Guy Halsall
Professor of History



BA and DPhil (York)

Professor Guy Halsall joined the department of history in January 2003. His doctoral research, carried out at York, was on the archaeology and history of the Merovingian region of Metz (north-eastern France and southern Germany), c.350-c.750. This was published as a monograph, Settlement and Social Organization: The Merovingian region of Metz (Cambridge, 1995). The research for that project fuelled his interest in the study of early medieval cemeteries and led to a number of articles examining the ways in which the evidence of funerary archaeology could be used to drive a new social history of the post-Roman world, and to a critical offensive against the interpretation of particular burial styles as representing the graves of migrating Germanic barbarians.




Besides studying the history and archaeology of Merovingian Gaul, Guy Halsall has developed an interest in the relationship between violence and society, culminating in the lengthy introduction to his edited volume Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West (Woodbridge, 1998; paperback 2002) and a study of feud and vengeance killing. This in turn led to a major monograph on warfare in early medieval society, published by Routledge in 2003. Currently, his principal research project is a study of the Barbarian Migrations in western Europe (including the British Isles), c.350-c.650. All of the above projects have emphasised the problems of the relationship between archaeology and documentary history. Guy Halsall has published one major article on this topic and plans a volume on the subject in the future.

Guy Halsall would welcome enquiries about research relating to any of the above areas, especially those which are interdisciplinary, using documentary and archaeological material.


Selected publications

Authored books

  • Cemeteries and Society in Merovingian Gaul: Selected Studies in History and Archaeology, 1992-2009 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2009).
  • Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West, 450-900 (London: Routledge, 2003).
  • Early Medieval Cemeteries. An Introduction to Burial Archaeology in the Post-Roman West (Glasgow: Cruithne Press, 1995).
  • Settlement and Social Organization. The Merovingian Region of Metz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Edited books

  • (ed.) Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West (edited volume) (Boydell: Woodbridge, 1998; Paperback edition 2002).
  • (ed.) Humour, History and Politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (C.U.P.: Cambridge, 2002).

Articles (selected)

  • 'Nero and Herod? The death of Chilperic and Gregory of Tours' writing of history.' The World of Gregory of Tours, ed. K. Mitchell and I.N. Wood, (Brill; Leiden, 2002), pp. 337-50.
  • 'Funny foreigners: Laughing with the barbarians in late antiquity.' Humour, History and Politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Halsall (see above), pp. 89-113.
  • 'Childeric's grave, Clovis' succession and the origins of the Merovingian kingdom.' Society and Culture in Late Roman Gaul. Revisiting the Sources, ed. D. Shanzer & R. Mathisen (Aldershot, 2001), pp. 116-33.
  • 'The Viking presence in England? The burial evidence reconsidered.' Cultures in Contact: Scandinavian Settlement in England in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, ed. D.M. Hadley & J. Richards, (Brepols: Turnhout, 2000), pp. 259-76.
  • 'Archaeology and the late Roman frontier in northern Gaul: The so-called Föderatengräber reconsidered.' Grenze und Differenz im früheren Mittelalter, ed. W. Pohl & H. Reimitz, (Österreichische Akadamie der Wissenschaften: Vienna, 2000), pp. 167-80.
  • 'La Christianisation de la région de Metz à travers les sources archéologiques (5ème-7ème siècle): problèmes et possibilités.' L'Évangélisation des régions entre Meuse et Moselle et la Fondation de l'Abbaye d'Echternach (Ve-IXe siècle), ed. M. Polfer, (Linden: Luxembourg, 2000).
  • 'Burial customs around the North Sea, c. AD 350-700.' Kings of the North Sea, AD 250-850, ed. E. Kramer, I. Stoumann & A. Greg (Newcastle, 2000), pp. 93-104.
  • 'Review Article: Movers and Shakers: The Barbarians and the Fall of Rome.' Early Medieval Europe 8.1 (1999), pp. 131-45.
  • 'Reflections on Early Medieval Violence: The example of the "Blood Feud".' Memoria y Civilización 2 (1999), pp. 7-29.
  • 'Social identities and social relationships in Merovingian Gaul.' Franks and Alamanni in the Merovingian Period: An Ethnographic Perspective, ed. I.N. Wood, (Boydell: Woodbridge, 1998), pp. 141-65.
  • 'Burial, ritual and Merovingian society.' The Community, the Family and the Saint: Patterns of Power in Early Medieval Europe, ed. J. Hill & M. Swan, (Brepols: Turnhout, 1998), pp. 325-38.
  • 'Violence and society in the early medieval west: An introductory survey.' Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West, ed. Halsall, (see above), pp. 1-45.
  • 'Archaeology and Historiography.' The Routledge Companion to Historiography, ed. M. Bentley, (Routledge: London, 1997), pp. 807-29.
  • 'Female status and power in early Merovingian central Austrasia: the burial evidence.' Early Medieval Europe 5.1 (1996), pp. 1-24.
  • 'Towns, societies and ideas: The not-so-strange case of late Roman and early Merovingian Metz.' Towns in Transition. Urban Evolution in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. N. Christie & S.T. Loseby (Scolar: Aldershot, 1996), pp. 235-261.
  • 'Playing by whose rules? A further look at Viking atrocity in the ninth century.' Medieval History vol.2, no.2 (1992), pp. 3-12.
  • 'The origins of the Reihengräberzivilisation: Forty years on.' Fifth-Century Gaul: A Crisis of Identity? ed. J.F. Drinkwater & H. Elton, (C.U.P.: Cambridge, 1992), pp. 196-207.

Contact details

Prof. Guy Halsall
Vanbrugh College V/212
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 2949, External (01904) 322949