Archaeology, University of Nottingham
My PhD research explores residential mobility and settlement from the Middle Neolithic (c. 3000 BC) to the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1500 BC), focusing on Lincolnshire and the Fens in particular. It seeks to establish whether there was a change in the mobility of people and their domesticated animals and if so, whether this relates to the lack of evidence for permanent settlement during the Middle and Late Neolithic (Whittle 1997) and/or the establishment of small farming settlements by the time of the Middle Bronze Age (Brück 1999). Taking a posthumanist, non-anthropocentric viewpoint allows a review of the relations and interactions between human and non-human animals and emphasises the importance of the latter in co-constituting mobility and movement in Neolithic and Bronze Age communities (Braidotti 2013; Harris 2013).
To investigate mobility, I am using isotope analysis of faunal remains excavated from sites in the area; this is a well-tested method which has been applied in other areas of the country (for example, Neil et al. 2016; Viner et al. 2010). Isotope analysis determines the amount of isotopes of elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur, and strontium incorporated into human and animal tissues and bones from their diet. The results can inform on components of the diet (carbon, nitrogen), proximity to the sea (sulphur), or whether the person or animal started life in an area other than where their remains were found (oxygen, strontium) (Evans et al. 2012; Evans et al. 2019; Laffoon et al. 2017). Material for analysis comes from small samples cut from a bone to study diet using carbon and nitrogen isotopes, or from enamel or dentine sampled from a tooth. Tooth enamel preserves the isotope values of oxygen and strontium because its resistance to change while buried in the ground means it is unaffected by contamination from groundwater carrying local ‘signatures’ of those isotopes (Madgwick et al. 2012; Neil et al. 2018; 2017). Additionally, the dentine inside cattle and sheep teeth will be sampled incrementally, informing on seasonal changes such as the movement to summer saltmarsh grazing on the Fens.
My research will integrate zooarchaeology, isotope analysis and database modelling to generate a new understanding of how the prehistoric communities of Lincolnshire and the Fens behaved and developed from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. As a by-product of my research, I will support Critical Priority 5 ‘improving access to unpublished data’ and Theme PR5, ‘realising the full potential of scientific techniques’ of Historic England’s prehistory research strategy, as well as the sub-theme ‘Development of agriculturally-based settlement patterns’ in the Research Agenda and Strategy for the East Midlands (English Heritage 2010; Knight et al. 2012).
Braidotti, R. (2013). The Posthuman. Polity Press, Cambridge.
Brück, J. (1999) What’s in a settlement? Domestic practice and residential mobility in Early Bronze Age southern England. In: Making Places in the Prehistoric World: Themes in Settlement Archaeology. Ed. by J. Brück & M. Goodman. London: UCL Press, 52–75.
English Heritage (2010) Research Strategy for Prehistory: consultation draft. Tech. rep. url: https://historicengland.org.uk/content/docs/research/draft-prehistoric-strategy-pdf/ (visited on 19/08/2019).
Evans, J. A., C. A. Chenery & J. Montgomery (2012) A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 27, 754–764. doi: 10.1039/C2JA10362A.
Evans, J., M. Parker Pearson, R. Madgwick, H. Sloane & U. Albarella (2019) Strontium and oxygen isotope evidence for the origin and movement of cattle at Late Neolithic Durrington Walls, UK. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11(10), 5181–5197. doi: 10.1007/s12520-019-00849-w.
Harris, O. J. T. (2013) Relational communities in prehistoric Britain. In: Relational Archaeologies: Humans, Animals, Things. Ed. by C. Watts. Abingdon: Routledge, 173–189.
Knight, D., B. Vyner & C. Allen, eds. (2012) East Midlands Heritage: an updated research agenda and strategy for the Historic Environment of the East Midlands. Nottingham Archaeological Monographs 6. Nottingham and York: University of Nottingham and York Archaeological Trust. url: https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/east-midlands-heritage/ (visited on 17/03/2019).
Laffoon, J. E., T. F. Sonnemann, T. Shafie, C. L. Hofman, U. Brandes & G. R. Davies (2017) Investigating human geographic origins using dual-isotope (87Sr/86Sr, δ18O) assignment approaches. PLOS ONE 12 (2), 1–16. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172562.
Madgwick, R., J. Mulville & J. Evans (2012) Investigating diagenesis and the suitability of porcine enamel for strontium (87Sr/86Sr) isotope analysis. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 27, 733–742. doi: 10.1039/C2JA10356G.
Neil, S., J. Evans, J. Montgomery & C. Scarre (2016) Isotopic evidence for residential mobility of farming communities during the transition to agriculture in Britain. Royal Society Open Science 3 (1). doi: 10.1098/rsos.150522.
Neil, S., J. Evans, J. Montgomery & C. Scarre (2018) Isotopic evidence for landscape use and the role of causewayed enclosures during the earlier Neolithic in Southern Britain. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 84, 185–205. doi: 10.1017/ppr.2018.6.
Neil, S., J. Montgomery, J. Evans, G. T. Cook & C. Scarre (2017) Land use and mobility during the Neolithic in Wales explored using isotope analysis of tooth enamel. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 164 (2), 371–393. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.23279.
Viner, S., J. Evans, U. Albarella & M. Parker Pearson (2010) Cattle mobility in prehistoric Britain: strontium isotope analysis of cattle teeth from Durrington Walls (Wiltshire, Britain). Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (11), 2812–2820. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.06.017.
Whittle, A. (1997) Moving on and moving around: Neolithic settlement mobility. In: Neolithic Landscapes. Ed. by P. Topping. Neolithic Studies Group Seminar Papers 2. Oxford: Oxbow, 15–22.
Stable isotopes; zooarchaeology; data analysis, statistics and visualisation; computer applications in archaeology
When Did the Cows Come Home?
Grant from the NERC Environmental Isotope Facility, British Geological Survey, for isotope analysis of cattle, sheep and pig remains from sites in Lincolnshire to explore Bronze Age animal husbandry and grazing. Project Principal Investigator: Professor Hannah O'Regan, University of Nottingham; Co-Investigators: Professor Jane Evans & Dr Angela Lamb, British Geological Survey.