Earth and Environment Group photo

Before the start of the new academic term, the Earth and Environment team has a lovely get together, discussing the exciting plans for the year ahead.

left to right..

Dr Gillian Taylor (group lead), Dr Ernesto Saiz val, Dr Craig McBeth, Dr Haliza Hassan, Amy Burgess, Dr Rhys Williams, Dr Becki Scott, Dr Lisa Baldini, Dr Pablo Cubillas Gonzalez, Dr Ambroise Baker, Dr Caroline Orr, Dr Desire Dalton, Alison Reid, Dr Kerry Pettigrew, Dr Chris Ennis, Dr David Wright.


On the TV: Secrets in the Peat

This week you will be able to see Dr Gillian Taylor in the first episode of ‘Secrets in the Peat’ will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on Wednesday the 20th of September at 9pm – Life on the Peat. Dr Taylor will be talking about peat cores from Magna, Roman Fort.  The series will continue each Wednesday thereafter with two further episodes: Our Peaty Past and The Power of Peat.

BBC ALBA – Miorbhail na Monach – Secrets in the Peat, Series 1, Beatha air a’ Mhòintich – Life on the Peat

#secretsinthepeat #bbcalba


EAA Conference report – PhD student Aboli Vavle

Presenting my PhD research at the biggest Archaeological conference.

On September 1st and 2nd, I had the privilege of attending the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) conference in Belfast, UK which is one of the biggest archaeological conferences. During the conference, I had the opportunity to share my findings and engage with fellow scholars and researchers in the field. I presented my research on the Unravelling of textile production in the Roman frontier which was in collaboration with Gillian Taylor (Director of Studies), Marta Alberti (Deputy Director of Excavations at Vindolanda Trust, UK) and Heather Hopkins (Independent Research who provided the birch dyed wool for the experiments). Our research aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the textile production techniques employed by the Romans in their frontier regions as well as shed light on experimental archaeology like dyeing textiles with local dyes like Birch.

I was in the first session after lunch on 2nd September. I had expected a moderate turnout for my presentation since textile production in the Roman frontier might not be a topic of interest to everyone. However, to my surprise, the room was packed with attendees eager to learn about Roman textile production and dyeing. The interest and engagement of the audience during my presentation was truly inspiring. I saw everyone attentively listening to what I was trying to explain and actively taking notes. I saw some people taking pictures of all my slides as well as 3-4 people raising their hands to ask questions and seek clarification on certain aspects of my research. One of the questions raised during the Q&A session was regarding extraction of dyes such as birch and if the methods are applicable to other dyes as well. I personally thought it was the best time to ask me this particular question because it was only a few weeks before this conference that I worked in the lab trying to find an answer to this question, which is yes! It was wonderful to see that the audience was genuinely interested and engaged with my research. This also gave me an experience of understanding what questions I could be asked for my PhD viva soon.

The EAA conference in Belfast provided a valuable platform for scholars and researchers to exchange knowledge and ideas about several research topics from all around the world. It was a massive conference with at least 50 sessions being conducted simultaneously in different parts of the University. This conference provided a diverse range of perspectives and insights into the study of colours, dyes and textiles allowing me to broaden my understanding and refine my research further. The experience of presenting my research at the EAA conference in Belfast was both exciting and rewarding and I am immensely grateful that I was given this opportunity.

Visit to National Geographic Headquarters in August

On August 29th, Dr Lisa Baldini visited the National Geographic Society’s headquarters in Washington DC to provide an update on progress since her two-year National Geographic Explorer project began in December 2022. Phase I of the project involved expeditions to karst regions in Nigeria (in April), Gabon (in June) and Cameroon (in August) in search of cave stalagmites for palaeoclimate reconstruction. These were carried out in partnership with local researchers from several institutions in each country. Planning for the Phase II expeditions is currently underway. These will begin after the onset of the Nigerian dry season in February. Project Partner and NGS photographer, Robbie Shone and Lisa are currently pitching a potential National Geographic magazine article or documentary to be photographed/filmed during the 2024 Phase II expeditions.

Follow Lisa’s National Geographic Explorer Project on X (Twitter)   & Facebook.

Magna – Summer progress 2023

At the  start of July, the HLF funded project started at Magna. The £1.6M project was to support excavation and explore the impact of climate change, and awarded to the Vindolanda Trust.

The Teesside University team were involved in the installation of the weather station and monitoring system – VanWalt, which provides data every 15 minutes from a wide range of sensors including pH, temperature, ORP and moisture.

In July, soil monitoring was conducted by Dr Gillian Taylor and Dr Rhys Williams prior to the excavation. You can keep upto date with excavation progress by following the dig diary. The excavation in 2023 focuses on milecastle 46 and already some interesting artefacts such as a steelyard beam.

There is also a wonderful report in current archaeology about Magna and magnifying milecastle 46.