The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research exists to further research by Cambridge archaeologists and their collaborators into all aspects of the human past, across time and space. It supports archaeological fieldwork, archaeological science, material culture studies, and archaeological theory in an interdisciplinary framework. Since its inception, the Institute has played a particularly leading role in cognitive archaeology, broadly defined. It sponsors seminar series, workshops and international conferences. It produces the Cambridge Archaeological Journal and publishes the McDonald Institute Monographs.

The Institute provides an intellectual base for archaeologists at the University of Cambridge:

  • as a post-doctoral research institute within the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology. In this role the Institute independently supports archaeological fieldwork, other archaeological research, research fellows, visiting scholars, conferences and publications.
  • as an interdisciplinary centre for archaeology in Collegiate Cambridge, serving staff in a variety of divisions, faculties, museums and colleges.
  • as the ‘research school’ of the Division of Archaeology, facilitating the work of Division staff, postdoctoral fellows and post-graduate students.