Matt is a historical archaeologist with a specialism in buildings and landscapes. He is particularly interested in urban environments, focusing on social and cultural life during the long eighteenth century and how medieval material culture was used and appropriated in later centuries.
Matt worked as a journalist for The Independent newspaper for 12 years, before coming to the University of York to studying archaeology. At York, he completed a BA in Archaeology and an MA in Buildings Archaeology. In 2013, he completed a PhD on urban landscapes in York during the eighteenth century.
In 2014, Matt was a Humanities Research Centre Postdoctoral Fellow and has worked as a consultant for English Heritage and Fairfax House Museum, York. He is now a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York.
My PhD research, The View From the Street: Housing and Shopping in York During the Long Eighteenth Century, utilised the pioneering methodology of buildings biographies to analyse how urban centres were experienced at street level. My thesis demonstrated how the systematic survey and analysis of standing buildings can be combined with a close reading of contemporary documentary sources to create a ‘biographical’ approach to houses and their inhabitants. This evidence has the power to challenge and nuance accounts of the large-scale social and cultural changes associated with the emergence of modernity, including urban improvement, domestic privacy and consumer behaviour. My work revealed how even the most fashionable streets in Georgian York were of a very mixed character, in which new architecture in the classical vernacular stood cheek-by-jowl with older timber-framed buildings. Furthermore, this older architecture was utilised for fashionable shops and in the homes of influential citizens, and was not simply regarded with distaste. The thesis also explored interior space, broadening our understanding of both the private word of the home and consumer practices.
I am currently collaborating with Dr Charlotte Newman of English Heritage to investigate Georgian London. The project utilises English Heritage’s Architectural Study Collection (ASC) held at Wrest Park. The project has completed three case studies, including the elite location of Mayfair and and the public and private sides of a politician’s house in Westminster.
Prehistory to the Present (Year 1)
Field Archaeology (Year 1)
Special Topic: Historic Houses (Year 3)
Assessed Seminar: Building Early Modernity (Year 3)
Domestic Historic Interiors
Interpreting Historic Buildings