All members of the Canterbury Christ Church University archaeology team are active researchers. Our expertise spans later prehistory through the Roman and medieval periods to the Reformation.

We also have extensive experience in practical aspects of archaeology, including excavation, geophysical survey methods, artefact analysis, skeletal studies, and laboratory techniques.

Current research projects and themes cover a wide range of topics, from ancient clay technology to Romano-British martyrs.

Prehistoric ceramics

Pottery is one of the most frequent and informative types of artefacts from archaeological sites. Ongoing research by Dr Emilie Sibbesson investigates aspects of the making and use of the earliest pottery in Britain: Early Neolithic bowls. Dr Sibbesson is the Secretary of the Prehistory Ceramics Research Group (follow the PCRG on Twitter: @PrehistCeramics).

Related publications:

Sibbesson, E., Jervis, B., and Coxon, S. (eds.) 2016. Insight from Innovation: New Light on Archaeological Ceramics. Papers in Honour of Professor David Peacock. (Southampton: Highfield Press).

Sibbesson, E. 2014. Transformations in cookery and clay: the first thousand years of pottery in prehistoric Oxfordshire. In M. McWilliams (ed.) Food & Material Culture. Proceedings of the 2013 Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery. (Totnes: Prospect Books).

Sibbesson, E. 2012. Social fabrics: People and pottery at Early Neolithic Kilverstone, Norfolk. In H. Anderson-Whymark and J. Thomas (eds.) Regional Perspectives on Neolithic Pit Deposition: Beyond the Mundane. (Oxford: Oxbow).

The British Neolithic

This programme of research focuses on aspects of the Neolithic period of British prehistory, including food culture, the human body, and the transition from the Mesolithic.

Related publications:

Jones, A.M. and Sibbesson, E. 2013. Archaeological complexity: Materials, multiplicity and the transitions to agriculture in Britain. In B. Alberti, A.M. Jones, and J. Pollard (eds.) Archaeology After Interpretation: Returning Materials to Archaeological Theory. (Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press).

Bickle, P. and Sibbesson, E. (eds.) forthcoming. Neolithic Bodies. (Oxford: Oxbow).

Sibbesson, E. forthcoming. Consuming bodies: Bowls, food and fire in Early Neolithic Britain. In P. Bickle and E. Sibbesson (eds.) Neolithic Bodies. (Oxford: Oxbow).

Palaeodietary reconstruction

Food production, processing, and consumption are both social activities and biological necessities. Therefore archaeological study of food can shed light on many different aspects of life in the past. This programme of research explores the techniques we use to reconstruct ancient diets and how such data can be interpreted in socially meaningful ways.

Related publications:

Sibbesson, E. 2015. Spread of food technology and ideas about food. In K.B. Metheny and M. Beaudry (eds.) The Archaeology of Food: An Encyclopedia. (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield).

Sibbesson, E. 2015. Modern techniques of palaeodietary reconstruction. In K. Albala (ed.) Food Issues: An Encyclopedia. (Thousand Oaks: SAGE Reference).

Telling Time: Oscar Montelius and Britain

Swedish archaeologist Oscar Montelius (1843-1921) was an instrumental figure in late 19th and early 20th century European archaeology. Based on extensive study of museum collections across Europe, he developed an influential chronology for the Scandinavian Bronze Age. Later on he applied this chronological framework, with regional adjustments, to other parts of Europe. Some of these chronologies have since been confirmed by radiocarbon dating and are still in use today. Throughout his career Montelius corresponded extensively with scholars across Europe, including several key figures early British archaeology. However, Montelius’ connections with British scholars are poorly understood. In this project, Dr Emilie Sibbesson explores what the material held in the Montelius collection in the Antiquarian-Topographical Archive in Stockholm may tell us about the history of archaeology in Britain. The project has received funding from the Society of Antiquaries of London.


Hidden Landscape of a Roman Frontier

This project, carried out in collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland (HES; formerly Historic Scotland) and led by Dr Darrell J. Rohl (CCCU) and Dr Lyn Wilson (HES), focuses on the landscape archaeology, history, and heritage management of the Antonine Wall, an UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Scotland.

The project builds upon more than a century of archaeological investigation along the line of this former Roman frontier, and especially seeks to integrate data collected in the course of Darrell J. Rohl’s (2014) Durham University PhD thesis as well as the Antonine Wall LiDAR and terrestrial laser scanning data collected by the Scottish Ten Project.

From October 2015, Drs Rohl and Wilson have been co-supervising CCCU Archaeology PhD student Nick Hannon on his 3-year co-funded PhD studentship devoted to this project.

Related Publications:

Hannon, N., Rohl, D.J., and Wilson, L. (forthcoming) The Antonine Wall Distance Slabs and LiDAR as Metric Survey: Shedding new Light on a World Heritage Site. Journal of Roman Archaeology.

Rohl, D.J. 2014, More than a Roman Monument: A Place-centred Approach to the Long-term History and Archaeology of the Antonine Wall. PhD thesis, Department of Archaeology, Durham University.

Roman and Late Antique Jordan

Tall Hisban is a multi-millennial ancient “tell” site in central Jordan, featuring a 5,000+ year occupational history, and overlooking the Jordan River Valley and Dead Sea. Extensive fieldwork over nearly 50 years has identified cycles of intensification and abatement in the local and regional food system, and current research seeks to explore the diachronic production of culture and place that corresponds to ups and downs in this cycle. A particular peak of intensive agriculture and settlement stretches from the Roman through Byzantine periods, and the site featured a Roman period temple and three Byzantine basilica churches. Dr Darrell J. Rohl is currently working to complete the synthetic interpretive volume for the site’s late Roman and Byzantine layers as part of the Hisban Final Publication Series (Andrews University Press). In addition, he is preparing new excavations of the c. 5th century Hisban North Church, to commence in summer 2018.

Settlement and Landscape in late Roman and early medieval Wales

This programme of research focuses on the settlement archaeology and landscapes of Wales c. 300 – 1100 AD. Current research activities include excavations at Dinas Powys, an internationally significant defended settlement in the eastern Vale of Glamorgan, and a programme of high resolution pollen analysis focused on understanding the Roman to early medieval transition in south-east Wales.

Related Publications:

Seaman, A. 2016, ‘Defended Settlement in Early Medieval Wales: Problems of Presence, Absence and Interpretation’, in N. Christie and H. Herold (eds.) Fortified Settlements in Early Medieval Europe: Defended Communities of the 8th-10th Centuries (Oxford: Oxbow), 37-50.

Seaman, A. 2016, Reconstructing a Medieval Welsh Landscape: Exploring the Evidence of Nineteenth Century Field-Names and Land-Use Data in Landscape Archaeology.

Seaman, A., Davies, T. and Davis, O. 2015, 'The Eastern Vale of Glamorgan Palaeoenvironmental Resource Assessment Project: Summary Report', Archaeology in Wales 54, 164-167.

Seaman, A. and Lane, A. 2013, ’Dinas Powys Revisited: A Preliminary Note on Recent Research at Dinas Powys Promontory and Tyn y Coed Earthworks’, Archaeology in Wales 52, 140-1.

Seaman, A. 2013, 'Dinas Powys in Context: Settlement and Society in Post-Roman Wales', Studia Celtica 47, 1-23.

Seaman, A. 2012, 'The Multiple Estate Model Re-Considered: Power and Territory in Early Medieval Wales', Welsh History Review 26, 163-185.

Seaman, A. 2011, 'Towards a Predictive Model of Early Medieval Settlement Location: A Case Study from the Vale of Glamorgan', Medieval Settlement Research 25, 12- 22.

Christianity and the Early Church in Western Britain

This programme of research focuses on examining the origins and development of Christian communities in Wales and Western Britain. Current research activities include excavations at Mount St Albans in Monmouthshire, and a detailed examination of the cult of Julius and Aaron – Wales’ first named Christians.

Related Publications:

Seaman, A. 2016, ‘La religión en Britania’, Desperta Ferro Antiqua y Medieval 36, 46-51.

Seaman, A. 2015, 'Julius and Aaron, 'Martyrs of Caerleon': In Search of Wales' First Christian', Archaeologia Cambrensis 164, 201-219.

Seaman, A. 2014, ‘Tempora Christiana? Conversion and Christianization in Western Britain AD 300-700’, Church Archaeology 16, 1-22.

Seaman, A. 2007, 'Christianity, Conversion and the Late-Roman Transition in South East Wales', Archaeologia Cambrensis, 155, 145-152.

Medieval death, burial, and the body

Through integrating osteological, archaeological, and documentary evidence, this research explores how later medieval monastic communities treated their dead, and their attitudes to the dead body itself from fresh cadaver to skeletal matter. An important element of this research is exploring the relationship between text and practice – how did the written ‘rules’ for the treatment of the dead translate into the actual practice, as seen through the funerary archaeology evidence?

Related publications:

In press. Archaeologies of rules and regulation: between text and practice (edited by B. Hausmair, B. Jervis, R. Nugent and E. Williams) (Oxford: Berghahn) (publication date June 2017).

In press. 'Medieval monastic text and the treatment of the dead: an archaeothanatological perspective on adherence to the Cluniac customaries'. In B. Hausmair, B. Jervis, R. Nugent and E. Williams (eds.), Archaeologies of rules and regulation: between text and practice (Oxford: Berghahn) (publication date June 2017).

Williams, E. 2012. Rites funéraires Clunisiens: un examen des recherches antérieures et une proposition pour de futurs travaux. In D. Hanquiez and A. Petit (eds.), Saint-Leu-d'Esserent et l'implantation monastique dans la basse vallée de l'Oise. Amiens: CAHMER, 59-70.

Faunal foodways in Amara West, north Sudan

Dr Ellie Williams is collaborating with Dr Jaco Weinstock (University of Southampton) on the British Museum Amara West Project, Northern Sudan. Through a detailed zooarchaeological assessment of many thousands of animal bones, they are helping explore questions of daily life in this New Kingdom Egyptian town. They are currently working on publications.


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Last edited: 21/04/2020 11:41:00