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Kate Giles (BA, MA, PhD, York) is a buildings archaeologist with a specialism in the recording, archival research and theoretical interpretation of historic buildings. She is particularly interested in the relationship between people, places and possessions and in the archaeology of 'public' buildings, such as guildhalls, town halls village halls from the middle ages to the present day.
Kate trained as an historian and art historian and had a brief spell as an archivist at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, before discovering buildings archaeology at the University of York, where she did her MA and PhD before joining the Department full-time in 2002. Between 2000-2015, she was York Minster Archaeology Research fellow. As Director of the MA in Archaeology of Buildings, she is passionate about the potential of buildings archaeology and buildings history to enhance understanding of the significance of historic buildings, and to inform their management, interpretation and display to the wider public. This approach is evident in her own research, and that of her research students who work on a wide range of historic building types and research issues. She is always interested in hearing from potential students or collaborators about future projects or ideas.
In 2015 Kate became Deputy Director of the University's Humanities Research Centre and from 2015/16 became both Acting Director and Acting Associate Dean for the Arts and Humanities.
My PhD and subsequent research has focused on the archaeology of 'public' buildings in pre-modern England. These are principally the guildhalls constructed by religious fraternities and craft mysteries in the provincial towns and villages of late medieval England. My research adopts an interdisicplinary approach, combining archaeological survey and dendrochronological analysis with archival research, and setting these within a theoretical context to explore the changing meanings and experience of these buildings over time. This has led to a series of major archaeological survey projects in York, Boston (Lincs) and Stratford-upon-Avon (Warwickshire) which are shedding new light on the archaeology of public buildings in medieval England and which will inform a future monograph for Cambridge University Press. Another growing passion is for ecclesiastical wall paintings, inspired by a longstanding research project on the paintings at Pickering church (north Yorkshire).
More broadly, my research is concerned with the relationships between people, places and things, exploring how buildings are used to structure social identity and status, and more recently, how the decoration, fittings and fixtures of buildings were also deployed to structure meaning within buildings. This has led to a number of projects which seek to construct the biographies of buildings, using archaeological survey, archive research, Antiquarian records and the latest digital heritage technologies to produce interactive research tools, such as the Guild Chapel project at Stratford upon Avon.
I believe strongly in the cultural, societal and economic value of research in the arts and humanities which informs both my research and my role as Deputy Director for the University of York's Humanities Research centre. Much of my research is undertaken collaboratively with stakeholders and communities who want to understand and care for historic buildings and share this with the wider public. I am always pleased to hear from, talk to and support communities, local history societies and amenity groups who care for historic buildings.
I am interested in hearing from potential Phd students working on a wide range of historic building types and resarch issues, particularly late medieval-early modern buildings and the impact of buildings archaeology on conservation practice and public understanding of the past.
I am currently supervising students working on the following topics:
I teach a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses around my research specialisms in historic buildings, medieval and early modern material culture and theory in the Department of Archaeology, particularly on my own MA programme, the Archaeology of Buildings. I am a product of the MA myself, founded by Dr Jane Grenville.
As Director of Studies for the MA in Medieval Studies I oversee the MA in Medieval Studies, and supervise interdisciplinary PhD students collaboratively.