Supervisor: Dr Clare Wilson
Start Date: 1st October 2015
3V1A Cottrell Building
Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA
Hillfort Vitrification in the Scottish Iron Age and Early Historic Period
In my PhD I am looking at the processes of vitrification in Iron Age hillforts. Vitrification occurs when the rocks are heated to such a temperature that they melt. This is the product of a large, sustained fire, however the cause of this fire is still a controversial issue and nobody knows why the hillforts were set alight or even whether the process was accidental or intentional. The theories range from an accident caused by an out of control fire in the hillfort to intentional where there are several different theories with some people believing that an invading army set fire to the hillfort to destroy an enemy territory, or that it was a ritual closure event or perhaps the vitrification happened at the beginning of the life of a hillfort to strengthen the ramparts. There are around 80 Iron Age vitrified hillforts in Scotland.
As a geologist I am taking quite a scientific approach to my study of vitrified hillforts and so I am trying to understand the processes of vitrification and what techniques may have been used. If we discover the “how” of Iron Age hillfort vitrification this may answer some of the “why” questions.
Junior Honours vacation prize internship: Detecting marine dinoflagellates in geologic deposits in the absence of traditional fossils.
Senior Honours vacation prize internship: Analysing lipids from pottery using GCMS and GC-FID to determine consumption patterns in early cultures in Cide, Turkey.
Geological mapping project: 21km2 geological mapping project of the area south of Girvan, South Ayrshire.
Lab project: Maximising hydrocarbon production in algae for biofuel production.
Placement: 10-week placement at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC)
Dissertation: Provenance of graphite painted pottery from the Tripillia mega-sites using stable carbon isotopes
Before starting my Earth Science degree, I was an analytical chemist with over 15 years of laboratory experience across various disciplines including Environmental, Forensic and Pharmaceutical analysis.
British Organic Chemistry Society, 2015 (poster)
BES post graduate student, 2016 (prize winning poster)
Grant from the Mediterranean Archaeological trust to allow lipid analysis on pottery samples from Cide, Turkey.
PhD funded 50% Forestry Commission Scotland, 50% University of Stirling
I was a STEM ambassador from August 12 until September 15 and during this time I participated in many science outreach events involving children and adults.