Dr Alan G. Massey


Alan Massey obtained his BSc, PhD (in 2 years!) and DSc degrees from Liverpool University. After a postdoctoral period in Cambridge, he was appointed as Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry in Queen Mary College, University of London and moved to Loughborough in 1971. He retired in 1995 and is now an Honorary Research Fellow in the Inorganic Section.

Before his retirement, Alan’s research interests were in boron sub-halides and organometallic chemistry based mainly on perfluoro-aromatics e.g.heterocycles of S, Se, Te, Si,Ge, Sn, Pb,Sb & Bi. The increased stability of the perfluoro-aromatic derivatives over their hydrogen analogies allowed, for example, the direct synthesis of the di-bismuth tryptycene Bi2(C6F4)3:


This compound has recently been shown to have perfect propeller symmetry by electron diffraction (carried out in Edinburgh University - link).


Since his retirement Alan has pursued his interest in archaeology, notably by using an extensive range of analytical techniques to investigate the contents of witch bottles. His work on the contents of a recently discovered intact witch bottle was featured on the cover of the July 2009 edition of British Archaeology and was also reported in New Scientist and the Discovery channel website, amongst others. He has made three appearances on television and done two radio interviews on this topic. He also uses chemical and microscopy to study flint tools and artefacts (left); he has 20,000 examples.


Alan has published about 170 papers, reviews and books.


email: a.g.massey@lboro.ac.uk


Recent Archaeological Publications:

The Contents of Two Early Victorian Veterinary Medicine Bottles, A. Massey, M. Edgar and E.J. O’Neill (to be submitted).

Urine to Navel Fluff: the First Complete Witch Bottle, B. Hoggard, A. Massey and G. Morgan, British Archaeology, July-Aug, 2009, 7.

A Miniature Witch Bottle?, P.M. King and A. Massey, Current Archaeology, 197, 2005, 214.

Stony Stare (a Possible Flint Carving of  a “Feline” Face), A. Massey, British Archaeology, Mar-April, 2005, 35.

The Felmersham Witch Bottle, B. Hoggard, A. Massey, P. Stone and A. Wilson, Bedfordshire Country Life, Summer 2004, 7.

Spooky or What? A. Massey, Period House, Nov 2003, 92.

A Witch Bottle from Dorset, A. Massey, R.M. Smith and T.A.D. Smith, Education in Chemistry, 40, 2003, 97.

The Reigate Witch Bottle, A. Massey and T. Edmonds, Current Archaeology, 169, 2000, 34.



 Main Group Chemistry, A.G. Massey, Ellis Horwood, 1990; Second Edition, Wiley, 2000.

The Chemistry of Copper, Silver and Gold, A.G. Massey, N.R. Thompson, B.F.G Johnson and R. Davis, Pergamon Texts in Inorganic Chemistry, Vol 17, 1973

Boron, A.G. Massey, Mills and Boon, 1972

The Typical Elements, A.G. Massey, Penguin Education, 1972.

Inorganic Chemistry in Non-aqueous Solvents, A.K. Holliday and A.G. Massey, Pergamon Press, 1965.




The pictures above show a witch bottle and an X-ray of the contents.

Stony Stare (a Possible Flint Carving of  a “Feline” Face)