Welcome to our new DPhil students :)

Hello all the EngLaID blog readers, new and old! Now that the project has entered its second year with the start of a new university term this October, we would like to welcome three new members to our team – our three new DPhil students on the English Landscapes and Identities project. Each DPhil student will be focusing on a different aspect of the overall project, using the incredible dataset that we have gathered so far to explore specific aspects of landscapes and identities. We are very lucky to have them – not only because they seem very nice people and the amount of pub visits in the name of team building has certainly seen an exponential increase, but also because we are confident that they will bring many important contributions to the project. As you can read below, each of them has had an interesting and varied archaeological career until now, and we can only hope that they will continue to enjoy their involvement with the EngLaId project (save, perhaps, during the final parts of the writing up stage, but that is nearly three years away…).

So, a warm welcome to our new students (from left to right, Victoria Donnelly, Dan Stansbie and Sarah Mallet), and the best of luck to them over the next three years! And over to them to introduce themselves and say a little bit about their individual research projects…

From left to right: Victoria Donnelly (who will be looking at grey literature for her DPhil thesis), Dan Stansbie (who will be looking at pottery production and food) and Sarah Mallet (whose research will focus on food consumption through analysis of stable isotopes).

Victoria: Hello, my name is Victoria Donnelly and I’m one of the new DPhil students on the EngLaID project.  I’m very excited about the opportunity to work on this project and be part of such a great team.  Please let me introduce myself by saying a little bit about my background and how I ended up on this project.  I was born in England but grew up in Canada which means that at some level questions about Englishness and identity have been part of my life for some time – such as do I call that a trash can or the bin?  I returned to the UK to study, getting my MPhil in later prehistoric archaeology from Cambridge.  After that I thought it would be a great idea to get into the field and get muddy!  I have since worked for a variety of field units over the years, including the Cambridge Archaeological Unit and the Museum of London Archaeology Service (now MoLA), and finally ended up spending several years as a consultant archaeologist for Arup (a large multi-national engineering firm for those of you who have never come across them).  I have been involved in a number of really fascinating projects over the years but I was definitely ready for another challenge when I read about the DPhil opportunities on the EngLaID project.  As someone who has worked in many different facets of commercial archaeology, as well as having an academic background, I find questions regarding the process of conducting archaeological work in both an academic and a commercial framework very interesting.  Much of the data for this project is being sourced from grey literature, a term for ‘unpublished’ site report material, which includes evaluation and excavation reports produced as part of developer-funded field work.  My DPhil topic is examining variations in the form and quality of grey literature and what influences these variations, such as changes in legislation and planning law at the local, regional and national levels.  I’ve got lots of ideas I’d like to explore on this topic and I’m very excited to get started.  Other than settling into life in Oxford, my October so far has been focused on meeting the team, learning more about the project and doing a lot of reading!  I’ve started with works on the topic of commercial archaeology, field work and the production of grey literature as well as reading related to the history and philosophy of science regarding the nature of data and data collection.  If anyone has any suggestions of something I might find useful to read, please let me know!  All three of us new students will be updating the blog on our progress on a regular basis and we’d greatly appreciate any feedback or input you readers may have.  Finally, hello to the EngLaID blog readers out there and it’s very nice to meet you all.  I’ll speak (or type) to you again soon!”  

Dan: “My name is Dan Stansbie and like Vicky I’ve spent time working in commercial archaeology before getting involved in the Englaid project. My undergraduate and Masters level education was at Cardiff University, where I was very lucky to be taught by Niall Sharples, Peter Guest and the late John Evans, who in different ways inspired my interests in prehistory, the Romans, material culture, landscape and archaeological theory. After leaving Cardiff I worked briefly in commercial archaeology in the Bristol area, before getting a training post with English Heritage, working on the stratigraphic analysis of the Stanwick project in Northamptonshire. Since then, until joining the EngLaId team I’ve worked in post-excavation for Oxford Archaeology, writing up large and small scale excavation reports, with a focus on the Iron Age and Roman periods and recording Iron Age and Roman pottery. The last month seems to have been packed with social events involving silly costumes (see photo…) and large amounts of free food and drink, along with reading on the themes of identity, food and material culture. But things seem to settling down into more of a routine now. I’m sensing food is going to be a major factor here……”

Sarah: “My name is Sarah Mallet. I completed both my M.A and M.Litt in Medieval History and Archaeology at the University of St Andrews, in bonnie Scotland, where I discovered a passion for early medieval Britain, archaeological theory and drinking whisky. Following what could be described as the worst career plan ever, I decided to put my knowledge of Gildas and post-Roman Britain to good use by going to work in… Peru: I spent six months as an intern in a national park in the Cordillera Blanca to help redesign their conservation project for archaeological remains. Despite the slightly unnerving lack of Anglo-Saxons in this new life, this experience opened up many new ways to think about the past and our relationship with it. For example, investigating how Andean communities related to their environments made me realise how, as an archaeologist and historian, I had often taken for granted that the landscape was just there rather than considering the dynamic relationship between a people and its surroundings. Furthermore, living with 5 biologists in the beautiful Parque Nacional Huascaran, I learnt more about biology than I ever envisioned learning and it got me thinking about the potential of bio-archaeology. I had been interested in archaeological science since finishing my undergraduate studies, as I felt the papers and reports I was reading were increasingly relying on scientific methods. I thus decided to do an MSc in Archaeological Science at Oxford University; it was a particularly intensive year, rediscovering the joy of chemistry and physics, and an invaluable learning experience. 

My DPhil project within EngLaId is to investigate food consumption through the studies of stable isotopes, meaning that I’ll be using bone chemistry to understand past diets. I also hope to get samples from animal and plant remains to look at food production and resources management, but at the moment, I am mostly reading about landscape theory and British prehistory!”