Colin Renfrew Archive

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a wide variety of material from Prof. Renfrew's extensive career. It includes materials on archaeological theory, the illicit antiquities trade, the Aegean Bronze age, linguistics, language and teaching. There are a large number of articles and offprints, some photographs and illustrated postcards, editorial and professional correspondence, conference papers, manuscript notes and administrative papers from Prof. Renfrew's numerous official positions. Also included are some materials about Renfrew's time at Jesus College, Cambridge and his interest in art.

Administrative / Biographical History

Colin Renfrew is an eminent British archaeologist, whose career began in 1962 when he graduated from St John's College, Cambridge where he had read Archaeology and Anthropology. His PhD thesis "Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of the Cyclades and their external relations" was completed in 1965. He was appointed lecturer in the Department of Prehistory and Archaeology at the University of Sheffield and in 1968 was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Between 1968 and 1970, Renfrew directed excavations at Sitagroi, Greece. In 1970 he was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Renfrew succeeded Barry Cunliffe as Professor of Archaeology at the University of Southampton in 1972. He directed excavations at Quanterness in Orkney and Phylakopi on Milos, Greece. In 1973, he challenged the assumption that cultural change had spread to prehistoric Europe from the Near East. In 1987, Renfrew published his hypothesis relating to the migration of the Proto-Indo-Europeans in Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of the Indo-European Origins.

Renfrew's significant work led to his election as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1980. In 1981 he was elected to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology in the University of Cambridge and served as Master of Jesus College from 1986-1997. He was appointed Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in 1990 and elected a life peer in 1991 as Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn. He retired from the University in 2004 but continues to enjoy the study and interest of archaeology.


This collection is arranged by the system of boxes and box files in which it was deposited, keeping thematic sections together. Currently, only the boxes (rather than individual items) have been catalogued.

Access Information

Contact to make an appointment for viewing. You will need to give a list of boxes you would like to see.

As this material is stored offsite, please provide at least one week's notice of a visit in order for us to retrieve the materials.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Prof. Colin Renfrew through Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis.

Other Finding Aids

Item level catalogue available on the Special Collections website.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Documents contained within files.

Archivist's Note

The initial cataloguing of this collection was undertaken as part of the Stores Reorganisation Project. Item level cataloguing still to be carried out.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies permitted in accordance with copyright law and at the discretion of the Specialist Collections and Archives team where contents are of a sensitive nature.

Appraisal Information



Some additional materials expected.