The History and Archaeology Department is based in a modern purpose-built building at the heart of the University's main Chester Campus. The Department of History and Archaeology has very good links with heritage, museum and archive agencies within the city of Chester, from which students are able to benefit during the course of their studies. The Department is also one of the leading research units within the University. The research interests and specialisms of the Department are diverse, ranging over the medieval, early modern and modern periods, and over local, British, European, American and international history.

Recent Submissions

  • Coins and Cosmologies in Iron Age Western Britain

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018)
    Using an approach derived from material culture studies and semiotics, this speculative paper addresses possible relationships between humans and horses in the British Iron Age. Through a study of dominance of horse imagery found on Iron Age British coinage, specifically the Western coins traditionally attributed to the ‘Dobunni’, the author explores what these coins may be able to inform us regarding the possible relationships between humans and horses and their personhood therein. Drawing on wider evidence including faunal remains and other horse-related metalwork, it is argued that these coins could be interpreted as a manifestation of the complex perspectives surrounding a symbiotic relationship between humans and horses.
  • Translational Public Archaeology? Archaeology, social benefit, and working with offenders in Wales (Part 2)

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-06-05)
    This article reports on a second case study in the relationship between archaeology and social benefit through working with young offenders in Wales. Whereas a previous article (Pudney 2018), focused on the MORTARIA Project - an archaeological education project engaging adult offenders in South Wales - this study explores the distinctive methods and challenges faced by the subsequent Heritage Graffiti Project (HGP). This project faced similar, but also different, experiences to MORTARIA, involving different skills and technologies, as well as specific artistic engagement with place. The article considers the effectiveness of the HGP before reflecting on the two projects’ shared implications for future, translational public archaeology projects that wish to work with offenders.
  • Humans in the Environment: Plants, Animals and Landscapes in Mesolithic Britain and Ireland

    Overton, Nick J.; Taylor, Barry; University of Manchester; University of Chester (Springer, 2018-05-29)
    Environmental archaeology has historically been central to Mesolithic studies in Britain and Ireland. Whilst processual archaeology was concerned with the economic significance of the environment, post-processual archaeology later rejected economically driven narratives, resulting in a turn away from plant and animal remains. Post-processual narratives focused instead on enigmatic ‘ritual’ items that economic accounts struggled to suitably explain. Processual accounts of landscapes, grounded in economic determinism, were also rejected in favour of explorations of their sociocultural aspects. However, in moving away from plant and animal remains, such accounts lacked the ability to rigorously explore the specificities of particular landscapes and humans actions within them. This paper will bridge this gap by considering how palaeoecological and zooarchaeological analyses can be used to explore human interactions with plants and animals, which were key in developing understandings and relationships that ultimately structured landscapes, influenced past human actions and shaped archaeological assemblages.
  • Rhynie: New Perspectives on Settlement in Pictland in the 5th and 6th centuries AD and the Context of Pictish Symbol Stones

    Gondek, Meggen M.; Noble, Gordon; University of Chester, University of Aberdeen (Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, 2018-01-10)
    This paper offers and update on work at the important high status Pictish site at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire. It highlights the excavation results and puts these into context and examines how the Pictish symbol stones on site may have been key features of this high status secular and ritual complex.
  • Care in the countryside: the theory and practice of therapeutic landscapes in the early twentieth-century

    Hickman, Clare; University of Chester (University of Hertfordshire Press, 2018-05-01)
    In 1945 Jane Whitney, when writing her biography of Geraldine Cadbury visited the Cropwood Open-Air School in Blackwell and described how ‘the sleep-time garden might be the envy of princes, with its fountain in the midst of a green lawn, so that the children took their naps amid the soothing, somnolent plash of falling water’. This evocative description of a princely garden gives an indication of the attention and importance given to gardens associated with such institutions in the early decades of the twentieth-century (Figure 8.1). Cropwood (opened in 1922) was just one of a number of open-air schools and hospitals operating at this time in Blackwell, near Bromsgrove, in the West Midlands. The open-air approach to treating chronic diseases such as tuberculosis became popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century in Britain. It encouraged inmates to spend as much time as possible in the fresh air and sunshine, as both were considered to have curative properties. The 1937 Ordnance Survey (OS) Map depicts a cluster of such institutions - along with Cropwood these were: Hunters Hill Open-Air School (opened 1933), The Uplands (Children’s Convalescent Home, opened 1923), Burcot Grange (annexe to Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital, opened 1936) and the Birmingham and Midland Counties Sanatorium, which became known as the Blackwell Convalescent Home (opened on this site in 1873) (Figure 8.2, 8.3). This chapter will explore this cluster but focus in detail on the gardens associated with Cropwood and the Blackwell Convalescent Home. In particular it will aim to unpick the design and use of these gardens in relation to contemporary medical and social ideas. In so doing, it will illuminate the connections between garden history and histories of health care, which is a growing research area. Historians that have explored this connection in relation to designed green spaces include myself and Sarah Rutherford. Medical historians, particularly Andrew Scull and Linda Bryder, have discussed the hospital landscape in relation to issues such as economics and national efficiency. Similarly, cultural geographers have taken an interest in the concept of ‘therapeutic landscapes’, including the work of Chris Philo on asylums, Hester Parr on mental health and space, and Wil Gesler, who originally coined the term.
  • Excavations at Flixton Island

    Milner, Nicky; Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; University of York; University of Chester; University of Manchester (Quarternary Research Association, 2017-09)
    This chapter outlines the results of fieldwork at Flixton Island
  • Early Holocene wetland succession in Lake Flixton.

    Taylor, Barry; University of Chester (Quarternary Research Association, 2017-09)
    This chapter discusses the evidence for wetland succession during the early Holocene in lake Flixton
  • Archaeological and palaeoenvironmental investigations at Star Carr

    Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; Milner, Nicky; University of Chester; University of Manchester; University of York (Quarternary Research Association, 2017-09)
    This chapter outlines the results of recent archaeological and palaeo-environmental research at Star Carr
  • The Resettlement of the British Landscape: Towards a chronology of Early Mesolithic lithic assemblage types

    Conneller, Chantal; Bayliss, Alex; Milner, Nicky; Taylor, Barry; University of Manchester; Historic England; University of York; University of Chester (Internet Archaeology, 2016-12-13)
    During the Upper Palaeolithic Britain was visited intermittently, perhaps only on a seasonal basis, by groups often operating at the margins of their range. The Early Mesolithic, by contrast, witnessed the start of the permanent occupation of the British landscape, with certain key sites showing evidence for long-lasting occupation from the very start of the period. However, currently our understanding of the timing and tempo of the Mesolithic colonisation and infilling of the landscape is limited because of the paucity of precise radiocarbon measurements. In this article we assess and model existing radiocarbon measurements to refine current typochronological models for the first two millennia of the Holocene. This is a necessary first step towards understanding the Mesolithic resettlement of the British Isles. Our results throw new light on the relationship between the last Upper Palaeolithic 'Long Blade' industries and early Mesolithic assemblages, as well as refining our understanding of the chronology of early Mesolithic assemblage types. Our data also suggest regional patterning to the timing of Mesolithic settlement and throw new light on issues of population movement and adoption of new technologies.
  • The resilience of postglacial hunter-gatherers to abrupt climate change

    Blockley, Simon; Candy, Ian; Matthews, Ian; Langdon, Pete; Langdon, Cath; Palmer, Adrian; Lincoln, Paul; Abrook, Ashley; Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; Bayliss, Alex; MacLeod, Alison; Deeprose, Laura; Darvill, Chris; Kearney, Rebecca; Beavan, Nancy; Staff, Richard; Bamforth, Michael; Taylor, Maisie; Milner, Nicky; Royal Holloway (University of London), Royal Holloway (University of London), Royal Holloway (University of London), University of Southampton, University of Southampton, Royal Holloway (University of London), Royal Holloway (University of London), Royal Holloway (University of London), University of Chester, University of Manchester, Historic England, University of Reading, Lancaster University, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, Kenepuru Science Center, University of Oxford, University of York, University of York, University of York (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-03-23)
    Understanding the resilience of early societies to climate change is an essential part of exploring the environmental sensitivity of human populations. There is significant interest in the role of abrupt climate events as a driver of early Holocene human activity, but there are very few well-dated records directly compared with local climate archives. Here, we present evidence from the internationally important Mesolithic site of Star Carr showing occupation during the early Holocene, which is directly compared with a high-resolution palaeoclimate record from neighbouring lake beds. We show that, once established, there was intensive human activity at the site for several hundred years when the community was subject to multiple, severe, abrupt climate events that impacted air temperatures, the landscape and the ecosystem of the region. However, these results show that occupation and activity at the site persisted regardless of the environmental stresses experienced by this society. The Star Carr population displayed a high level of resilience to climate change, suggesting that postglacial populations were not necessarily held hostage to the flickering switch of climate change. Instead, we show that local, intrinsic changes in the wetland environment were more significant in determining human activity than the large-scale abrupt early Holocene climate events.
  • The application of micro-Raman for the analysis of ochre artefacts from Mesolithic palaeo-lake Flixton

    Needham, Andy; Croft, Shannon; Kröger, Roland; Robson, Harry K.; Rowley, Charlotte C. A.; Taylor, Barry; Gray Jones, Amy; Conneller, Chantal; University of York; University of Chester; University of Manchester (Elsevier, 2017-12-20)
    Ochre is an important mineral pigment used by prehistoric hunter-gatherers across the globe, and its use in the Mesolithic is no exception. Using optical microscopy and Raman spectroscopy with micrometre spatial resolution (micro-Raman), we present evidence that confirms unambiguously the use of ochre by hunter-gatherers at Mesolithic sites surrounding Palaeo-Lake Flixton, Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire, UK. Our results suggest that people collected ochre and processed it in different ways, likely for diverse purposes. The quality and specificity of chemical characterisation possible with micro-Raman facilitates new avenues for further research on ochreous materials in Britain, including provenancing through chemical ‘fingerprinting’.
  • A Bone-Disc Nail Cleaner from South-East Wales

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (2017-05)
    This short paper focuses on a late Iron Age/early Roman copper-alloy nail cleaner discovered during the excavations of Llanmelin Wood Camp hillfort, near Newport (S. Wales), in 2012. The nail-cleaner is to date a rare find west of the River Wye and as such, the author assess the wider chronological and social significance and implications.
  • Socio-semiotics and the symbiosis of humans, horses, and objects in later Iron Age Britain

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-03-14)
    Using an approach derived from material culture studies and semiotics, this paper addresses possible relationships between humans and horses in the British Iron Age.Through a study of the dominance of horse imagery found on Iron Age British coinage, specifically the Western coinage traditionally attributed to the 'Dobunni', the author explores how it may reflect possible relationships between humans and horses and their personhood therein. Drawing on wider faunal and metalwork evidence it is argued that these coins could be interpreted as a manifestation of the complex perspectives surrounding a symbiotic relationship between humans and horses.
  • Romans and reducing recidivism: Archaeology, social benefit, and working with offenders in Wales (Part 1)

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-01-30)
    Claims that public and community archaeology can help ‘change lives’ have recently come under criticism. Challenging these critiques, this article explores how archaeology can be socially beneficial in the rehabilitation of offenders. Using a case study from South Wales, the article demonstrates how a prison-based outreach project can offer an innovative trajectory for public archaeology, highlighting the links between archaeology and political agendas. The article challenges the concept of ‘archaeologist-as-social-worker’ and considers the successes and limitations of such an approach, including the challenges of measuring impact. Ultimately, it demonstrates that archaeology-based activities can provide positive life experiences for offenders but only through a successful partnership between heritage and offender management specialists, as part of a wider programme of support and intervention.
  • Curiosity and Instruction: British and Irish Botanic Gardens and their Audiences, 1760–1800

    Hickman, Clare; University of Chester (White Horse Press, 2018-02)
    The physic garden, associated with medical institutions and predominantly for the purpose of training medical students, or for the growing of commercial drugs by apothecaries, was transformed across Europe in the late-eighteenth century. New botanic gardens were created that were organised for the benefit of new audiences extending beyond medical students to those interested in botanical science, agricultural improvements and seeing at first-hand new botanic introductions from around the globe.
  • The garden as a laboratory: the role of domestic gardens as places of scientific exploration in the long 18th century

    Hickman, Clare; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2014-06-24)
    Eighteenth-century gardens have traditionally been viewed as spaces designed for leisure, and as representations of political status, power and taste. In contrast, this paper will explore the concept that gardens in this period could be seen as dynamic spaces where scientific experiment and medical practice could occur. Two examples have been explored in the pilot study which has led to this paper — the designed landscapes associated with John Hunter’s Earl’s Court residence, in London, and the garden at Edward Jenner’s house in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Garden history methodologies have been implemented in order to consider the extent to which these domestic gardens can be viewed as experimental spaces.
  • Subsistence, environment and Mesolithic landscape archaeology

    Taylor, Barry; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2018-02-07)
    Since the 1970’s research into Mesolithic landscapes has been heavily influenced by economic models of human activity where patterns of settlement and mobility result from the relationship between subsistence practices and the environment. However, in reconstructing these patterns we have tended to generalise both the modes of subsistence and the temporal and spatial variability of the environment, and ignored the role that cultural practices played in the way subsistence tasks were organised. Whilst more recent research has emphasised the importance that cultural practices played in the way landscapes were perceived and understood, these have tended to underplay the role of subsistence and have continued to consider the environment in a very generalised manner. This paper argues that we can only develop detailed accounts of Mesolithic landscapes by looking at the specific forms of subsistence practice and the complex relationships they created with the environment. It will also show that the inhabitation of Mesolithic landscapes was structured around cultural attitudes to particular places and to the environment, and that this can be seen archaeologically through practices of deposition and recursive patterns of occupation at certain sites.
  • Scales of analysis: evidence of fish and fish processing at Star Carr.

    Robson, H.; Little, A.; Jones, A.; Blockley, S.; Candy, I.; Matthews, I.; Palmer, A.; Schreve, D.; Tong, E.; Pomstra, D.; Fletcher, L.; Haussman, N.; Taylor, B.; Conneller, C.; Milner, N.; University of York, University of York, University of York, Royal Holloway University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, University of York. Leiden University, University of York, University of York, University of Chester, University of Manchester, University of York (Elsevier, 2016-02-17)
    This contribution directly relates to the paper published by Wheeler in 1978 entitled ‘Why were there no fish remains at Star Carr?’. Star Carr is arguably the richest, most studied and re-interpreted Mesolithic site in Europe but the lack of fish remains has continued to vex scholars. Judging from other materials, the preservation conditions at the site in the late 1940s/early 1950s should have been good enough to permit the survival of fish remains, and particularly dentaries of the northern pike (Esox lucius L., 1758) as found on other European sites of this age. The lack of evidence has therefore been attributed to a paucity of fish in the lake. However, new research has provided multiple lines of evidence, which not only demonstrate the presence of fish, but also provide evidence for the species present, data on how and where fish were being processed on site, and interpretations for the fishing methods that might have been used. This study demonstrates that an integrated approach using a range of methods at landscape, site and microscopic scales of analysis can elucidate such questions. In addition, it demonstrates that in future studies, even in cases where physical remains are lacking, forensic techniques hold significant potential.
  • A unique engraved shale pendant from the site of Star Carr

    Milner, N.; Bamforth, M.; Beale, G.; Carty, J.; Chatzipanagis, K.; Croft, S.; Elliott, B.; Fitton, L.; Knight, B.; Kröger, R.; Little, A.; Needham, A.; Robson, H.; Rowley, C.; Taylor, B.; University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of Manchester, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of Chester (Internet Archaeology, 2016-02-26)
    In 2015 an engraved shale pendant was found during excavations at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr, UK. Engraved motifs on Mesolithic pendants are extremely rare, with the exception of amber pendants from southern Scandinavia. The artwork on the pendant is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain; the 'barbed line' motif is comparable to styles on the Continent, particularly in Denmark. When it was first uncovered the lines were barely visible but using a range of digital imaging techniques it has been possible to examine them in detail and determine the style of engraving as well as the order in which the lines might have been made. In addition, microwear and residue analyses were applied to examine whether the pendant showed signs that it had been strung or worn, and whether the lines had been made more visible through the application of pigments, as has been suggested for some Danish amber pendants. This approach of using multiple scientific and analytical techniques has not been used previously and provides a methodology for the examination of similar artefacts in the future.
  • US Foreign Policy in the Horn of Africa: From Colonialism to Terrorism

    Jackson, Donna; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-10-30)
    Examining American foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa between 1945 and 1991, this book uses Ethiopia and Somalia as case studies to offer an evaluation of the decision-making process during the Cold War, and consider the impact that these decisions had upon subsequent developments both within the Horn of Africa and in the wider international context. The decision-making process is studied, including the role of the president, the input of his advisers and lower level officials within agencies such as the State Department and National Security Council, and the parts played by Congress, bureaucracies, public opinion, and other actors within the international environment, especially the Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Somalia. Jackson examines the extent to which influences exerted by forces other than the president affected foreign policy, and provides the first comprehensive analysis of American foreign policy towards Ethiopia and Somalia throughout the Cold War. This book offers a fresh perspective on issues such as globalism, regionalism, proxy wars, American aid programmes, anti-communism and human rights. It will be of great interest to students and academics in various fields, including American foreign policy, American Studies and Politics, the history of the Cold War, and the history of the Horn of Africa during the modern era.

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