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Module HPA-4003:
Theory&Interp. in Archaeology

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

40 Credits or 20 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Gary Robinson

Overall aims and purpose

This course will cover a wide range of theoretical viewpoints and ways of interpreting archaeological evidence relevant to Celtic archaeology and will look into current influential discourses in archaeology and related disciplines. Topics covered include: Who were 'the Celts'?; Gender in Celtic Archaeology; Celtic Social Archaeology; Interpreting material culture & landscape; Politics and Nationalism; The problems of the Archaeology of the Celtic Church; Modern Art and Celtic Archaeology; Approaches to archaeological method and practice: reconstruction/drawing; Monuments & Memory; Anthropological aspects of belief and religion; Liminality, arrangement of landscapes, access & other spatial analysis.

Course content

Definitions of 'the Celts' and 'Celtic', the origins/invention of the 'Celts', archaeological gender studies, social archaeology, material culture studies, palaeoecology, landscape archaeology, archaeology & politics, archaeology & art history, historical archaeology, the archaeology of belief and religion, reconstructive archaeology, archaeology & the modern period, spatial archaeology

Assessment Criteria


C/50%: will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partly-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies.


B/60%: will be show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria in the paragraphs above.


A/70%: will show this solid achievement across the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Knowledge of various different theoretical approaches in Celtic Archaeology will be gained through directed reading and through seminars

  2. Awareness of influential discourses in Celtic Archaeology and related disciplines will be gained through directed reading and seminar discussions (each of which will focus on one of the various discourses in Celtic Archaeology). The ability to discuss the merits of various approaches will be fostered by reading, analysis of interpretations, discussion and judgements in seminar discussions.

  3. The ability to form and present arguments about ongoing discources, differing interpretations and theoretical approaches in Celtic Archaeology will be promoted by experiencing argument in reading and seminar discussions.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 1 4000 words 50
Essay 2 4000 words 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


This course is taught through a combination of directed reading and seminars, including set seminars (15 x 2hr)

Private study 370

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
  • appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
  • engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity


Reading list

GENERAL READING LIST Birkhan, H. 1997. Kelten. Versuch einer Gesamtdarstellung ihrer Kultur. Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Birkhan, H. 1999. Kelten – Celts. Bilder ihrer Kultur – Images of their culture. Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Cunliffe, B. 1997. The Ancient Celts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Delamarre, X. 2001. Dictionnaire de la langue Gauloise. Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental. Paris : Editions errance. Duval, P.M. 1977. Les Celtes. Paris: Editions errance. Ball, M. and J. Fife (eds) 2002. The Celtic Languages. London & New York: Routledge. Green, M.J. (ed) 1995. The Celtic World. London and New York: Routledge. Filip, J. 1976. Celtic civilisation and its heritage. Praha: Akademie vied. Freeman, P. 2001. Ireland and the Classical World. Austin: University of Texas Press. Freeman, P. 2002. War, Women and Druids. Eyewitness reports and early accounts of the ancient Celts. Austin: University of Texas Press. Jacobsthal, P. 1944. Early Celtic Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. James, S. 1993. Exploring the World of the Celts. London: Thames and Hudson. Karl, R. & Stifter, D. (eds) 2007. The Celtic World. 4 vols., London: Routledge. Kruta, V. 1997. Les Celtes. Paris: Editions Paris-Méditerranée. Kruta, V. and W. Forman 1986. The Celts of the West. Harper-Collins. Lambert, P.Y. 2002. La langue gauloise. Paris : Editions errance. Maier, B. 2002. The Celts. Notre Dame: The University of Notre Dame Press. Megaw, M.R. and J.V.S. Megaw 2001. Celtic Art: From Its Beginnings to the Book of Kells. London: Thames & Hudson (3rd ed.). Moscati, S., O.H. Frey, V. Kruta. B. Raftery, and M. Szabo (eds) 1991. The Celts. London: Thames and Hudson. Raftery, B. 1994. Pagan Celtic Ireland. The Enigma of the Irish Iron Age. London: Thames & Hudson. Rankin, H.D. 1996. Celts and the Classical World. London & New York: Routledge (reprint). Renfrew, C. 1987. Archaeology and Language. New York: Penguin. Pauli, L. 1980. Die Kelten in Mitteleuropa. Salzburg: Amt der Salzburger Landesregierung.

Seminar-specific readings also provided

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: