsegfalva 23, Co. Békés. Budapest: Institute of Archaeology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. pp. 327-329.


McGahern, A., Edwards, C., Bower, M., Heffernan, A., Park, S., Brophy, P., Bradley, D., MacHugh, D. and Hill, E. (2006) ‘Mitochondrial DNA sequence diversity in extant Irish horse populations and in ancient horsesAnimal Genetics , 37 (5), pp. 498-502. ISSN 0268-9146

McGahern, A., Bower, M., Edwards, C., Brophy, P., Sulimova, G., Zakharov, I., Vizuete-Forster, M., Levine, M., Li, S., MacHugh, D. and Hill, E. (2006) ‘Evidence for biogeographic patterning of mitochondrial DNA sequences in Eastern horse populationsAnimal Genetics , 37 (5), pp. 494-497. ISSN 0268-9146

Bollongino, R., Edwards, C., Alt, K., Burger, J. and Bradley, D. (2006) ‘Early history of European domestic cattle as revealed by ancient DNABiology Letters , 2 (1), pp. 155-159. ISSN 1744-9561


Lister, A., Edwards, C., Nock, D., Bunce, M., van Pijlen, I., Bradley, D., Thomas, M. and Barnes, I. (2005) ‘The phylogenetic position of the ‘giant deer’ Megaloceros giganteusNature , 438 (7069), pp. 850-853. ISSN 0028-0836

McEvoy, B. and Edwards, C. (2005) ‘Human migration: Reappraising the Viking ImageHeredity , 95 (2), pp. 111-112. ISSN 0018-067X


Edwards, C., MacHugh, D., Dobney, K., Martin, L., Russell, N., Horwitz, L., McIntosh, S., MacDonald, K., Helmer, D., Tresset, A., Vigne, J. and Bradley, D. (2004) ‘Ancient DNA analysis of 101 cattle remains: limits and prospectsJournal of Archaeological Science , 31 (6), pp. 695-710. ISSN 0305-4403


Edwards, C., Connellan, J., Wallace, P., Park, S., McCormick, F., Olsaker, I., Eyth�rsd�ttir, E., MacHugh, D., Bailey, J. and Bradley, D. (2003) ‘Feasibility and utility of microsatellite markers in archaeological cattle remains from a Viking Age settlement in DublinAnimal Genetics , 34 (6), pp. 410-416. ISSN 0268-9146


Edwards, C., Loftus, R., Bradley, D., Dolf, G. and Looft, C. (2000) ‘Relationships between the endangered Pustertaler-Sprinzen and three related European cattle breeds as analysed with 20 microsatellite lociAnimal Genetics , 31 (5), pp. 329-332. ISSN 0268-9146

Edwards, C., Loftus, R., Bradley, D., Dolf, G. and Looft, C. (2000) ‘Relationships between the endangered Pustertaler-Sprinzen and three related European cattle breeds as analysed with 20 microsatellite lociAnimal Genetics , 31 (5), pp. 329-332. ISSN 0268-9146

MacHugh, D., Edwards, C., Bailey, J., Bancroft, D. and Bradley, D. (2000) ‘The extraction and analysis of ancient DNA from bone and teeth: a survey of current methodologiesAncient Biomolecules , 3, pp. 81-102. ISSN 1358-6122


Media Coverage

Comment on yeti DNA paper (2014)

Modern study of badger mitochondrial and nuclear DNA (2012)

Study of archaeological brown bear from Ireland (2011)

Sequencing of a complete mitochondrial genome of an aurochs (2010)

DNA testing of an 18,000 year old polar bear from Scotland (2008–2009)

Large European-wide study of aurochs mitochondrial variability (2007)

First DNA from an extinct giant Irish deer (2005)

Invited presentations to peer-reviewed, internationally established conferences

  • 7th Quaternary Vertebrates Research Group Meeting, Liverpool John Moores University (2011)
  • Irish Quaternary Association Annual Symposium, Geological Survey of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland (2009)
  • GeneTime Workshop 4: Domestication of Plants & Animals, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge (2007)
  • GeneTime Workshop 1: Introduction to GeneTime, University of York (2006)

Invited presentations to international advanced schools

  • School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University (2015)
  • Research Laboratory for Archaeology, University of Oxford (2009 and 2014)
  • Department of Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (2008)
  • Veterinary Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Ireland (2008)
  • School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Ireland (2008)
  • Department of Zoology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (2007)
  • Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge (2007)
  • Department of Archaeology, Durham University (2007)
  • McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge (2005)