Research to investigate round mounds of the Isle of Man

Dr Rachel Crellin (pictured) from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History and Dr Chris Fowler (Newcastle University) aim to investigate what the round mounds of the Isle of Man, and associated burials, people and artefacts, can tell us about life on the island and interaction with other communities across Britain and Ireland (and potentially beyond) in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. 

The Isle of Man is home to over 160 round mounds but very few have been excavated using techniques that have left a detailed and reliable record. Recent research has highlighted regional diversity in different pulses of round mound construction and use during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c. 4000-1500 BC) across Britain, Ireland and the near continent, and there has been growing interest in tracing changing connections over time between regions.

However, it is currently unclear when many of the round mounds of the Isle of Man were built and what kinds of burial and other practices they were associated with.

The 2016-17 research will include osteological analyses of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age human remains from historic excavations in the Manx Museum collections, radiocarbon dating, isotopic analyses and a DNA analyses of a sample of these, a new assessment of Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary evidence from the island, new geophysical surveys of Manx round mounds, and landscape analyses using LiDAR imagery and other map data.

Dr Rachel Crellin said: “It is great to be starting this exciting project funded by both Manx National Heritage and Culture Vannin. Many of the sites we are investigating will be familiar to island residents and they are sites that I grew up visiting with my family. It is wonderful to have this chance to try and reveal some new aspects of our island’s prehistory.”

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