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Prof. Martin Carver
Professor Emeritus



Professor Martin Carver was an army officer for 15 years, a free-lance archaeologist for 13 years and has been an academic for 20 years. His specialities are Archaeological Practice and Protohistoric Europe. He has a degree in Mathematics and Chemistry from UCL and a Diploma in Anglo-Saxon Studies from Durham.

He was elected as the first secretary of the newly formed Institute of Field Archaeologists in 1982 and Vice President of the Society of Antiquaries in 2002. He was appointed professor of archaeology at York in 1986 and was Head of Department from 1986 to 1996.

He has carried out archaeological field research on early Medieval towns (1975-1985) and has led campaigns of research, excavation and evaluation at Stafford (England), Castel Seprio (Italy), Achir (Algeria) and towns in southern France. He led the recent campaign of excavation and survey research at the 7th century princely burial ground of Sutton Hoo (1983-2005) and discovered and excavated the first monastery of the Picts at Portmahomack, NE Scotland, 6-9th century (1996-2007). This work has thrown light on changes in social control and Christianisation in northern Europe(400-900) and has helped to establish York's pre-eminent position in early medieval archaeology.

Martin Carver was Editor of Antiquity from 2002-2012. He was appointed Professor Emeritus in 2008.

He gave the Rhind Lectures in Edinburgh 23-25 April 2010.



Research Interests

For update see

  • World archaeology
  • Early Medieval Europe
  • Field method in archaeology


Sicily in Transition: the archaeology of regime change 2014-

  • Co-directed by Prof Alessandra Molinari, University of Rome, Tor Vergata
  • In collaboration with BioArCh at University of York and Laboratory for Paleoecology, University of Salento at Lecce
  • Field campaign began 2014
  • Funded by European Research Council for five years from 1 August 2016

Read more about the Sicily in Transition project

Tarbat Discovery Programme 1996-2016

  • Field Campaign began 1996
  • Bulletins available on website
  • Interim report in Medieval Archaeology 2004.
  • Visitor Centre opened 2000 by Prince Charles.
  • Interim publication 2008
  • Full publication 2016

Sutton Hoo Research Project 1983-2005

  • Field campaign 1983-1993
  • Monograph published 1998 (repr. 2000, 2005)
  • Final Report published 2005
  • Archive available on line at ADS
  • Visitor Centre opened 2002 by Seamus Heaney
  • For local events including site visits and conferences, see


  • 2017 The Sutton Hoo Story. Encounters with Early England (Boydell)
  • 2016 (with Cecily Spall and Justin Garner-Lahire) Portmahomack on Tarbat Ness. Changing ideologies in North-east Scotland sixth to sixteenth century (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)
  • 2016 Portmahomack. Monastery of Picts (Edinburgh University Press; 2nd edn.)
  • 2015 Commerce and Cult: Confronted ideologies in 6th - 9th century Europe Medieval Archaeology 59, 1-23
  • 2014 (ed. with Bisserka Gaydarska and Sandra Monton Sabias) Field Archaeology from around the World. Ideas and approaches (Springer books)
  • 2011 Making Archaeology Happen: Design versus Dogma (Taylor and Francis)
  • 2010 The Birth of a Borough. An archaeological study of Anglo-Saxon Stafford (Boydell)
  • 2009 Archaeological Investigation (Routledge) 424pp
  • 2008 Portmahomack Monastery of the Picts (Edinburgh University Press)
  • 2009 (with Catherine Hills and Jonathan Scheschkewitz) Wasperton. A Roman, British and Anglo-Saxon Community in Central England (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)
  • 2005 Surviving in Symbols: a visit to the Pictish nation (Edinburgh: Birlinn and Historic Scotland (Reprint)
  • 2005 Sutton Hoo. A seventh-century princely burial ground and its context (British Museum Press)
  • 2003b Archaeological Value and Evaluation (con contributo di Gian Pietro Brogiolo; SocietB Archeologica Padana s.r.l.; Manuali per L'Archeologia 2).
  • 1999  Surviving in Symbols.  A Visit to the Pictish Nation (The Making of Scotland; Canongate Books, Edinburgh) 64pp. [Repr. 2005]
  • 1998 Sutton Hoo. Burial Ground of Kings? (British Museum Press) 195pp  [repr. 2000, 2005, 2014]
  • 1993 : Arguments in stone: archaeological research and the European town in the first millennium AD (being the Dalrymple Lectures for 1990) University of Glasgow and Oxford: Oxbow. 123 pp.
  • 1987 Underneath English towns (Batsford).


Selected publications

  • 2009 Archaeological Investigation (Routledge) 424pp
  • 2008 Portmahomack Monastery of the Picts (Edinburgh University Press)
  • 2008 Post-Pictish Problems: The Moray Firthlands in the 9-11th centuries (Rosemarkie: Groam House Lecture for 2007)
  • 2008 The Pictish Monastery at Portmahomack (Jarrow Lecture for 2008)
  • 2009 (with Catherine Hills and Jonathan Scheschkewitz) Wasperton. A Roman, British and Anglo-Saxon Community in Central England (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)
  • 2005 Surviving in Symbols: a visit to the Pictish nation (Edinburgh: Birlinn and Historic Scotland (Reprint)
  • 2005 Sutton Hoo. Burial ground of kings (British Museum. Reprint)
  • 2005 Sutton Hoo. A seventh-century princely burial ground and its context (British Museum Press)
  • 2003b Archaeological Value and Evaluation (con contributo di Gian Pietro Brogiolo; SocietB Archeologica Padana s.r.l.; Manuali per L'Archeologia 2).
  • 1999  Surviving in Symbols.  A Visit to the Pictish Nation (The Making of Scotland; Canongate Books, Edinburgh) 64pp. [Repr. 2005]
  • 1998 Sutton Hoo. Burial Ground of Kings? (British Museum Press) 195pp  [repr. 2000, 2005]
  • 1993 : Arguments in stone: archaeological research and the European town in the first millennium AD (being the Dalrymple Lectures for 1990) University of Glasgow and Oxford: Oxbow. 123 pp.
  • 1987 Underneath English towns (Batsford).

Full publications list

Edited books
  • 2006 (ed) The Cross goes North (paperback)
  • 2003a (ed) The Cross goes North. Processes of Christian Conversion in Northern Europe, c300-1300AD (York: York Medieval Press/Boydell press)
  • 1995 (ed) AD Phillips and B Heywood Roman Fortress to Norman Cathedral: the Roman legionary fortress at York and its exploitation in the early middle ages (Excavations at York Minster vol I: RCHME)
  • 1993 (ed) The Sutton Hoo Research Committee: Bulletins 1983-1993 (Omnibus Edition; Woodbridge: Boydell Press)
  • 1993 (ed) In Search of Cult: archaeological investigations in honour of P A Rahtz (Woodbridge : Boydell and Brewer)
  • 1992 (ed) The Age of Sutton Hoo (Woodbridge : Boydell & Brewer) [repr. 1994]
  • 1991 (ed, with Dept of Archaeology, York and Messrs Ove Arup and Partners) York Development and Archaeology Study (English Heritage)
  • 1983 (ed) Two town houses in medieval Shrewsbury (Shropshire Archaeological Society 61).
  • 1980 (ed) Medieval Worcester - an archaeological framework (Worcestershire Archaeological Society).
  • 2009 Early Scottish monasteries and prehistory: a preliminary dialogue The Scottish Historical Review 88: 332-351
  • 2009 'Ancestral airs: Snape and Sutton Hoo' in Ariane Banks and Jonathan Reekie (eds) NewAldeburgh Anthology (Aldeburgh Music: The Boydell Press): 235-240.
  • 2009 'On Reading Anglo-Saxon graves' in Alice Jorgensen, Helen Conrad-O'Brien and John Scattergood (eds) The Kemble Lectures on Anglo-Saxon Studies 2005-8 (Dublin, Trinity College): 81-103.
  • 2008 Thinking Allowed Current Archaeology
  • 2007 Archaeology journals, academics and Open Access European Journal of Archaeology 10, No. 2-3, 135-148.
  • 2005 Sculpture in action: the early medieval cross-slabs on the Tarbat peninsula, Easter Ross in S Foster (ed) Able Minds and Practised Hands (Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph)
  • 2004e [with Cecily Spall], Excavating a parchmenerie: archaeological correlates of making parchment at the Pictish monastery at Portmahomack, Easter Ross Proc. Soc Ant. Scot. 134 (2004): 183-2
  • 2004c Tvier hjartans vinir. Fornleifafraeði og textar Ritið 2: 215-257 [trans of 2002b into Icelandic]
  • 2004b An Iona of the East: the early medieval monastery at Portmahomack, Tarbat Ness Medieval Archaeology 48: 1-30
  • 2004a Excavation in P Bahn and C Renfrew (eds) Archaeology: The Key Concepts (Taylor and Francis)
  • 2003e: `Introduction: Northern Europeans negotiate their Future` In Carver 2003a: 3-13
  • 2003d Britain, ideologies and the Frisian Sea in Willy Groenman-van Waateringe, Ben van Beek and Willy Metz (eds) Het Instituut. Vijftig jaar (Amsterdams Archeologisch Centrum Institut voor Prae-en Protohistorie) 68-79
  • 2002a 'Reflections on the meaning of Anglo-Saxon barrows' in Sam Lucy and Andrew Reynolds (eds) Burial in Early Medieval England and Wales (London: Society for Medieval Archaeology):132-143.
  • 2002b `Marriages of true minds: archaeology with texts' in B Cunliffe, W Davies and C Renfrew (eds) Archaeology: the widening debate (British Academy): 465-496
  • 2002c `Politik und Kultur im Britannien des 10. Jahrhunderts' in J Henning (hsg) Europa im 10. Jahrhunderts. Archäologie einer Aufbruchszeit. (Philipp von Zabern: Mainz am Rhein): 209-226
  • 2001a 'Why that, why there, why then? The politics of early medieval monumentality' in A Macgregor and H Hamerow (eds) Image and Power in early medieval British archaeology Essays in honour of Rosemary Cramp (Oxbow: Oxford): 1-22
  • 2001 e `The Future of Field Archaeology' in Z Kobylinski (ed) Quo vadis archaeologia? Whither European Archaeology in the 21st century (Warsaw: European Science Foundation): 118-132
Key Articles before 2001
  • 1979 `Notes on some general principles for the analysis of excavated data' Science and Archaeology 21: 3-14.
  • 1979 `Three Saxo-Norman tenements in Durham City' Medieval Archaeology 23 (1979) 1-80.
  • 1983 `Valutazione, strategia ed analisi nei siti pluristratificati' Archeologia Medievale 10: 49-71.
  • 1983 `Forty French towns:  an essay on archaeological site evaluation and historical aims' Oxford Journal of Archaeology 2.3: 339-378
  • 1984 `Modernising archaeology' The Field Archaeologist 1: 5.
  • 1987 `S Maria foris portas at Castel Seprio:  a famous church in a new context' World Archaeology 18.3: 312-329.
  • 1989 `Digging for ideas' Antiquity 63:666-674
  • 1990 `Digging for data: archaeological approaches to data definition, acquisition and analysis' in R Francovich & D Manacorda (a cura di) Lo Scavo Archeologico:  dalla diagnosi all'edizione (Firenze): 45-120
  • 1996 `On archaeological value' Antiquity 70: 45-56.
  • 1996 `Transitions to Islam' in N Christie and S Loseby Towns in Transition (Leicester University Press): 184-212.
  • 1998: Uberlegungen zur Bedeutung angel-sächsischer Grabhügel' in Anke Wesse (hsg) Studien zur Archäologie des Ostseeraumes von der Eisenzeit zum Mittelalter. Festschift für Michael Müller-Wille (Neumunster): 259-268

External activities


  • Director, Sutton Hoo Research Trust
  • Director, Tarbat Discovery Programme
  • Chairman, Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd 
  • 1994 Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • 1996 Judging panellist, Danish Government Research Competition How to be better than Good.
  • 1996 British Arts and Humanities Research Board. Panel member
  • 1999 Council of the Irish Discovery Programme
  • 1999 Irish Arts and Humanities Research Board, Panel member
  • 2001 Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies, York
  • 2001 People of Today; Who = s who in the world
  • 2002 Elected corresponding member Roman-German Institute at Mainz
  • 2002-6 Vice-President, Society of Antiquaries
  • 2005 Panel Member, Archaeology, British AHRC Subject Review
  • 2005-7 Panel Member, Archaeology and Classics, British AHRC Post-graduate competition
  • 2005-7 Panel Member, Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 2009 Scottish Archaeological Research Forum Panel Member
  • 2009 European Research Council. Panel Member H6
  • 2009 English Heritage Maritime Strategy panel co-chair

Editorial duties

  • Editor and Director, Antiquity Publications Ltd
  • 2002 Editor, Antiquity

Invited talks and conferences

  • 2009 Charles Homer Haskins lecturer, Boston MA

Media coverage

  • 1984  Editor and Presenter TV documentaries on Sutton Hoo for BBC
  • 2003 Who’s who
  • 2004  Prize-winner. English Heritage/CADW/Historic Scotland Open prize for communicating research  to the public (BAAS meeting, Exeter).
  • 2005 Runner up; Association of Learned and Professional Publishers Prize; for Antiquity
  • 2006 Runner-up, BAA Scholarly Book of the Year for Sutton Hoo. A Seventh-century burial ground and its context

Martin Carver at Sutton Hoo

Contact details

Professor Martin Carver
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: +44 (0)1904 433900