Peter is currently the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle - the only such Chair in the world. He is Chair of the UK Committee of the Blue Shield and Vice President of Blue Shield International. The Blue Shield is the international NGO created in 1996 to advise UNESCO on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict. Peter was previously Head of the School of Arts and Cultures and Professor of Heritage Studies in the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle. Before joining Newcastle he had worked for English Heritage, as a field archaeologist, and history teacher.
In 2003 Peter was advisor to the UK’s Ministry of Defence regarding the identification and protection of the archaeological cultural heritage in Iraq. He has remained active in working with the military to refine attitudes and develop processes for the better protection of cultural property in times of conflict. He has written extensively on this topic including co-editing, with Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly, The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq (2008) and editing Cultural Heritage, Ethics and the Military (2011). His article ‘The 4 Tier approach’ led directly to the establishment of a Joint Service Cultural Property Protection Unit in UK forces to become operational in 2019/20.
Peter was appointed to the University in 1997, as Director of the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies (ICCHS) in the School of Arts and Cultures in 2001, and as Head of School in 2006 (until December 2015). Between 1998 and 2008 he was Honorary Chief Executive Officer of the World Archaeological Congress.
Peter was awarded an OBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to heritage education.
After obtaining a first degree in modern history, and a Diploma in Education, Peter taught history in England and English in Greece. In his spare time he worked as an archaeologist on a number of sites including the Anglo-Scandinavian site of Coppergate in York, the Saxon site of Hamwic in Southampton, and on the Neolithic excavations at Hambledon Hill in Dorset. He then took an MA in archaeological method and theory before setting up with Professor Peter Ucko, and then running, the 'Archaeology and Education Project' at the University of Southampton. Peter's PhD thesis investigated the teaching of the past, with special reference to prehistory, in the English primary curriculum.
Peter joined the English Heritage Education Service in 1988. While at English Heritage he was seconded for a year to be regional administrator where he had day-to-day responsibility for over 100 sites and properties in the South West. As part of this post he was responsible for Stonehenge at the summer solstice and other calendar events when these were a source of major social conflict - a responsibility he retained for over three years.
Peter was heavily involved in the creation and development of the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) and was the Honorary Chief Executive Officer of WAC between 1998 and 2008. He has worked as a consultant and advisor regarding heritage education, interpretation and management in many parts of the world and was part of the team that developed the World Heritage Education project for UNESCO. Peter joined the staff at Newcastle in 1997.
In 2003 Peter became the special advisor to the UK Ministry of Defence regarding the identification and protection of the cultural heritage in Iraq. He was the Chair of the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site Management Plan Committee (2005-2012), a member of the Culture Committee of the UK National Commission for UNESCO (2005-2011), and a member of the National Archaeology Panel of the National Trust (2005-2012).