I am Mary-Ann Ochota (pronounced O-HOT-AH).

My mum is Indian, my Dad is Polish, I was raised in northwest England and I have family all over the world.  This international heritage stirred my interest in the peoples of the world from a young age. That, and a TV documentary about child sacrifice.

My most recent book – Secret Britain: Unearthing our mysterious past – is “a cornucopia of our weirdest and most wonderful archaeological sites and artefacts. They make you feel proud…of these gloriously intriguing isles” Sir Tony Robinson.

My previous book, Hidden Histories: A Spotter’s Guide to the British Landscape is a guide to puzzling out some of the features you might spot in the landscape around you – what are those lumps and bumps in that field? Is this an ancient burial mound? How old is that church? Is this a medieval woodland? For countryside wanderers and armchair wonderers, I hope it’ll feed your curiousity as a landscape detective!

Join me at an event – online events for Spring

I’m proud to be the co-presenter of the science communication podcast series, This Study Shows, in collaboration with Wiley publishing.

Want to know how to talk to creationists about evolution? How to draw your research as a graphic novel? How to recruit a diverse group of participants into your study? Or give a fantastic 3 min online talk to 6 year olds? We’ve got you covered.

I’ve presented radio documentaries for the BBC and the World Service, and I’m a regular guest and reviewer on Sky News. I write for the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, and regularly contribute to adventure and outdoors magazines including Trail, Geographical, Summit and Countryfile Magazine. I write a regular column for outdoors magazine TGO.

I’m proud to be…

  • a ‘Loo-minary’ for Toilet Twinning – twin your loo with a long-drop somewhere in the world
  • a Patron of the Tony Trust, who help fund young people to take part in Outdoor Activities Centres
  • a Hill Walking Ambassador for the British Mountaineering Council
  • Ambassador for the Ridgeway National Trail
  • a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
  • a member of the Natural England Landscape Advisory Panel (NELAP)

I believe anthropology (the study of people, biologically and socially) can help to challenge the most basic preconceptions we have about ourselves and our own society, shedding new light on what it means to be human, and why we do what we do.  Anthropology in your own ‘backyard’ can be as eye-opening as research further afield!

I strongly believe that the outdoors is good for all of us, body and mind, and work with organisations like the Camping and Caravanning Club, National Trust, Ramblers, Ordnance Survey and the British Mountaineering Council to encourage and inspire more people to #GetOutside

I also work with a number of corporate and third sector clients, conducting and presenting research and as a host, chair and interviewer at festivals and events. I’ll be hosting ITN Business’ upcoming event, Cities of the Future.

I’m an experienced cold water scuba diver (PADI Divemaster, BSAC Dive Leader), enthusiastic sailor and mostly competent horse rider.  I need only the slimmest excuse to pack a bag and travel. I’m first aid qualified and hostile environment trained.

Anthropology and Archaeology are how I study people, biologically and socially, in the present and the past. It’s an approach that can challenge the most basic preconceptions we have about ourselves and our own societies. It enables us to explore what it means to be human, and why we do what we do…