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Iron Age Research Group Projects

ENTRANS: Encounters and transformations in Iron Age Europe (2013-2016)

Urn from Tumulus

Professor Armit is PI on this collaborative project with colleagues from the Universities of Ljubljana and Zagreb (along with several other partners), investigating the nature of Iron Age cultural identities in the East Alpine region, between the social worlds of Mediterranean and temperate Europe.

Following initial networking grants, c. €1M has been awarded by HERA and the European Commission to support work from 2013-2016. The project is managed by Dr Lindsey Büster and includes PhD researchers Rebecca Nicholls, Pete Turner and Beatriz Bastos.

Iron Age Lives in Britain and Ireland

Professor Armit is currently working on a book, to be published by Routledge, based on a new analysis of the later prehistoric period in Britain and Ireland.

Iron Age landscapes of southern France

Iron Age Landscape of Southern France

Since 2007, Bradford archaeologists directed by Professor Ian Armit have been working on a programme of collaborative fieldwork examining the societal and landscape context of hillfort development in the southern French Iron Age.

So far, this has included geophysical prospection and topographic survey, with Dr Chris Gaffney, at the iconic site of Entremont, near Aix-en-Provence (funded by the Society of Antiquaries), in collaboration with Dr Patrice Arcelin of CNRS, the oppidum of Le Castellan and open site of Vigne Gaste, Istres (British Academy), in collaboration with Dr Frédéric Marty of the Musée d’Istres, and a programme of archaeomagnetic dating on the oppidum of Verduron, Marseille (Nuffield Foundation) in collaboration with Dr Loup Bernard of the University of Strasbourg.

Later prehistoric landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales (2012-2017)

This collaborative project with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust aims to develop greater understandings of the later prehistoric land boundary systems of the Dales and to develop fieldwork methods to improve research in this area. It is funded by AHRC and involves the work of PhD students, Hannah Brown and Mary Saunders.

Megara Hyblaea

Megara Hyblaea: colonial encounters and emerging urbanism in Iron Age Sicily

Megara Hyblaea

Collaboration with CNRS began in 2011 with the first of three seasons of geophysical survey investigating the nature of space and planning at the archaic Greek colony of Megara Hyblaea in Sicily. The work is funded by CNRS and the École Française de Rome.

Mobility, Climate and Culture

This collaborative project was directed by Professor Ian Armit with palaeo-climatologist Dr Graeme Swindles (University of Leeds) and managed by post-doctoral researcher, Dr Katharina Becker, formerly of University College Dublin.

It examined the changing picture of the Irish Iron Age made possible by 20 years of development-led archaeology, and examined cultural and demographic shifts during the 1st millennia BC and AD in relation to changes in the palaeoenvironmental record. Funding was made available through a British Academy BARDA grant.

Old Scatness

The 12 years of excavation at Old Scatness (1995-2006), led by Steve Dockrill and Dr Julie Bond in partnership with Shetland Amenity Trust) revealed an Iron Age Village centred around a broch tower.

This project is currently in the last stages of preparation for publication and has produced exciting new insights into Iron Age society and how this developed from the Middle Iron Age through into the Late Iron Age (Pictish period). An important cultural change occurs in the late 9th century AD with the arrival of the Vikings. The evidence for change is very strong, suggesting an almost complete Scandinavian identity being stamped on the site.

The site spans over two millennia from circa 400BC to the early 20th century and has transformed our understanding of people living in a marginal location and how they responded to changes in environment and climate over time. The site has now been consolidated and is open to the public, with a visitors centre and tour guides.

The Broxmouth Hillfort Project

Broxmouth Hillfort

A five year project (2008-13) has recently completed publication of the major 1970s excavations at Broxmouth hillfort, East Lothian. It was funded by Historic Scotland, and by AHRC through their Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme, which provided three PhD researchers (Mhairi Maxwell, Rachael Reader and Lindsey Büster) funded through its Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme.

The project was directed by Professor Ian Armit and managed by Dr Jo McKenzie.

The Gateway to the Atlantic

The Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland contain settlement foci of long duration which, due to ash midden curation and phases of rebuilding, have resulted in multi period settlement mounds.

Many of these sites are occupied by present day farms, giving rise to the term "farm mound". These sites may span periods of either natural or cultural change. These long sequences provide the opportunity to examine past strategies of resilience and sustainability enabling us to identify adaptive responses to these events together with evidence for continuity and change.

The Gateway to the Atlantic is a new (Bradford led) international research initiative (run as a Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance (GHEA) project) focussing on the human exploitation of the island of Rousay from the Neolithic to the modern day. Research is currently focussing on two sites which have their origins in the Iron Age and contain long sequences of occupation both of which are suffering from coastal erosion. These two multi period mounds Brough (South Howe) and Swandro are providing compatible data sets that can be examined within the context of the known archaeological record and new information obtained by strategic sampling and survey.

The project is led by Dr Steve Dockrill and Dr Julie Bond.

The Geoarchaeology of High Pasture Cave

Since 2003, excavation and survey at High Pasture Cave, Isle of Skye, Scotland, has uncovered a fascinating range of Late Bronze to Iron Age structures and deposits indicating a unique and intensively used ritual site.

Directed by Steven Birch of West Coast Archaeological Services, this is a site of international importance.  A major feature of the High Pasture site are the deeply stratified occupation deposits which surround the Cave itself, rich in bones and fuels, interspersed with hearth structures - the physical debris connected to ritual activity within the cave itself.

Dr Jo McKenzie is directing an integrated programme of soil micromorphological and geoarchaeological analysis focusing on understanding the ritual activity at the Cave through analysis of these soils and the materials contained within, and is a key member of the High Pasture Cave post-excavation collaborative team.

The Sculptor's Cave, Covesea (2013-2016)

Sculptors Cave

The project explores the evidence for later prehistoric ritual and religious activity from the Sculptor's Cave, in north-east Scotland, in the context of cave occupation across Europe and beyond. Historic Scotland are funding a major post-excavation and publication programme on the unpublished 1970s excavations from this Scottish Bronze/Iron Age/Pictish ritual site. The project is managed by Dr Lindsey Büster.

The Wetwang/Garton Slack Project

A large-scale project has recently begun on the analysis and publication of the landscape-scale excavations at Wetwang/Garton Slack, East Yorkshire, carried out from the 1960s to ‘80s. The site contains inter alia Britain’s largest Iron Age cemetery. Following a scoping study in 2010/11, English Heritage funded Stage 1 of the project to consolidate and digistise the extensive archive (2012-4). The project is managed by Rachael Kershaw and includes an affiliated PhD project undertaken by Emily Fioccoprile.