Over the next couple of months we are particularly pleased to host a series of blogs from former undergraduate students of St Andrews. Courtenay Elle Critchton-Turley (2012), Matthew Moran (2013), Melody Wentz (2014) and Sophia Mirashrafi (2016) are just a few of our students who have gone on to undertake postgraduate degrees in archaeology/museum studies/conservation. In this series of posts, they will discuss their work and how it relates to material culture, digitisation and accessibility.

In this post we hear from Courtenay-Elle Crichton-Turley who graduated from St Andrews in Ancient History and Archaeology in 2012. Since then, Courtenay has been undertaking a PhD in archaeology and computing. We were delighted to present together in the same panel entitled ‘HIDDEN STORIES. 3D TECHNIQUES AS TOOLS FOR EXPLORING ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSEMBLAGES’ at the EAA (European Association of Archaeology) conference in Maastricht on Thursday 31st August. The conference runs from 30th August through to 3rd September.

For blog

Since leaving St Andrews, I have continued studying and working in archaeology, and am currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Sheffield in Archaeology and Computer Science. Before this I completed an MA in European Prehistory at the Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, focusing on disability in prehistory.

My PhD research focusses on documenting, classifying and contextualising London post medieval pipe clay figurines during the 1500-1800 centuries, combined with analysing the potential for the employment of 3D imaging technology for figurine and mould matching using this dataset. Taken together this will provide a new avenue for understanding figurine production and distribution, especially adding insight into pipe clay figurine mould generations. The primary basis of my dataset are the post-medieval pipe clay figurines from London, a previously unexplored collection of artefacts, with secondary datasets that broaden the scope of the research, for comparative and distribution analysis, to the rest of the UK, the east coast of America, and Europe.

Outcomes of this research aim to provide key information concerning contextual trends present in the production and use of pipe clay figurines. This includes the presence of aspirational motifs or imitation replicas; distribution mapping of both the figurines in general and certain iconographical trends; investigating the contextual significance in relation to societal factors; colonialism; and the rise of mass production that will offer discussion on contemporary societal frameworks.

Developing my 3D modelling skills during this thesis has taken me down many new research avenues including working on the Gaiamycota project with Professor Dunc Cameron from the Department of Animal and Plants Sciences, University of Sheffield, and sculptor Anthony Bennett. This multi disciplinary project ‘reflects on the state of “what remains of the soil” of our planet…its acute predicament, and foretells of a method to address this’.  Other projects I have been working on also includes a collaboration with the artist Yinka Shonibare MBE and the Royal Academy of Art, which will be released in December, so stay tuned for that project.

Alongside the PhD and research projects I have also developed a departmental outreach scheme called Archaeology in the City which provides local schools and the general public a chance to get hands on with archaeology and share local research that the department has been undertaking. This has been a wonderful opportunity over the last 3 years which has brought about a series of permanent archaeological fixtures such as The Woodland Heritage Festivals held each May at Ecclesall Woods Discovery Centre in Sheffield, and Archaeology and Ale, a free monthly archaeological talk series held in the local favourite archaeology pub, with the talks uploaded afterwards on the Archaeology Podcast Network! I am also the student representative on the council for the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, a position I have held for almost 2 years.

When Summer gets here the laptop is pushed aside and procrastination in the form of excavation arrives. I have had a series of fantastic opportunities to supervise on a range of sites, both abroad and here in the UK, including most notably three summers spent on the Thornton Abbey Project run by Dr Hugh Willmott of the University of Sheffield. This was a fascinating site to work upon with some ground breaking discoveries such as a mass Black Death grave, medieval hospital, and a priest with pewter chalice burial and ornate grave slab. The Priest burial, otherwise known as Richard de W’Peton, also appeared as a special feature in Current Archaeology, where you can see some of my 3D analysis employed to highlight trauma on Richard’s skull (you can also see this 3D model on my Sketchfab page).

Finally I have also just recently become an Associate Tutor at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, where come September I’ll be lecturing both Undergraduates and Master Students on a range of Archaeology and Heritage modules. So wish me luck with this!

So in conclusion I suppose it has been a busy few years since graduating from St Andrews, but I’ve never forgotten its sandy shores and the wonderful memories I have from there. I look forward to our paths once again crossing as we present together in the same session during the EAA in Maastricht!

Some useful links to topics discussed:






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