Brought up in south Wales, David studied at the University of Wales and completed postgraduate work at St John’s College, Cambridge. His career began as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Wales.
For almost 30 years, David worked in the state heritage sector, first at Cadw (Welsh Government’s historic environment service) and then English Heritage. He was involved with aspects of conservation, and with the interpretation and presentation of the national collections of historic monuments to the public.
David continues to lecture, to teach and to lead field visits across Wales, in England and in parts of Europe. He has served on a number of the committees and boards, including the Cistercians in Yorkshire project, the British Archaeological Association, and the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Great Britain and Ireland.
David was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1987, and is a holder of the prestigious Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion, awarded by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.