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I have worked on a wide range of projects across the UK and in Europe, excavating and recording cemeteries and skeletal assemblages which range in date from the Neolithic to the 19th century. Here are some highlights.

Early Monastic Site and Graveyard

I am the project osteoarchaeologist for a community excavation led by Dr Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology on the Isle of Lismore which has run over several seasons since 2015. Traditionally, it is believed that Christianity was introduced to the island by St Moluag in AD 561 who established a monastic community. An adult male skeleton of 7th to 8th century date was recovered during 2018 within the bounds of an old cemetery wall. A further sixteen burials recovered during 2021 will be osteologically analysed prior to radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis. The assemblage of human remains, which comprises both inhumation burials and disarticulated material, is notable for its good preservation which is unusual in the west coast of Scotland.

A recent open day at the McManus Museum in Dundee explored the life and death of a Pictish man from the cemetery at Lundin Links, Fife.  ©EUFA
A Holographic Biography of Murder

This project is a multi-disciplinary collaboration led by Dr Elena Kranioti of the University of Edinburgh between forensic anthropologists, archaeologists and artists which uses cutting edge forensic methodology to attempt to reconstruct the events leading up to fatal injuries on selected skeletons from a variety of periods. Violence is explored through a variety of artistic mediums including painting and sculpture.

The Ferry Fryston chariot burial revealed. © Oxford Archaeology
An Iron Age Chariot Burial

The excavation, post-excavation analysis and publication of an intact Iron Age chariot. The chariot was discovered towards the end of a major archaeological project in advance of the A1(M) widening in north Yorkshire. The burial was radiocarbon dated to the middle Iron Age and was associated with the burial of an adult male. Survival of wood and leather was extremely good and allowed us to piece together many construction details.

Excavation of the mass burial at Ridgeway Hill. © Oxford Archaeology
A Viking Mass Burial

This mass burial was discovered in 2009 during archaeological work by Oxford Archaeology in advance of the construction of the Weymouth Relief Road. A large pit contained the skeletal remains of approximately 50 Vikings, all of whom had been decapitated. Nothing comparable has ever been excavated and the discovery is therefore of international significance. The detailed report has now been published and the mass burial continues to capture the imagination of the public. It has been the subject of several television documentaries and was the inspiration for an opera entitled ‘The Chalk Legend.’

St Leonard’s leper hospital, skeleton 69, rhino-maxillary changes. © Angela Boyle
A medieval cemetery at St Leonard’s leper hospital

Osteological analysis of an assemblage of 131 skeletons and substantial quantities of disarticulated material was carried out at the request of York Archaeological Trust in 2017. Both the layout of the cemetery and the radiocarbon dates suggest two periods of use: the first dating to the 11th-12th century relating to the foundation and early use of the hospital as a leprosarium; the second dating to the 15th-16th centuries,and representing the later medieval use of the hospital for the poor as well as for suffererers of leprosy. 

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