Carving of a bull and calf

Material Cultures


The department has a wealth of expertise in the field of material culture research. As an internationally renowned centre for Medieval and Post Medieval studies, it has been in the vanguard of work on the archaeology of commemoration (Finch, McClain), the inhabitation of religious and secular architectures (Finch, Giles & Grenville), and the role of artefacts in the construction of social identities (Dickinson, Richards, McClain)). The recent expansion of the department has stimulated new research in this area, with work on Viking Combs (Ashby) the Early Modern Ivory trade (Lane) and on the social dimensions of prehistoric technologies (Edmonds). A project on the Swahili coast of East Africa (Wynne-Jones) explores the ways that objects were part of economic, social and ritual practices, bound up in the ways that Swahili urbanism was constructed These themes are also carried through to the study of the more recent past, with major projects the more dramatic ‘Big Science’ projects of the 20th century, the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank (Edmonds).  


Academic Staff

  • Steve Ashby uses artefacts to address questions about Viking-Age trade, technology, culture contact and identity. He has worked on large datasets of  bone, metal, and ceramic objects, with the common thread being the articulation of traditional artefact study, archaeological science, and social theory.
  • Prof. Mark Edmonds
  • Prof. Julian Richards
  • Tania Dickinson
  • Jon Finch
  • Kate Giles
  • Aimee Little
  • Aleks McClain is a medieval archaeologist specializing in church architecture, commemorative sculpture, and the Anglo-Norman period. She is particularly interested in secular/religious relationships, transition, and social identity.
  • John Schofield
  • Stephanie Wynne-Jones works in the medieval and historical archaeology of Africa. She has directed projects across eastern Africa, with a particular focus on the Swahili coast. She also teaches on Islamic archaeology in Africa and elsewhere. Her research strengths are in the analysis of buildings and material culture.


  • John Naylor

Research Projects