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Jon is an historical archaeologist who specialises in landscape, poverty, slavery and commemoration. These key themes intersect and inform much of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries under the broad heading of globalisation. His latest fieldwork has taken him from Harewood House, near Leeds, to the plantations of Barbados and he is currently directing excavations at Breary Banks, near Masham, a First World War camp where the 'Leeds Pals' battalion was trained.
He completed his AHRB funded PhD at the University of East Anglia in 1996. It was the first systematic study of historic commemorative practices that demonstrated the relationship between the forms and frequency of church monuments and social and economic factors.
After a short period as a part-time lecturer at UEA, he spent a year as a lecturer at the University of Wales, Bangor before being appointed at the University of York in 1999. He is now a senior lecturer and Director of Studies for the MA in Historical Archaeology.
My research clusters around three themes: the post-medieval rural landscape, the impact and legacy of slavery, and commemoration. The relationship between these themes is important, and is manifest in publications on the designed landscapes of both slave-owning families and abolitionists, for example.
Trained as an historian and landscape archaeologist understanding the cultural landscape of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has been key to many of my research projects. At its heart is enquiry into the politics of landscape through its use and manipulation. The power of ownership is an important strand which was investigated in an editted volume Estate Landscapes and I have published on various aspects of the character, context and development of estates.
The global connections of many landowning families and the discourse of colonialism led me to explore the links and discontinuities between the metropole and the colonial landscape. This research took the form of both exploring the estates and designed landscapes of landowners who engaged with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and comparing these with those in the Caribbean. The award of a British Academy Small Grant enabled two seasons of fieldwork in Barbados resulting in publications on the first modern systematic fieldwork on one of the island's plantations, and on the construction of African identities within a plantation pot house, as opposed to the slave village, where archaeologists have traditional looked.
The archaeology of the enslaved workers on plantations has developed into a wider interest in marginalised communities in rural landscapes, and is one which informs my current excavations at Breary Banks which was home to navvies, volunteer recruits for the First World War, and German prisoners of war in less than thirty years of occupation.
The construction of identities and the use of social memory was an early research interest which grew from my first monograph An Archaeology of Commemoration and it is a theme I am still developing for a future publication. The role of commemorative material culture is one that can reveal much about contemporary social values.
The excavation of the manor house of Gawthorpe which was demolished in the early 1770s when the present Harewood House was completed. The project examines the cultural and economic gulf between Gawthorpe and Harewood, examining why the earleir building and its landscape was no longer 'fit for purpose' once the Lascelles family began to reap the profits of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and their plantations in the Caribbean.
Fieldwalking and landscape survey carried out at one of the plantations held by the Lascelles family of Harewood House from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The project examines the plantation landscape in comparison with the agricultural landscapes owned by the same family in the UK, and explores the cultural connections between these two landscape types and the people who lived and worked within them.
Landscape survey and excavation of an early twentieth century camp constructed in the Yorkshire Dales to house the work force of navvies working on local reserviours, but which - on the outbreak of the Great War - was turned over to the military and became a training camp for the Leeds Pals battalion. Before reverting back to a navvy camp at the end of the war it also served as a PoW camp for German Officers. The project will examine each of the four phases, exploring how successive groups lived within and related to the wider landscape.
I am a partner within the EUROTAST Marie Curie Initial Training Network, for which I supervise one PhD (Phulgence) and manage the second Experienced Researcher post (Morgan). The project is exploring the history, archaeology and new genetics of the trans-atlantic slave trade by supporting a new generation of science and humanities researchers to uncover and interpret new evidence on the history and contemporary legacies of the transatlantic slave trade.
I am currently writing a monograph on the archaeology of commemoration across the medieval and post-medieval periods. It will explore the politics and social context of commemoration, exploring the agency of the monuments in the construction of social memories and identities.
I would welcome enquiries and applications for research degrees on any of the topics mentioned below:
Current Research Students
Previous Research Students