Jane Grenville
Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology



Dr Jane Grenville FSA MIFA IHBC has been Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students from October 2007. She specialises in the archaeology of buildings, heritage policy and the conservation of historic structures. She took her first degree (BA in Archaeology and Anthropology) at Cambridge (1977-80) and holds a PhD by publications from York (2005).  Formerly a 'dirt' archaeologist with extensive field experience in the UK, Europe, Syria and Libya, she moved into the world of standing buildings and conservation as a field worker on the listed buildings resurvey 1984-7, then researcher for the Rows Research Project in Chester and from 1988-1991 Historic Buildings Officer for the Council for British Archaeology and an English Heritage Commissioner from 2001-2008. She is the author of Medieval Housing (1997) and editor of Managing the Historic Rural Landscape (1999). She chairs of the Casework Committee of the Council for British Archaeology and a Trustee of York Civic Trust.



Jane Grenville’s interests cover buildings of all types and periods with a particular emphasis on the medieval period. She is concerned with archaeological input into the conservation process and the study of buildings at both the micro level (the stratigraphic investigation of individual buildings and the sites upon which they stand/stood, and the analysis of the use of space within them) and at the macro level (settlement studies and spatial analyses within types of building).

Grenville has continued to pursue her research on the archaeology of buildings, with particular reference to the medieval period. She has contributed to a number of international symposia on the medieval household. Her book Medieval Housing was published by Leicester University Press in 1997 and is now out of print.  She collaborates with Dr Martin Morris of the University of Chiba and Dr Toru Horie of Nihon University in a project which adopts a comparative approach to the use of space in Japanese and English vernacular farmhouses.

Major papers considering research agendas in the archaeology of buildings are published in S Pearson and B Meeson (eds) Vernacular Buildings in a Changing World: understanding, recording and conservation CBA Research Report 126 (2001) and in 'Archaeological approaches to understanding and interpreting timber buildings' in Stiftelsen Bryggen Safeguarding historical waterfront sites: Bryggen in Bergen as a case study.

Jane has supervised the production of several Conservation Plans for English Heritage and her thoughts on the process are to be found in Conservation Plans in Action, edited by Kate Clark (1999). She edited The Management of the Rural Landscape (1999) published by Routledge in association with English Heritage.   A discussion of the place of archaeology in the conservation process is to be found in 'Archaeological deposits and value' (with Ian Ritchie) in Heritage of Value, Archaeology of Renown: re-shaping archaeological assessment and significance, C Mathers, T. Darvill and B Little (eds) (2005).

Jane contributed an overview chapter on curation in British archaeology to Hunter and Ralston (eds) Archaeological Resource Management in the UK (1993) which she has completely revised and rewritten for the second edition (2006). Two recent papers address her interests in the rationale for the protection of historic buildings: ‘A psychological approach to urban change’, Context 100, 27-33 and ‘Conservation as psychology: ontological security and the built environment’, in International Journal of Heritage Studies Vol 13, No 6 (November 2007).

Current projects

  • Medieval Houses and Households (book currently in preparation)
  • Conservation theory – the role of the notion of ontological security in shaping approaches to the conservation of the historic built environment.
  • Comparative study of use of space in Japanese and English vernacular farmhouses (with Martin Morris, Chiba University)



External activities


  • Commissioner of English Heritage (2001-2008), member of the English Heritage Advisory Committee and its Research Advisory Panel and is Regional Commissioner for Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Chaired Working Group 1, for the DCMS Review of Policies for the Historic Environment in the summer of 2000, which contributed to the production of Power of Place, itself the precursor of the Heritage Protection Review currently underway, the first major change to heritage legislation since 1979
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Member of the Council of York Archaeological Trust
  • Member of the Archaeology Panel of the National Trust (2000-2005)
  • Member of the Board of the Yorkshire Cultural consortium (2001-2005)
  • April 2005: international assessor for the ABC Project, a major interdisciplinary project in Japan and East Asia, which aims to integrate humanities and sciences in the study of the medieval past of the region
  • Trustee, York Civic Trust and Chair of the its Planning Committee
  • Trustee, Parks and Gardens Data Services 20017-2013; Chair 2009-2012

Editorial duties

  • Editorial Board of Vernacular Architecture 1999-2004

Invited talks and conferences

  • April 2005: Visiting lecturer, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Jane Grenville

Contact details

Dr Jane Grenville
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 432055