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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 (London) and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is Awards Officer (formerly editor) for the Finds Research Group, and a member of the editorial board (formerly council member) of the Royal Archaeological Institute. He is a founding editor of the Viking World series of publications (Liverpool University Press), and currently chair of the WRoCAH Heritage and Material Culture cluster.
Within the university, Steve co-founded the interdisciplinary Viking Studies Research Group, and has been a PGCAP supervisor and examiner (training new academics and lecturers across the university).
He is regularly seen in the media on matters Viking, his favourite work includes two series of documentaries in support of the History Channel's popular 'Vikings' drama. Here's one: Secrets of the Vikings .
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1420-2108
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
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:
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, University 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.
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
Radio: Appearances on BBC Radio Orkney, BBC Radio Northamptonshire.
As soon as publicly available, I collate my media work, together with my own videos on this site.