4.3.3.5 Outstanding research questions

The outstanding research questions relate to the refinement of the information already available:

  1. Sourcing: there is scope for obtaining a more precise idea of the source of the cannel coal and oil shale used for the objects mentioned above, using the minimally-destructive technique of oil-emersion reflectance microscopy, with reference to the National Coal Board raw material reference collection. The benefit of this approach has been amply demonstrated through the research undertaken by the late Dr J M (Mick) Jones, on artefacts from Yorkshire and Scotland; this work should be continued.
  2. Sexing: wherever possible, the sex of the human remains associated with jewellery and dress accessories of jet and jet-like materials needs to be established. The use of aDNA may help in cases where diagnostic bones are not present.
  3. Position in graves: wherever new finds of jet/jet-like jewellery are encountered, very great care needs to be employed in recording their exact position, especially in the case of spacer plate necklaces. The benefits of block-lifting and laboratory excavation have been demonstrated in the case of the West Water reservoir find (Hunter and Davis 1994), where it is debatable as to whether the tiny lead beads would have been recognised in the field.
  4. Dating: although we have a fairly good chronological 'handle' on the currency of individual artefact types, there is always scope for improving matters with more high-quality AMS dates, so every opportunity to date them should be taken - especially in the case of new finds.