The Geoff Egan Prize for Finds Research.
The Geoff Egan Prize is awarded annually to an individual in recognition of extraordinary potential in the field of finds research (post-Roman to modern periods) and celebrates the inspirational contribution Geoff made to the study of finds. The award is made on the basis of a piece of original artefact research submitted for consideration. Previous winners of the prize include research of important late medieval artefacts found in Durham; a study of the branding on clay tobacco pipes in York, and Aubrey Steingraber’s work ‘Region of Divisions, Region of Connections – Border Theory and the Archaeology of the Anglo-Scottish Border 1066-1400’.
Criteria & Assessment
The award is open to up-and-coming finds researchers with no track record of publication in finds research, archaeology or related subjects. Applicants should submit one piece of finds research in the group's areas of interest: artefacts of the early-medieval, medieval, and post-medieval periods, excluding ceramics and numismatic studies. The submission should be a piece of text, illustrated as appropriate, up to 20,000 words in length.
The piece should be professionally produced, and should relate to research undertaken within the two years prior to submission. Undergraduate and post-graduate dissertations will be accepted but we also encourage work of those outside of academia. The applicant should also detail:
- the background to the research
- its origins and context (including undergraduate or postgraduate dissertation, PhD thesis, independent research)
- when it was undertaken
- confirmation that the work is the applicant’s own
The decision on that year’s winner of the prize will be made by a panel of judges drawn from the FRG committee, with external advice being sought as appropriate.
The panel will assess submissions for evidence of originality of thought, professionalism of approach and presentation. Ultimately, the winning submission will show evidence of the researcher’s exceptional talent and potential for further work in finds research. The closing date for applications will be November 30th of each year. To allow submissions to be made while still fresh, they will be accepted between April 1st and November 30th.
Submissions should be made to Christine McDonnell, Chair of the Finds Research Group, York Archaeological Trust, 47 Aldwark, York Y01 7BX - email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The successful applicant will receive a small cash prize (£50.00), one year’s free membership of the FRG, and a copy of the Datasheet volumes. They may also be invited to submit an article for publication as a Finds Research Group Datasheet or to have a summary of the work produced in the Group’s newsletter.
The FRG committee may also commend submissions of a high standard that do not win and invite the researcher to submit the piece as a potential Datasheet.
The history of the Geoff Egan Prize – the first two years
For the first year of the prize, the FRG committee decided to award prizes to two entrants.
Gary Bankhead won for his report on a late medieval pectoral cross from the River Wear, Durham City, which he produced for his first degree whilst at University of Durham.
Jenny Basford won for "Identities and Affinities: branding on clay tobacco pipes from York", which formed part of her doctoral submission to the University of York.
In 2013 Megan von Ackerman won for her research into Viking Age keys.
The prize for 2014 was awarded to Aubrey Steingraber for her research into cultural identities along the medieval Anglo-Scottish border through close analysis of portable antiquities. This work for the University of York earned her a MA with Distinction in Medieval Archaeology.
As well as the cash prize, they received one year’s membership of the FRG, a copy of the Datasheet volumes and in addition, a copy of one of Geoff’s London publications, kindly donated by Museum of London Archaeology, for whom Geoff worked for many years.
Prize winners 2017
The joint winners of the Finds Research Group Geoff Egan Prize 2017 were announced at our Durham conference. They are Kevin Claxton (University of York) and Hendrik Lettany (University of Southern Denmark). The standard of all the entries was high and both authors are commended for the quality of their work and the future potential they both exhibit.
Kevin’s dissertation for his BA analyses a selection of artefacts collected and recovered over more than twenty years by father and son metal detectorists on the site of the 1644 Battle of Cheriton (near Folkstone Kent). His conclusions suggest that the area of the battlefield is greater than previously thought and highlight the important role finds can play in understanding battles and in sharing that understanding with the public.
Rik’s work for his masters in maritime archaeology also involves a moment in time, the sinking off the Belgium coast of a heavily defended merchantman in the early 16th century. The artefacts thus preserved help date the wreck, give a fascinating insight into cargos and global trade in the period and allow a close look at a diverse range of objects relating to navigation, trade and finance, domestic activities, dress and religion, and also the weapons required to defend such a precious cargo. Rik’s work will be published in BAR International series.
Thank you to all who submitted their research for the prize and many congratulations to both Kevin and Rik.
Previous Prize winners
In 2015 Eleanor March received the prize for her work on 'Pagan apotropaic objects and their incorporation into the Christian world in conversion-period England'
Eleanor has always loved the medieval period, particularly themes of, and relating to, religion, belief, superstition and magic. Throughout her studies she has enjoyed adopting an interdisciplinary approach to research and has become increasingly interested in material culture theories.
She says: "I thoroughly enjoyed researching this topic and exploring how the application of material culture theories to the study of pagan apotropaic objects may help to further our understanding of pagan ideologies. I was already proud of this work and how it was received by my department and still cannot quite believe it has been awarded the Geoff Egan prize. To have achieved this recognition and award at this stage of my career has given me confidence and reassured me in my plans to continue with further study, and for that I am incredibly grateful.”
Eleanor graduated from the University of Exeter with a First Class degree in BA (Hons) Medieval Studies and Archaeology with Study Abroad in July 2015. She is currently working for the College of Humanities at Exeter as a graduate intern predominantly overseeing student engagement and education development, she will be returning to education in September, studying for a Masters in Medieval Archaeology at the University of York.
Page banner image: © Christine McDonnell