Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium


This page lists all the speakers and their abstracts. You can also download the conference booklet with schedule and abstracts via this link.


The Herculaneum Amazon Project: One Year On
Gareth Beale. Supervisor: Dr. Graeme Earl

This talk will chart the progress made during the second year of my PhD research investigating the nature of Roman sculptural polychromy and statue painting at Herculaneum. The talk will focus upon developments which have taken place during the period since the last postgraduate symposium and will include descriptions of methodological developments, technologies adopted and data acquired.
In particular the talk will focus upon:

  • The use of experimental techniques in order to better understand the nature and significance of tempera painting on statue marbles.
  • The adoption of new physically accurate light simulation and imaging techniques
  • The results of a data collection and research trip to Herculaneum which took place in the spring of 2011.

The presentation will conclude with a brief discussion of the significance of these developments upon the ongoing research and will set out goals for the final phase of the project.


A seamless palaeolithic; contextualising early hominin occupation through correlation of submerged datasets
Rachel Bynoe. Supervisor: Dr. Fraser Sturt.

Understanding Palaeolithic ecologies has been an important area of research for some time. However, problems inherent to this approach stem from the poor resolution and fragmentary nature of the evidence; extant deposits on-land are few and far between. My research aims are to take these questions forward by looking to the submerged resource of, in this instance, the Southern North Sea. Recent work in the area has identified early Palaeolithic deposits on a larger scale than we have access to onshore, thereby providing the opportunity to do two things: start to get to grips with the ecological questions that are so important for contextualising our earliest hominins, as well as investigating what are potentially non-analogous environments providing fresh insights into early hominin-environment relationships. Furthermore, the integration of these offshore deposits with the onshore data aims to create a ‘seamless’ appreciation of these areas; developing our ability to interrogate these spaces without modern shorelines imposing unrealistic boundaries.


Complex networks in archaeology: urban connectivity in Roman southern Spain
Tom Brughmans. Supervisor: Prof. Simon Keay.

Complex systems existed in the past just as they exist now and will continue to exist in the future. Until recently, however, there was no suitable analytical framework for examining the properties of such systems and their emergence from local interactions. This paper suggests a new research perspective for Roman archaeology – complex network analysis.

It will demonstrate how a complex networks approach can be used to explore archaeological datasets as well as to understand properties of complex systems in the past. It will illustrate this with examples drawn from the ‘Urban connectivity in Roman southern Spain’ project. A large and complex database has been assembled for this project in an attempt to explore the diverse ways in which ancient cities were related. It includes diverse data types including coins, ceramics, statues and visibility in the landscape. This case-study will raise issues related to how the behaviour of past complex systems can be explored, how urban connectivity in Roman times as attested indirectly through complex graphs of multiple relationships is reflected.


A human-centric approach to archaeological walk design
Angeliki Chrysanthi. Supervisor: Dr. Graeme Earl

In this paper, I will attempt to highlight that documenting movement in archaeological sites constitutes an essential part of designing archaeological walks and should be acknowledged and employed in practice by heritage interpretation professionals. While a visit in an archaeological site is in progress, people express their on-going interpretation with different gestures and decisions of movement.

Drawing from J. Gibson’s theory of affordances, where pedestrian locomotion is thought to be largely dependent on the perception and the use of affordances offered by the environment for navigation, I propose a categorisation of affordances encountered in archaeological sites. This categorisation is based on the preliminary results of the survey conducted at three Minoan sites. The above considerations provide a systematic insight in framing the input of the ‘augmented space’ paradigm in designing interpretive on-site walks.


A Study of Pig Bone Growth Rate in Iron Age and Roman Britain Contexts
Richard Chuang. Supervisor: Dr. Jaco Weinstock.

This proposed study aims to examine difference in growth rates of domestic pigs through Iron Age and Roman Britain contexts. Through this study, further insights will be provided on socio-economic importance of pig husbandry.

Several sites have mentioned an earlier culling age of domestic animals in Roman period in comparison to Iron Age sites. Previous studies have mainly focused on cattle, sheep, and goats. Unlike these domestic animals, pigs are kept only for meat production; therefore are ideal for testing the hypothesis of earlier culling age as the result of faster growth rates. Biometrical analysis will be applied on available samples from Iron Age, early and late Roman Britain.

Although cause of growth rate changes may vary, this should not be a concern for using analysed result as indication for proposed study. Conversely, the result will be helpful for further researches on the changing in feeding practise during studied periods.


Lived Experience at Bodiam, Scotney and Ightham in the Later Middle Ages
Catriona Cooper. Supervisor: Prof. Matthew Johnson/Dr. Graeme Earl.

Bodiam, Scotney and Ightham are gentry houses in south-east England. All three were initially constructed during the 14th century. They provide a focussed research area with a range of documentary and archaeological evidence from the later middle ages.

Although lived experience has been discussed frequently in prehistory it has rarely been applied to medieval sites. The concept suggests new ways to examine these buildings from a novel, subjective perspective. Visual experience is an important focus of the study, but other senses can also be explored. My paper will explore how other senses influenced encountering, working and living in these buildings. My aim is to produce synchronic graphic and written descriptions of the buildings just after their initial construction.


Deconstructing Diversity: The Role of Creativity in European Bronze Age Ceramic Craft
Sarah Coxon. Supervisor: Dr. Jo Sofaer.

The European Bronze Age is a period of prehistory that provides us with a rich and varied corpus of objects crafted from an array of different materials. Although much of the literature on Bronze Age craft concentrates on metalworking, ceramic vessels from specific areas, namely central Europe, are also often elaborate, well-made and varied objects.

In today’s Western society high value is placed on understanding and cultivating creativity, which is regarded as a stimulant for economic, social and cultural growth. My thesis is an exploration of how such creative processes played out in European Bronze Age ceramic craft to investigate how people were behaving, interacting and developing ideas. This paper focuses on some key ideas through a discussion of Middle and Late Bronze Age Belegiš Urns and Vatin cups from the Pannonian basin in central Europe.


Cross-cultural relations between England and Northwest Europe AD c.400 – c.1200: with special reference to stone commodities
Carolyn Coulter. Supervisor: Dr. David Williams.

Stone artefacts have long been dismissed as ‘the Cinderella of the finds shed’. Researchers assessing cultural patterns in early medieval Britain and on the Continent have tended to focus on pottery and metalwork. Yet stone objects are well suited to serve as cultural markers due to their durability and visibility in the archaeological record.

The purpose of my research is to present the first full-length synthesis of early medieval stone imports. I identify regional patterns and cultural affiliations as illustrated by basic stone commodities (Rhenish lava querns, Norwegian schist and phyllite hones, and soapstone), and contrast these with those of semi-precious gemstones (amber and jet). My investigation focuses on twelve key sites to explore:

– how the distribution of these artefacts changed over time
– the reasons for these patterns

In my final discussion, I interpret cross-cultural relations during the early medieval period in terms of travel, craft specialisation and social identity.


Sexual Dimorphism in Human Vertebral Morphology: Facet Joint Orientation and Degenerative Joint Disease
Carolyn Felton. Supervisor: Dr. Jo Sofaer

Different patterns of distribution of degenerative joint disease in the spine have been linked to gender specific patterns of activity. Degenerative changes have also linked to facet joint orientation, age and sex. There has been little published work on dimorphic differences in facet orientation and any relationship with patterns of degenerative change in the spine. What is the relationship between the two?

Lack of consistency in methodology and terminology in existing work has led to difficulty in comparison of results between papers.

The aim of my research is to evaluate the methods used and identify the method that is easiest to use and provides reproducible results, to map “normal variations” in the orientation of the vertebral facet joints and to identify differences in size and orientation of the superior facets between males and females.

The developed method for angle measurement will then be used to gather data from urban and rural populations to look for similarities and differences in facet orientation and degeneration between sexes and identify any relationship between normal variation and degeneration. This paper will provide an introduction to the subject.


Applying human-computer interaction methodologies to the study of archaeological research practices
Tom Frankland. Supervisor: Dr. Graeme Earl.

Archaeological research, whether conducted in an office, laboratory or in the field, is facilitated through the use of a variety of high and low-tech tools. Research in the fields of HCI (human-computer interaction) and CSCW (computer-supported cooperative work) often aims to understand the interactions users make with tools such as these, so that, among other things, the user experience can be beneficially improved. Observing and understanding these interactions requires a variety of research methods, among which ethnography and ethnographic methods feature highly.

This paper describes my early experiences as a PhD researcher on the multidisciplinary RCUK PATINA project. It also outlines the research methodologies I currently plan to use for my PhD research, which are influenced by the ethnographic methodologies applied in HCI and CSCW (Locatelli et al. 2010), ethnographies of archaeological fieldwork practice (Edgeworth 2003), and user-based studies of technologies for supporting archaeological fieldwork (Clarke & O’Riordan 2009).


There’s No Place Like Home
Ben Jervis. Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Jones

Drawing on my near complete doctoral work, this paper will consider how engagements with pottery were active in the creation of a ‘sense of home’ in the Anglo-Saxon period, focussing on the site of Hamwic (Southampton). The approach is grounded in non-representational theory and the key elements of this approach will be outlined, before the ways that people engaged with pottery are reconstructed. These themes will be drawn together, to consider how the agency for continuity and change in people’s lives are distributed through their interactions with the material world.


The stripping of the box-pews: discovering the lost churches of the Long Reformation.
Jude Jones. Supervisor: Prof. Matthew Johnson.

Early modern congregations and their parish churches situated along the border of Hampshire and West Sussex are the focus of my doctoral research topic. The vast majority of these churches no longer possess the interiors or exteriors which parishioners before the 19th century would have found familiar. Not only the churches themselves but also their medieval and post-medieval fittings were refurbished by vicars, church patrons and their architects influenced by the Ecclesiological movement. Church fabric was replaced and sometimes reshaped, occasionally churches were entirely rebuilt. The Victorian obsession with High Medieval architecture resulted in the substitution of genuine medieval features for refabricated ones while post-medieval types of church furniture and spatial formatting were expelled or obliterated. Archaeological research into this lost material is therefore fraught with problems, demanding a high level of detective work based on early prints, archive material and the clues the churches themselves still retain. This paper is therefore a simple account of an interpretive methodology aimed at sensorily reanimating religious pathways through a landscape which is now largely obscured.


A chronotopic approach to burial analysis
Marge Konsa. Visiting from University of Tartu, Estonia.

Time and space are two core concepts of archaeology. In the beginning of the discipline, archaeological interest was focused on the development of chronologies and periodization, thus placing the concept of time in the foreground. With New Archaeology space gained the upper hand, and its conceptual scale has continuously broadened since, now reaching from the concept of environment up to lived and conceived spaces. The new century brought new interest in the concept of time. Lately the attention has been turned to the study of the phenomena by which the space and time can be examined simultaneously. The concept of the chronotope (chrónos+tópos) involves both temporal and spatial components and gives us the opportunity to study spatio-temporal relationships in a profound way. In the paper I will discuss the possibility of using a chronotopic approach to burial analysis at a metaphysical as well as at a methodological level. I will talk about cemeteries as representatives of specific chronotopes, where the spatio-temporal relations are perceived as different from those of everyday life. I will also discuss the possibilities of reconstructing the temporary events with the help of spatial analysis.


Innovation, coincidence or tantalising connection? Potential relationships between boat building and the development of British tool kits in the Middle-Late Bronze Age
Rob Lee. Supervisor: Dr. Jo Sofaer.

There is a wide-ranging variety of evidence available in the context of the British Middle and Late Bronze Age which can point to the influence of wood crafting activities on the development of bronze tool forms. Bronze gouge and chisel variations provide some of the strongest evidence for the development of wood crafting ‘kits’, from which it is possible to infer complex interaction between craft practitioners.

One of the significant relationships appears to revolve around production of sewn-plank boats; regional developments in both gouge and chisel forms seem to have had particular connection to this. Examining the relationship between evidence for boat-building and such tools provides a basis for theorising the development of specialised tool ‘kits’, and data which may have influenced tool development, derived from environmental and technological contexts, is facilitating argument for the substantial influences of Bronze Age wood crafting on metallurgical development.


Transformations of the Winchester Cathedral Close from the Seventh Century Saxon Church to the current Cathedral through the analysis of visual representation
James Miles. Supervisor: Dr. Graeme Earl.

Winchester Cathedral has been a focal point in the space, politics and society of the city in which it is placed since the seventh century, and has a wide range of archaeological, architectural, archival and historical data. The work will explore modifications to the spatial form and structure of the Close, from the construction of the Old Minster through to the current Cathedral. It will produce a systematic analysis of change in both large and small scale spatial organisation, including potential movement around, between and within the buildings, and access by different religious and secular users. This analysis will be based upon space and human experience with a computer visualisation used to reconstruct the successive sequences of the cloisters and the interiors of the various churches and buildings. It offers a potential to study the permanency and change through the centuries and will outline the development of the Cathedral landscape, through changing social space and architectural features.


Scilly’s Iron Age: Some considerations regarding connectivity
Rodrigo Pacheco Ruiz. Supervisor: Dr. Fraser Sturt.

This paper will explore how our ideas regarding Iron Age connectivity in the Isles of Scilly have been generated, underlining the fundamental part that early research played.

Throughout Late Prehistory the Atlantic acted as connector for societies, stretching and creating new links within social networks. For most of the Atlantic societies, the only way to participate was across the sea. Here connectivity has been inferred from limited sources, reducing the complexity of the historical process.

Scilly is an archipelago, stretching from Cornwall towards the Atlantic, where archaeological evidence suggests an involvement further afield from its own geographic hinterland. Arguments thus far have been based on just a few archaeological studies, which have described connection as a unilateral – foreign influence. We know that connections existed for Scilly´s late prehistory with mainland Britain and parts of Europe, but at present it is difficult to assess Scilly’s involvement. This paper will address such issues.


Materialising Strategies in Archaeological Practice. Photography as a Recording Method and the Perception of Three-Dimensionality
Constantinos Papadopoulos. Supervisor: Dr. Graeme Earl.

The recording processes globally employed by archaeologists most often provide two-dimensional information of three-dimensional data. Although three-dimensional capture techniques are widely available, their high cost, time constraints, as well as the level of expertise needed make their use quite limited. Conventional recording methods, such as architectural drawings, text, photography and video depict three-dimensionality with a series of conventions that are usually accessible only to specialised audiences. Although none of these techniques can stand on their own as sufficient sources of data, in several cases the information presented in two-dimensional recordings is hardly adequate to (re)construct the archaeology of a site, even when an amalgamation of these are used to draw conclusions; this is mainly due to the inadequacy of these techniques to capture and represent the original three-dimensional evidence.

Photography was adopted by observational sciences, such as archaeology, as it was believed that in that way any subjectivity could be overcome, by constituting the memories of what is gradually destroyed during the excavation. Therefore, it gradually became one of the most essential recording mechanisms to capture the excavation process and the objects’ three-dimensional qualities. However, do observers/readers become embodied into a site and experience its materiality through this recording method? Does it represent the actual evidence or compressed information only? This paper will address how photography is used as a recording method, discussing to what extent the capturing of three-dimensional information with two-dimensional techniques, helps towards a three-dimensional understanding of the past.


Indian Ocean Ceramic Trade: 500-1000 AD
Seth Preistman. Supervisors: Dr Lucy Blue/Dr. St John Simpson (British Museum)/Dr. JD Hill (British Museum).

The aim of my research is to examine long-term changes in the economy of the Indian Ocean around the time of the Islamic conquest in the Middle East. The period from 500-1000 AD represents a time in which the Indian Ocean emerged as a global commercial centre. By around 750-800 a sophisticated trade network had been established involving the movement of goods from Japan and China in the east, to southern Africa and Spain in the west. Merchants from the Middle East performed a particularly important role, handling much of the logistics and commercial enterprise involved.

What occurred in the lead up to this period, and how the Indian Ocean commercial system developed remains far less well understood. Unfortunately there are very few historical records which cover the centuries before the Islamic conquest, in the 6th century, or the period immediately after this upheaval. This period represents a ‘dark age’ in the commercial history of the Indian Ocean. The presentation will set out the issues behind the study and explain the methodology that has been developed to provide new insights into this period.


Network Analysis of Roman Transport Routes in the Imperial Roman Mediterranean
Dave Potts. Supervisor: Dr. Graeme Earl.

This research is designed to explore the nature of the relationships between Portus, Rome, and other selected ports in the Mediterranean and to establish patterns and the changing nature of trading networks derived from the distribution of known Roman artefacts. The initial phase of this project has been devoted to the creation of a model designed to simulate the movement Roman ships within Mediterranean basin. This progress talk will cover the development of the model and the cover the research goals for the current year.


Understanding the Past, Interpreting the Present: a study of the changing relationship between metal detectorists and archaeologists
Katherine Robbins. Supervisor: Dr. Graeme Earl/Roger Bland (British Museum).

Since the beginnings of the metal detecting hobby in the 1960s, the relationship between metal detector users and archaeologists has been an unsettled one. From the outset, archaeologists were concerned with the numbers of artefacts being removed from archaeological contexts and hidden away in private collections, whilst metal detector users resented efforts to prevent them legitimately pursuing their hobby. This talk will present the history of the relationship between these two groups, looking at build up to the creation of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) in 1997, and the changes in attitudes on both sides since then. It will discuss how such a relationship can bias the spatial distribution of the finds recorded on the PAS database, and look at how the partnership now being created between metal detectorists users and archaeologists is helping to shape our understanding of the history of the British mainland.


Modelling dispersal: what colourful sheep can tell us about the first out of Africa?
Iza Romanowska. Supervisor: Dr. John McNabb.

Agent Based Modelling (ABM) provides us with a unique platform for testing large scale hypotheses. It is particularly effective when dealing with the concept of movement, be it human expansion into new lands, cultural transmission over vast distances or animal migration. Low density of Lower Palaeolithic finds in Central and Eastern Europe has been repeatedly attributed to particular dispersal routes and environmental impact. Creating a NetLogo ABM model of this process can assist in verifying this observation and revealing the pattern of the first human dispersal under constantly changing conditions of palaeoclimatic cycles. It also allows to address several methodological issues related to modelling dispersals in general, especially the application of the basic Fisher-KPP reaction-diffusion system and other mathematical models commonly used to replicate wide scale human movements.


The Aterian of north-east Africa and its place in the story of modern human dispersals
Eleanor Scerri. Supervisor: Dr. John McNabb.

The emergence of Homo sapiens and their dispersal out of Africa is one of the most important and evocative events in modern human history. Research suggests that the story of our origins and dispersal is far more complex than has been previously supposed, with a number of different cultures and routes potentially playing a role. Amongst these potential candidates are the little-known stone tool cultures of the Saharo-Arabian passage. My project is seeking to define the archaeological record of northeast Africa between 100 and 60,000 years ago and test for its technological and typological signatures in the Arabian Peninsula. This will provide a knowledge-base on which to reconstruct the early Late Pleistocene population history of northeast Africa as well as supply robust points for comparison with potential Arabian cognates. This is the critical step in assessing the role of the Saharo-Arabian region in the story of modern human origins and dispersals.


The Inbetweeners: 4th Millennium BC Foodways in the Thames Valley, UK.
Emilie Sibbesson. Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Jones.

Traces of activities and objects that relate to foodways are ubiquitous in the archaeological record, and such evidence is today explored within a series of disciplinary subfields. In this paper I describe the picture that is generated through re-integration of separate strands of food-related remains, and different kinds of analyses, from the 4th millennium BC in the Middle and Upper Thames Valley. The approach enables me to evaluate recent suggestions that the region was inhabited by pastoralists during this period, thus adding detail and depth to meta-narratives of the incipient use of domestic food species in Britain.


Persons and Pots: Changes in the Tarquinian Funerary Record and the Performance of Elite Etruscan Self
Lucy Shipley. Supervisor: Dr. Yvonne Marshall.

This paper considers ideas of personhood through an analysis of the changing mortuary practices visible at the site of Tarquinia between the 8th and the 6th centuries BC, and examines to what extent the development of individuality in the mortuary expression of identity accompanies the development of increased socio-political complexity. In the course of this consideration, ideas of the nature of Etruscan personhood are explored, with a particular focus on the relationship between socio-economic status and gender in the construction of an Etruscan person. I argue that both are inherently linked through their actively constructed and performed nature, using the ideas of Judith Butler that have been so successful in other proto-historic archaeological arenas as a theoretical base. I also consider the work of Marilyn Strathern, and ask whether the changing funerary record of this site may be seen as a movement from a dividual to an individual conception of personhood, where the expression of the relationships between the deceased and the community in mortuary practice becomes gradually subsumed by elite individual identities, encompassing both status and gender in the active performance of funerary ritual.


The Cultural Heritage Sector and the Web: Does the Web really provide new solutions to old problems?
Nicole Smith. Web Science Doctoral Training Centre and Archaeology.

The Web is having a substantial impact on society, just as society is greatly impacting on the make-up of the Web. Recent studies have identified the technologically deterministic aspects of the Web and the effect that it is having on the way that the cultural heritage sector is managing issues such as reputation on- and off-line. I am interested in the ways that the cultural heritage sector is affecting the Web and the opportunities that this could be creating for professionals working in this field. Museums in particular are at a crossroads in their adoption of web-based technologies, with new ways of interacting with the Web increasing organisations’ impacts, collections management, interpretation strategies and approaches to dissemination. I believe that there is potential for the development of a new methodology for the way that organisations in this sector use the Web, and my research will look at how this new approach could be designed and implemented, using qualitative methods for the analysis of current data.


The Fauresmith of South Africa
David Underhill-Stocks. Supervisor: Dr. John McNabb

As I come toward the end of my PhD, I am finally able to start answering questions concerning the stone tool phenomena known as the Fauresmith, found across South Africa but largely confined to the Central Plateau region. Conclusions shall be proposed that have been gleaned from the analysis of twelve sites spanning the Earlier Stone Age, the Fauresmith, and the Middle Stone Age. Whilst no definitive answers can be offered, it is hoped that this long overdue re-analysis of the Fauresmith shall stimulate debate and begin to clarify the mucky waters of the South African Stone Ages.


A Journey through the Romano-British Countryside
Geoff Taylor. Supervisor: Dr. Louise Revell.

The economy of Iron Age Britain is thought to have been embedded in social relationships, with exchange essentially controlled by the élite, although later Iron Age coinages may have been used in more disembedded exchanges. The Romans certainly brought a coin-using, or ‘market’, economy, not least in imposing taxes paid in money. However, many feel that economic development was still constrained by élite values concerned with status, so that socially embedded exchange might have remained common.

The real change to the ‘British economy’ may have come later in the Roman period, when large numbers of low-value coins appeared and pottery distributions changed significantly. A common view is that the countryside was slow to adopt a market economy, and may never have done in remoter areas, yet imported Samian ware is found on most sites within a few years of the conquest. My research aims to determine the penetration of the market economy into rural areas over time, in a large area of central southern England, particularly considering the distribution of coins and pottery.


Architecture and Urbanism in a provincial city: the Roman city of Pollentia (Mallorca, Spain)
Bartomeu Vallori. Visiting from Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

In this talk I will review my research on the architecture and urbanism of the Roman city of Pollentia (Alcúdia, Mallorca, Spain), the first structures of which date back to 70/60 B.C. It is focused mainly on the period between the 1st cent. B.C. and the 3rd A.D., though some aspects of the later centuries are also studied.

In a first stage I have studied the state of the art. The research on the ancient excavations from the 20s and 30s of the 20th century has been particularly useful regarding the reconstruction of lost archaeological data, and for the topography of the city. The following step has been the detailed documentation of the buildings, their architectural analysis and contextualization within the Western Mediterranean.

After these classical studies I am working on creating 3D models for these buildings, as a way to focus on architectural features from the elevations, present the results of my research and visualization of volumes. The further purpose of this model is to be a tool for other analysis as illumination and circulation patterns.


Beyond the Looking Glass: A question of tactile access to museum collections.
Alexandra Walker. Supervisor: Prof. Stephanie Moser.

The value of touch and object handling in museums is a growing area of research, but also one that is little understood. Despite our range of senses with which we experience the world around us, museums traditionally rely on the visual as the principle means of communicating information about the past.

Museum visits usually consists of gazing at objects locked away in glass cabinets, signs instructing visitors “do not touch”, and complex and often confusing text panels. What message does this give to the visiting public? What is their impression of the objects on display? Why is handling reserved for the museum elite and not the general public?
This research aims to pull apart the hierarchical nature of touch in the museum, demonstrate the benefits of a “hands-on” approach to engaging with the past, and investigate the problems and limitations associated with tactile experiences. It aims to prove that handling objects can not only enhance our understanding of the past, but can also provide memorable and valuable experiences that will stay with the individual for life.


Congenital and developmental spinal defects in the Great Chesterford, Cambridgeshire population.
Julie Walker. Supervisor: Sarah Inskip.

The human spine begins to form in utero, from approx. 6 weeks, until fusion at puberty around 16 years of age. Congenital defects in the spine occur in the development stage prior to birth. Developmental defects are those which occur in development between birth and fusion.

The aim of this study is to firstly research defects for a population, as most previous work is case studies; secondly to compare this assemblage to another to assess whether the occurrence of defects within the population is normal or unusual.

The 167 inhumations from the Great Chesterford, Cambridgeshire assemblage were studied. This consisted of 69 juveniles and 98 adult/ adolescents. Cases of Spina bifida, congenital scoliosis, extra sacral vertebras, hypoplasia of the neural arches and irregular development of the spinous processes were found during the examination of this assemblage.

As this study focuses on the occurrences of these defects within a population, the amount of defects will be considered in relation to the population size. The ratio will be considered for the occurrence of the defects in males and females. The age at death for each individual and the severity of the defect will be taken into account to surmise the likelihood of individuals with severe defects surviving into adulthood.


They came, they saw…they buried: Reconstructing French and English Cluniac funerary practices
Eleanor Williams. Supervisor: Dr. Jo Sofaer.

The 10th century saw the emergence of a new and influential strand of Benedictine monasticism. Originating in Burgundy, the Cluniacs rapidly spread throughout Europe, establishing many hundreds of dependant houses. Of the ‘services’ they provided (to the monastic and lay community), burial was of the utmost importance. Written records and iconography provide us with some general insights into practices taking place during the medieval period, but how did the treatment of the dead vary spatially and temporally, from house to house, from the depths of Burgundy to the heart of London?

This paper will examine the interdisciplinary approaches necessary to reconstruct and interpret Cluniac funerary practices on both sides of the Channel. In particular, it will focus on the role of anthropologie de terrain in furthering our understanding of the whole treatment process, from bodily preparation, to interment and importantly, yet consistently overlooked, subsequent skeletal manipulation within the burial landscape.