Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins
BA (Hons), MSc, PhD
Department of Archaeology
Senior Lecturer in Human Osteology
Co-Course Director – MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology
Departmental Director of Postgraduate Taught Courses
Departmental Director of Impact and External Engagement
+44 114 222 2906
Full contact details
Department of Archaeology
I trained as an archaeologist at Durham University from 2002-5, moving on to specialise in human skeletal analysis at Masters level at the University of Bradford.
Following the completion of my doctorate “Burial Practices in Northern England c. A.D. 650-850: A Bio-Cultural Approach” at Sheffield in 2010, I taught Human Osteology in the Department of Archaeology during 2010-11.
I was Demonstrator in Anthropology at Bournemouth University from 2011-13, where I taught skeletal analysis and managed their human remains collections. I returned to Sheffield in March 2013 as Lecturer in Human Osteology.
- MSc Human Osteology and Palaeopathology
- BA (Hons) Archaeology
- Research interests
I am a specialist in human osteology and palaeopathology with particular interests in multidisciplinary approaches to questions surrounding past population structures, health, disease and lifestyle.
I have worked with human remains from many periods and locations, but have primarily focussed on material from post-Roman to modern periods in the UK.
My current main areas of research include:
- Multidisciplinary analysis of osteological and funerary data from early medieval to post-medieval contexts
- The character and provision of funerary practices in early Christian and medieval England
- Health status and social status in past populations
- Disease, disability and disfigurement in the past (including social attitudes to sickness and medical/surgical interventions)
- The archaeology of childhood
- Archaeology of the body, especially practices for managing, manipulating and curating human remains
Current research projects / collaborations
The archaeology of childhood
- Infant-specific funerary rites and childhood identity in early medieval England. This project has incorporated isotopic evidence for physiological and dietary status alongside analysis of skeletal, funerary and spatial data to explore the so-called ‘eaves-drip’ burial rite. Original data collection was funded by The University of Sheffield’s Early Career Researcher Scheme in collaboration with Dr Julia Beaumont, University of Bradford
- Marking Maternity: Integrating historical and archaeological evidence for reproduction in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Part of the British Academy funded project ‘The Material Body’ with Prof Mary Fissell, Johns Hopkins University
- Supervisor of AHRC collaborative doctoral award ‘An interdisciplinary exploration of the social impact of foetal and perinatal mortality during the industrialisation of England’ with Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) 2020-24.
Human remains and funerary practices of the medieval and early modern periods
- The Material Body: An Interdisciplinary Study Using History and Archaeology, in collaboration with Prof Karen Harvey, University of Birmingham. Funded by the British Academy. Edited book with Manchester University Press forthcoming (2021).
- Tents to Towns: The Viking Great Army and its Legacy. Analysis and interpretation of Viking and medieval period burials in the vicinity of the Viking Winter Camp at Torksey, Lincolnshire, in collaboration with Prof Dawn Hadley, Prof Julian Richards and Dr Gareth Perry, University of York
- The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project. A multidisciplinary exploration of a unique medieval charnel house in Rothwell, Northants. In collaboration with Dr Jenny Crangle, Wessex Archaeology, Prof. Dawn Hadley, University of York and Dr Paul Barnwell, Cambridge University
Archaeologies of the Norman Conquest
- Examination of Anglo-Norman funerary rites and the integration of studies of human skeletal remains into a multidisciplinary archaeological narrative of the Conquest through the subjects of diet and foodways. I am part of a research network “Archaeologies of the Norman Conquest” funded by the AHRC and my research of material from Anglo-Norman Oxford has been funded by British Academy, Society for Medieval Archaeology and RAI.
Knowledge exchange and co-production in archaeology
- I am PI of the Roots and Futures project which is a collaborative project to explore co-constructed community heritages in North Sheffield. External collaborators include Kelham Island Museum, ECUS and community organisations KINCA and Zest. Activities in Spring/Summer 2020 supported by the University of Sheffield Knowledge Exchange fund included the creation of an interactive web app.
- Finding Oxford’s medieval Jewry using organic residue analysis, faunal records and historical documents. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 13(3).
- The dietary impact of the Norman Conquest: A multiproxy archaeological investigation of Oxford, UK. PLoS ONE, 15(7). View this article in WRRO
- Charnel practices in medieval England: new perspectives. Mortality, 2, 145-166. View this article in WRRO
- Review: Villa Magna. An Imperial Estate and its Legacies. Excavations 2006-10. Medieval Archaeology, 62(2), 440-441. View this article in WRRO
- The role of infant life histories in the construction of identities in death: An incremental isotope study of dietary and physiological status among children afforded differential burial. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 167(3), 644-655. View this article in WRRO
- Comparing apples and oranges: why infant bone collagen may not reflect dietary intake in the same way as dentine collagen. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 167(3), 524-540. View this article in WRRO
- A new multivariate method for determining sex of immature human remains using the maxillary first molar. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Commentary: interdisciplinary approaches to the study of disease and deformity in past populations. Archaeological Review From Cambridge, 32(1), 106-111.
- The Winter Camp of the Viking Great Army, AD 872–3, Torksey, Lincolnshire. Antiquaries Journal, 96, 23-67. View this article in WRRO
- The Diagnosis and Context of a Facial Deformity from an Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Spofforth, North Yorkshire. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 23(6), 631-639. View this article in WRRO
- Weaning at Anglo-Saxon raunds: Implications for changing breastfeeding practice in britain over two millennia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 151(4), 604-612. View this article in WRRO
- The Chesil Mirror and other effects of a young Celtic woman. British Archaeology(September/October 2013), 36-41.
- Chest burial: A middle anglo-saxon funerary rite from northern england. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 31(3), 317-337. View this article in WRRO
- Correction: The dietary impact of the Norman Conquest: A multiproxy archaeological investigation of Oxford, UK. PLOS ONE, 15(9), e0239640-e0239640.
- View this article in WRRO Seeking ‘Norman burials’, evidence for continuity and change in funerary practice following the Norman Conquest In Hadley DM & Dyer C (Ed.), The Archaeology of the 11th Century: Continuities and Transformations
- View this article in WRRO Eavesdropping on short lives: Eaves-drip burial and the differential treatment of children one year of age and under in early Christian cemeteries In Hadley DM & Hemer KA (Ed.), Medieval Childhood: Archaeological Approaches Oxbow Books
- Spittlegate: the medieval hospital In Start D & Stocker D (Ed.), The making of medieval Grantham Heckington: Heritage Lincolnshire.
- View this article in WRRO Investigating social status using evidence of biological status: a case study from Raunds Furnells In Buckberry J & Cherryson A (Ed.), Burial in Later Anglo-Saxon England, c.650-1100AD Oxford: Oxbow.
- Children and childhood in bioarchaeology. Childhood in the Past, 12(1), 50-51. View this article in WRRO
- New Approaches to Disease, Disability and Medicine in Medieval Europe. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY, 63(1), 223-224.
- Book review: Charterhouse Square: Black Death Cemetery and Carthusian Monastery, Meat Market and Suburb. Medieval Archaeology, 62(2), 464-464. View this article in WRRO
- Children, Death and Burial. Archaeological Discourses. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY, 62(1), 212-213.
- The Comparative Palaeopathology of Males and Females in English Medieval Skeletal Samples in a Social Context. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY, 62(1), 212-212.
- Gender in Medieval Culture. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY, 60(2), 426-427.
- Sanitation, Latrines and Intestinal Parasites in Past Populations. Medieval Archaeology, 60(1), 200-200.
Conference proceedings papers
- View this article in WRRO Grave Concerns – A new project exploring the management and maintenance of cemetery space c. 1700-2000. Resurgam, 11 June 2018 - 13 June 2018.
- SEEKING 'NORMAN BURIALS' : EVIDENCE FOR CONTINUITY AND CHANGE IN FUNERARY PRACTICE FOLLOWING THE NORMAN CONQUEST. ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE 11TH CENTURY: CONTINUITIES AND TRANSFORMATIONS, Vol. 38 (pp 139-158)
- Using Semi-automatic 3D Scene Reconstruction to Create a Digital Medieval Charnel Chapel. Proceedings of EG UK Theory and Practice of Computer Graphics View this article in WRRO
- The nameless dead: inside a medieval charnel chapel
- The human remains from the Winter Camp
- The Digital Ossuary: 3D visualisation of a unique and endangered archaeological site.
- The dietary impact of the Norman Conquest project data.
- Research group
Current Research Students
- Aimee Barlow- "Coming of age: a biocultural investigation of reproductive practices in Industrial Britain"
- Richard Clark- "A survey of Homo neanderthalensis immature morphology and ontogeny"
- Emma Hook- "The hospital of St James: Imvestigating social function through cemetery demographics"
- Elizabeth Knox- "A multidisciplinary investigation into the social impact of foetal and mother mortality during the industrialisation of England"
- Ian McAfee- "Joint disease in post-Medieval England: Comparative analysis of modern risk factors and historic lifestyles"
- Ofelia Meza Escobar- " Paleopathological changes of the Ceramic Period populations in the semi-arid North of Chile between 300 BCE and 1500 CE"
- Martina Monaco- "A critical examination of social stratification in prehistoric Cyprus using skeletal and funerary data"
- Sarah Poniros- "Roman migration patterns based on skeletal, archaeological, and written evidence"
- Samantha Purchase-Manchester- "A Radiographic Analysis of Middle Ear Infection in Human Skeletal Remains"
- Charlotte Waller-Cotterhill- "One Foot in the Grave: An Experimental Examination of the Effectiveness and Development of the Anglesey Leg and an Analysis of Prosthesis during the Long Nineteenth Century"
- Tegid Watkin- "3D geometric morphometric analysis of metacarpal and phalangeal torsion in humans, primates and fossil hominins, and its application in stone tool use"
- Ben Wigley- "A bioarchaeological examination of the impact of early life stress on later health outcomes using procrustean assessment of dental fluctuating asymmetry"
Former PhD Students
- Jenny Crangle (2015)- "A study of post-depositional funerary practices in medieval England"
- Emma Green (2018)- "What are we missing? An Archaeothanatological Approach to Late Anglo-Saxon Burials"
- Teaching activities
- Science in Archaeology
- Professional activities
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
- Elected Treasurer, British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO)
- Craig-Atkins, E., Madgwick, R., and Jervis, B. 2018. Rethinking the Impact of the Norman Conquest using Archaeological evidence of Diet and Food Culture. Haskins Conference 2018, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. October.
- Craig-Atkins, E., Crangle, J., Barnwell, P., and Hadley, D. 2018. 'The sculls that lie heap'd up ': Post-mortem interactions with human remains in the charnel house at Rothwell, Northamptonshire . European Archaeological Association, Barcelona, September.
- Fissell, M. and Craig-Atkins, E. 2018. Marking Maternity. Keynote delivered at the Material Bodies in Archaeology and History conference, organised by E Craig-Atkins and K Harvey, Birmingham, June.
- Craig-Atkins, E. 2018. Grave Concerns: A new project exploring the management and maintenance of cemetery space c. 1700-2000. Cremation and Burial Communication and Education conference, Newcastle, June.
- Craig-Atkins, E., Crangle, J. and Hadley, D. 2017. The chronological and liturgical context of charnel practice in medieval England: manipulations of the skeletonized body at Rothwell Charnel Chapel, Northamptonshire. Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, April.
- Hadley, D., Crangle, J. and Craig-Atkins, E. 2017. The Afterlife of the Charnel Chapel at Rothwell (Northants.). Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, April.
- Craig-Atkins, E., Beaumont, J. and Towers, J. The influence of weaning status on childhood identities: preliminary findings from an incremental isotope study of early medieval infants. Little Lives conference, Durham, Jan 2016.
- Beaumont, J., Buckberry, J., Montgomery, J., Haydock, H. and Craig-Atkins-E. 2015. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings… A comparison of aging age using bone collagen and incremental dentine collagen from Raunds Furnells. British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteology conference, Sheffield, Sep 2015; and the American Association for Physical Anthropology Conference, Atlanta, USA, April 2016.
- Craig-Atkins, E. New insights into the control and management of Christian burial in England: A Case Study of ‘Eaves-Drip’ Burial. EAA conference, Glasgow, September 2015.