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Callum Reilly

Research project

Landscapes of reform in the twentieth century: The garden villages of New Earswick and Woodlands


Dr Jonathan Finch (lead); co-supervised by Dr Jan Woudstra, University of Sheffield


White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH) AHRC competition studentship

Summary of research project

My PhD project examines ideas of social reform, planning and the landscape through an in-depth study of two early twentieth-century Garden City schemes in Yorkshire.

New Earswick, founded in 1902 near York, offered an improved environment, free from the crowding of urban districts, while also providing decent homes within the means of working-class people. Woodlands was founded in 1907 as a model mining village for employees of the Brodsworth Colliery, near Doncaster, and sought to prevent the poor conditions that had characterised some industrial communities. The design of both villages reflected the reform ideals of the Garden City movement, including low-density housing, green spaces and recreational facilities.

Using a landscape biography approach, I investigate how the loosely defined concept of reform appeared on the ground and what consequences this had for residents. This will enable archaeologists and others to identify reform as a material process in the modern world, with relevance for solutions to contemporary issues such as the UK’s housing crisis.



I graduated with a BA in Archaeology from the University of York in 2012 and stayed on to study for an MA in Historical Archaeology (completed in 2013). After time spent volunteering in the heritage sector, and nearly three years working in a busy press office for a built environment professional body, I returned to York to begin my PhD in September 2017. Here, I continue to be inspired by the power of historic and contemporary built environments to influence society for the better, an attitude that drives my current research.

Previous research

My research background is in the historical archaeology of the eighteenth to early-twentieth centuries. As an undergraduate, I investigated the role of local identity in commemoration through a graveyard survey conducted at a rural parish church in Cornwall.

Later, my MA thesis explored rural poverty as a social condition by analysing photographs taken for the U.S. Resettlement Administration during the Great Depression. Studying the images archaeologically showed how perceptions of poor people were shaped through representations of the landscape, buildings and industries. The impact of material culture on social groups is a common thread in my research.

Research interests

Among my research interests are commemoration and memory, rural and urban domestic landscapes, archaeologies of inequality and poverty in the modern world, and archaeological approaches to documentary sources, including images. Through my role as a qualified public relations practitioner, I have a growing interest in the material basis of communication and how past groups sought to be understood by others.


Publications and Academic Awards

Conference presentations

Reilly, C. Forthcoming. ‘ “Bright and cheerful”: Forming place and reforming the people at New Earswick’. Paper to be presented at York 1900–1910 and All That Conference. York, 5 May 2021.

Reilly, C. 2020. ‘“Everything to make life bright”: The landscape of social reform at Woodlands Model Village, South Yorkshire, 1907–1939’. Twitter paper presented to the fifth annual Post-Medieval Archaeology Congress, 17–18 April.

Reilly, C. 2017. ‘Poverty and utopia in the garden city’. Poster presented at the Third Annual WRoCAH Conference. University of York, 19 October. 


2020. Third prize, Humanities Research Centre Poster Competition, University of York. 

2019. WRoCAH Researcher Employability Project funding for research placement at White Rose Brussels, Belgium. 

2019. WRoCAH Small Award to attend Homes Fit for Heroes Centenary Conference. Institute of Historical Research, London, 18 July. 

2017–2020. WRoCAH AHRC Competition PhD studentship. 

2013. Winner, Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Postgraduate Dissertation Prize.

2012. Winner, Charles Wellbeloved Prize, presented by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society for the best undergraduate archaeology dissertation submitted to the University of York.

2012. Commended, Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Undergraduate Dissertation Prize.

Teaching and Impact


2019–20. Themes in Historical Archaeology: The Modern World (tutor).

2019–20. Designing Research (seminar facilitator).

2018–20. Field Archaeology (marker).

2018–19. Accessing Archaeology (tutor).


2020. Housing and Power in the Modern World (WRoCAH Student Led Forum), conference co-organiser.

2020. Tackling Giants, Creating Future, symposium co-organiser.

2020. Pint of Science 2020 festival, communications manager for York.

2019. Policy researcher (European Universities Initiative), White Rose Brussels (WRoCAH Researcher Employability Project).

2019. With Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust. Invited talk and walking tour of New Earswick for delegates of the Town and Country Planning Association’s annual garden village study tour. New Earswick, 11 September.

2019. ‘Archaeology in the village: Landscape and reform in New Earswick’. Invited talk given to New Earswick Local History Group. New Earswick, 19 July.

2018–2019. York Seminar Series, organising committee member.

2017–2018. WRoCAH Student Journal, editorial board member.

2012. ‘Identity and commemoration in a Cornish Churchyard’. Short paper presented to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. Yorkshire Museum, York, 27 November.


Contact details

Callum Reilly
University of York
Department of Archaeology
King's Manor
Exhibition Square
YO1 7EP Office - K/G65

Tel: 01904 323931