Holly Hunt-Watts


My fascination with the past is a result of my parent's degrees in archaeology and an overactive childhood imagination. For as long as I can remember I have visualised the world around me in terms of what the people before me would have experienced when they stood in the same spot, the sights, smells, and thoughts of people who are now just out of reach. After completing my BSc in Archaeology with Forensic Science (2010-2013), I found myself drawn even closer to the people of the past and made the decision to continue with an MSc in Bioarchaeology (2013-2014). Bioarchaeology is the study of organic remains from archaeological contexts, and these remains can be plant, animal, or human. During this time I specialised in osteoarchaeology, the study of human skeletal remains, and I learned how to access more information about people in the past, including their nutritional health history.

After training as an osteoarchaeologist I began my PhD at the University of Leeds working on a project concerning the nutritional health of past and present populations. The aim of my research is to identify differences between high- and low-income diets in the 19th century (the time of the Victorian period and industrial revolution) and in the modern day, in order to explore changes in nutrition over time. Once these changes had been identified from multiple sources of evidence, I examined the policies and social changes which had a positive or detrimental impact on the nutritional health of the English population. This research has required an interdisciplinary approach using methods and data from osteoarchaeology, history, and nutritional epidemiology and as a result has been as rewarding as it is challenging. The skills, knowledge, and personal growth that I have gained during this process is invaluable, and I still feel so privileged to have had this opportunity.

Research interests

My main research interests relate to historical health and policies relating to health and education. I continue to take interest in British archaeology, in particular research relating to osteoarchaeology. 


  • BSc Archaeology with Forensic Science
  • MSc Bioarchaeology