Rebecca is a Postgraduate Researcher in the Archaeology Department at Southampton. Rebecca's research focuses on the Mesolithic of the Solent region, both above and below the water line.
- Submerged landscapes
- Maritime Archaeology
My MA dissertation assessed the impact, both qualitatively and quantitively, that submerged landscape research in the North Sea has had on broader conceptions of the Mesolithic in Northwest Europe. The conclusions of this assessment highlighted that the current state of research in the North Sea has had a limited effect on changing understandings of the Mesolithic in Northwest Europe, particularly in Britain. This seemed to be as a result of the limited research and excavation happening in UK waters. The evidence indicated that there were two steps that needed to be taken in order to have an impact on wider interpretations of the Mesolithic. The first being a clear need for more active prospection, investigation and excavation of submerged Mesolithic sites at both a regionalised and localised scale. The second step, which was the more critical point of departure, was that there was a clear need to integrate both the terrestrial and submerged record. This would allow for a re-evaluation of the evidence that could have the potential to expand our knowledge of the Mesolithic in Britain and Northwest Europe.
My MA research and my time working as a marine archaeology consultant significantly informed my postgraduate research. Whilst my MA highlighted the broader issues of submerged landscape research in the UK, my PhD intends to move the current research forward from questions of potential to active investigation at a more manageable scale. As a result, my focus shifted away from the North Sea to the Solent and Southampton Waters, on the south coast of Britain. As well as being home to Bouldnor Cliff, the Solent also provides further evidence of numerous finds across the submerged zone and has an extensive archive of sea-level change data, such as submerged peats suitable for scientific dating. In order to move towards active investigation, I have been critically reviewing and re-analysing secondary data, including archaeological, environmental, geological and commercial data from both onshore and offshore contexts. This re-evaluation of the current known record has allowed me to begin to characterise the Mesolithic in the Solent region and enabled me to start to establish areas of high archaeological potential for the primary data collection phase. The primary data collection phase will utilise a synergistic approach, building and combining stages of fieldwalking, terrestrial and marine geophysical survey, and geoarchaeological sampling, with responsive and targeted diver survey deriving from these datasets. This research ultimately seeks to add critical time-depth to the understanding of the Mesolithic in the Solent Region as well generate data that can be used more meaningfully to transform the broader understanding of the Mesolithic in Britain.
I hold a BA Hons in Archaeology (2013-2016) and a Masters in Maritime Archaeology from the University of Southampton (2016-2018). I began my postgraduate research at Southampton in 2020, following a successful scholarship application to the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership 2 (SWW DTP2). I am supervised by Dr Rachel Bynoe and Professor Fraser Sturt from the University of Southampton and Professor Duncan Garrow from the University of Reading.
Following the completion of my MA in Maritime Archaeology, I worked as a Marine Archaeology Consultant on offshore developments at Cotswold Archaeology and then Maritime Archaeology Ltd (the commercial arm of the Maritime Archaeology Trust). During this time, I gained valuable experience supporting offshore developments in the North Sea, English Channel and Irish Sea at various stages of the Environmental Impact Assessment process. I also had the opportunity to research and dive on the site of Bouldnor Cliff, the only in situ submerged Mesolithic site in the UK, located in the northwest Solent and managed by the Maritime Archaeology Trust.
During an early point of my masters, it became abundantly clear to me that learning to dive would transform my ability to investigate Mesolithic submerged landscapes. So, I began to gain recreational qualifications to achieve this. I am now a qualified HSE Scuba commercial diver and have experience diving on a variety of archaeological projects in the North Sea, English Channel and Solent Waters. I was one of the core dive team for the 'Investigating submerged landscapes at Happisburgh' project, run by Dr Rachel Bynoe at the University of Southampton. The project involves diving and geophysical data-collection off the coast of Happisburgh, UK, with the aim of generating new data and relating the offshore deposits with the known onshore sites and their associated deposits.
Since the first year of my undergraduate degree, I have had a keen interest in earlier prehistory, with a particular focus on the Mesolithic period in northwest Europe. I have in more recent years, however, engaged more frequently with the Palaeolithic period through my involvement with the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO) research group. In 2020, I became one of the co-organisers for the CAHO Seminar Series, with the aim of providing more of a platform for the submerged landscape research in human origins as well as encouraging more of a Mesolithic presence in the discussions of human origins (after all, period boundaries are arbitrary!). Further to this, I am a co-chair for the Unravelling the Palaeolithic 2023 conference taking place at Avenue Campus, University of Southampton on the 31st of March to the 2nd of April 2023.
In 2021, I was part of the organising committee for the Postgraduate Researchers Archaeology Symposium (PGRAS). PGRAS is the Archaeology Department’s annual student-led conference that encourages postgraduate researchers to showcase their research year-by-year.