Teaming up with

The Lionel Sims Award 2023

The Lionel Sims Award is presented jointly by the Sophia Centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, the Sophia Centre Press and the University of Bournemouth.

The award is named to recognise the enormous impact made by Lionel Sims in his ground-breaking research on British megalithic monuments which revolved around his understanding of anthropology as the intersection of the five fields of cultural anthropology, archaeology, behavioural ecology (socio-biology), mythology and archaeoastronomy as the centrepiece. By bridging the gap between anthropological theory and archaeoastronomical interpretation, Lionel’s integrated approach challenged the status quo of the field and pushed the boundaries of interpretation, making it a source of inspiration for skyscape archaeology. Besides being an enthusiastic member of JSA’s editorial board, Lionel had a track-record of commitment to education in cultural astronomy. His “Stonehenge Decoded” course at the University of East London, which ran from 1993 to 2011, and his involvement with the Radical Anthropology Group evening classes inspired a whole new generation of anthropologists to consider the role and importance of the skyscape. Until recently, he also served as head of the Education Committee of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC) where he worked to ensure professional standards in archaeoastronomy courses. Sadly, Lionel died in 2021 but we are keeping his legacy alive with this award.


The Lionel Sims Award for student contributions that bridge the gap between anthropological theory and skyscape archaeology is based on a piece of written research of between 8,000 and 10,000 words which demonstrates originality and high quality and makes a significant contribution to the field. Only essays that explicitly cross the divide between archaeology and anthropology will be considered. These might be applications of anthropological theory to a skyscape archaeology case study, applications of ethnographic analogy to skyscape archaeology, or applications of skyscape archaeology to ethnographic contexts.

The award-winning essay will be published in JSA, subject to its usual peer review and publication procedure. The awardee will also commit to give one talk or lecture to the Sophia Centre (for example during a lecture series or annual conference).


The Award will consist of £1000.


Applications are welcome from:
(a) postgraduate university students of an archaeology, anthropology, cultural astronomy or related field; as well as
(b) early career researchers who received a postgraduate qualification within the last seven years.
Evidence of current student status or date of qualification will be required.


Applicants should download and fill in the application form and submit it together with the following documents:

  • the essay, formatted according to the JSA guidelines;
  • a CV of no more than 2 pages, including a list of relevant publications;
  • proof of student status, university affiliation or the award of a postgraduate qualification.
  • Accepted proof of student status includes university or supervisor letter, or photograph of student card provided that the name of the university, degree programme and start/end dates are clearly stated and visible.

    All filenames should follow the same format, beginning with the initial of the first name, followed by the last name in full and an underscore separating it from a short description of the file in question. For example, an applicant named John Smith should submit the following files:

  • JSmith_application.docx
  • JSmith_CV.pdf
  • JSmith_Essay.docx
  • JSmith_proof.jpg
  • The application deadline is the 21st December 2023. Applications should be sent to Dr Fabio Silva at

    Decision Process

    The Awards Committee (see below for details) will assess applicants’ essays on the basis of the extent to which how they make a contribution towards bridging the gap between anthropological theory and skyscape archaeology. A shortlist of essays will then be studied in more detail. Following a lengthy discussion, the Committee will agree the worthy winner of the award by simple majority. The deliberations of the Committee will remain confidential and the Committee reserves the right to make no award if there are no essays of sufficient merit. All Awards Committee decisions are final.

    The winner will be notified prior to an official announcement on 21st March 2024.

    The Awards Committee

    Members of the Awards Committee have been chosen for their depth of expertise in fields relevant to skyscape archaeology. The 2022 Committee will consist of:

  • Dr Bernadette Brady;
  • Dr Frances Clynes;
  • Dr Liz Henty;
  • Dr Kim Malville;
  • Dr Frank Prendergast;
  • Dr Fabio Silva; and
  • Dr Nicholas Campion who will chair the Committee.
  • The Committee will shortlist applicants based on the criteria for the award and grants, following which the winners will be decided by simple majority on a panel discussion. In case of ties, the Committee chair will cast the deciding vote.

    Any queries can be directed to Dr Fabio Silva at

    The Journal of Skyscape Archaeology is the only academic journal in the world to explore the relationship between archaeolgical sites and the sky, stars and planets, including archaeoastronomy. The journal’s advisory board includes senior academics and researchers from across the field.

    The Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture is a research and teaching centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. It examines the relationships between cosmology and culture through history, anthropology philosophy and archaeology. and teaches the Master’s degrees in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology and Ecology and Spirituality.

    Welcome to the public outreach page of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, with information about studying with the University, as well as links to related conferences, classes, publications and events. To go straight to the Sophia Centre's University page please go here.

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