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Viking Studies Research Group

York was the hub of Anglo-Scandinavian England and at the heart of the turbulent events of the Viking period. Today the University of York hosts one of Europe’s most active and resourceful research communities in Viking Studies. The Viking Studies Research Group acts as a focus for research across a number of departments as well as in the Centre of Medieval Studies.

Comprising senior researchers and research students, the group organizes seminars and lectures, as well as more informal meetings. See also our Google community: please do sign up.

For further information contact Steve Ashby

  In 2014 Steve Ashby was awarded a University Learning and Teaching grant, in order to bring lecturers from around northern Europe to York to lecture for students, and to be recorded for use online.  These speakers included Prof Dagfinn Skre (Culture Historical Museum, University of Oslo); Prof Dan Carlsson (University of Gotland), Dr Anton Englert (Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde), Dr Colleen Batey (Universities of Glasgow and Iceland), Dr Mark Redknap (National Museum of Wales), Dr David Petts (University of Durham) and John Sheehan (University College, Cork).  Their lectures have been archived as private youtube videos here. All future lectures will similarly be livestreamed through Google+ (see Steve Ashby's posts, or the Viking Studies Research Group community), and archived at the same site.

Current members


Dr Steven P. Ashby 

Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology

Steve specialises in the archaeology of portable material culture and the use of animal products in craft and industry. He is particularly interested in the relationship between the various regions of Britain and Scandinavia before, during, and after the Viking Age. His particular area of expertise is in early medieval bone and antler craft, which has informed his current research on human-animal relations in the Viking Age, as well as on the social elements of technology.  An ongoing concern with bone/antler hair combs also provides the starting point for research into technologies of adornment, ‘physical communiation’, and the transformation of appearance.

Prof. Martin O.H. Carver

Professor Emeritus in the Department of Archaeology

Martin is a world leading expert on early medieval archaeology. He has carried out seminal archaeological research and fieldwork on early Medieval towns, monasteries and burial ground including Sutton Hoo. This work has thrown light on maritime communication in the North Sea area and on changes in social control and Christianisation in northern Europe (400-900). He is currently completing the publication of his excavation of the first monastery of the Picts at Portmahomack, NE Scotland, probably raided by the Vikings in the 9th century.

Dr Aleksandra McClain 

Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology
Aleksandra specialises in the study of churches, commemoration, and the Anglo-Norman period. Her wider research interests include transition periods and cultural contact, the material culture of the Anglo-Scandinavian and Anglo-Norman periods, social and cultural identity, the nature and material expression of medieval lordship, the development of the medieval rural village and landscape, the material and ideological relationship between religious and secular authority, and ecclesiastical patronage.

Prof. Julian Richards

Chair of the WHite Rose Council for Research in the Arts and Humanities, lecturer in Dept of Archaeology, University of York
Julian specialises in the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England, especially mortuary behaviour and settlement evolution. He has directed excavations of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian settlements at Cottam, Cowlam, Burdale, and Wharram Percy. He has also excavated the only Viking cremation cemetery in the British Isles at Heath Wood, Ingleby. He recently directed an AHRC-funded research project investigating the Viking and Anglo-Saxon Landscape and Economy of England.

Dr Matthew Townend

Reader in the Department of English and Related Literature
Matthew’s interests are in Old Norse and Old English language and literature, and the post-medieval reception of Old Norse and Old English. In particular his research focuses on England and Scandinavia in the ninth to eleventh centuries: he is interested in the language, literature, and history of the Vikings in England, Old Norse poetry, and late Anglo-Saxon literary culture.

Alison Leonard

Research student in the Dept of Archaeology, studying landscapes and settlement of the Viking Age.



Dr Tom Pickles

Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Chester
Tom’s research focuses on the early medieval Church, combining the testimony of written texts with analysis of material remains, place-names and the landscape. His doctoral work considered the process of conversion to Christianity, the building of monasteries, the development of parish churches and the impact of Scandinavian settlement on the Church in Anglo-Saxon Yorkshire, c. 600- c. 1100.

Dr Søren M. Sindbæk

ENTREPOT Project Leader, Aarhus University.  Formerly Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, University of York
Søren's interests concentrate on the development of trade and urbanism, cultural boundaries and intersections in the Viking world, but also include the strong ties of communities, assemblies, households and dependencies. He pioneers the use of network analysis to examine cross-cultural interaction in the past. He is also active in settlement archaeology and research on the development of lordship in Viking Scandinavia.

Dr Pragya Vohra

Research Associate in the Centre for Medieval Studies.

Dr Isabella von Holstein 

PhD alumna, BioArCh

Isabella’s PhD research focused on applying stable isotope analysis to medieval wool textile finds from sites around the North Sea. These investigations have a bearing on a number of questions of archaeological interest, including: the extent and nature of early medieval trade in woollen textiles (600-1100AD), the origin of the supply of raw wool to workshops in early medieval towns (750-1200AD) and the nature and development of medieval sheep husbandry (600-1500AD).

Dr Hilary Paterson

PhD Alumna, Department of Archaeology.

Hilary's work evaluates the significance of dress and personal adornment as a medium for the maintenance and manipulation of identity, social position and hierarchical relations in early medieval Scotland and Ireland. Her interest in Viking Age material is based primarily on investigating native and Viking interaction in early medieval Scotland and Ireland through the adoption and development of Hiberno-Viking styles of metalwork, the introduction and implementation of new technologies, materials and innovations from the Viking world and the native reuse of Viking artefacts. She has a particular interest in the practice of hoarding in Scotland and Ireland during the ninth and tenth centuries, and the role of whole and fragmentary sartorial items within this process.


Featured Viking research

The Skaldic Project

An international project to re-edit the entire corpus of Old Norse skaldic verse.

Crafting Networks in Viking Towns 

Studying how individual technologies and codes of practice are distributed in workshop assemblages from Viking-period towns, this project aims to trace the role of long-distance interactions in early medieval urbanism.


This Archaeological project explores the expansion of maritime communication and network urbanism in the period c. 500-1200 AD through comparative studies into material flows.

Conquest and Continuity

This project sets out to characterise portable metalwork in Late Saxon and Anglo-Norman England (AD 900-1250), by calibrating PAS data against excavated sequences.  It is an AHRC CDA (Steve Ashby and Aleks McClain), undertaken in partnership with Dr Michael Lewis (British Museum).  Research student Rob Webley: research poster here.

Great Beast motive from the greater Jelling rune stone (10th century)

Forthcoming Events

Church and Landscape

More coming for 2012-13!

Past Events

An Audience with Tyr : Music and Heritage

(listen here)

Viking Silver

Placenames of England

Death and Burial

Metalwork and Settlement

Anglo-Scandinavian Artefacts

Urbanism, Hinterlands, and Vikings

Contested places - Transition and Lordship

Production, exchange, and the camps of the micel here

Project Links

The Skaldic Project

Crafting Networks in Viking Towns