Dr Amy Gray Jones

Deputy Head of Department / Senior Lecturer in Archaeology

Qualifications

BSc (Hons) (University College London), MSc (Bradford), PhD (Manchester), Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Overview

I am a funerary archaeologist specialising in the analysis of human remains and the study of the Mesolithic of north-west Europe.  My AHRC-funded doctoral thesis focused on the role of disarticulation and the manipulation of the body in Mesolithic mortuary practice.

Prior to studying for my PhD, I worked as a field archaeologist in south-east England and then, from 2003 to 2007, as a Human Osteologist at Museum of London Archaeology. There, I worked as part of a team undertaking a major study of the large medieval cemetery of St Mary Spital, excavated on the site of Spitalfield’s Market, London.

After being awarded my doctorate in 2011 I was employed as a temporary lecturer in Archaeology at both the University of Chester and University of Manchester, before being appointed as Lecturer in Archaeology here at Chester in 2012. I took on the role of Deputy Head of History & Archaeology in 2014 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2015.

When not teaching, researching or in the field, I can be found walking my dog or enjoying a pint of real ale.

Teaching

I lead the following undergraduate modules:     

  • Themes in British Prehistory: From Rock-Art to Hadrian's Wall
  • The Archaeology of Human Remains
  • From Foragers to Farmers. The Mesolithic and early Neolithic

I also contribute to the teaching of the following undergraduate modules:

  • Introduction to the Archaeology of the British Isles
  • The Archaeology of Material Culture
  • The Archaeology of Death and Burial
  • Archaeology and Contemporary Society

 In addition I lead/contribute to the following modules on the MA Archaeology of Death and Memory:

  • Archaeology and the Body
  • Mortuary Archaeology
  • Interpreting the past
  • Research skills for Archaeology and Heritage
Postgraduate Supervision

I would be happy to supervise students wishing to undertake research on any aspect of human osteology, funerary archaeology, or the British and European Mesolithic. 

Research

My current research focuses on the varied and diverse mortuary practices of the Mesolithic in north-west Europe. I am interested in the role that the manipulation of the dead body plays in the production, reproduction and transformation of Mesolithic identities. Through reconstructing specific practices, I also investigate the nature of the living’s engagement with the dead in funerary rites. I also explore issues such as the parallel treatment of animals and humans after death.

Since 1999, I have also been involved in excavations at the Mesolithic site of Star Carr and other sites in the Vale of Pickering (N. Yorks.) and I recently co-directed excavations at the nearby site of Flixton School House Farm with Dr Barry Taylor (University of Chester). These excavations have contributed to a re-consideration of the settlement and occupation of this landscape in the early and late Mesolithic and have led to a fundamental change in our understanding of early prehistoric societies.

As a specialist in human remains, I am also interested in all aspects of human osteology and palaeopathology, particularly the social, cultural and biological factors that influence the transmission of disease.  My work on the medieval cemetery of St Mary Spital, London, has also stimulated my interest in the health of medieval urban populations, and the causes and impact of catastrophic mortality events. As part of my work on St Mary Spital, we used well-dated, stratigraphic sequences to link historical and archaeological evidence to suggest that mass burial events in the 13th century in London were linked to a series of famines, caused ultimately by climatic disturbances as a result of a volcanic eruption in the tropics. The results of this major study of health in medieval London have recently been published as a monograph and featured in Current Archaeology magazine (CA270).   

I am also involved in writing up the unpublished excavations carried out by Brian Hope-Taylor in the 1940-50s of the Anglo-Saxon barrow cemetery on Farthing Down (Croydon, South London). Between 2004 and 2006 I co-directed a community archaeology project which carried out new investigations of the site, for which I was jointly awarded the Ralph Merrifield Award for Services to London Archaeology (2006). I am currently preparing the results of both the new and previous fieldwork for publication.

Published work

Connell, B., Gray Jones, A., Redfern, R. and Walker, D. (2012). A bioarchaeological study of medieval burials on the site of St Mary Spital: Excavations at Spitalfields Market, London E1, 1991–2007. MoLA Monograph 60. London: Museum of London Archaeology.

Taylor, B. and Gray Jones, A. 2009. Definitely a pit, possibly a house? Recent excavations at Flixton School House Farm in the Vale of Pickering. Mesolithic Miscellany 20 (2): 21-26.

Gray Jones, A. & Walker D. 2007. ‘Tuberculosis at Spitalfields, London: an insight into medieval urban living’. In Robson Brown, K.A., & Roberts, A.M. (eds.). BABAO 2004. Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology, University of Bristol. Oxford: BAR International Series, 1623.

Gray Jones, A. 2003. ‘The human skeletal remains’. In Keevill, G.D. Archaeological Investigations in 2001 at the Abbey Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Oxoniensia. Vol. LXVIII: 347-352.

 

In preparation:

Gray Jones, A. Putting the ‘loose’ human bones in context: Mesolithic mortuary practices in north-west Europe.

Taylor, B. and Gray Jones, A. Mesolithic occupation of the southern shore of Lake Flixton in the eastern Vale of Pickering: The results of recent archaeological and palaeo-environmental research.  

Taylor, B. and Gray Jones, A. Monsters, myths and memories: the Iron Age earthworks and Anglo-Saxon burials of Farthing Down.