Marta Innes

Gregory Building
Lilybank Gardens
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ

Research title


Research summary

This research project aims to evaluate the assemblage of prehistoric Scottish Bronze Age Food Vessels that have been found and recorded to date throughout the area of Scotland. Dating to between 2140-1620 BC, over 500 Food Vessels are known from Scotland, but there has been no comprehensive examination of the entire corpus to date. This project proposes a multi-faceted study focused on producing a reference database of the complete Scottish Food Vessel assemblage combined with in-depth regional case studies, offering a re-evaluation of this material and a compendium resource for future identification and comparative research in the field. While attempting to carry out a contextual funerary-oriented analysis of Food Vessel pottery to address questions about the nature of particular burial practices represented on Food Vessel sites, their implications for the role of Food Vessels in burials, and significance regarding Scottish Bronze Age mortuary practices or other regionally/locally observed near-contemporaneous funerary tendencies, this project is specifically situated within the theoretical background of experimental, new materialist and assemblage approaches.

In particular, my research aims to provide an alternative to the traditionally hylomorphic approach to the process of making, proposing instead a craft-based model that employs aspects of experimental archaeology to explore the creative and technological processes of ceramic production from the involved perspective of a maker rather than a theoretical analyst. Through hands-on engagement with raw materials, handling of the clay to form reproduction pots and employing replica tools to decorate the vessels, this approach aims to recreate and trace the intimate relationship between the potter, the clay, and the pot, investigating the material basis and practice of the craft from the inner perspective of the making process. Concentrating on the active and morphogenetic qualities of raw materials, and the reciprocal character of the interaction between the various players engaged in the making process, this perspective allows for the exploration of both the role that non-human actants play in shaping the maker’s actions, and the entangled material basis of all creative engagements - facilitating a proposal of an alternative archaeology of making.

Furthermore, my project also aims to challenge the traditional conceptualisation of Food Vessels focused on typological classification, and definition of ceramic categories in opposition to other classes of prehistoric pottery. Instead my research follows the implications of assemblage theory to conceptualise the pots as collective material beings and the ceramic corpus as an inter- and intra-referential assemblage; situating both within the broader relational continuum of networks of referentiality and citational and indexical fields. By moving beyond the focus on categorisation and concentrating instead on the relational and referential perspectives of the creative process of assemblage making, it is then possible to demonstrate the influences and connections between different ceramic (and funerary) ‘traditions’, and investigate the scale and extent of the regional and chronological links, the transmission and exchange of ideas, and the shared creative repertoire; both specifically within the Food Vessel class and within the wider assemblage of British and Irish Prehistoric ceramics.


  • AHRC Research Training Support Grant - for attending and speaking at the EAA Conference in 2018
  • SGSAH Student Development Funding - for data collecting research trips in 2016/2017
  • AHRC Research Training Support Grant - for data collecting research trips in 2016
  • AHRC DTP Studentship 2015-2018
  • Carnegie-Cameron Postgraduate Bursary 2012-2013


  • TAG 2018:
    • Paper: Classifying the Scottish Bronze Age Food Vessel Corpus - a New Materialist Perspective
  • The Matter in Hand: New Research on Later Prehistoric Finds; British Museum, 2018
    • Paper: ‘Kneading to Know’: Experimental Approaches and Engagement with the Materiality of Prehistoric Pottery
  • The 1st Annual Experimental Archaeology Student Symposium; Newcastle University, 2018
    • Paper: Making Prehistoric Pottery - A New Materialist Perspective
  • EAA 2018:
    • Paper: Experimental Approaches to the Making of Prehistoric Pottery
    • Paper: Scottish Bronze Age Food Vessel Corpus - scales of assemblage and referentiality
  • Scottish Student Archaeology Society Conference; University of Glasgow, 2018
    • Paper: Scottish Bronze Age Food Vessel Corpus - scales of assemblage and referentiality
  • Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium; University of Central Lancashire, 2017
    • Paper: Researching the Scottish Bronze Age Food Vessel Corpus from a New Materialist Perspective
  • SGSAH ‘Material Cultures: the Stuff of Research’ Conference 2017
    • Paper: ‘Kneading to Know’: Experimental Approaches and Engagement with the Materiality of Prehistoric Pottery


  • Archaeology in the Modern World
  • Archaeology of Europe and the Mediterranean 
  • Classical Civilisation 1A