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Predicting and protecting lithic landscapes

Archaeology and Ancient History

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Dr L Basell No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Leicester United Kingdom Ancient History Archaeology History

About the Project

This project seeks to characterise the significance and extent of Dartmoor’s prehistoric subsurface archaeology, to inform future landscape management practices and to raise local and national awareness about this valuable heritage. The studentship offers a unique opportunity to explore the relationships between archaeological research, land management and conservation. The project is needed now as Dartmoor’s buried prehistoric archaeology faces significant impacts from the growing scale and frequency of landscape-scale conservation initiatives (e.g. afforestation, peat-restoration, natural flood management). Additionally, land-management schemes and subsidies post-Brexit are being reconfigured and trialled with anticipated realisation in 2025 (e.g. DEFRA’s “Environmental Land Management Scheme” (ELMS); the National Parks’ “Farming and Rural Management Scheme” (FARMS)). This CDA research will be well-placed to directly inform such schemes’ approaches to prehistoric heritage.

The DNPA has identified the transition from hunter-gatherer to farming lifeways as a research priority because so little is known about this period on Dartmoor compared to later prehistoric archaeology. From the first Homo sapiens hunter-gatherers (~44,000 years ago (Higham et al. 2011)) to the earliest agriculturalists (~4500 years ago), the dominant source of archaeological evidence is lithics. Lithics are currently excluded from protection by existing agri-environment schemes which focus on upstanding/visible archaeology. Surface finds and nineteenth century excavations demonstrate significant early activity relating to these remote periods and tantalising glimpses of archaeology concealed beneath peat and other superficial deposits.

Recent excavations of dense lithic scatters in SW England have demonstrated associations with ephemeral subsurface features including post-holes, hearths and pits (e.g. Hawkcombe Head (Gardiner et a. 2011), Wintershead (Bray 2015)). These features provide important information about early hunter-gatherers’ lifeways and palaeoenvironments. Elsewhere in Britain later farming practices have negatively impacted the survival of such features (especially deep ploughing), but on Dartmoor predominantly pastoral farming has meant less ground disturbance and potentially a higher chance of feature survival. However, there has never been a comprehensive assessment of Dartmoor's prehistoric lithics that explores their changing uses and meanings through time; or investigated their abundance, distribution and significance.

Funding details: Midlands4Cities funding, 4 years fees and stipend.

Please Note: International applicants will be eligible for tuition fees at the UK rate only and a stipend to support living costs.

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject.

You should either hold a Masters qualification at the time of application or be able to state that you will have completed one by the time your PhD begins

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable.

Application advice

To apply please refer to the application advice here.

Project / Funding Enquiries: Dr Laura Basell [Email Address Removed]

Application enquiries to [Email Address Removed]

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