Dr Rachel Crellin

Rachel CrellinLecturer in Later Prehistory

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

Email: rjc65@le.ac.uk

Rachel’s key research interest is in the study and theorisation of change. She specialises in Later Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain and Ireland and is an expert in metalwork wear-analysis.

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 before started a PhD at Newcastle University 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.


Rachel co-ordinates and teaches a range of courses including Archaeological Theory, courses in prehistory. Artefact analysis and archaeological research.


Rachel’s primary research interest is the study and theorisation of change. The study of change is arguably one of the most important things that archaeology has to offer the humanities: changes in materials, communities, identities, environments and ideas are all traceable over the very long term in the archaeological record. Rachel’s research explores how it is that we come to talk about, understand, and interpret change in the past. She is currently working on a monograph for Routledge titled: Archaeology and Change. The book explores how archaeologists have approached the topic and develops a new materialist approach to the study of change.

New materials, new worlds: understanding the uses of Bronze Age axes

Rachel completed a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship between 2015-17 at Leicester. The project focused on the ways in which axes were used, understood, and deposited at the start of the Early Bronze Age in Britain and Ireland. Through experimental archaeology and primary metalwork wear-analysis of over 250 flat axes from across Britain and Ireland Rachel explored the ways in which the understanding of metal, as a material, changed through this period. She is continuing to work on the big dataset this project has created.

Round Mounds of the Isle of Man

Rachel is also co-director of the Round Mounds of the Isle of Man project which explores changing burial practices from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age on the island and in the wider Irish Sea context. The project is funded by Culture Vannin and Manx National Heritage and began in September 2016. It involved the first modern osteological analysis of all Neolithic and Bronze Age human remains from the island as well as a re-assessment of the burial evidence. Radiocarbon, isotopic and aDNA analysis of samples from the project is currently underway. In addition there was extensive landscape research using GIS and LiDAR to map the location of more than 180 mounds across the island. In 2017 the project began excavation of a burial mound near the village of Kirk Michael. The mound is one of a cluster of three with stunning views across the Irish Sea. Excavations will continue at the site in future years (do get in touch if you are interested in getting involved!). You can learn more about the project here: https://roundmounds.wordpress.com/

Bronze Age Combat Project

Rachel is also a member of the 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.


I am interested in supervising doctoral research across a range of themes:

  • Post-human and new materialist approaches to archaeological theory
  • Metalwork in prehistory
  • Neolithic or Bronze Age Britain and Ireland
  • Burial archaeology

If you have an idea and would like to discuss it further, do not hesitate to contact me.

Learn more about studying for a PhD at Leicester


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

Crellin, R.J. 2017. Changing Assemblages: tracing vibrant matter in burial assemblages. Special Edition of Cambridge Archaeological Journal 27 (1): 111-125.

Crellin, R.J. 2017. Examining the British and Irish Early Bronze Age Flat Axes of the Greenwell Collection at the British Museum. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Available online: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.11.018

Crellin, R.J. 2017. Violent Times? Use-wear analysis of bronze weapons from the Isle of Man. Isle of Man Studies XV:

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 49 (2): 113-133.

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

Woodcock, J. and 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.

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