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Miss Julia Best 

  • Overview
Julia Best
Position:PhD Archaeology

Academic History

BA Archaeology (1:1) from Cardiff University, 2008.
Dissertation “The Fowling Economies of the Shiant Isles, Outer Hebrides: An Osteoarchaeological Investigation and Report of the Bird Remains”.

MA Archaeology (Distinction) from Cardiff University, 2009, (AHRC funded).
Dissertation “Fowling and resource exploitation on South Uist, Outer Hebridies:  An osteoarchaeological investigation of the bird remains from Cladh Hallan.

PhD at Cardiff University, from 2009 (AHRC funded). Working Title: “Living in Liminality:  An osteoarchaeological investigation into the role of avian resources in marginalized Scottish island environments.

PHD Research

Working title: “Living in Liminality: An osteoarchaeological investigation into the role of avian resources in marginalized Scottish island environments.

Islands have long been a subject of archaeological interest due to their unique character and situation. The archaeological response to these insular places has been both theoretical and scientific. However while the mammal and fish remains from many important Scottish and North Atlantic island sites have been analysed, the bird bones have been under examined. Where work does exist it is often brief, isolated, purely descriptive and not incorporated into the overall site interpretation.  This PhD will therefore consider the subsistence value of birds alongside the economic, social and symbolic aspects of avian-human relationships. My research will collate existing data, analyse new bone assemblages and develop the interpretation of avian remains. Avian analysis is vital since it informs upon seasonality, habitat, island ecosystems and environmental change whilst also allowing exploration of resource use, capture methods, introduced or domestic birds, human diet, and the diversity of avian products. The research will have wide geographical and chronological scope, moving beyond the Outer Hebrides to include the Inner Hebrides and Northern Isles, while incorporating assemblages from the Mesolithic onward, in order to study geographical and temporal characteristics and variations. This work will then form an avian dataset to aid future comparative analyses and facilitate comprehensive interpretation.

Start date: 2009
First supervisor: Dr Jacqui Mulville
Second supervisor: Professor John Hines


Best, J and Mulville, J. Forthcoming. ‘The Fowling Economies of the Shiant Isles, Outer Hebrides: resource exploitation in a marginal environment’. In: The proceedings of the 6th BWG Meeting, Groningen: Groningen Archaeological Studies.

Additional Information

I am a demonstrator for Environment and Economy and have demonstrated for Environmental Archaeology.

I am also a seminar leader for Post-Roman and Medieval Britain.

Papers Given

Puffins for Dinner: the varied role of seabirds in the diet of Scottish island populations, 2010, Food and Drink in Archaeology 4, University of Exeter.

Fowl Play? The archaeological analysis of birds from Scottish island sites, 2010, Speaking of Science, Cardiff University.

The Fowling Economies of the Shiant Isles, Outer Hebrides: resource exploitation in a marginal environment, 2008, The 6th ICAZ Bird Working Group Meeting, Groningen.

August 2010 - Marine Matters: Challenging current views on subsistence in the North Atlantic Islands (with Jennifer Jones). International Council for Archaeozoology 11th International Conference, Pierre et Marie Curie University, Paris.

Poster Presentations

Of Birds and Bones: Fowling at Cladh Hallan on South Uist, Outer Hebrides, 2009, Postgraduate Zooarchaeology Forum (PZAF), Cardiff University

Fowling Economies of the Shiant Isles, 2008, Unconsidered Trifles? Environmental Archaeology at a Small Scale: Association for Environmental Archaeology Meeting, Cardiff University.

Project Participation

I am a member of the Cardiff Osteoarchaeology Research Group  and I am also a Science, Technology and Engineering Ambassador (STEM). As a STEM ambassador I participated in the ‘Future Animals' Beacon for Wales project at the National Museum of Wales. This encouraged young people to explore evolution, bionics, and genetic engineering through creative artwork and examination of archaeological domestication in order to understand how animals may be changed and affected in the future. I helped to organise the first Postgraduate Zooarchaeology Forum (PZAF) held at Cardiff University November 2009. I am also involved with the Cosmeston Community Archaeology Project and will be one of the supervisors at the excavation this summer (2010).