Sage Brice

Sage Brice works across media and fields of professional practice, to elicit more inclusive and horizontal understandings of changeable landscapes. She studied Environmental art at the Glasgow School of art (BA hons with distinction, 2006), and Human geography at the University of Bristol (MSc 2015). She currently entwines a lively contemporary art practice with doctoral studies in Cultural geography at the University of Bristol. Sage uses found materials and borrowed languages to elicit layered histories of place through drawing, sculpture, installation and performance. Her research interests encompass politics of nature, displacement and belonging, more-than-human animal and landscape geographies, and the use of creative and experimental methods. Her doctoral project is on the intersection of human and nonhuman animal cultures, as mobilised in the figure of the common crane (Grus grus) at two wetland sites in southern England and the north of Israel/Palestine.

Elspeth St John-Brooks

Elsie PortraitElspeth Brooks is aiming to develop an innovative scientific approach to the topical archaeological study of past human mobility. In using geochemical soil residue analysis mobility can be explored and activity area patterns identified so archaeological sites can be understood as parts of a ‘living landscape’. This research aims to produce a robust methodological framework facilitating the understanding geochemical signatures surrounding movement within a landscape, the effects of animal and human interactions, household practices and the effect of pedogenesis on element residues through examination of modern and ancient anthrosols. Systematic sampling, namely in areas of high trafficking across several modern and ancient contexts for digitisation (ArcGIS) will visualise residue movement across each site.

Nancy Jones

Nancy Jones

My PhD explores the anthropomorphic and anthropocentric tradition in contemporary British nature poetry focusing on the work of Maggie O’Sullivan and Alice Oswald. Key areas of investigation are literary, philosophical and cultural concepts of the animal/human divide and notions of urban and ‘natural’ geographies. Is it possible, or desirable, for poets to break free from anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism when writing the more-than-human world?

I am co-supervised at Bath Spa University and the University of Southampton. My research interests in Maggie O’Sullivan and nature poetry follow on from my dissertation written while studying for an MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. Prior to Birkbeck, I completed a BA (Hons) in English Literature with Creative and Professional Writing at the University of East London.

Fact, Fiction or Poetry?

Eloise Kane

Eloise KaneMy PhD examines the post-medieval archaeology of hare hunting, and the changing role of hunting into and throughout the period to the Hunting Act in 2004. Key themes include concepts of wilderness and countryside; transitions to hunting as sport; and the impact of enclosure, game laws and increasing distribution of land and wealth on how space was inhabited. I am particularly interested in designed landscape as multi-vocal and multifunctional space, with habitat creation providing a threshold between the wild, the aesthetic, and the social. The PhD will draw evidence from archaeological landscape investigation, history, literature, art, archives, and digital resources to interpret features and places that have previously received little recognition.

I am jointly supervised at the Universities of Bristol and Exeter. Previously I completed my BA (Hons) Archaeology at the University of Southampton, subsequently working for Cotswold Archaeology, English Heritage, and Cornwall Council before undertaking an MA in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bristol to 2014.

Matthew Knight

Matthew KnightMatt is an Archaeology PhD student at the University of Exeter and University of Bristol, supervised by Dr. Linda Hurcombe and Dr. Joanna Bruck. His project focuses on fragmented and decommissioned pieces of metalwork (e.g. swords, spears and axes) that were deposited across the country in the British Bronze Age (c.2200-800BC). The deliberate destruction of Bronze Age metalwork prior to deposition is a phenomenon that is observed all over Europe, yet no intensive investigation of this process has ever really been undertaken. Matt is focusing on those objects that have been recovered from South West England to gain insights into the practice in this region. By analysing metal artefacts held in museums across the country, supplemented with rigorous experimental activities (e.g. making and breaking swords!), Matt hopes to better understand the technical process involved in destroying bronze objects. By understanding how objects are being reduced, we can better understand the why. These objects were often deposited in significant places in the landscape (e.g. hilltops, river valleys etc.) away from settlements, suggesting a deliberate segregation of activities that was socially important.

You can follow Matt’s research as it happens on Twitter (@mgknight24), Facebook ( and through his blog: Previous work he has undertaken can be found on Academia:

Rachel Murray

RachelRachel Murray is a doctoral candidate at the Universities of Bristol and Exeter. Her thesis examines modernist aesthetics, insects, and the figure of the exoskeleton in the work of Wyndham Lewis, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Beckett. As well as exploring the fascination of these writers with entomology, she is examining the impact of war on aesthetic form, arguing that in the years surrounding the two World Wars her chosen writers were inspired by organic forms of defence that exist in the natural world. More generally, she is interested in modernism, animals and natural history.

Clare Nolan

Claire Nolan sm1With training in both archaeology and psychotherapy, and significant experience practicing professionally in both disciplines, Claire is uniquely placed to study the relationship between heritage and wellbeing. Her research focuses in particular on the potential for Neolithic ceremonial landscapes to act as therapeutic environments in the present day. Drawing on insights from archaeology, heritage studies, cultural geography and psychoanalytic theory, Claire’s work will explore the wellbeing potential of these landscapes through a combination of phenomenological and ethnographic approaches, with the aim of evidencing the therapeutic value of archaeology for individuals, and its fundamental importance to society as a result.

Joan Passey

joanJoan is a PhD student between the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, and the University of Bristol under the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership. Joan’s research, entitled ‘”The West Barbary Barbarian”: Identifying a Cornish Gothic in the late Nineteenth Century’ aims to identify a Celtic Gothic tradition specific to Cornwall in relation to existing models of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh Gothic. Despite the notion of a Cornish Gothic literary tradition being critically overlooked, many well-known authors used the Cornish people and landscape as recurrent features in distinctly Gothic works. This project compares the representations of Cornish landscape and culture in novels to those in travel writing and guidebooks from the period, working towards establishing the ways in which the Gothic genre is reworked within a Cornish framework. In other words, to establish what is Gothic about Cornwall, and what is Cornish about the Gothic. In particular, how did mass movement in the latter half of the century impact these manifestations, specifically in regards to the developing rail network. In doing so, this research seeks to use depictions of Cornwall as a new perspective through which to interpret notions of nationhood, Celticity, industrial anxieties, and the birth of West Country tourism in relation to existing Gothic motifs.

Lloyd Price

Lloyd Price is a historian of south Asia, co-supervised at Cardiff University and the University of Bristol. He is interested in concepts of animal agency, human-animal interactions and the environment. His PhD thesis focuses on cows, bullocks and buffalos in colonial India, analysing perceptions of their impact upon colonial and indigenous veterinary discourses of animal productivity and welfare. During his MA (Cardiff University 2013-14), he studied colonial efforts to control venomous snake populations in late nineteenth century India. In addition to the thesis, he is learning Hindi with the HindiHour institution in Jaipur.

Jack Thacker

12243317_10156672545560497_2214705962071327865_nJack Thacker is a PhD student at the Universities of Bristol and Exeter. His research focuses on contemporary British and Irish poetry and agriculture, in particular on the work of Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and Alice Oswald. His thesis argues that the rural verse of these writers represents a shift in poetry about the countryside in the late twentieth-century towards what can be defined as a ‘georgic’ mode of writing. Occupying the critical terrain that lies between received notions of the pastoral and the burgeoning field of ecopoetics, his project seeks to reclaim the georgic as a critical category in order to better understand the changing relationship between poetry and farming from the post-war period to the present.

Kate Whitaker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy PhD is about the prehistoric use of sarsen stone, focussing on the Neolithic and early Bronze Age of southern Britain.  The immense stone circles at Avebury henge and the giant trilithons at Stonehenge are made of sarsen stone, for example.  For many years megalithic monuments such as these, and their technological construction mysteries, have dominated the little that has been written about sarsen.  But the stone was used in many more varied ways, bound up in people’s daily lives as quern stones and in their deaths in a range of funerary contexts, for example.  Sarsen is found in drifts and spreads scattered across landscapes from Devon to Kent, usually on or close to the surface.  It is readily available for all sorts of uses, but is enmeshed in myths and stories that protect the stones just as current legislation provides formal protection for this rare material.  The research is complicated by the ongoing use of the stone through time, with medieval and modern exploitation of sarsen sources impacting on both the natural distribution and also the prehistoric archaeological record.  At the present time, for example, it is not possible to distinguish the signs of prehistoric and modern sarsen extraction, or quarrying waste, so I will be using experimental archaeology to create methodologies for this kind of analysis.  My research will use archaeological evidence in the landscape and in museum assemblages, history, archives, and digital data to investigate the ways in which the stone is implicated in modern and ancient lives.