This Letter describes a model-independent search for the production of new resonances in photon + jet (gamma + jet) events using 20 fb(-1) of proton-proton LHC data recorded with the ATLAS detector at a centre-of-mass energy of root s = 8 TeV. The gamma + jet mass distribution is compared to a background model fit from data; no significant deviation from the background-only hypothesis is found. Limits are set at 95% credibility level on generic Gaussian-shaped signals and two benchmark phenomena beyond the Standard Model: non-thermal quantum black holes and excited quarks. Non-thermal quantum black holes are excluded below masses of 4.6 TeV and excited quarks are excluded below masses of 3.5 TeV. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.