Archaeologies of automobility

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Archaeologists are no strangers to the spaces and materialities of roads. The material cultures of prehistoric and Roman roads have provided an important focus for archaeological investigations, while modern road construction programmes have provided invaluable opportunities to conduct archaeological and geological investigations of sub-surface materials. In recent years, humanities and social science scholars have started to trace the material cultures and practices associated with the modern spaces of the car, road, and driving, and this chapter traces the outlines of what we might call an archaeology of modern automobility, discussing the findings of two research projects undertaken on the material cultures of automobility. Drawing upon research on the historical geographies of Britain’s M1 motorway the author examines how archaeological techniques (including field excavations) could provide an important complement to archival research in order to trace the design, construction, and use of such sites. In the second example, the chapter discusses a recent research project which attempted to write a cultural history and contemporary archaeology of the campaign for bilingual road signs in Wales. Drawing upon archival research, oral histories, and photographic research, the project reveals how the materiality of road signs was central to the motives behind-and effectiveness of-the campaign in 1960s and 1970s Wales.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World
EditorsPaul Graves-Brown, Rodney Harrison, Angela Piccini
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-0199602001, 019960200X
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2013


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