Photo of Prof Harold Mytum

Prof Harold Mytum M.A. D.Phil. F.S.A.

Professor of Archaeology; Director, Centre for Manx Studies Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology

Research

Introduction

My research interests concentrate on the archaeology of western Britain and Ireland from the Iron Age to the present, and aspects of global historical archaeology (17th-20th centuries). I also link my research about the past with heritage issues in the present. I strongly believe that our academic research can have a direct value to the communities within which we work, and that we can advise and encourage in the management, preservation and interpretation of our heritage.

I welcome interest from prospective research students with interests in the British Iron Age, early medieval Britain and Ireland, heritage management and interpretation, or any aspect of post-medieval / historical archaeology.
Current research students:
Anna Fairley, An archaeology of Liverpool's 19th-century cemeteries
Stacey Astill, Material culture and internment camp culture during World War 2.
Helen Swift, Death, Burial and Commemoration in Rural Industrial Sheffield c.17th- 20th century.
Peter Taylor, A New Trade: a documentary study of the trade in tobacco pipes prior to the English Civil War.

Research students recently graduated:
Tracey O’Leary, Christianity in Wirral in the fifth and sixth centuries– beyond Rome. 2018.
Katie Kewley, The Manx stone axe-head project: interconnection or isolation? The evidence from stone axe-heads for the Manx Neolithic in its Irish Sea context. 2016.
Brian Boyden, PhD, Structure and Agency in Small Scale Production: An Historical Archaeology of the Clay Tobacco Pipe Industry of Kent. 2016.
Michael Hoy, PhD, Isaac Barrow: Builder of Foundations for a Modern Nation. 2015.
Shirley Curtis, PhD, Monasticism and the Body: Reconstructing Lifeways. 2014.
Pat McClure, PhD, The Archaeology of the Post-Reformation Manx Church. 2013.

Archaeology of western Britain and Ireland

My Iron Age and native Roman period research concentrates on materiality and enclosure (hillforts and farmsteads), and experimental archaeology (roundhouse, four-poster reconstructions). One of my largest projects is based around Castell Henllys, Pembrokeshire, which we have been extensively excavated. Nearly three decades of fieldwork has revealed an Iron Age inland promontory fort and adjacent native Roman period settlement, with a brief re-occupation of the fort in the late Roman or post-Roman period. Several of the Iron Age buildings have been reconstructed in their original locations, and I have recently collaborated with Dyfed Archaeological Trust in recording the dismantling of two reconstructed roundhouses at the site, and excavating the remains of over 30 years of activity before a new reconstruction is put up in its place; our research and my experience of the building over the decades has informed the revised design.

Another strand of my research is exploring the 'long Iron Age' on the Isle of Man - the period from 500 BC to 1000 AD - with partial excavations on four settlements so far. I investigate early medieval interconnections within the Irish Sea region (including the Isle of Man), and the origins of nucleation and urbanism in Ireland through geophysical and surface survey of monastic settlements.

Historical archaeology

My historical archaeology research examines identity and memory through settlement and mortuary evidence from not only Britain and Ireland but also North America and Australia. My longest-running research theme is the interpretation of graveyard and cemetery monuments and landscapes, exploring issues of symbolism, craft production, kinship, belief and identity as expressed consciously and unconsciously in memorials. I also work closely with groups and organisations on the management and conservation of historic burial grounds, and research recording methodologies for various types of users, and this being further developed through the DEBS project in conjunction with a team at the University of York led by Professor Julian Richards.

I am also actively researching the archaeology internment of civilians on the Isle of Man during the First World War (there were camps at Douglas and Knockaloe near Peel), understanding how they coped with this unexpected loss of liberty. The artefacts they made and used, the numerous photographs of the camps, and our excavations at Knockaloe can all be combined with the limited official documentary evidence and the newspapers produced by those inside the camp to investigate this period of dislocation. I am also researching the activities of a famous German archaeologist, Gerhard Bersu. Whilst he was interned on the Isle of Man during the Second World War; he dug some of the key sites for understanding the Manx 'Long Iron Age' so links with my other period interests. Linked to this is my collaboration with Dr Gilly Carr (Cambridge), Professor Nick Saunders (Bristol) and Dr Rob Philpott (Liverpool) surveying the PoW camp at Les Blanches Banques, Jersey.

I also work on historic rural settlements, and the role of ceramics and dressers in domestic contexts. I have been developing network approaches to interpreting the evidence, and also experimenting with various forms of narrative in writing up my research. Recent fieldwork has been on a medieval iron smelting and post-medieval charcoal site at Satterthwaite in the Lake District, and a long-term project at Norton Priory.

Research Grants

Rushen Abbey Post-excavation publication

MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE (IOM)

April 2019 - March 2021

Developing a National Framework and Research Agenda for the Historic Built Environment (HE No. 7272)

HISTORIC ENGLAND (UK)

October 2016 - March 2019

Clay Tobacco Pipes for Field Archaeology – National Pipe Archive

HISTORIC ENGLAND (UK)

March 2016 - March 2018

Knockaloe Statement of Significance

ISLE OF MAN GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT FOOD & AGRICULTURE (IOM)

October 2015 - June 2016

Rushen Abbey Post-Excavation Report

MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE (IOM)

May 2015 - April 2017

Community Heritage Initiative

MANX HERITAGE FOUNDATION (IOM)

February 2012 - April 2017

Paramatta: Australia’s oldest extant European burial ground

SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES OF LONDON (UK)

June 2014 - December 2015

Manx Internment Newspapers of World War 1

MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE (IOM)

April 2012 - March 2014

Manx Graveyards Digital Archiving 1

MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE (IOM)

July 2011 - September 2020

World War 1 and its impact on the Isle of Man

MANX HERITAGE FOUNDATION (IOM)

April 2011 - March 2012

Developing Local Assessment and Monitoring Toolkits for Cemeteries and Churchyards (4D2.201)

ENGLISH HERITAGE

March 2013 - September 2013

Ballanorris Post-excavation

MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE (IOM)

July 2011 - September 2020

Historic Graveyards in County Monaghan

THE HERITAGE COUNCIL (IRELAND)

May 2012 - October 2012

Finding the Celts

MANX HERITAGE FOUNDATION (IOM)

July 2011 - January 2013

Archaeological Survey of the Nunnery Estate

FRIENDS OF THE CHAPEL OF ST BRIDGET AT THE NUNNERY

March 2007 - October 2007

Block grant 2008/09

MANX HERITAGE FOUNDATION (IOM)

January 2009 - October 2010

Research Collaborations

Dr Rob Philpott

Project: Community archaeology
Internal

Community archaeology projects in Prescot, Merseyside, Satterthwaite, Cumbria, and Norton Priory

Castell Henllys on-site team and James Meek, Dyfed Archaeological Trust

External: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Excavation, reconstruction and public interpretation and education outreach at Castell Henllys Iron Age Fort.

Professor Julian Richards

Project: Discovering England’s Burial Spaces (DEBS)
External: University of York

Graveyard recording app and supporting documentation

Dr Gilly Carr

External: University of Cambridge

Joint fieldwork on World War 1 PoW camp, Jersey

Ken Murphy

External: Dyfed Archaeological Trust

Collaborative projects in south-west Wales

Dr Laurie Burgess

External: Smithsonian Institution

Jointly editing a book on Mortuary Archaeology in the historic period.

Yvonne Cresswell

External: Manx National Heritage

Researching the Knockaloe World war I prisoner of war camp, Isle of Man