Archaeology Research Group

 

The Archaeology Research Group (ARG) is organised around the themes of material culture studies, monumentality, landscape and environment, in both a British and European context. Often these themes coalesce and overlap, as can be seen in the projects outlined below.

 

ARG scholars are engaged in projects that further our understanding of key research areas in Archaeology. Their projects address questions identified in national research strategy documents and their work often involves collaboration with local stakeholders, community groups, academics at other institutions and archaeology and heritage professionals. The group is comprised of academic staff and postgraduate researchers who regularly present papers on their research at national and international conferences.

 

Material culture studies

Pottery studies

 

Dr Helen Loney is a specialist in ancient crafts and technology.  She has recently established the Worcester Porcelain Project which involves fieldwork, analysis of museum collections and archival research. Worcester Royal Porcelain was one of the first porcelain industries in Britain and its products are world-renowned yet there have been few archaeological approaches to the industry. Dr Loney’s recent focus has shown how uniting social history and archaeology can contribute to a new understanding of age and gender in the industrial manufacturing process. Dr Loney is also an expert in Italian prehistoric pottery production and is part of the Terralba Punic Period survey and excavation project, focussing on the development of Punic period ceramic workshop activities in the rural areas of western Sardinia. In addition, she has research interests in the Iron Age and Roman material culture and pottery traditions of NW Britain.

Dr David Mullin has a long-standing interest in pottery production and use.  He continues to act as a consultant on Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery identification and production but more recently has become involved in experimental approaches to understanding pottery manufacture more generally.  He is currently a co-researcher on a project investigating the efficacy of medieval pottery kilns.  This has involved collaborating in the construction of a replica medieval kiln at Top Barn, Holt, Worcestershire and a series of controlled firings have taken place. Dr Mullin has also been instrumental in establishing thin-sectioning of prehistoric pottery from the Welsh borders to understand the source of materials and the symbolism of their selection.

Research fellow Dr Bob Ruffle conducted a PhD on the pottery of early modern Worcester (c1650-1750), not solely as an archaeological artefact, but as part of the material culture of early modern Worcester. His research also involved exploring probate inventories as a prime source for household contents, and advertisements in early issues of the Worcester Postman.

Research student Leon Bracelin (supervised by Dr Jodie Lewis) is carrying out a test pitting survey of the historic town of Ludlow, Shropshire to investigate the poorly understood medieval pottery sequence and produce a type series for the region.

Lithic Studies

Dr Caroline Rosen is a specialist in lithic technologies of the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. She has recently finished a PhD on Mesolithic cave use in south-west Britain which has involved the reanalysis of large collections of lithics from these sites.

Dr Jodie Lewis has an ongoing project investigating Mesolithic-Bronze Age lithics and lithic scatters in Western Britain with a particular focus on their relationship with contemporary sites and monuments.

Research student Tom Elliot (supervised by Dr Jodie Lewis) is using geochemical analysis to investigate the source of lithic raw materials exploited during the Mesolithic in the Welsh Marches region and fellow research student Leah Marshall (supervised by Dr Jodie Lewis) is combining technological and experiment analyses to understand the date, function and depositional history of a large lithic collection from the Mendip Hills, Somerset.

Monumentality

Dr Jodie Lewis has a number of ongoing research projects investigating Neolithic and Bronze Age monumentality in Western Britain. The projects, involving excavation, geophysical and topographical survey, have targeted a range of sites including Neolithic stone circles, standing stones and henges and Bronze Age round barrows. Her main focus, in collaboration with Dr David Mullin, is the investigation of the monumental landscape of the Mendip Hills and its environs. Dr Lewis is committed to sharing the results of this research with local communities and every year conducts public lectures and guided walks on the sites in question. She also has a project investigating multi-period commemoration and memorialisation on the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire.

Dr Neal Johnson has a particular interest in Bronze Age funerary architecture, seen in his recent PhD on the Anglo-Welsh border.  He has also conducted research into an unusual group of Neolithic cursus monuments in the Avon Valley, Worcestershire.

Dr David Mullin is an expert in the prehistoric monumental traditions of the Anglo-Welsh border and adjoining counties, with particular interest in the extended history of enclosures and the burial practices of the region. His interest in the use of ritual spaces has also led him to establish a new project, in conjunction with Museums Worcestershire and Worcester City Council, investigating historic graffiti in the medieval churches of Worcestershire.

Drs Helen Loney and Andrew Hoaen co-direct The Matterdale Archaeological Project, investigating the Bronze Age to Roman landscape in part of the English Lake District. This on-going, multi-stranded project has involved excavation and survey of many sites and a consideration of memory and monumentality through time and space.

Research student Mark Evans is studying depositional histories within Bronze Age round barrows of the Mendip Hills, Somerset and fellow research student Jane Walmsley is carrying out a new analysis of Neolithic chambered long barrows in the Black Mountains region, straddling the Welsh/English border. Both are supervised by Dr Jodie Lewis.

Landscape and Environment

Dr Andrew Hoaen is an environmental archaeologist with a long interest in human interaction with the environment. He currently has several research projects that address this theme, including The Archaeology of Nature Reserves in Worcestershire.  Recently, he started to investigate the neglected topic of trees as an integral part of the historic environment and as part of this is researching both veteran trees and ancient woodland in the Forest of Dean and the iconic Cumbrian Borrowdale Yews, made famous by Wordsworth. He is also investigating the concept of the wild in an archaeological context.

Dr Andrew Hoaen and Dr Helen Loney also work together on The Matterdale Project, a multi-period investigation of an upland landscape in the Lake District and its connections with other parts of Northern Britain.

Dr Caroline Rosen has recently completed a PhD on the use of Mesolithic caves in south-west Britain. Her research considers the cave as an active agent of the landscape and relates the properties of individual cave sites both to the wider landscape and the activities happening within. Dr Rosen particular interests are in the conceptualisation and use of karst landscapes during the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods.

The properties of karst landscapes appear also in Dr Jodie Lewis’ research, with a focus on the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age periods on the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is currently investigating the prehistoric use of sinkholes on the Mendip plateau; the relationship between dry valleys and round barrows and the properties of tufa springs and their place in Mesolithic cosmologies. This current research includes bringing to publication the excavation of a Mesolithic site at a tufa spring near Midsomer Norton, Somerset; five round barrows on the Mendip plateau (excavated with Dr David Mullin) and deposition within Brimble Pit Swallet, Mendip.

The real and conceptual nature of borders and borderlands is central to much of Dr David Mullin's research. His work on the Anglo-Welsh border in prehistory has led him to investigate the particular properties of this landscape and how social practice may have both reinforced and rejected the concept of the border according to particular (pre)historic contingencies. His research is multidisciplinary, combining archaeological, anthropological and geographical approaches to border studies.

Dr Neal Johnson employs a landscape approach in his research and is particularly interested in using new technologies to record and interrogate archaeological sites and landscapes. His recent study of round barrows and cairns in the diverse Welsh border landscape used a multi-scaler approach combined with geophysical survey and GIS analysis to bring a new understanding to this important though often neglected region.

Research student Jack Rowe (supervised by Dr Jodie Lewis) is studying how people may have moved around and between upland and lowland landscapes during the Neolithic, with a geographical focus on the Somerset Levels and Mendip plateau.

Metalwork Studies

Dr David Mullin has a particular interest in Bronze Age metalwork deposition and has carried out research into this phenomenon in Western Britain. This has included a consideration of the context of metalwork finds form the Welsh borderland, including excavations (in conjunction with the University of Reading) at a major deposition site in Shropshire.

Current Opportunities

 

PhD

Fully-funded PhD studentships with ARG will be advertised here, but also on www.findaphd.com.

Approaches from self-supporting PhD students are accepted all year round. Topics of interest to ARG focus on our main research themes of i) material culture; ii) monumentality; iii) landscape and environment.

Please contact Dr Jodie Lewis to express an interest along with an outline of your research ideas.

MRes

We welcome approaches from high achieving graduates that would like to consider studying for an MRes on the research themes outlined.

Please note that funding for such projects is not available and that students would be self-supporting. However, new postgraduate loans are being introduced in the UK for students. See our information on course fees.

Visiting Researchers

The University of Worcester runs a scheme for Visiting Researchers. The scheme is aimed at postdoctoral researchers currently based at another (normally overseas) Higher Education Institution, although it may be extended to PhD students if appropriate.

ARG welcomes the opportunity to host visiting researchers, particularly when this will complement research activities of the group. Please contact Dr Jodie Lewis to express an interest along with an outline of the research you would like to pursue.

 

 

ARG Members

Dr Andrew Hoaen

Dr Neal Johnson

Dr Jodie Lewis

Dr Helen Loney

Dr David Mullin

Dr Caroline Rosen

Dr Bob Ruffle

Current research students

Leon Bracelin

Tom Elliot

Mark Evans

Leah Marshall

Jack Rowe

Jane Walmsley