Dr Gill Plunkett

Gill Plunkett


Email: G.Plunkett@qub.ac.uk

As an archaeologist and palaeoecologist, Gill’s research focuses on understanding the relationships between humans and their environment in the past, using pollen analysis, tephrochronology and plant macrofossils.

Current Research

Volcanic histories and impacts. Various projects examining tephras in terrestrial and polar ice cores to investigate the timing and impact of past volcanic eruptions.

Land-use history in prehistoric and Medieval Ireland. Using pollen records to examine the nature and occurrence of past human activity and impact.

Co-Investigator on AHRC-funded project “Waves of Colonisation around the Sea of Moyle

Supervisor of Newton International Fellow Chunqing Sun’s project “Late-Pleistocene to Holocene tephrostratigraphy over continental China”

Co-Investigator on Swedish Research Council project “Varved lake sediments as archives of environmental impacts following large volcanic eruptions”.

PhD supervisions

James Perkins (Northern Bridge)

Marie-Therese Barrett (DfE)

Administrative duties

L3 Year Co-Ordinator, Lead Personal Tutor, SSCC Staff Liaison, REF Champion


Reconstruction of past environmental change, particularly human-environment relationships; Palynology; Tephrochronology; Plant macrofossil analysis; Prehistoric Ireland

Career Network

Irish Quaternary Association (Committee Member); Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy Section C (Editorial Board)

Publications sample (up to 2020)

Plunkett, G., Sigl, M., Pilcher, J.R., McConnell, J.R, Chellman, N., Steffensen, J.P. and Büntgen, U. 2020 (in press) Smoking guns and volcanic ash: the importance of sparse tephras in Greenland ice cores. Polar Research.

Plunkett, G., Brown, D.M. & Swindles, G.T. 2020 (in press) Siccitas magna ultra modum: Examining the occurrence and societal impact of droughts in prehistoric Ireland. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 120C.

Coyle-McClung, E. and Plunkett, G. 2020 (in press) Cultural change and the climate record in final prehistoric and early medieval Ireland. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 120C.

Jeffers, E.S., Whitehouse, N.J., Lister, A., Plunkett, G., Barratt, P., Smyth, E., Lamb, P., Dee, M.W., Brooks, S.J., Willis, K.J. & Froyd, C.A. 2018 Plant controls on Late Quaternary whole ecosystem structure and function. Ecology Letters 21, 814–825.

Plunkett, G. & Pilcher, J.R. 2018 Defining the potential sources region of volcanic ash in northwest Europe during the Mid- to Late Holocene. Earth-Science Reviews 179, 20–37.

Plunkett, G., Coulter, S.E., Ponomareva, V.V., Blaauw, M., Klimaschewski, A. & Hammarlund, D. 2015 Distal tephrochronology in volcanic regions: Challenges and insights from Kamchatkan lake sediments. Global and Planetary Change 134, 26–40.

Sigl, M., Winstrup, M,. McConnell, J.R., Welten, K.C., Plunkett, G., Ludlow, F., Büntgen, U., Caffee, M., Chellman, N., Dahl-Jensen, D., Fischer, H., Kipfstuhl, S., Kostick, C., Maselli, O.J., Mekhaldi, F., Mulvaney, R., Muscheler, R., Pasteris, D.R., Pilcher, J.R., Salzer, M., Schüpbach, S., Steffensen, J.P., Vinther, B.M. and Woodruff, T.E. 2015 Timing and climate forcing of volcanic eruptions for the past 2,500 years. Nature 523, 543–549.

Torbenson, M.C.A, Plunkett, G., Brown, D.M., Pilcher, J.R. & Leuschner, H.H. 2015 Asynchrony on key Holocene chronologies: evidence from Irish bog pines. Geology 43, 799–802.

Armit, I., Swindles, G.T., Becker, K., Plunkett, G. & Blaauw, M. 2014 Rapid climate change did not cause population collapse at the end of the European Bronze Age. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111, 17045–17049.

Plunkett, G., McDermott, C., Swindles, G.T., Brown, D.M. 2013 Environmental indifference? A critique of environmentally deterministic theories of peatland archaeological site construction in Ireland. Quaternary Science Reviews 61, 16–31.

Further details