Centre for Material Worlds Past and Present

Areas of research

Our research covers everything from contemporary questions about the role of materials in climate change and pollution, to the importance of stone axes in making the worlds of the first farmers in Britain 6,000 years ago.

Whether it is the processes of making Viking architecture or the way hunter gatherers in Borneo today engage with specific materials, our research seeks to identify how materials and humans work together, enable new kinds of practices and both create, and curtail, the possibilities of change.

Supported especially through a £1.8M AHRC Capability for Collections Grant, but drawing on the resources across the University, the Research Centre is building an expanded materials science capability which includes cutting-edge facilities in microwear analysis, alongside 3D scanning and printing, Scanning Electron Microscopy, Micro-XRF, portable-XRF and more.

Current projects

  • A New History of Bronze (Principle Investigator: Rachel Crellin). Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, this project explores how a new understanding of bronze derived from microwear analysis can tell us about the the possibilities for crafting, leadership and violence in the Bronze Age of Britain and Ireland.
  • Body-Politics (Principle Investigator: Marianne Hem Eriksen). Funded by the European Research Council, this project explores the complex ways in which material bodies were caught up in politics in the Viking Age.
  • From Prestige to Practice (Principle Investigators: Rachel Crellin and Oliver Harris). Funded by the British Academy, this project examines the technology of Bronze Age gold making through the detailed analysis of specific objects.
  • Architectures of Dislocation (Principle Investigator: Kevin Kay). This Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship flips a traditional question on its head. Given the first periods of farming are supposed to be about being sedentary, how come it spreads? To answer this question the project explores the microhistories of different kinds of material architecture.

Back to top