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Dr Steve Ashby
Senior Lecturer



Steve Ashby is a medieval archaeologist with specialism in the archaeology of portable material culture and technology. He is trained in geology, zooarchaeology, and artefact studies, and is particularly interested in the relationship between the various regions of Britain and Scandinavia before, during, and just after the Viking Age. His 'USP' is the application of leading-edge scientific techniques to familiar materials, in the context of novel anthropological theory, with a view to using oft-overlooked objects to answer the big questions in Viking studies.  

Before starting up at York, Steve was employed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, as Finds Liaison Officer for Northamptonshire, a role that involved working closely with local communities, amateur archaeologists, and metal detectorists in order to preserve by record the vast numbers of chance finds recovered by members of the public. Steve continues his association with the PAS, and is interested in exploiting the potential of the data it produces, particularly regarding early medieval craft, trade, and identity, and battlefield archaeology.

Steve teaches in a range of medieval subjects, as well as in the practical aspects of artefact studies. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a PGCAP supervisor (which means he helps to train new academics and lecturers across the university).

He is becoming a regular in the media on matters Viking, most recently recording two series of documentaries in support of the History Channel's popular 'Vikings' drama. Here's one: Secrets of the Vikings . 

He is usually in a bad mood; this is the fault of Coventry City.

You can follow his personal Twitter feed here: @grungeviking

And see some of his media work here: Living with Vikings





1998 BSc (Hons) Geology (Birmingham)

2001 MSc Zooarchaeology (York)

2006 PhD Archaeology (York)

2006-8 Finds Liaison Officer for Nothamptonshire, Portable Antiquities Scheme (British Museum)

2008- Lecturer, University of York

2015- Senior Lecturer, York

2016- SFHEA

Departmental roles

  • Acting Chair of Board of Studies, Centre for Medieval Studies (Oct 2017-)
  • Director of Postgraduate Research (Oct 2017-)
  • Director of Studies, MA Medieval Archaeology (Oct 2017- Dec 2018)
  • Previously Chair of the Board of Studies (2011-15). Also variously Acting Chair of Teaching Committee, Chair of Graduate Schools Board,
  • Previously Acting Higher Degrees Officer, and Acting Director of MA Medieval Archaeology
  • Previously (2011-12) Chair of the Archaeology and History Combined Honours Executive Committee
  • Previously (2008-10) Chair of the Board of Examiners, Centre for Medieval Studies

University roles

  • PGCAP (Staff Training) Supervisor (2012-)
  • York Award Panel (2013-)
  • Various University-level committees



In general terms, Steve is interested in the integration of scientific techniques with contemporary theory, in order to ask questions about society, trade, and identity. He is passionate about the promotion of artefact studies in medieval research (to which end he set up and oversees the Geoff Egan Prize for Finds Research and the Finds Research Fund

Steve's PhD thesis and early work focused on bone and antler hair combs in Britain and Scandinavia between c.AD 800 and 1400.  He used novel archaeological and scientific techniques to examine the manufacture, exchange, and use of these often overlooked items, and considered their role as dress accessories in politics and the construction of identity. This work opened up a number of bigger questions, and Steve has used combs and related evidence to answer big questions about what the Viking Age was, when and how it started.


Steve has directed and Co-I'd on a number of funded research projects:

CNVT: Crafting Networks in Viking Towns (with Soren Sindbaek, Aarhus; multi-craft, British Academy)

Melting Pot: Food and Identity in the Age of Vikings (focused on ceramics, AHRC)

Culture and Communication in the Long Viking Age (focused on metal-detected finds from a round the North Sea littoral, Univesity of York).


He is currently co-investigator on the AHRC Network grant  The York-Dublin Axis Reconsidered - An Interdisciplinary Approach to Viking Towns (with Stephen Harrison, Glasgow)

His wider research interests include dress and identity, medieval craft and industry, and the articulation of human and animal worlds in the Middle Ages. Steve's work also intersects with the archaeologies of appearance and self-representation, and of the social role of technologies.

 He would be interested in supervising research students working in any of these areas.


Current projects


Archived Projects

Research group(s)


AHRC Early Career Research Grant, 2016 Melting Pot

University of York RPF Grant, 2016 Cultures in Communication

Learning and Teaching Grant 2013 'Travelling the Viking World'

Danish Research Council 2012 for ENTREPOT, (Co-I; directed by Soren Sindbaek)

British Academy Small Grant 2010 for Crafting Networks in Viking Towns (with Soren Sindbaek)


Mick Aston Prize for Archaeological Photography 2017

Vice Chancellor's Teaching Award, 2013.

Runner-up  Martyn Jope award 2010 for best paper in Medieval Archaeology

University of York/YUSU Supervisor of the Year 2010.


Available PhD research projects

I am interested in supervising PhDs on any area of study in the fields of Viking-Age craft, trade, identity, or material culture.


I currently supervise the following Research Students:


Vanessa Castagnino (with Aleks McClain)

Carl Savage (with Aleks McClain)

Chris Wakefield (with Colleen Morgan)

Gwendoline Pepper (with Aimee Little)

Jim Glazzard (with Aimee Little)

Hanna Dahlstrom (with Dawn Hadley)




Anne Brundle †

Alison Leonard (here's a video in which Alison reflects on her research and work since then) 

Harriet Evans (with Matt Townend)

Paul Edward Montgomery Ramirez

Robert Webley

Megan von Ackermann

Mariana Munoz Rodriguez


External activities



  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Steering Committee Member, 'Researching Ivory' AHRC/EPSRC Research Cluster
  • Member, ICAZ Worked Bone Research Group
  • Member, Committee for Finds Research Group 
    • 2013-present Awards Officer
  • Member, Society for Medieval Archaeology
  • Member, Viking Society for Northern Research


Editorial duties

Invited talks and conferences


2017 Session Chair, EAA Maastricht

2017 Invited delegate, Viking Congress, Denmark

2017 Invited Speaker, Finds Research Group, Orkney.

2017 Invited Speaker, Inverness Vikings Exhibition

2016 Invited Speaker, University of Aberdeen

2016 Invited Speaker, University of Newcastle

2016  Invited Speaker, Northern Research Network

2016 Invited Speaker, UNPAC, Nottingham

2016 Invited Speaker, Barnsley Museum Vikings Exhibition

2015. Invited Speaker, Society for American Archaeology

2015. Invited Speaker, University College Cork, Student Lecture and Research Seminar Series

2013. Invited Delegate, Viking Congress, Shetland

2010. Invited Speaker, Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2010

2010. Invited Speaker, Early Medieval Finds from the British Isles conference, University of Oxford, 2010

2009. Session Chair, Early Medieval Archaeological Students Symposium, 2009

2009. Invited Speaker, Viking Summer School, University of Aarhus

2009. Session Chair and Invited Speaker, Researching Ivories workshops.

Media coverage

Radio: Appearances on BBC Radio Orkney, BBC Radio Northamptonshire.

Web: Indiana Jones and 21st Century Archaeology


As soon as publicly available, I collate my media work, together with my own videos on this site.



First year
  • Field Archaeology - Lecturer (Metal-detecting)
  • Prehistory to Present - Lecturer (Anglo-Saxon and Viking)
Second year
  • Themes in Historical Archaeology - Lecturer
  • Practical Option (artefacts) - Lecturer
  • Team Project (artefacts) - Lecturer
  • Research Skills- Module leader
Third year
  • Dissertation - Module leader
  • Special Topic: Diocletian to Danelaw/ Living with Vikings- Module leader
  • Special Topic: Landscape and Community in Viking-Age Britain and Ireland - Module leader
  • Assessed Seminar: Viking-Age Britain and Ireland/ The Viking World- Module leader
  • Assessed Seminar: The Medieval Artisan - Module leader



Past Teaching

First year
  • Introduction to Archaeology
Second year
  • Introduction to Y2
  • Research Skills- Module leader
Third year
  • Introduction to Y3
  • Dissertation and Assessed Lecture - Module leader



  • The Vikings - Module leader
  • Collection of Field Archaeology Data - Lecturer (Artefacts)
  • Generic Skills - Lecturer (Assessed Lecture)

Other teaching

Postgraduate, in Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Using Archaeology - Lecturer (Artefacts)
  • Core Course  - Lecturer (Viking-Age Sculpture and Literature)
  • Viking-Age Northumbria - Lecturer (Artefacts)

Dr Steve Ashby

Contact details

Dr Steven Ashby
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 323952