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 Adelle Bricking

Adelle Bricking

Research student

Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.

Howdy! I'm Adelle! I am a PhD researcher from Kentucky, USA. I am also a Finds Liaison Officer at Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales. I hold a BA in Anthropology from Northern Kentucky University where I had a dual focus on archaeology and cultural anthropology. I moved to Wales in 2016 to complete an MA in archaeology at Cardiff University. My MA dissertation compared human remains in Iron Age hillforts and middens in Wessex, and I fell into a love/hate with the mysterious and varied ways people disposed of their dead in this period. I realised I had barely scratched the surface and wanted to take it further, so now I'm doing a PhD under the diligent supervision dream-team of Dr Rich Madgwick and Prof Niall Sharples!

My PhD thesis is currently very unimaginatively titled "Iron Age mortuary practice in southwest Britain". To complete this project, I am using a holistic approach combining secondary burial data and cutting-edge primary analysis. The secondary research is creating a monstrous database of all human remains data from Iron Age contexts in my region to identify patterns in burial characteristics across the region. The primary research is a targeted histological analysis of human remains from case study sites to reconstruct early post-mortem treatments. Together, a more comprehensive understanding of Iron Age burial in this region will be achieved! 

Research interests

Research interests:

- Iron Age mortuary practice
- Histology/histotaphonomy
- Iron Age settlement, particuarly hillforts!
- Iron Age art and iconography 

Current projects:

Life and Death in Iron Age Wales 
Project team: Dr Oliver Davis, Dr Richard Madgwick, Adelle Bricking

This project will focus on the analysis of human remains from two of the sites with the largest assemblages – Dinorben and RAF St. Athan.  By combining the contextual study of this material with isotopic and micro-taphonomic analysis, the aim of this project is to directly address how we understand mortuary practices, but also to reveal new insights into the demographics of later prehistoric populations in Wales. 

Analyses generously funded by the Cambrian Archaeological Association.

Back to Backwell: A histological examination of human remains from Backwell Cave, North Somerset

The focus of this project is to identify early post-mortem treatments afforded to individuals deposited within the cave through histological analysis of bone diagenesis. This will help determine whether the individuals were inhumed within the cave—as suggested by excavators in the early 20th century—or defleshed prior to deposition. Additionally, radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analysis will greatly enhance our understanding of the lives and deaths of people buried there.

C14 generously funded by the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society (SANHS)


Seminar tutor:

  • Introduction to Ancient History 1: Gods, Kings and Citizens, 1000-323 BCE
  • Deep Histories: The Archaeology of Britain


  • Discovering Archaeology (Drawing, GIS)
  • Analysing Archaeology (Archaeological Science)
  • Bioarchaeology (Isotope preparation and analysis)
  • Forensic Osteoarchaeology (introduction to zooarchaeology)

Teaching assistant:

  • Pots, Poems and Pictures: Using Evidence for Ancient History


Iron Age mortuary practice in southwest Britain

This research aims to shed light on the enigmatic Iron Age (c.800 BC-AD 43) mortuary practices in southwest Britain using a holistic approach of secondary data collection and primary microscopic analyses. The first part of the research explores the various means of corpse disposal by compiling all available human remains data into a database allowing statistical comparison of burial characteristics (site, feature, context, deposit, and associations). However, the dead were subject to various treatments prior to disposal, as indicated by different states of skeletal completeness in Iron Age sites. Data from secondary analysis alone limits insight into aspects of a complex funerary rite, thus the need for a holistic study incorporating microscopic examination is evident.

Thin section light microscopy of bone diagenesis is a novel method to reconstruct processes that a body went through in the early post-mortem period (such as burning, preservation and exposure to the elements) and in what kind of environment decomposition occurred. This research examines samples of Iron Age human remains in articulated, partially articulated, isolated, and fragmented states to compare the character of bacterial attack present on the different classes of bone. This method will identify patterns in pre-depositional treatment throughout southwest Britain. Together with the secondary analysis of human remains data, a more holistic reconstruction of Iron Age mortuary practices in this region will be achieved.

Areas of expertise

External profiles