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Durham University

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Miss Claire Hodson

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PhD Project Title

Stressed at Birth: Investigating metric variation in infants to determine whether subjection to stress during early development affects skeletal dimensions.


BA in Archaeology, 1st Class Honours, University of Exeter, 2008-2011.

MSc in Bioarchaeology, Distinction, University of Exeter, 2011-2012.

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Authority


The aim of this PhD is to examine the correlation between intrauterine growth and exposure to stress through the analysis of perinatal skeletal populations of different time periods and geographic locations. Assessment of multiple skeletal populations will enable the identification of skeletal element(s) and measurement(s) that indicate exposure to stress and whether such changes are consistent within and between populations. Stressors are limiting and detrimental influences, thus maternal health, diet, exposure to disease, and social and environmental changes will all be considered in relation to growth. All individuals assessed are between circa 30 gestational weeks and 1 year of age as this is when growth is at its peak and thus the skeleton is most sensitive to stressors. Developing innovative methods to observe variation, the study focuses on identifying variation in cranial elements and the diaphyseal width of long bones. Through comparison with modern reference standards for infant growth (Schaefer, Black & Scheuer 2009; Scheuer & Black 2000), the project will further our understanding of early development ‘stress factors’ and the relationship between infant health and growth in past and present populations. Thus these new methods of metric assessment will be used in future to evaluate stress in other perinate and infant population samples.

Funding Grants

2017: University College Travel Scholarship, Durham University

2017: University College Employability Scholarship, Durham University

2016: UKAS Archaeological Science Conference Award, Department of Archaeology, Durham University

2016: University College Travel Scholarship, Durham University

2016: University College Employability Scholarship, Durham University

2016: British Council ‘Science in School Project’, Montpellier

2014: PGR Research Dialogues, ‘Little Lives’ Conference, Department of Archaeology, Durham University

2014: British Council ‘Science in School Project’, Strasbourg

2014: University College Travel Scholarship, Durham University

2013: AHRC Doctoral Scholarship

Conference Contributions

Podium Presentations:

2017: Perinatal Pathology: Discussing the potential, problems and implications. Stress Out Conference, 19th-21st May, University College London. 

2017: Like Mother, Like Child: Investigating change and continuity in infant and maternal health stress in Medieval and Post-Medieval London. Palaeopathology Conference, 17th-19th April, New Orleans.

2017: Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word: Voicing Revised Perspectives of Infant Death and Burial. Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC), 28th-30th March, Durham University.

2017: Stressed at Birth: Investigating Growth and Health in Fetal, Perinatal and Infant Individuals. St Thomas’ Hospital Research Seminar, February 2017, St Thomas’ Hospital.

2016: Like Mother, Like Child: Investigating perinatal and maternal health stress in medieval and post-medieval London (14th -19th Century). SSCIP Conference, 20th-22nd September, Durham University.

2016: Mother to Child from Past to Present: Understanding the Impact of Maternal Stress on In Utero Growth and Development Through Archaeological Populations. Wolfson ECR Conference, 8th June, Durham University.

2016: Deficiency in Darkness: Understanding vitamin D deficiency and the effect on the human body. Guest Speaker, Kaleidoscope Conference ‘Darkness: Interdisciplinary Insights’, 17th June, Durham University

2015: From Roundhouse to Villa: A comparative study of foetal and infant growth, and the impact of stressors on growth, in Iron Age and Roman populations from Britain. BABAO Conference, 18th-20th September, University of Sheffield.

Poster Presentations:

2017: Stressful Starts: Investigating the impact of ‘stressors’ on fetal, perinatal and infant health and growth through time. Invited Poster Symposium ‘Child Health and Identity in Bioarchaeology’, American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 19th-22nd April, New Orleans.

2016: ‘Pregnancy, Perinates and Pathology’ BABAO Conference, 9th-11th September, University of Canterbury.

2014: ‘Life in the Womb: Realising the Potential of Perinatal Skeletal Remains in England.

BABAO Conference, 12th-14th September, Durham University.

Workshop and Conference Organisation

2016: ‘Science in Schools’ Project, British Council. Co-Organizer, Lecturer and Workshop Demonstrator

2015-2016: ‘Little Lives: New Perspectives on Child Health and the Life Course in Bioarchaeology’. Co-organizer.

2015: Lead tutor and demonstrator for the adult education Durham University Mini Module The Anglo-Saxon World at Bede's World, Jarrow, Tyne & Wear.

2014: ‘Science in Schools’ Project, British Council. Co-Organizer, Lecturer and Workshop Demonstrator


Peer-Reviewed Articles:

Hodson, C. M. 2017; Between Roundhouse and Villa: Assessing Perinatal and Infant Burials from Piddington, Northamptonshire. Britannia (In Press): doi:10.1017/S0068113X17000137


February 2017: Workshop Leader, SAW Workshop

2016-2017: MSc Lab Demonstrator ‘Palaeopathology: Theory and Method’

2016-2017: Undergraduate Tutor ‘Archaeology in Action’

2015-2016: MSc Lab Demonstrator ‘Palaeopathology: Theory and Method’

2014-2015: MSc Lab Demonstrator ‘ID and Analysis of the Human Skeleton’

2014-2015: MSc Open Lab Demonstrator

2014-2015: Undergraduate Tutor ‘Discovering World Prehistory’

2014-2015: Undergraduate Tutor ‘Archaeology in Action’


BABAO, British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. 
SSCIP, Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past 
Society for the Study of Human Biology 
CBA, Council of British Archaeology. 
Human Remains Team Member, Çatalhöyük Research Project


Teesside Archaeological Society WWI Project 
Durham Archaeology Day, Volunteer 
International Women’s’ Day, Speaker 
Café Scientifique Science Fair, Ustinov College, Durham University 
Young Archaeologist Club Osteology Workshop, Durham University 
Berwick’s Medieval Folk, Young Archaeologist Club Workshop 
The Anglo-Saxon World, Bede's World, Lead tutor 
BABAO Volunteer, Durham University BABAO Committee 
Celebrate Science Volunteer, Durham University 

Research Groups

Department of Archaeology


Journal Article