Dr Rachel Crellin

Rachel CrellinLeverhulme Early Career Fellow

BA (Cambridge), MA (UCL), PhD (Newcastle upon Tyne), FHEA

Email: rjc65@le.ac.uk

Rachel studied Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge where she developed a keen interest in archaeological theory and material culture. She went to UCL to continue exploring this through an MA in Material and Visual Culture Studies. Rachel started a PhD at Newcastle University in 2011 supervised by Chris Fowler, Andrea Dolfini and Jan Harding; her thesis focused on theoretical approaches to the study of change in prehistory and drew on a study of the transition from the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age on the Isle of Man.

While completing her PhD Rachel worked as the project administrator for the AHRC funded project The Tyne-Forth Prehistory Forum with Chris Fowler and Richard Tipping. The Forum brings together archaeologists involved with research into prehistoric archaeology in north-east England and south-east Scotland. She is currently editing the volume that will come out of the project.

Rachel has worked on the Centre for Manx Studies’ (Liverpool University) annual fieldschools in archaeological excavation techniques on the Isle of Man for the past nine years; during this time she excavated a range of sites including a Cistercian monastery, Bersu’s Iron Age round houses and a World War I internment camp. Following her PhD, Rachel worked for the Centre carrying out a mixture of contract archaeological projects, research with Harold Mytum and continuing to help deliver fieldschools. She has also carried out freelance work for Manx National Heritage and is on the editorial board of the journal of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society.

While at Newcastle, Rachel studied use-wear analysis on metals with Andrea Dolfini. Together with Andrea she works on a Bronze Age Combat project. The project is investigating Bronze Age Combat techniques through a series of controlled field tests with replica weapons to create a reference collection of use-wear marks that can then be compared to the marks observable on archaeological swords, spears, axes and shields from museum collections. The aim of the project is to understand how Late Bronze Age weapons were used, in what kind of combat situations, and with what strikes and bodily motions.

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

Rachel’s Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship is entitled “New materials, new worlds: understanding the uses of Bronze Age axes”. New materials change the worlds we live in. They make new kinds of activities possible and lead to varied innovations. They change relations between people, objects, animals, places and other materials. This project will seek to examine the impact of new materials through the study of copper and bronze axes. These iconic objects of the Bronze Age are arguably poorly understood: what were they actually used for and on?  These enigmatic objects will be examined through the microscopic study of their surfaces, identifying traces of use, and in so doing transform our understandings of their role in producing new worlds.

Bronze axes are arguably the most important objects in understanding the start of metallurgy in Britain and Ireland; a process of material transformation that irrevocably altered the prehistoric world. Yet we cannot answer simple questions such as ‘what were bronze axes used for’? At present, studies of bronze objects tend to either focus on stories of their production, with a strong emphasis on chemical composition and metallography or they concentrate on narratives surrounding their deposition. This focus on production and deposition means that we do not fully appreciate the impact these objects had and the varied uses to which they were put; we fail to address large parts of their biographies. Only through use-wear analysis can we start to understand how it was that metal was first used in Britain and Ireland and examine the impact that this material had on other materials and prehistoric worlds.

This project will involve a series of experiments that seek to establish a reference collection of marks for Early Bronze Age flat axes (to be made available online). The reference collection will be created through the innovative use of both mechanical and embodied testing. Ten flat axes of the same design, composition and finishing processes as in the Early Bronze Age will be used. Two of these axes will be employed practically in a series of tasks such as woodworking and butchering a carcass. The others will be mounted in a drop-test facility (an instrument designed to produce controlled impacts) which will allow a very precise and repeatable set of experiments to be carried out where, for the first time, the axe will be tested against a range of materials including, wood, stone, bone, leather and metal to establish the kinds of traces such impacts produce. These marks will be produced at a range of forces equivalent to action by people. Combining machine and human-made use-wear marks will allow an embodied perspective on using bronze tools to be compared to more artificially produced data.

The data produced by these experiments will then be used as a reference collection for the first large-scale study of use-wear on bronze axes from Britain and Ireland. At least 250 axes from collections at UK institutions will be analysed to allow a critical discussion of the use of Bronze Age axes. Studying a range of types of flat axes from throughout the Early Bronze Age will allow the comparison of changing use-wear patterns. The use-wear data will then be considered in the light of the depositional and compositional data for the analysed axes. This contextualisation will allow the following questions to be addressed: Does the use of axes change through the Early Bronze Age? Are axes from different regions used in similar ways? Are all objects in hoards used in similar ways? Are decorated axes used differently? Are there links between deposition sites/landscapes and use? Are axes of similar compositions used and deposited in similar ways?

Publications

Dolfini, A. and Crellin, R.J. 2016. Metalwork wear analysis: the loss of innocence. Journal of Archaeological Science 66 (2016): 78-87.

Jones, A., Diaz-Guardamino, M. and Crellin, R.J. 2016. From artefact biographies to ‘multiple objects’: a new analysis of the decorated plaques of the Irish Sea Region. Norwegian Archaeological Review. Online First: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00293652.2016.1227359 

Crellin, R.J., Fowler, C. and Tipping R. (eds.). 2016. Prehistory without borders: the prehistoric archaeology of northeast England and southeast Scotland. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Crellin, R.J., Fowler, C. and Tipping, R. 2016. Introduction. In, Crellin, R.J., Fowler, C. and Tipping R. (eds.). In Press. Prehistory without borders: the prehistoric archaeology of northeast England and southeast Scotland. Oxford: Oxbow Books: 1-15.

Woodcock, J. with Crellin, R.J. 2016. Cup-marked rocks on the Meayll Peninsular. Isle of Man Studies XIV: 30-44.

Crellin, R.J. 2015. Tracing change at Killeaba. Isle of Man Studies XIII: 29–44.

Crellin, R. J. 2014. Transformative material, transformative object: the impact of a bronze axe. In, Brown, S., Clarke, A., and Fredrick, U., (eds.). 2014. Object Stories. California: Left Coast Press: 213-7.

Crellin, R.J. 2014. Changing Times: the emergence of a Bronze Age on the Isle of Man. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Newcastle University.

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Crellin, R.J. in prep. Change and Archaeology. London: Routledge.

*****

Crellin, R.J. in press. Changing Assemblages: tracing vibrant matter in burial assemblages. Special Edition of Cambridge Archaeological Journal focusing on assemblage theory. Accepted for publication 

Crellin, R.J. in press. The Emergence of a Bronze Age on the Isle of Man, in, Proceedings of the Bronze Age Forum 2013, eds. D. Brandherm & G. Plunkett.

Hermann, R., Dolfini, A., Crellin, R.J. and Ucklemann, M. in prep. Researching Bronze Age swordsmanship: experiments and wear analysis. Under review.

Crellin, R.J. in prep. Digging in the earth, materialising the earth: places as relational assemblages. Under review.

Crellin, R.J. and Woodcock, J. The Bronze Age. In, Mytum, H (ed.). A New History of the Isle of Man: volume 2 prehistory. Liverpool University Press.

Dolfini, A. Crellin, R.J., Horn, C., Uckleman, M. (eds.). in prep. Prehistoric Warfare and Violence: quantitative and qualitative approaches. London and New York: Springer Press.

Crellin, R.J., Dolfini, A., Ucklemann, M. and Hermann, R. in prep. An experimental approach to prehistoric violence and warfare. In, Dolfini, A. Crellin, R.J., Horn, C., Uckleman, M. (eds.). in prep. Prehistoric Warfare and Violence: quantitative and qualitative approaches. Springer Press. 

Dolfini, A. and Crellin, R.J. 2016. Metalwork wear analysis: the loss of innocence. Journal of Archaeological Science 66 (2016): 78-87.

Jones, A., Diaz-Guardamino, M. and Crellin, R.J. 2016. From artefact biographies to ‘multiple objects’: a new analysis of the decorated plaques of the Irish Sea Region. Norwegian Archaeological Review. Online First: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00293652.2016.1227359

Crellin, R.J., Fowler, C. and Tipping R. (eds.). 2016. Prehistory without borders: the prehistoric archaeology of northeast England and southeast Scotland. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Crellin, R.J., Fowler, C. and Tipping, R. 2016. Introduction. In, Crellin, R.J., Fowler, C. and Tipping R. (eds.). In Press. Prehistory without borders: the prehistoric archaeology of northeast England and southeast Scotland. Oxford: Oxbow Books: 1-15.

Woodcock, J. with Crellin, R.J. 2016. Cup-marked rocks on the Meayll Peninsular. Isle of Man Studies XIV: 30-44.

Crellin, R.J. 2015. Tracing change at Killeaba. Isle of Man Studies XIII: 29–44.

Crellin, R. J. 2014. Transformative material, transformative object: the impact of a bronze axe. In, Brown, S., Clarke, A., and Fredrick, U., (eds.). 2014. Object Stories. California: Left Coast Press: 213-7.

Crellin, R.J. 2014. Changing Times: the emergence of a Bronze Age on the Isle of Man. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Newcastle University.

*****
Crellin, R.J.
in prep. Change and Archaeology. London: Routledge.

*****

Crellin, R.J. in press. Changing Assemblages: tracing vibrant matter in burial assemblages. Special Edition of Cambridge Archaeological Journal focusing on assemblage theory. Accepted for publication

Crellin, R.J. in press. The Emergence of a Bronze Age on the Isle of Man, in, Proceedings of the Bronze Age Forum 2013, eds. D. Brandherm & G. Plunkett.

Hermann, R., Dolfini, A., Crellin, R.J. and Ucklemann, M. in prep. Researching Bronze Age swordsmanship: experiments and wear analysis. Under review.

Crellin, R.J. in prep. Digging in the earth, materialising the earth: places as relational assemblages. Under review.

Crellin, R.J. and Woodcock, J. The Bronze Age. In, Mytum, H (ed.). A New History of the Isle of Man: volume 2 prehistory. Liverpool University Press.

Dolfini, A. Crellin, R.J., Horn, C., Uckleman, M. (eds.). in prep. Prehistoric Warfare and Violence: quantitative and qualitative approaches. London and New York: Springer Press.

Crellin, R.J.
, Dolfini, A., Ucklemann, M. and Hermann, R. in prep.
An experimental approach to prehistoric violence and warfare. In, Dolfini, A. Crellin, R.J., Horn, C., Uckleman, M. (eds.). in prep. Prehistoric Warfare and Violence: quantitative and qualitative approaches. Springer Press.

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