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Lindisfarne Landscapes: Geoarchaeological Approaches to Human-Environment Relations (IAP2-18-160)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr K Milek
  • Application Deadline
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  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is a CASE Project, involving a 6-month work placement with DigVentures.

(Durham University, Archaeology Department)

We invite applications for a CASE NERC IAPETUS 3.5 year fully-funded studentship in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, to be supervised by Drs. Karen Milek and David Petts (Durham University, Archaeology Department), Dr. Lisa-Marie Shillito (Newcastle University, School of History, Classics and Archaeology), and Lisa Wescott Wilkins (DigVentures, CASE placement supervisor).

This project will use a novel suite of geoarchaeological methods to investigate the evolution of the landscape of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne from the start of the Holocene to the present, focussing especially on the reconstruction of the environment and land-use during the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods. Holy Island (Lindisfarne) is a small tidal island on the Northumberland coast, in the north-east of England. It is best known as the site of a major Anglo-Saxon monastery founded in AD 635 by Oswald, King of Northumbria, and Aidan, a monk from Iona, which became a focus for the cult of St. Cuthbert until his relics were removed in AD 875. The island’s undefended monastery and sandy beaches also attracted Viking raiders, and the island is famous as the site of one of the earliest Viking attacks on Britain, in AD 793.

Since 2016, a new archaeological excavation project on the island, a partnership between DigVentures and Durham University, has focussed on the presumed locations of the Anglo-Saxon monastery and vallum. However, the wider landscape beyond the Anglo-Saxon monastery and the medieval priory and village remain poorly understood. The topography, character and dates of the soils buried by the sand dunes in the north and northwest parts of the island, the locations of settlements and field systems (other than Green Shiel), patterns of land use and soil improvement, and when and how The Lough was established and whether it was used by the monastic community for aquaculture, remain unknown. What is clear is that the landscape and open vegetation seen today is substantially different from those of the prehistoric and medieval periods, and has been significantly altered by post-medieval sand dune encroachment, the enclosure of fields in the early 1790s, and the expansion of the village in the 18th-19th century.

This PhD project forms an essential new component of the current investigations at Lindisfarne. Using soil survey and a novel suite of geoarchaeological methods, including soil micromorphology, multi-element analysis by XRF, magnetic susceptibility, and phytolith analysis, the PhD student will survey and analyse the surviving soil and sediment archive on Holy Island in order to model how the landscape has evolved over time, and the how it has been impacted by human settlement and land-use. The six-month placement with CASE Partner DigVentures will provide essential background information about Holy Island, and hands-on training in archaeological field and post-excavation research skills, and digital dissemination skills.

Further information about the project, eligibility and the application process can be found http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/iap2-18-160-lindisfarne-landscapes-geoarchaeological-approaches-to-human-environment-relations-case-partner-project/

All applications must be made by Friday 18th January 2019 at 4 pm (GMT), which is the public deadline for applications that will apply across all of the Partnership.

Funding Notes

Funding for: UK (full funding), EU (excludes maintenance grant)

Funding amount: Research and associated travel expenses, tuition fees, and a tax-free maintenance grant at the UK Research Council’s national rate, which is currently £14,553 per annum

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