A diverse career in the cultural heritage sector has given me a variety of experiences and transferable skills.


The past exists in the present. The organisations which help understand and manage cultural heritage need to prosper now, to survive into the future. I have successfully led several teams through periods of transition. This has usually involved simultaneously:

  • finding new sources of income and resourcing
  • maintaining excellence in service/product delivery
  • overcoming institutional inertia and established mindsets

My experience of doing this has been from various perspectives: as a senior manager within a larger organisation, as a chief executive of a smaller organisation, and as a non-executive director. My leadership roles have been with third sector heritage bodies which are both limited companies and registered charities.

I have a keen interest in the development of my own and related professions, and to that end I am active Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA). A member of the CIfA Board of Directors, I am also currently the official liaison between CIfA and the European Association of Archaeologists.


Archaeology and history can provide a guide to how we might build a better society for the future. To this end it is necessary to find innovative ways of understanding, conserving and presenting the past. My professional life has been spent negotiating the tensions that can arise during this process. Sometimes this has been project-specific, at other times I have been addressing broader strategic issues in single or multiple organisations, with individual buildings or complex landscapes. Mainly based in the UK, I have also undertaken project work in Germany, France, Bermuda and Australia. Although much of my time has been spent in the not-for-profit sector, I have also worked in academia and spent three years as the Principal Heritage Consultant in a dynamic for-profit consultancy which had a portfolio of cultural heritage projects across Europe, Africa and East Asia.

I have a diverse range of research interests, which generally relate to moments of transition in European history. They include:

  • later prehistoric landscapes in the early first millenium
  • post-Roman and early medieval landscapes
  • religion and identity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
  • late medieval and early modern industrialisation and urbanisation

The latter two interests were core themes in my PhD, completed in 2016.


Archaeology and cultural heritage can deliver meaningful change to individuals and communities. For over 20 years I have been creating and managing a variety of public heritage projects. These have ranged from conventional ‘outreach’ through museums, heritage open days and public archaeology; to more radical ‘bottom-up’ schemes involving community-led research and long-term conservation of monuments and landscapes. To this end I have worked with museums, local government, state heritage agencies and private developers on these projects, and have obtained funding from the National Lottery, national and local government, charitable trusts, financial institutions and individual benefactors.

Archaeology also requires engagement with a wide range of practical and theoretical debates. I enjoy sharing knowledge and experience with others, which is a continuous and reflexive process - every day should (and usually does) involve the acquisition of new knowledge or skills, or the understanding of different perspectives.

I have delivered undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at the Universities of YorkBirmingham (including the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage), BristolChester, and Sheffield; I also contribute to CPD modules for the School of Architecture at Birmingham City University. I am currently an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Birmingham and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Chester.

Paul Belford

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