Dr Ffion Reynolds
Honorary Research Fellow
School of History, Archaeology and Religion
My main research interests are the prehistory of the British Isles and Ireland, focusing on themes of worldview including shamanism, animism, totemism and Amerindian perspectivism, funerary practices, material culture and art, as well as working to integrate anthropological and archaeological perspectives.
My current research interests focus on the symbolic relationships between humans and animals, especially deer through time - from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age to the Iron Age in Britain.
I am particularly interested in:
- The British Neolithic and the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition
- Human-animal relationships in prehistory
- Prehistoric worldviews
- Landscape archaeology
- Archaeological theory
- Ethnographic analogy
My other major interest is in community archaeology and public engagement, and I am currently working to inspire creative engagement with the historic and archaeological landscapes of Wales as part of my role as Heritage & Arts Manager at Cadw, the historic environment service for the Welsh Government.
Thesis title: Ways of seeing, being, doing: reconstructing Early Neolithic worldviews in southern Britain
My PhD reconstructed a possible worldview for the Neolithic period of southern Britain between 4000 and 3300cal BC. To reach this aim, it united three theoretical perspectives into a definition of Neolithic cosmology. Animistic, totemistic and shamanistic systems of thought provide powerful cosmological schemes in which close identification is made between different kinds of people and other types of being, be it animal, object or essence. By building a new understanding of cosmology, and then by working this understanding through five case-studies, my PhD research helped to refine current discussions on cosmology and worldviews, contributing to a broader understanding of Neolithic lifeways.
I am currently involved with the Guerilla Archaeology public engagement project. An archaeology, science, art and anthropology collective, dedicated to bringing the past alive.
My research has been used to advance the value of worldview studies by investigating the changing application of shamanism to the understanding of the past, present and the future through the establishment of the Guerilla Archaeology public engagement team. Previous research into shamanism has proved its applicability as a cross-cultural and universal neurological concept, indicating that cosmology construction is somehow 'hard-wired' into the brain. By using shamanism as a spring-board for exploring our own place in the world today, Guerilla Archaeology aims to provoke responses which are relevant to the present by exploring alternative explanations of the past.
The Make and Break Project
A school outreach programme, using archaeology, sound, drama and art to inspire creative responses to the Neolithic period in Wales.
The Tinkinswood and St Lythans Community Archaeology Project
A community archaeology project, investigating the Tinkinswood landscape and St Lythan's chambered tomb.
A Beacons funded project combining creativity and science on topics of natural and artificial selection with secondary schools, including non-mainstream education institutions.
Llanmaes Archaeological Fieldwork, Vale of Glamorgan
Excavations of a large feasting site, with a strong community archaeology emphasis and an innovative school outreach programme.
STEM Ambassador Scheme
I have been trained as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador.
I have taught on various Undergraduate and Postgraduate modules including Themes in the Neolithic, British Prehistory, Archaeological Skills, Human Origins and Environmental Archaeology.
Education and qualifications
PhD:October 2006–June 2010. Cardiff University, Colum Drive, Cardiff.
AHRC funded. Thesis title: Ways of seeing, being, doing: reconstructing Early Neolithic worldviews in southern Britain. Viva completed with no corrections in November 2010.
MA: October 2004–January 2006. Cardiff University, Colum Drive, Cardiff.
Archaeology. Thesis title: Extracting meaning from megaliths: the value of shamanism in reconstructing a Neolithic cosmology in Ireland. Funded through a Cardiff University Studentship Award – grade Distinction
BA: September 2001–July 2004. The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
BA (Hons) Archaeology – grade 2:1
After studying for a MA in Archaeology at Cardiff University, focusing on the Neolithic of Britain, I travelled to south America and conducted field research with the Shipibo shamans of Peru. On my return, I took up an AHRC-funded PhD focusing on Neolithic worldviews at Cardiff University, supervised by the Distinguished Research Professor Alasdair Whittle. Soon after submitting my thesis I began a yearlong position as the Council of British Archaeology's Community Archaeologist at Cadw, the historic environment service for the Welsh Government. My projects focused on community work at Tinkinswood and St Lythan's chambered tombs in the Vale of Glamorgan, Cat Hole cave on the Gower, Gray Hill stone circle in Monmouth and various school outreach programmes. My year contract came to an end in April 2012, and in May I was appointed as Cadw's new Public Engagement Manager.
Honours and awards
- 2012 The Tinkinswood and St Lythan's Community Archaeology Project was finalist in the Public Value Award at the Welsh Government Awards.
- 2006 My MA won the Richard and Hestor Atkinson prize for best Masters Dissertation in Archaeology and Conservation at Cardiff University.
I am a member of the World Archaeological Congress, Council of British Archaeology and the European Association of Archaeologists.