Dr Shannon Croft
Research Associate



My path in archaeology began at at Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada, where I obtained a BA in archaeology with a minor in biology. Then I obtained a MA in archaeology at University of Calgary, AB, Canada, on the topic of residue analysis of Late Period stone tools from an earth oven site in the Interior Plateau, BC, with focus on the identification of geophyte food starch and phytoliths. This research highlighted the need for a more controlled methodology to be applied to lithic residue analysis. Specifically, the need for sediment sampling and analysis in tandem with artefacts, and refraining from any post-excavation processing prior to residue analysis to reduce contaminates.

In 2013 I moved to the UK and undertook a four-year Archaeology PhD overseen by Profs Nicky Milner and Oliver Craig at the University of York. As a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellow, I investigated microscopic and chemical trace residues on Early Mesolithic stone tools from the site of Star Carr, with particular focus on development of appropriate methods. My research showed that use of multiple techniques such as transmitted and reflected visible light microscopy (VLM), scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS, also SEM-EDX), Raman microspectroscopy (micro-Raman), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIRM) can improve artefact analysis and identifiability of residues.

During my PhD, I was part of the European Research Council (ERC)-funded POSTGLACIAL Project from 2013-2016, which used forensic techniques to produce an in-depth reconstruction of paleoenvironments and past lifeways during the Early Mesolithic in the Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of my research, I have worked with physicists, chemists, palaeoecologists, archaeologists, and material scientists in England, USA, and Canada.

I also have experience in museum-based research and object conservation. I completed a professional specialization certificate in museum collections management from the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. At the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Burnaby, BC, I created an exhibit showcasing First Nations birch bark artefacts across Canada. During my research, I have been involved in multiple research outreach events where I designed and implemented hands-on activities about ancient microscopic residues for both school groups and general public engagement.


Selected publications


Needham, A., Little, A., Conneller, C., Pomstra, D., Croft, S., Milner, N., in press. Beads and pendant, in: Milner, N., Conneller, C. and Taylor, B. (Ed.), Star Carr Monograph. White Rose Press, York.

Fletcher, L., Milner, N., Taylor, M., Bamforth, M., Croft, S., Little, A., Pomstra, D., Robson, H.K., Knight, B., in press. The use of birch bark, in: Milner, N., Conneller, C. and Taylor, B. (Ed.), Star Carr Monograph. White Rose Press, York.

Conneller, C., Little, A., Birchenall, J., Garcia-Diaz, V., Croft, S., in press. The worked flint, in: Milner, N., Conneller, C. and Taylor, B. (Ed.), Star Carr Monograph. White Rose Press, York.

Croft, S., Colonese, A.C., Lucquin, A., Craig, O., Conneller, C., Milner, N., 2018. Pine traces at Star Carr: evidence from residues on stone tools. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 21, 21–31.

Croft, S., Chatzipanagis, K., Kröger, R., Milner, N., 2018. Misleading residues on lithics from Star Carr: identification with Raman microspectroscopy. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 19, 430-438.

Needham, A.P., Croft, S., Kröger, R., Robson, H.K., Rowley, C.C.A., Taylor, B., Gray Jones, A., Conneller, C., 2018. The application of micro-Raman for the analysis of ochre artefacts from Mesolithic palaeo-lake Flixton. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17, 650–656.


Croft, S., Monnier, G., Radini, A., Little, A., Milner, N., 2016. Lithic residue survival and characterisation at Star Carr: a burial experiment. Internet Archaeology 42. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.42.5

Milner, N., Bamforth, M., Beale, G., Carty, J.C., Chatzipanagis, K., Croft, S., Conneller, C., Elliott, B., Fitton, L.C., Knight, B., Kroger, R., Little, A., Needham, A., Robson, H.K., Rowley, C.C.A., Taylor, B. 2016. A unique engraved shale pendant from the site of Star Carr: the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain. Internet Archaeology (41). Available February 27, 2016. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.40.8


Croft, S., Mathewes, R.W., 2014. Barking up the right tree: understanding the birch bark artifacts of Canadian Plateau Peoples, BC Studies 180 (Winter 2013/2014), 83-122.



Main interests:

  • Hunter-gatherer archaeology

  • The identification of natural vs. cultural processes in the archaeological record

  • Use of biomolecular techniques to identify past lifeways

  • Palaeoethnobotany and perishable technologies

  • Zooarchaeology and taphonomy



Contact details

Dr Shannon Croft
Research Associate