ANNUAL REPORT (DRAFT): 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001


Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit





1 Annual Report 2


Appendix 1: Mandatory Annexes to the Main Report



Mission Statement



Management/Steering Committee Membership and Terms of Reference



Equipment Inventory



Future Developments



Summary of Performance Information



Publication details for the calendar year



Targets and Milestones






Service Management




Appendix 2: Optional Annexes to the Main Report



Details of Science Projects Supported



Staff Visits and Conferences Attended



Quality Assurance Mechanisms




Mandatory Annex 1 - Service Mission Statement







In order to achieve its objectives the ORADS will:

- promote recognition of the Laboratory as a readily accessible focus for applied 14C AMS measurement, via:-

- maintaining a clear picture of user priorities.

- disseminating information through publication, conference presentation and the organisation of workshops and other educational activities.

- maintaining whenever possible an active in-house programme of research and development.

- encouraging opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and in-house training.

- monitoring user-satisfaction with the service provided and responding as necessary for improvement.

- marketing the Laboratory’s analytical and consultative capabilities in the commercial sector.

User Community:

ORADS has a remit to support alpha graded research being prosecuted within the User Communities identified in the NERC Mission. In addition, and subject to available analytical capacity, ORADS undertakes to provide support, on a contractual basis, for public bodies and private customers whose general purpose falls within the definition of archaeological and environmental concern.



March 1996

Mandatory Annex 2

Steering Committee Membership and Terms of Reference


Mr. A Saville (Chairman), National Museums of Scotland

Dr. H. Hamerow, University of Oxford

Professor R. E. M. Hedges, ORADS

Dr. T. Higham, ORADS

Dr. R. L. F. Kay, NERC

Professor D. Keen, University of Coventry

Dr. Y. Marshall, University of Southampton

Dr. C. B. Ramsey, ORADS

Professor M. S. Tite, University of Oxford

Ms D. Caden, NERC

Mrs D. C. Owen, RLAHA


Remit and terms of reference for NERC Programme Assessment Panel for the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Dating Service (ORADS PAP)



The Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Dating Service (ORADS) is a facility comprising a proportion of the capacity of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, purchased under contract with NSS on behalf of the Earth Science and Technology Board. The NERC Programme Assessment Panel for ORADS exists, as a sub-committee of the NERC Radiocarbon Facilities Steering Committee (RCFSC), in order to:

- monitor outputs from the Facility;


Director NSS, in turn, provides advice to the Science and Technology Boards of Council on Services and Facilities relevant to their remit.



Terms of Reference


  1. To review applications and establish priorities for the Head of the Facility, for the allocation of those of the Facility’s resources funded from the NERC science budget, taking into account recommendations made through the NERC peer review mechanisms.

  3. To review the scientific quality of work undertaken by users utilising the Facility, based on reports and publications.

  5. To monitor the level of user satisfaction with the service and to analyse the user base.

  7. To give guidance to the Head of the Facility on improvement of the Facility’s equipment and on its service function.

  9. To advise Director NSS on:
    1. the level and direction of the NERC-funded internal R & D programmes of the Facility;
    2. anticipated changes in requirements from the Facility and the anticipated levels of future demand for the Facility.


  10. To received and comment upon the annual report from the Head of Facility, before it is submitted to Director NSS by 1 July.

  12. To provide information and advice to the NERC Radiocarbon Facilities Steering Committee (RCFSC) and Director NSS at other times as appropriate.


Membership constraints

Membership of the Committee will be decided by Director NSS with advice from the appropriate Science and Technology Board and suggestions from RCFSC and the Panel itself. It will include the Head of the Facility and a representative from NSS HQ.

Members, other than ex-officio members will be invited to serve for a term of up to four years with a maximum extension of a further two years. The Chairman will serve a maximum of four years.

Mandatory Annex 3 - Equipment Inventory


ORADS has access to all the equipment belonging to and operated by ORAU.


The major items comprise:-





Mandatory Annex 4 - Future Developments

All future developments are planned around the advantages that will be afforded by the new AMS system to be delivered in the summer. These should be:



Our strategy for good stewardship of these resources has been addressed in our paper presented to the AMS strategy group meeting in November 2000. Our research agenda aims to study the 'Evolution of the Natural Environment' and encompasses Terrestrial (including Archaeological), Atmospheric and Oceanographic science. This is being pursued through research collaborations (e.g. on compound specific dating of lipids, atmospheric pollutant and tracer work and our own work on amino acids, chitin-glucosamine and cellulose-glucose) and through the service provision of ORADS.


We see compound specific work as being a key area in further development of the methodology and to this. This implies the ability to efficiently deal with samples right down to the microgram level. We are now constructing (a) an on-line gas feed to the ion source for the measurement of extremely small samples, and (b) a system for collecting CO2 samples resulting from GC-combustion systems (as used in GC-C-IRMS).

Please refer to our strategy paper for further details.


Mandatory Annex 5 - Summary of Performance Information


Table of project applications and progress information

(i) grading (ii) no. of dates granted (iii) samples submitted (iv) in prep. (v) dates run, * = project completed


2000 JUNE

No. dates applied for: 172-175

No. dates awarded: 112

(i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v)

Barnes Pre 16th Century Islamic textiles a 3 40 40 37 3

Mattingly et al. Fezzan project archaeobotany a 4 24 24 0 24*

Cooper/Barnes Pleistocene large mammal DNA a 4/5 15 10 0 10

Darvill at al. Billown Neolithic project a 4 14 14 0 14*

Derevenski Uhy excavation project a 3 11 10 4 6

Scarre et al. Prisse-la-Charriere long mound a 3 8 8 0 8*



No. dates applied for: 103

No. dates awarded: 62

Cooper/Shapiro Permafrost DNA of large mammals a4/5 30 30 30 0

Whittle/Wysocki Long Cairns, Brecknock, Wales a4 27 0 0 0

Cox et al Prehistoric Thames at Eton a3 5 5 5 0


2001 MARCH

No. dates applied for: 121-148

No. dates awarded: 86

Schulting Mid-Holocene humans in Wales a3/4 30 9 9 0

Bonsall et al Iron Gates: Lepenski Vir a4/5 25 0 0 0

Sheridan et al Scottish Nat. collections a3 6 0 0 0

Grant/Sauer Aurochs core horns from France a3/4 10 0 0 0

Hadley et al Cemeteries in Lincs & Yorks a3/4 13 0 0 0

Sauer et al Aves Ditch linear earthwork Pilot 1 1 0 0

Coote/van Braekel Kongo textiles Pilot 1 0 0 0

In-House Research


Collagen turnover rates in humans 7

Palaeolithic Humans: Non-contextual finds in Germany 10

Other Upper Palaeolithic dates in Europe 5

FIRI Intercomparisons 11


All projects this year fit into the SBA science area - 100% (86k). Projects have implications for a mixture of ENRIs. Proportion of work relevant is approximately: Biodiversity 30% (25.8k), Global Change 50% (43.0k) and Natural Resource Management 20% (17.2k).



Mandatory Annex 6 - Publication Details for the Calendar Year


Publications by staff of ORAU since the last report are listed below.

Ambers, J., Bowman, S., Garwood, P., Hedges, R.E.M. and Housley, R.A., 1999, Appendix 1: Radiocarbon dating, Appendix 2: Radiocarbon dates from the Abingdon causewayed enclosure, In (Eds. Barclay, A. and Halpin, C.) Excavations at Barrow Hills, Radley, Oxfordshire, Vol 1, The Neolithic and Bronze Age Monument Complex, Oxford Archaeological Unit Thames Valley Landscapes Volume 11, 330-339.

Ambers, J. and Housley, R. A., 1999, Radiocarbon Dating, In (Eds. A. Whittle, J. Pollard and C. Grigson) The harmony of symbols, The Windmill Hill causewayed enclosure, Wiltshire, Cardiff Studies in Archaeology, Oxbow Books, 116-120.

Bronk Ramsey, C., 2000, The role of statistical methods in the interpretation of radiocarbon dates, in Acte du colloque "C14 and Archaeology", 1998, Revue d’Archeometrie, G.M.C.P.A., 83-86.

Bronk Ramsey, C., Pettitt, P. B., Hedges, R. E. M., Hodgins, G.W. L. and Owen, D. C., 2000, Radiocarbon dates from the Oxford AMS system: Archaeometry Datelist 30, Archaeometry 42 (2), 459-479.

Bronk Ramsey, C. and Humm, M. J., 2000, On-line combustion of samples for AMS and ion source developments at ORAU, Proceedings of 8th AMS Conference Vienna, Elsevier Science Publishers, Section B of Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, 172, 242-246.

Dee, M. and Bronk Ramsey, C., 2000, Refinement of Graphite Target Production at ORAU, Proceedings of 8th AMS Conference Vienna, Elsevier Science Publishers, Section B of Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, 172, 449-453.

Dickson, J.H., K. Oeggl, T.G. Holden, L.L. Handley, T.C. O’Connell and T. Preston, 2000. The omnivorous Tyrolean Iceman: colon contents (meat, cereals, pollen, moss and whipworm) and stable isotope analyses. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London B 355 (1404), pp. 1843-1849

Hedges, R. E. M., 2000, Radiocarbon dating, In (Eds. E. Ciliberto and G. Spoto) Modern Analytical Methods in Art and Archaeology. Wiley-Interscience, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 155, 465-502.

Hedges, R.E.M., Bronk Ramsey, C. and Needham, S., 2000, Radiocarbon dating of metalwork from the British Bronze Age, in Acte du colloque "C14 and Archaeology", 1998, Revue d’Archeometrie, G.M.C.P.A., 207-211.

Hedges, R.E.M. and Pettitt, P.B., 2000, On the validity of archaeological radiocarbon dates beyond 30,000 years BP, in Acte du colloque "C14 and Archaeology", 1998, Revue d’Archeometrie, G.M.C.P.A., 137-141.

Hedges, R. E. M., 2000, Appraisal of radiocarbon dating of kiore bones (Pacific rat Rattus exulans) in New Zealand, Journal of The Royal Society of New Zealand, 30 (4), 385-398.

Hodgins, G. and Hedges, R. E. M., 2000, Toward the immunological detection of media: the detection of artificially aged collagen-based paints, in Art et Chimie, La Couleur, Actes du congrès (Eds. J. Goupy and J-P. Mohen), CNRS Editions, Paris, 2000, 75-79.

Housley, R. A., Gamble, C. S. and Pettitt, P., 2000, Reply to Blockley, Donahue & Pollard, Antiquity 74, 117-119.

Nielsen-Marsh, C., Gernaey, A., Turner-Walker, G., Hedges, R., Pike, A. and Collins, M., 2000, The Chemical Degradation of Bone, in Human Osteology in Archaeology and Forensic Science (Ed. M. Cox & S. Mays), G.M.M., 439-454.

Nielsen-Marsh, C. M. and Hedges, R. E. M., 2000, Patterns of diagenesis in bone I: the effects of site environments, Journal of Archaeological Science. 27, 1139-1151

Neilsen-Marsh, and Hedges, R. E. M., 2000, Patterns of diagenesis in bone II; effects of acetic acid treatment and the removal of diagenetic CO3 3-, Journal of Archaeological Science, 27, 1151-1159.

Neilsen-Marsh, and Hedges, R. E. M., 1999, Bone porosity and the use of mercury intrusion porosimetry in bone diagenesis studies, Archaeometry 41, 165-174.

Pettitt, P. B., 2000, Neanderthal lifecycles: developmental and social phases in the lives of the last archaics, World Archaeology, 31(3), 351-366.

Pettitt, P. B., 2000, Radiocarbon and Neanderthal extinction, in Acte du colloque "C14 and Archaeology", 1998, Revue d’Archeometrie, G.M.C.P.A., 165-170.

Pettitt, P. B. and Bader, N. O., 2000, Direct AMS Radiocarbon dates for the Sungir mid Upper Palaeolithic burials, Antiquity 74, 269-270.

Pettitt, P. B., Bailey, R. M., 2000, AMS radiocarbon and luminescence dating of Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves, Gibraltar, and implications for the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Iberia. In Stringer, C. B., Finlayson, C. and Barton, R. N. E., (eds) Gibraltar and the Neanderthals. Gibraltar: Museum Publications, 155-162.

Pettitt, P. B., Bronk Ramsey, C., Hedges, R. E. M. and Hodgins, G. W. L., 2000, AMS radiocarbon dating at Oxford and its contribution to issues of the extinction of Neanderthals and the spread of Homo spaiens sapiens across Eurasia, Proceedings of 8th AMS Conference Vienna, Elsevier Science Publishers, Section B of Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, 172, 751-755.

Pike, A. W. G. and Hedges, R. E. M., 2000, Sample Geometry and U uptake in Archaeological teeth: implications for U-series and ESR dating, Quaternary Science Reviews, 20, 1021-1025.

Pike, A. W. G. and Hedges, R. E. M. 2001. Sample geometry and U-uptake in archaeological teeth: implications for U-series and ESR dating. Quaternary Science Reviews 20 (5-9): 1031-1039.

Rom, W., Brenninkmeijer, C. A. M., Bronk Ramsey, C., Kutschera, W., Priller, A., Puchegger, S., Rockmann, T. and Steier, P., 2000, Methodological aspects of atmospheric 14CO measurements with AMS, Proceedings of 8th AMS Conference Vienna, Elsevier Science Publishers, Section B of Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, 172, 530-536.

Smith, F. H., Trinkaus, E., Pettitt, P. B., Karavanic, I and Paunovic, M., 1999, Direct radiocarbon dates for Vindija G1 and Velika Pecina Late Pleistocene hominid remains, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (USA), 96: 12281-12286.


Stringer, C. B., Barton, R. N. E., Currant, A. P., Finlayson, J. C., Goldberg, P., Macphail, R. and Pettitt, P. B., 1999, Gibraltar Palaeolithic revisited: new excavations at Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves 1995-7. In Davies, W. and Charles, R. (eds) Dorothy Garrod and the Progress of the Palaeolithic: studies in the Prehistoric Archaeology of the near East and Europe, Oxford: Oxbow, 84-96.

Stuart, G. E. and Housley, R. A., 1999, A Maya wooden figure from Belize, in Research Reports on ancient Maya writing, Center for Maya Research, Washington DC, USA, 1-10.

Switsur, V.R. and Housley, R.A., 1999, Radiocarbon ages of colluvial-derived material, In (Ed. Preece, R.C. and D. Bridgland) Holywell Coombe, Folkestone: the geology, prehistory and ecology of an English chalkland valley, Cambridge University Press.

Trinkaus, E. and Pettitt, P. B., 2000, The Krems-Hundssteig <<Gravettian>> human remains are Holocene, Homo, 51/2-3, 258-260.

Van Strydonck, M., Nelson, D. E., Crombe, P., Bronk Ramsey, C., Scott, E. M., Van Der Plicht, J. and Hedges, R. E. M., 2000, Rapport du groupe de travail: les limites de methode du carbone 14 applicquée a l'archéologie, What's in a 14C date, in Acte du colloque "C14 and Archaeology", 1998, Revue d’Archéometrie, G.M.C.P.A., 433-448.


Publications arising from supported projects

Aldhouse-Green, S. (ed) 2000. Paviland Cave and the 'Red Lady': a definitive report. Bristol: Western Academic & Specialist Press Ltd.

Bell, M. 1999 Prehistoric settlements and activities in the Welsh Severn Estuary. In Coles, B , Coles, J and Shou Jorgensen M. (eds) Bog Bodies, sacred sites and wetland archaeology. Exeter: WARP, 17-26

Bell, M. 2000 Intertidal peats and the archaeology of coastal change in the Severn Estuary, Bristol Channel and Pembrokeshire. In Pye, K and Allen, J.R.L. (eds) Coastal and Estuarine Environments: sedimentology, geomorphology and geoarchaeology. London : Geological Society Special Publication 175, 377-392.

Blair, J. 1999, The Bronze Age barrows and the churchyard, Bampton Research Paper 5.

Bonsall, C., R. Lennon, K. McSweeney, C. Stewart, D. Harkness, V. Boroneanţ, R. Payton, L. Bartosiewicz & J.C. Chapman (1997). Mesolithic and Early Neolithic in the Iron Gates: a palaeodietary perspective. Journal of European Archaeology, 5(1): 50—92.

Boroneanţ, V., C. Bonsall, K. McSweeney, R. Payton & M.G. Macklin (1997) Mormintele mezolitice dîn Aria III de la Schela Cladovei. Drobeta, 8: 1—10.

Bonsall, C., A.C. Kitchener & L. Bartosiewicz (1999) AMS 14C dating and the Mesolithic faunal record. In E. Cziesla, T. Kersting & S. Pratsch (eds) Den Bogen spannen ...: Festschrift für Bernhard Gramsch, vol. 1. Weißbach, Beier & Beran (Archäologische Fachliteratur): 99—106.

Boroneanţ, V., C. Bonsall, K. McSweeney, R. Payton & M. Macklin (1999) A Mesolithic burial area at Schela Cladovei, Romania. In A. Thévenin (ed.) L’Europe des Derniers Chasseurs: Épipaléolithique et Mésolithique. (Actes du 5e colloque international UISPP, commission XII, Grenoble, 18—23 septembre 1995). Paris, Éditions du Comité des Traxaux Historiques et Scientifiques: 385—390.

Bonsall, C., G. Cook, R. Lennon, D. Harkness, M. Scott, L. Bartosiewicz & K. McSweeney (2000) Stable Isotopes, radiocarbon and the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the Iron Gates. Documenta Praehistorica 27: 119—132.

Coard, R. & Chamberlain, A.T. 1999. The nature and timing of faunal change in the British Isles across the Pleistocene/Holocene transition. The Holocene 9: 373-377

Fulford, M., 2000. Human remains from the North Gate, Silchester: an 'Early' and a 'Late' Radiocarbon Date from the City, Britannia 31, 356-358.

Fulford, M., Handley, M. and Clarke, A., 2000: An Early Date for Ogham: the Silchester Ogham Stone Rehabilitated, Medieval Archaeology 44, 1-23. Bell, M. Caseldine, A and Neumann, H 2000 Prehistoric Intertidal Archaeology in the Welsh Severn Estuary. York: Council for British Archaeology Research Report 120.

Harke, H. and Belinsky, A. 2000. Nouvelles fouilles de 1994-1996 dans la necropole de Klin-Yar. In: M. Kazanski and V. Soupault (eds.). Les sites archaeologiques en Crimee et au Caucase durant L'Antiquite tardive et le haut Moyen Age. Leiden: Brill. (Colloquia Pontica 5). 193-210.

Khan, F., Knox, J.R., Magee, P. and Thomas, K.D. 2000. Akra: the ancient capital of Bannu. Journal of Asian Civilizations 23 (no. 1), 1-202.

Khan, F., Knox, J.R. and Thomas, K.D. 2000. The ‘Tochi-Gomal phase’: an early 3rd millennium BC culture horizon in Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan Divisions, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan. Journal of Asian Civilizations 23 (no. 2), 51-56.

Khan, F., Knox, J.R., Thomas, K.D. and Magee, P. 1997.Excavation at Akra: a preliminary report of the 1996-97 seasons. Punjab Journal of Archaeology and History 1, 23-29.

Khan, F., Knox, J.R., Magee, P., Petrie, C. and Thomas, K.D. 2000. The 2000 season of excavations at Akra by the Bannu Archaeological Project. Journal of Asian Civilizations 23 (no. 2), 105-136.

Khan, F., Knox, J.R. and Thomas, K.D. 2000. The Bannu Archaeological Project: archaeological explorations and excavations in Bannu Division, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, 1985-2000. Journal of Asian Civilizations 23 (no. 2), 1-6.

Khan, F., Knox, J.R. and Thomas, K.D. 2000. Settlements and settlement systems in the southwest Gomal Plain in the proto-historic period. Journal of Asian Civilizations 23 (no. 2), 7-23.

Khan, F., Knox, J.R. and Thomas, K.D. 2000. Jhandi Babar, a new site in the Gomal Plain, and the Sheri Khan Tarakai culture complex. Journal of Asian Civilizations 23 (no. 2), 25-50.

Phillipson, D. W., Archaeology at Aksum, Ethiopia, 1993-97 (2 vols.) London, 2000: British Institute in Eastern Africa and Society of Antiquaries of London. I sent a copy to Paul Pettitt in January 2001, but received no acknowledgement. The work is BIEA memoir 17 and Report 65 of the Antiquaries Research Committee, ISBN 1 872566 13 8.

Schulting, R. 2000, New AMS Dates from the Lambourn Long Barrow and the Question of the Earliest Neolithic in Southern England: Repacking the Neolithic Package? Oxford Journal of Archaeology 19:25-35.


Schulting, R, 1999, Nouvelles dates AMS obtenues sur les sites de Téviec et Hoëdic, Quiberon (Morbihan), Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Française 96:203-207.

Schulting, R. and M. Richards 2000 Mesolithic Subsistence and Seasonality: The Use of Stable Isotopes. In Mesolithic Lifeways: Current Research from Britain and Ireland, edited by R. Young, pp. 55-65. University of Leicester Press, Leicester.

Thomas, K.D., Knox, J.R. and Khan, F. 1997. Technology transfer and culture change: an example from northwest Pakistan. In: South Asian Archaeology 1995 (eds R. and B. Allchin), pp. 237-51. New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing.

Thomas, K.D. 1999. Getting a life: stability and change in social and subsistence systems on the North-West Frontier, Pakistan, in later prehistory. In: The Prehistory of Food: appetites for change (eds C. Gosden and J. Hather), pp. 306-321. One World Archaeology 32. London: Routledge.

Thomas, K.D. 2000. Archaeology on the North-West Frontier: the Bannu Project, Pakistan. Archaeology International 1999-2000, 39-42.

Timberlake, S, Published in 1999 was a short contribution to Archaeology in Wales vol.38 for 1998 (pp.79-81) entitled 'Survey of early metal mines within the Welsh Uplands' which quotes date OxA-6684 for a red deer antler tool from Copa Hill.

Timberlake, S, 2001, Recent reference to the site has appeared in British Archaeology Issue 58 p.4 as a news item compiled by Simon Denison.

Tolan-Smith, C. & C. Bonsall (1999) Stone Age studies in the British Isles: the impact of accelerator dating. In Evin, J., Oberlin, C., Daugas, J.P. & Salles, J.F. (eds) 14C et Archéologie. Actes du 3ème congrès international, Lyon, 6—10 avril 1998. Paris, Mémoires de la Société Préhistorique Française 26, 1999 et Supplément 1999 de la Revue d’Archéometrie: 249—257.

Troy, C.S., MacHugh, D.E., Bailey, J.F., Magee, D.A., Loftus, R.T., Chamberlain, A.T., Sykes, B.C. & Bradley, D.G. 2001. Bovine mtDNA variation and the Near Eastern origins of European pastoralism. Nature 410: 1088-1091.

Zilhao, J., 2001, The Lagar Velho child and the fate of the Neanderthals, Athena Review 2, 33-39.

At present there is no D.Phil. student training primarily concerned with radiocarbon dating, although all D.Phil. students receive some training in this area. Those whose projects have a chronological relevance become associated with the Unit, and receive additional instruction.

Several students are directly involved with stable isotope measurement and interpretation, and therefore contribute to the planning and operation of both sample preparation methods and stable isotope mass spectrometry.



Mandatory Annex 7 - Targets and Milestones

Response Times

This is the delay between sample submission and measurement. The average time for samples that were successfully dated was 4.8 months, slightly up on the equivalent figure for last year. This is principally due to a QA problem (see Annex 9) which resulted in some periods when we stopped dating to double check and repeat measurements.


The capacity is currently set at 250 dates per year of which up to 10% may be for in-house research. Taking a three-year average the throughput is 199 dates per year. This is counting failed samples as 1/2 the value of dated samples, given the work involved in preparing these and diagnosing the problems associated with them. . In addition there have been over 30 in-house dates per year, of which 23 can be considered as part of the ORADS service. The total dating throughput thus averages 222. The average funded capacity of the service over this period has been (200 + 2 x 250)/3 = 233 dates per year, showing that ORADS has about 5% spare capacity. This year's weighted throughput is 203 + 20/2 = 213 samples. When added to the 25 in-house dates, this gives 238 which is also about 5% below the capacity of 250. This is entirely due the rise in the backlog (by 64) samples which would suggest a figure closer to 302 samples. The rise in backlog is due principally to the increase in response time.

In terms of sample approval (total 335) and sample submission (283) the demand for the service is clearly tending to be well above capacity.

Research projects directly relevant to ORADS

Note one NERC Research Grant GR3/10641 - see main report - which is supported by ORAU dating, and whose research will indirectly benefit the overall quality of ORAU’s operation.

Other research grants are also supported by ORAU dating, and therefore indirectly by ORADS; see Optional Annex 1.

ORADS is not involved in any other science projects than those of its remit. NERC is not directly involved in any other work carried out by ORAU, although ultimately does benefit considerably from some of its other projects (for example, the work on OxCal, a (multiple) date calibration program).

User satisfaction

The last formal survey of collaborators was sent out in 1997. We are trying to maintain and improve on the level of service offered. We now review user satisfaction, based on informal feedback, every six months. We also had comments back from informal soundings as part of the renewal process.

Formal complaints

There were no formal complaints. However, there was one informal complaint concerning the late delivery of a date report. This problem was dealt with immediately and the submitter satisfied.


Mandatory Annex 8 - Finance

This is based on a notional cost per date capacity of 290 with a service running cost of 13,500. The funded capacity is 250 dates per year giving a total FEC of 86k for NERC. This makes the Unit cost 344/date.

It is clear from the submissions (283), and samples approved (335) that the service is at capacity this year.

Taking a three-year average, ORADS has dated 222 dates per year, which should be compared to our average funded service capacity 233. Average usage is therefore just over 95% but once the backlog has been cleared should still be over 100%.

Full Economic Cost to NERC 86k Unit Cost 344/date (250 capacity)


Capital expenditure by ORAU

With the exception of the JIF funded replacement of the AMS system and laboratory, none this year beyond the costs involved in replacing and maintaining the accelerator system.





Mandatory Annex 9 - Service Management


ORADS uses the same staff as ORAU. This comprises the following:-

Director (Prof. R E M Hedges) - University Lecturer

Deputy Director (Dr C Ramsey) - University Research Lecturer

Archaeologist (Dr T. Higham) - PDRA

2 accelerator technicians

3 1/2 chemistry technicians

1 3/5 administrator / secretary

ORAU is part of, and administered by, the Research Laboratory for Archaeology. All of the staff, with the exception of the Director, are on self-funded contracts, and so depend on ORAU’s financial viability. The post of chemist is combined with a PDRA post supported by a 2 year NERC Research Grant on the dating of insects, so that one third of the time over 3 years can be specifically focused on technically high level chemical issues associated with radiocarbon dating. Other research workers involved are mentioned in the section to do with the research environment.


Ultimately, ORADS is administered by the Research Laboratory for Archaeology, which has responsibility for safety and security. There are no specific safety/security issues involved in the ORADS operation.

Services Review

ORADS was reviewed with a view to renewal in January 1998. The outcome was a recommendation for renewal under similar arrangements for a further three years, to March 2002.

Quality Assurance

See Optional Annex 9.


Optional annex 1 - Details of Science Projects Supported

Funded formal research programmes relevant to ORAU’s operation comprise:-

Dr. T. O’Connell has taken over the grant from Dr M Richards 3 year NERC Research Grant (GR3/11399) to investigate the stable isotope composition/diet relationship in Neolithic humans in the UK. The methods and the background understanding have a great deal of overlap with radiocarbon dating.





Optional Annex 7 - Staff Visits and Conferences

This includes all work involving ORAU, that is, on stable isotopes and related topic as well as on radiocarbon dating.



17th International Radiocarbon, Judean Hills, Israel, June

The future of the past

Radiocarbon dating of single compounds isolated from pottery cooking vessel residues
A progress report on the chemistry of potentially contaminated bone collagen (poster)

Ramsey, Wiggle-matching radiocarbon dates

Pettitt, From Paviland to Sungir: AMS radiocarbon dating of mid-upper Palaeolithic ceremonial burials

Hodgins, Compound specific radiocarbon measurement: the purification and dating of glucosamine from sub-fossil insect remains



SIMSUG (Stable Isotopes Mass Spec Users Group), Glasgow January

O'Connell, Isolation of urinary urea for natural abundance nitrogen isotopic analysis (poster), TC O’Connell, K Neal and REM Hedges


The Wellcome Trust Bioarchaeology Symposium and Discussion Meeting, London, February

Pearson Stable isotope analysis at Catalhoyuk, a Neolithic site in Anatolia (poster)




Optional Annex 9 - Quality Assurance

ORAU was successfully accredited to the ISO-9002 quality management standard last year. This was the culmination of much work to ensure good quality management practices are implemented in all aspects of our operation.

Additional elements of the system added this year are a system for allowing full traceability of key batches of materials (tin for combustion and iron for graphitisation) used in the sample pretreatment. We also now use three different batches of the fundamental oxalic acid standard to prevent any possibility of contamination.

The 2000 measurement review showed that 352 standards had been measured. In addition there were 159 measurements on known age tree rings and 10 on the Fourth International Radiocarbon Intercomparison (FIRI) samples. There were 126 AMS duplicate measurements and 64 chemistry duplicate measurements.

Unlike previous years there were a significant number of outliers (about 4% of the total). These were visible in all of the measures of reproducibility and suggested a sporadic effect during combustion or graphitisation. The cause was eventually identified and the problem solved. The uncharacteristically high number of standards and known-age controls, partly reflects our wish to test and retest batches before releasing results. Some repeat measurements were also performed at the end of the year when the cause of the problem had been identified and its nature better understood. We now think that all samples that are likely to have been affected have been remeasured. This has been at considerable resources cost and is the main reason that response times have risen. However, we have always aimed to put certainty of results as our highest priority and so this is a price that we, and the users have to pay.

If the affected batches are excluded from the analysis the overall bias in measurements is found to be 7± 4 years which is almost significant, though still very small.

Plots showing distribution of measurements on known-age material with all samples on the left and those from accepted batches on the right; results are expressed in terms of standard deviations from the true value




The graphitisation problem aside, the duplicate measurements suggest that other parts of the system are performing well:



This is even better than last year. Overall these figures suggest that quoted uncertainties do reflect the true uncertainty well.