Plymouth Archaeology Society

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Winter Lecture Season 2023 -2024

Our lectures are held at 7:00 pm in the Devonport Lecture Theatre of the Portland Square Building, University of Plymouth on the first Monday of each month.. PAS members, University staff & students, with valid ID, and all school students are admitted free. All others are welcome but asked to contribute £4 towards our expenses.

2nd October 2023

 'Archaeology of sugar production in Plymouth in the 17th and 18th century'.

Dr Alejandra Gutierrez, Cotsworld Archaeology

The archaeological excavation by Exeter Archaeology in 2007‒2008 in Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, discovered the remains of a sugar house, together with more than 100 boxes of related ceramics.

This talk will discuss the archaeology of sugar production and use in post-medieval England, especially in Plymouth, placing this recently studied assemblage into context.

Alejandra Gutiérrez is Senior Finds Officer with Cotswold Archaeology. She is an expert in medieval and later finds, especially ceramics, with particular interest in imported pottery from Spain and Portugal.

 6th November 2023

 ‘Cheddar Man and the Genetic Prehistory of Britain’

Dr Thomas Booth, The Francis Crick Institute

Next Generation Sequencing technology has enabled vast improvements in the study of ancient DNA over the last 15 years, we now have genome-wide data from thousands of humans from the last c.50,000 years. Britain has been a particularly fruitful target for these studies, and we now have genetic information from over 1000 ancient people who lived in Britain over the last 15,000 years. In this talk I will discuss what we have learned from ancient DNA about Britain 15,000-2000 years ago. Dr. Tom Booth has a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Sheffield and currently works as a Senior Research Scientist in the Ancient Genomics Laboratory at The Francis Crick Institute in London

4th December 2023

'The (un)natural (pre)history of Britain’

Prof Naomi Sykes Exeter Uni

Biodiversity is constantly changing. Since the end of the last Ice Age, flora, fauna and human populations have been transformed. Understanding the complexity of the interaction between people and biodiversity is fundamental for determining appropriate courses of action for the future. This paper will present a series of linked case-studies to demonstrate how integrated transdisciplinary studies can provide the biocultural evidence-base, upon which policy can be built. "Naomi is Lawrence Professor of Archaeology at the University of Exeter. Her research focuses on human-animal-environment interactions and how they impact societies, past and present.

5th February 2024

‘Diving into Maritime Archaeology: Public Engagement and Active Participation'

Alison James, MSDS Marine

Access to maritime heritage provides many obstacles when trying to reach the wider public, not least due to its location underwater. As a maritime archaeologist based in a landlocked county it’s really important to share what we love with a wider audience and MSDS Marine have been doing this with a wide range of new audiences and some fantastic young people.  This talk will explore some recent projects including diving with homeless young people in Leicestershire on an Elizabethan wreck, engaging the next generation of divers on a site with both a bronze age and 17th century wreck and taking maritime archaeology in land with fifty pop up events to celebrate fifty years of protected wreck sites.

Alison is a Director and Project Manager at MSDS Marine with extensive experience in the management of historic shipwreck sites, volunteer involvement, community engagement and education initiatives. Previously Alison spent ten years with Historic England managing England’s protected wreck sites and working with the licensed teams and volunteers who work on the sites. Alison is a Trustee of the Nautical Archaeology Society, a PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor and an owner of Go Dive SCUBA store.

4th March 2024

 ‘A persistent place in the Neolithic: thinking through the Dorchester complex’

Dr Susan Greaney, Exeter University

The area underneath and around the town of Dorchester in Dorset was an important place for Neolithic people, who built a variety of monuments here over a period of 2000 years. From the early Neolithic causewayed enclosure at Maiden Castle and middle Neolithic sites like the Alington Avenue long barrow and the 100m enclosure known as Flagstones, to late Neolithic constructions like Mount Pleasant 'mega-henge' and Greyhound Yard’s 380m-wide palisaded enclosure, these sites form a rich and wide-ranging ceremonial landscape spanning hundreds of years. Recent work as part of the author's PhD has obtained new radiocarbon dates for the major monuments in this complex, enabling a new and detailed chronology for the area to be constructed. This talk will present these results, and discuss their implications for how we understand changes in beliefs, burials and gatherings during the Neolithic period, including how these people may have viewed older monuments. It will also present insights that this new chronology provides into fundamental questions about what happened at the start of the Bronze Age.

Dr Susan Greaney is a lecturer in archaeology at the University of Exeter, specialising in Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments and society, and heritage interpretation. In her previous role as Senior Properties Historian for English Heritage, Susan was responsible for exhibitions and interpretation projects at sites including Stonehenge, Tintagel and Grimes Graves. Susan completed her PhD on Neolithic monument complexes last year, and her main research interests are monuments, power relations and society in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age.


 8th April 2024

‘Roman Exeter and its 'lost' port at Topsham: latest research and findings’

Dr John Salvatore

Former Plymouth Historic Environment Officer John Salvatore has just completed a book on Roman Exeter for Archaeopress Roman Britain sites series. He will present some of the research for the book including new work on Roman military period sites in and around Exeter. He will also present new work undertaken with Dr Stephen Kaye on Topsham's 'lost' Roman quayside and the re-interpretation of the St Loye's Roman settlement site on Topsham Road, Exeter following work by the late Paul Bidwell.