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Durham e-Theses
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Luminescence Dating of Medieval and Early Modern Brickwork

GURLING, THOMAS (2009) Luminescence Dating of Medieval and Early Modern Brickwork. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Essex is a county rich in significant historic brickwork spanning the medieval period. A great deal of earlier archaeological study has focused on the development and use of brick during this period, providing a framework of understanding as to how this material was employed in Essex through the medieval period. However, the common approaches adopted to date historic brick have several caveats that can potentially limit the amount of information they can provide. This presented an opportunity to apply the scientific dating technique of optically stimulated luminescence in order to derive absolute dates for important medieval brick sites in Essex. This in turn would allow this framework of understanding surrounding medieval brick to be critically examined and revised where necessary.

A series of important brick buildings that spanned the 11th through to the 16th century were selected for inclusion in this thesis. The buildings were studied from an archaeological perspective, deriving likely dates for their erection and development, before samples of the brickwork were taken. These were subsequently dated by luminescence. In light of the luminescence dates, the archaeological evaluations of the buildings were reviewed and revised where necessary.

The results have shown that medieval brick was introduced much earlier than had previously been suspected. This has refuted the long held notion that the Cistercians were responsible for introducing brick in the 12th century and has led to suggestions of a small scale, late Saxon brick industry. It was also apparent that, whilst being manufactured, brick was also being re-used to a large extent throughout the medieval period, especially in the 16th century. Whilst this is likely to be largely due to practical motivational factors, other esoteric social aspects are also likely to have played a role, such as the Great Rebuilding.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Medieval brick, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), Essex
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:25 Mar 2010 10:07

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