Postgraduate research

Ground stone in a metallic world

Qualification: PhD

Department: Archaeology and Ancient History

Application deadline: 21 June 2024 (Interviews 11 July 2024)

Start date: 1 October 2024



Dr Rachel Crellin
Professor Oliver Harris
Professor Huw Barton

Project Description:

The project forms one strand of the Leverhulme Funded Research Leadership Award, A New History of Bronze. This project explores how the emergence and use of copper and bronze metalworking in this period created new possibilities for crafting, leadership and violence. This PhD forms an essential component of the project by adding a new understanding of the role of stone in the Bronze Age.

The emergence of metal casts stone under a shadow. The prestige material of earlier periods is often presented as second rate, somehow of less value than the newly emergent metals that seem to make the Bronze Age what it is. This view holds firm despite the evidence throughout the Bronze Age of the importance of stone in the form of flint tools, on the one hand, and a host of ground stone technologies on the other. Existing research has explored the role of battle axes, bracers and the relationship between copper-alloy and flint daggers. Specifically, between 2017 and 2021 the Leverhulme funded Beyond the Three Age System project began the process of challenging the way the divide between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age has led to the importance of stone being downplayed in the latter period. 

This PhD project will develop this by focusing on the use of groundstone, with the successful applicant exploring the different ways that this material formed a key part of Bronze Age life in Britain and Ireland. The range of material available is extensive and so elements for specific study will be selected early in the PhD. This could include stone moulds, mining tools, quern stones, stone hammers and anvils, bracers, grooved abraders, the re-use of much older heirloom stone tools and the stone tools that formed a key part of the metalworking process. 

This PhD will develop an overall understanding of stone use in the Bronze Age in Britain and Ireland by studying existing published and grey literature. They may also choose to bring in experimental archaeology to help increase our understanding of the role that stone tools play in metalworking in particular. The applicant will develop their research through a series of case studies that could include looking at groundstone from burial sites, houses, or mining sites or studies focusing on particular categories of objects. Throughout the PhD the analysis will be informed by a thorough engagement with archaeological theory, in particular new materialist approaches to objects and their role in the production of past worlds.



This PhD is offered through Leverhulme funded Research Leadership Award – A New History of Bronze

The award pays full maintenance for all students both home and international students.

The UKRI National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2024-25 is £19,237. The project can be undertaken on a full-time (or part-time basis for UK applicants, payments will be pro-rata for part-time study.)

The award also pays tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home UKRI rate for PhD degrees  (for 2024-25 this is £4,786).

Funding for international tuition fees may be available.

Where a full overseas fee waiver is not available overseas students will be required to fund the difference between UK and Overseas fees. For 2024/5 this will be £12,764 per year.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent. MA degree in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent. For those without an MA we will consider specific experience in a relevant field (the study of museum collections, small finds analysis, experimental archaeology and ancient crafts) especially where skills in report writing, data handling and analysis can be demonstrated.

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project enquiries to Dr Rachel Crellin

Application enquiries to

How to apply

How to apply

To apply please use the Apply button at the bottom of this page and select September 2024.

With your application, please include:

  • CV
  • Personal statement explaining your interest in the project, your experience and why we should consider you
  • Degree certificates and transcripts of study already completed and if possible transcript to date of study currently being undertaken
  • Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable
  • In the reference section please enter the contact details of your two academic referees in the boxes provided or upload letters of reference if already available.
  • In the funding section please specify SAAH Crellin - Ground Stone
  • In the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisors and project title (a proposal is not required)



UK and Overseas applicants may apply.

Applicants holding EU settled or EU pre-settled status we will require a share code so that we can verify your status (the share code we require starts with S)  please email your share code together with your application ID number to  once you have submitted your PhD application.

Application options

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