Short Course in Radiocarbon Dating and Bayesian Chronological Analysis


Hosted by NERC Radiocarbon Facility and Oxford NERC Doctoral Training Partnership


This course is aimed at researchers using radiocarbon and other techniques, including Quaternary geologists, palaeobiologists, archaeologists and marine geoscientists. The first two days of the course will cover key aspects of radiocarbon dating including sample selection, laboratory processes and Bayesian analyses of radiocarbon dates. Various aspects relating to the production and interpretation of radiocarbon dating will be taught by members of the NERC Radiocarbon Facility, based at both Oxford and East Kilbride. This course aims to become a core component of practical radiocarbon training in the UK.

The third day of the course will expand on this to look at the construction of Bayesian chronologies  more generally, including those that rely primarily on other dating techniques. In this third day there will be a focus on using chronologies for environmental records. This day of the course will be suitable for those participating in the INTIMATE (Integrating ice core, marine and terrestrial records) initiative.

The programme has been formulated to introduce radiocarbon dating and other chronometric techniques to participants by exploring – through lectures, tours and tutorials – the key issues essential to the construction of reliable chronologies. This course has been developed by the NERC Radiocarbon Facility, which is NERC and AHRC funded and consists of the science-based archaeology node at Oxford (Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit: ORAU) and the environment node at East Kilbride (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre: SUERC), and as part of the University of Oxford NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.


The course will be held at the Department for Earth Sciences, South Parks Road, Oxford. Tea, coffee and a sandwich lunch will be provided each day for all participants.

Bed and breakfast accommodation, and dinner on the Monday and Tuesday evenings, are available to book as optional extras and are provided at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA. Rewley House is approximately 15 minutes walk from the course location.


National Occupational Standards for Archaeology: Contributes to the Performance criteria and Knowledge and Understanding requirements for CCSAPAC1 Research and analyse information to achieve objectives; CCSAPAC8 Undertake analysis and interpretation.



Programme details

The course will be held at the Department for Earth Sciences, South Parks Road, Oxford.
Dinner and Accommodation will be at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford.

Monday 16 March 2020

Day One: Introduction to Radiocarbon Dating

9.00am Registration and coffee/tea

9.30am Introduction

Project planning and sample selection

Key problems

11.20am Pre-treatment and preparation

12.20pm Group discussions

1.00pm Lunch

2.00pm Radiocarbon measurement methods

Quality assurance

Evaluation of dates

Radiocarbon as a tracer

4.00pm Short lab tour

5.00pm Break

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Day Two: Radiocarbon calibration and Bayesian analysis

9:30am  Introduction

Radiocarbon and the carbon cycle

Reservoirs and reservoir correction

Calibration of radiocarbon dates

Introduction to use of OxCal

1.00pm Lunch

2.00 pm Building Bayesian age models

Workshop on Bayesian age modelling in OxCal

Using outputs from Bayesian models

Mapping of radiocarbon data

5:00pm Break

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Day Three: Bayesian analysis of environmental chronologies

9:30am  Introduction

Dating environmental records

Age depth modelling

Introduction to OxCal age-depth modelling

The INTIMATE chronological database

Lacustrine, Marine and Ice cores

1.00pm Lunch

2.00pm Using different types of dating information (14C, Ar-Ar, U-Series, Varve counts, Ice layer counting, OSL)

Applying age-depth models to proxy data

Correlating multiple records

5:00pm Course ends


There will be short breaks each day for coffee/tea at around 11.00am and 3.30pm, and a sandwich lunch at 1.00pm for all participants. Dinner is available at Rewley House at 7pm on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 March for those wishing to book this additional option.




Description Costs
includes coffee/teas & sandwich lunches for all three days £461.00
Dinner Monday night @ Rewley House £21.00
Dinner Tuesday night @ Rewley House £21.00
Single B&B (2 nights Monday & Tuesday at Rewley House) £165.00


Payment of fees must be made in full at the time of booking.

Please note that businesses and organisations can be invoiced on provision of a Purchase Order and completed application form. These can be emailed to the CWHE Programme Administrator, email:


If you would like to attend part of the course, but not all, please contact Hazel Richards by emailing: and she can arrange the booking for you.

Day 1 is a general introduction to radiocarbon dating

Days 1 and 2 will be relevant for archaeologists wishing to do Bayesian analysis

Days 2 and 3 are suitable for people interested in Bayesian analysis, who already have a working knowledge of radiocarbon dating

Day 3 is suitable for environmental scientists doing age-depth models and similar



Professor Christopher Ramsey

Course Director

Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Author of Oxcal


Accommodation for this three-day course is at Rewley House for Monday and Tuesday nights only.

Depending on availability it may also be possible to extend your stay, please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices.

All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.