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Dr Rachel Crellin

Project title

Scales of time, scales of change: the emergence of a Bronze Age on the Isle of Man


A Bronze age site on the Isle of Man.

Project description

I took my undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. I specialised in archaeology and received a first-class honours degree. I gained the highest mark in my year.

During my time at Cambridge, I developed a keen interest in the nature of theory and material culture and the influence of recent theories from the discipline of Material Culture Studies on archaeology.

I went on to study an MA in Material and Visual Culture Studies at University College London in their anthropology department. I broadened and deepened my theoretical interests. I studied subjects as diverse as the anthropologies of consumption, media, art and landscape.

My MA thesis used ethnographic research to explore an anthropology of the seascape as experienced by small boat users on the Isle of Man. I achieved a distinction in my MA studies.

My PhD research focuses on the nature of change in archaeology. My primary supervisor is Dr Chris Fowler. This research will consider and re-theorise the nature of change and time in prehistory.

I confront this issue through a case study of the transition from the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age on the Isle of Man.

Until the Late Neolithic, the archaeology of the Isle of Man fitted within broader patterns of material culture, mortuary practice and social traditions. These were common across the rest of the British Isles.

But this changed during the Late Neolithic. From then, the Isle of Man does not seem to be a part of the widely shared characteristics of the Late Neolithic elsewhere in the British Isles. Instead, it exhibits a unique material culture of flints, pottery, burial practices and settlement patterns. This is the “Ronaldsway Neolithic”.

The Ronaldsway Neolithic is a period of ‘unique’ cultural identity for the Isle of Man. But from 2200BC, the island abandoned Ronaldsway cultural practices. It appears to re-integrate into the wider patterns of material culture that define the Early Bronze Age of the rest of the British Isles.

My research will provide an understanding of this change without being evolutionary or technologically deterministic.

It will form a new contribution to Manx archaeology. It will bridge the gap between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. It will also be more widely relevant by considering how archaeology explores and theorises change at different levels and on different scales.

Teaching and project administration

I teach on the course ARA2001 Archaeological Theory and Interpretation.

I also work for the Centre of Manx Studies. I contribute to their field schools in archaeological excavation techniques on the Isle of Man.

I am the project administrator for the AHRC funded project The Tyne-Forth Prehistory Forum. I organise our day conferences, manage the website, and facilitate the general running of the project.

The Forum brings together archaeologists involved with research into prehistoric archaeology in north-east England and south-east Scotland. Its membership consists of archaeologists working in universities, museums and heritage agencies, of students, volunteers and members of amateur archaeology groups, and contract archaeologists.

Papers presented

  • TAG 2010: Exploring the Manx Seascape: materialities and understandings of space at sea.
  • Newcastle University Post Graduate Forum: Exploring the Manx Seascape.