At present David is working on:
Past distribution of grain pests in Britain
In collaboration with Harry Kenward (University of York), we have been reviewing the past distribution of the grain pests in Britain in order understand the extent to which they presented a continuous problem for Roman agriculture and why?
Palaeoentomology of urban settlement in London, the Midlands and East Anglia
David has been working closely with the Museum of London since the early 1990s. Recently AHRC funded a sabbatical in order to prepare a review of past insect faunas from London. This data has been compared with results from a range of Roman and Medieval settlement deposits in Winchester, Birmingham and Bristol, which David has also studied.
Early Holocene woodlands
In collaboration with Nicky Whitehouse (Queen’s University Belfast) and funded by NERC, we are reviwing early Holocene insect faunas to see if they shed light on the structure of the ‘wildwood’ in light of the ‘Vera Hypothesis’ – that early woodlands contained more open areas than previously thought. We are undertaking a range of modern analogue studies in order to assess the extent that insect remains from the archaeological reliably reflect the density of woodland in the environment.
Modern Analogues for the arcaheological record
David has always investigated the role of modern insect faunas to act as analogues for the past. Previous work has centred on roofing thatch, stabling materials and fodder. More recent projects have begun to investigate if there is a close fit between 'suites' of dung beetles and large herbivores.
David has provided a commercial service for the analysis of insect remains from a range of archaeological and geological deposits since 1992. He has worked with many commercial archaeological units, as well as a number of University-based research projects, in the UK.
David also maintains an abiding interest in cess pits – which has been a rich source of research for many years for himself and colleagues at The University of Birmingham.
- The development of insect faunas recovered form Hebridean blackhouses and their implications for archaeological interpretation.
- The insects from intertidal peats in the Severn Estuary and how these have changed in regards to sea level and human interference during the Holocene (with Emma Paddock)
- The nature of the insects associated with thatch and smoke blackened thatch.
- The insects associated with the annual progression of hay and straw from a simple farming system and the implications for the interpretation of insect faunas from the archaeological record.
- The seasonal development of insect faunas and plant floras in modern biodiverse hay meadows. The implications of the patterns recognised from this study for the more accurate identification of ‘hay’ faunas and floras in the archaeological record (PhD project with Pamela Grinter)