PhD Research

Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences
University of Bradford

For my PhD I returned to the university of Bradford, and Gerry McDonnell. I was again fortunate to be funded by the AHRC. My research focused on iron knives from the early medieval period (c. AD 410-1100). Using metallographic examination I investigated manufacturing methods, iron working and heat-treating techniques, alloy use, wear and repair, recycling and placed this information into its early medieval context.

During the PhD I was very independent in the department. So I really enjoyed the many conferences I attended, and often took the opportunity to present my research (both PhD and Masters). I also enjoyed the demonstrating and teaching I undertook, especially for the archaeometallurgy modules.

I have also taken part in outside activities. I joined the Historical Metallurgy Society as an active member and helped catalogue the national slag collection. I have also helped out at a number of conferences, including the World of Iron Conference in London and the HMS Experimental conference at West Dean.

The title of my PhD thesis is ‘The Early Medieval Cutting Edge of Technology: An archaeometallurgical, technological and social study of the manufacture and use of Anglo-Saxon and Viking iron knives, and their contribution to the early medieval iron economy’.

Master’s Degree in Science
'Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials'

Institute of Archaeology,
University College of London

Distinction (Overall Mark 74.8%)

For my masters I decided to move to another university to experience different teaching methods and points of view, plus Bradford offered few new modules for Masters students. This was another brilliant decision in my life. My time at the Institute of Archaeology allowed me to learn far more about ancient technology and the methods for studying it, but also allowed me to grow as an individual while having fun at the same time.

The core module Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials (73%) combined studies in theoretical archaeology and scientific techniques, using both individual research and group projects. During this module we were trained to use a variety of techniques during a mini project including SEM-EDS and XRF, ready for the dissertation project.

As well as the main module there were plenty of other module options. To follow on from my experiences with the Technology Team at Portsmouth I decided to do both archaeometallurgy modules I and II (73.5%) and the module glasses, glasses and frits (70%). In addition to these technology modules I also took the opportunity to study computing and statistics with Clive Orton (71%). I also took the opportunity to sit in on many medieval archaeology modules at the Institute of Archaeology, taught by Andrew Reynolds and Martin Welch.

The thesis written during the summer of 2007 was entitled, ‘Slag Inclusions and the Quest for Provenance: Slag and Slag Inclusions from  Iron Smelting Experiments and their Application in Slag Inclusion Analyses of Artefacts from Tell Hammeh, Jordan and Tel Beth-Shemesh, Israel’.

This research was based on an idea in Sarah Paynter’s paper ‘Regional Variations in Bloomery Smelting Slag of the Iron Age and Romano-British Periods’ where she suggested that slag inclusions would most likely relate more closely to the slag than the ore source. To test this theory I used the raw materials, slag and metal with slag inclusions from a number of well documented smelting experiments. Then using the data collected slag inclusions in artefacts from the sites of Tell Hammeh, Jordan and Tel Beth-Shemesh, Israel were analysed and compared to smelting slag from Hammeh.

Bachelor of Science
'Archaeological Science'

Department of Archaeological Sciences
University of Bradford

1st Class with Honours (Overall Mark 76.4%)

During my degree at the department of archaeological science in Bradford I had and took the opportunity to study a wide variety of subjects both archaeological but also scientific. The course covered all archaeological science techniques; geophysics, metallurgy, dating, conservation, artefact analysis, biomolecule research, instrumental techniques as well as the basics of environmental sampling, excavation and post-excavation techniques.

Modules in the first year and the summer field school at Whithorn reinforced my archaeological knowledge gained during summer volunteer excavations at the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project in Norfolk. Some of my highest marks came from archaeological based which taught project management (Monuments and Landscapes 100%) and post-excavation techniques (Archaeological, Theory and Method 76%). I also undertook many cultural modules such as Archaeology of the British Isles (69.6%), Introduction to World Archaeology (70.5%) and Roman Britain (67.2%).

However my particular interest has always been in the Archaeological Sciences, and the course at Bradford exposed me to a range of different scientific techniques. I gained hands on experience of many scientific techniques and equipment during the instrumental analysis module (75.1%). Individual modules allowed me to fully understand particular techniques such as geophysical prospection (75.1%), chronology and biomolecules research (72%), pyrotechnology and metals (78.6%) and archaeometallurgy (78.5%).

The undergraduate course at Bradford could be extended to allow the student to take a placement year. This was one of the best decisions of my life. For the first 6 months I worked with the English Heritage Technology Team at Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth. For the remaining 6 months I worked in the University of Bradford laboratories, spending the majority of the time with Dr Gerry McDonnell in the metallurgy lab but also with Dr Ben Stern in the biomolecules lab. After my placement I created posters for other students showing what I had done during my placement, and promptly won 2nd prize.

Following my success both with the English Heritage team and the publication of my article based on an essay in the second year I decided to carry on with my research on Anglo-Saxon iron knives. I therefore analysed ten knives from the Middle Saxon site at Wharram Percy, Yorkshire. For the undergraduate dissertation titled ‘Analysis of knives from the Middle Saxon rural settlement of Wharram Percy, Yorkshire’, I received 86%.