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Department of Archaeology

Library and Collections

Our department is situated next to the first-class Bill Bryson Library, which has some of the best archaeological holdings in northern Britain and was recently modernised and extended. Through the Durham University Library, we have access to a vast array of archaeological texts, journals and Durham Research Online, which holds details of articles, chapters and books authored by Durham researchers, as well as all Durham University doctoral dissertations completed after 2009. What's more, the University manages the Durham Cathedral Library and archives, allowing our students and researchers access to medieval manuscripts and documents.

Zooarchaeological Collection

We have a large and extensive zooarchaeological collection consisting of both modern and archaeological mammal and fish specimens. The collection is divided into: a teaching collection consisting of faunal remains catalogued by element, which is regularly used in the large teaching lab to demonstrate the identification and recording of animal remains; and a reference collection, which consists of complete skeletons and is used by students and staff to assist in research projects.


Durham River Wear Collection

The Durham River Wear collection comprises finds, almost all small metal objects, recovered from a submerged riverbed between 2008 and 2012. The objects, which span the late twelfth to the early nineteenth centuries, with an emphasis on the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries, have been described by Dr Christopher Caple as: ‘A major research facility, probably the largest collection of late and post-medieval finds in the North of England: a unique regional/national resource’.


Skeletal collections curated by the Fenwick Human Osteology Laboratory

Fishergate House, York (late 10th-16th centuries AD)

Excavated between 2000 and 2002 by Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd in association with Mike Griffiths Associates on behalf of Shepherd Homes and Rank Leisure. 244 skeletons in a generally good state of preservation and dating to the late medieval period were recovered, with 80 being between the ages of 1 and 12 years old. There were 52 definite females and 49 definite males.


St. Guthlac's Priory, Hereford (12th-16th centuries AD)

Excavated in 2005, a total of 37 skeletons were excavated, with six being non-adult, from the parish church cemetary of St. Peter, associated with St. Guthlac's Priory, Hereford. The priory is dated to AD 1143 and 1539. Preservation of the skeletons was variable and ranged from poor to excellent. There were 12 definite females and eight definite males.


Hanging Ditch, Manchester (post-Medieval) - This site was excavated in 1997 and dates from AD 1650-1853. It is situated close to the centre of Manchester in Lancashire. 102 skeletons were recovered but only 30 were very well preserved, some of which preserve hair on their skulls.


Low Farm, Kirby Grindalythe, North Yorkshire (mid/late Iron Age)

Six skeletons were excavated in 2005 by MAP Archaeological Consultancy Ltd, including five non-adults under the age of six. The adult was difficult to sex, but was possibly male. Preservation of the skeletons was good to excellent. Three of the non-adults showed pathological changes, probably related to scurvy.


Ebberston Manor, North Yorkshire (Medieval)

One female skeleton was excavated in 2005 by MAP Archaeological Consultancy Ltd. Preservation of the skeleton was moderate to very good, and evidence for joint disease and trauma was present.