Paul Ledger


Assistant Professor
Cross-Appointed to Department of Geography
Honorary Research Fellow (University of Aberdeen)


Telephone: (709) 864-8923
Office: QC-4011

Ph.D (Geography), University of Aberdeen, 2013
M.Sc (Quaternary Science), Coventry University, 2009
B.Sc (Environmental Science), University of East Anglia, 2004

Research Interests

My research is interdisciplinary and draws on environmental and archaeological sciences. I generate original palaeoenvironmental data and interrogate archival datasets as a means to ask spatial and temporal questions about the complex nature and legacy of human-environment interactions, farming, biogeographical change and the formation of cultural landscapes [1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 14, 20]. The temporal, geographic and cultural locus of my work is the past two millennia in the North Atlantic (Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland) and circumpolar North America (Alaska), and the cultural groups therein (Norse, pre-Inuit, Inuit, European). My experiences also cover climate reconstruction [3, 9, 19], longer-term human-environment interactions and early urbanisation in Auvergne, central France [6, 8, 15, 16, 18].

I work with data from a variety of sources, including ‘natural’, written and digital archives. A frequent challenge is resolving the complexities of working with ‘sub-optimal’ archives and data. For example, organic deposits (i.e. soils and minerogenic peats) found in close association with sites of human activity are rich sources of palaeoenvironmental and chrono-cultural information, but are often taphonomically complex [7, 13, 25]. Thus, an important part of my cursus has focused on understanding the depositional processes that form these difficult palaeoenvironmental media [7, 13, 25]. Working in circumpolar regions and studying associated cultural groups also presents challenges for constructing robust chronologies [12, 17]. This is a recurrent tension, particularly when realising the potential of legacy data and integrating them into modern archaeological frameworks [20, 21]. Currently, I am CoI with Veronique Forbes (PI) on a SSRHC Insight grant entitled ‘Biocultural and Archaeological Legacies at L’Anse aux Meadows’.

Honours Essays

Ingenmey, Molly (in progress). Title: Palaeoenvironmental signatures of Inuit settlement at Kivalekh, Labrador.

MA theses

Baird, Jeffrey (in progress). Research topic: Palaeoenvironments and cultural contacts in the Outer Fjords of southwestern Greeland.

  • [26] Kuitems M, Wallace BL, Lindsay C, Scifo A, Doeve P, Jenkins K, Lindauer S, Erdil P, Ledger PM, Forbes V, Vermeeren C, Friedrich R, Dee MW (2021). Evidence for European presence in the Americas in AD 1021. Nature DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03972-8
  • [25] Mayoral A, Berger J-F, Peiry J-L, Ledger PM, Miras Y (2020). Five millennia of human-environment interactions reconstructed from pedosedimentary archives of the Lac du Puy wetland (Corent, France). Catena 195: DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2020.104908
  • [24] Forbes V, Huchet J-B, McManus-Fry E, Gómez Coutouly Y-A, Masson-Maclean J, Masson-Maclean E, Ledger PM, Britton K, Hillderdal C, Knecht R (2020). Activity areas or conflict episode? Interpreting the spatial patterning of lice and fleas at the precontact Yup’ik site of Nunalleq (Sixteenth to Seventeenth centuries AD, Alaska). Études Inuit Studies 43: 197-221. DOI: 10.7202/1071945ar
  • [23] Forbes V, Ledger PM, Cretu D, Elias S (2020). A sub-centennial Little Ice Age climate reconstruction using beetle subfossil data from Nunalleq, southwestern Alaska. Quaternary International DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2019.07.011
  • [22] Ledger PM, Forbes V (2019). Palaeoenvironmental analyses from Nunalleq, Alaska demonstrate a novel means to date pre-Inuit and Inuit archaeology. Arctic Anthropology 56: 39-51. DOI: 10.3368/aa.56.2.39
  • [21] Ledger PM, Girdland-Flink L, Forbes V (2019). Reply to Dee and Kuitems: our model is an expression of the uncertainties inherent in the radiocarbon data. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116: 22908. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1914993116
  • [20] Ledger PM, Girdland-Flink L, Forbes V (2019). New horizons at L’Anse aux Meadows. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116: 15341–15343. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1907986116
  • [19] Forbes V, Ledger PM, Cretu D, Elias S (2019). A sub-centennial Little Ice Age climate reconstruction using beetle subfossil data from Nunalleq, Southwestern Alaska. Quaternary International. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2019.07.011
  • [18] Miras Y, Mariani M, Ledger PM, Mayoral A, Chassiot L, Lavrieux M (2018). Holocene vegetation dynamics and first land-cover estimates in the Auvergne Mountains (Massif Central, France): key tools to landscape management. Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica 9: 179–190.
    DOI: 10.24916/iansa.2018.2.5
  • [17] Ledger PM, Forbes V, Masson-Maclean E, Hillerdal C, Hamilton WD, McManus-Fry E, Jorge A, Britton K, Knecht R (2018). Three generations under one roof? Bayesian modelling of radiocarbon data from Nunalleq, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. American Antiquity 83: 505–524. DOI: 10.1017/aaq.2018.14
  • [16] Mayoral A, Peiry J-L, Berger J-F, Ledger PM, Depreux B, Simon F-X, Milcent P-Y, Poux M, Vautier F, Miras Y (2018). Geoarchaeology and chronostratigraphy of the Lac du Puy intra-urban protohistoric wetland, Corent, France. Geoarchaeology 33: 594–604. DOI: 10.1002/gea.21678
  • [15] Miras Y, Ejarque A, Barbier-Pain D, Corbineau R, Ledger PM, Riera Mora S, Garreau A, Voldoire O, Allain E, Mangado Llach J, Sanchez de la Torre M, Martinez Grau H, Bergada MM, Smith S (2018). Advancing the analysis of past human/plant relationships: methodological improvments of artefact pollen washes. Archaeometry 60: 1106–1121. DOI: 10.111/arcm.12375
  • [14] Ledger PM (2018). Are circumpolar hunter-gatherers visible in the palaeoenvironmental record? Pollen-analytical evidence from Nunalleq, southwestern Alaska. The Holocene 28: 415–426. DOI: 10.1177/0959683617729447
  • [13] Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2017). Competing hypotheses, ordination and pollen preservation: landscape impacts of Norse landnám in southern Greenland. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 236: 1–11. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2016.10.007
  • [12] Ledger PM, Forbes V, Masson-Maclean E, Knecht RA (2016). Dating and digging archaeology in circumpolar North America: a view from Nunalleq, southwestern Alaska. Arctic 69: 378–390. DOI: 10.14430/arctic4599
  • [11] Britton K, McManus-Fry E, Nehlich O, Richards M, Ledger PM, Knecht R (2016). Stable carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotope analysis of permafrost preserved human hair from rescue excavations (2009, 2010) at the precontact site of Nunalleq, Alaska. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17: 950–963 DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.04.015
  • [10] Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2016). The biogeographical status of Alnus crispa in sub-Arctic southern Greenland: do pollen records indicate local populations during the past 1500 years? Polar Biology 39: 433–441. DOI: 10.1007/s00300-015-1790-0
  • [9] Tipping R, Beresford A, Cook G, Hamilton D, Harrison JG, Jordan J, Ledger PM, Mauquoy D, McArthur J, Morrison S, Paterson D, Russell N, Smith D (2016). Landscape dynamics and climate change as agents at the Battle of Bannockburn. In: Penman P (ed.) Bannockburn 1314-2014: battle and legacy, proceedings of the 2014 Stirling conference. Shaun Tyas, Donington p. 111-128.
  • [8] Ledger PM, Miras Y, Poux M, Milcent PY (2015). The palaeoenvironmental impact of prehistoric settlement and proto-historic urbanism: tracing the emergence of the Oppidum of Corent, Auvergne, France. PLOS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121517
  • [7] Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2015). Taphonomy or signal sensitivity in palaeoecological investigations of Norse landnám in Vatnahverfi, southern Greenland? Boreas 44: 197–215. DOI: 10.1111/bor.12089
  • [6] Miras Y, Beauger A, Lavrieux M, Berthon V, Serieyssol K, Andrieu-ponel V, Ledger PM (2015). Tracking long-term human impacts on landscape, vegetal biodiversity and water quality in the lake Aydat catchment (Auvergne, France) using pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs and diatom assemblages. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 424: 76–90. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.02.016
  • [5] Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2014). A multiple profile approach to the palynological reconstruction of Norse landscapes in Greenland's Eastern Settlement. Quaternary Research 82: 22–37. DOI: 10.1016/j.yqres.2014.04.003
  • [4] Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2014). Vatnahverfi: a green and pleasant land? Palaeoecological reconstructions of environmental and land-use change. Journal of the North Atlantic 6: 29–46. DOI: 10.3721/037.002.sp605
  • [3] Tipping R, Cook GT, Mauquoy D, Beresford A, Hamilton D, Harrison JG, Jordan J, Ledger PM, Morrison S, Patterson D, Russell, Smith D (2014). Reconstructing Battles and Battlefields: Scientific Solutions to Historical Problems at Bannockburn, Scotland. Landscapes 15: 119–131. DOI: 10.1179/1466203514Z.00000000030
  • [2] Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2013). Shieling activity in the Norse Eastern Settlement: palaeoenvironment of the 'Mountain Farm', Vatnahverfi, Greenland. The Holocene 23: 810–822. DOI: 10.1177/0959683612472002
  • [1] Schofield JE, Edwards KJ, Erlendsson E, Ledger PM (2013). Palynology supports ‘Old Norse’ introductions to the flora of Greenland. Journal of Biogeography 40: 1119–1130. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12067