Dr Steve Ashby
Senior Lecturer



Steve Ashby is a medieval archaeologist with specialism in the archaeology of portable material culture and the use of animal products in craft and industry. 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 after the Viking Age. Hi approach involved bringing together archaeological theory and new scientific techniques.

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 is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a PGCAP supervisor (which means he helps to train new academics and lecturers across the university).

He is becoming a regular in the media on matters Viking, most recently recording two series of documentaries in supoport of the History Channel's popular 'Vikings' drama. Here's one: Secrets of the Vikings

He cheers loudly for Northampton Saints, and more quietly for Coventry City.


You can follow his personal Twitter feed here: @grungeviking




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

Departmental roles


  • Chair of the Board of Studies (2011-15). Also variously Acting Chair of Teaching Committee, Chair of Graduate Schools Board, and Higher Degrees Officer
  • Previously (2011-12) Chair of the Archaeology and History Combined Honours Executive Committee
  • Previously (2008-10) Chair of the Board of Examiners, Centre for Medieval Studies

University roles

  • PGCAP (Staff Training) Supervisor (2012-)
  • York Award Panel (2013-)



Steve’s PhD thesis focused on bone and antler hair combs in Britain and Scandinavia between c.AD 800 and 1400. It 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 the construction of identity.

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.

In general terms, he is interested in the integration of scientific techniques with contemporary theory, in order to ask questions about society, trade, and identity. He would be interested in supervising research students working in any of these areas.


Research group(s)


Learning and Teaching Grant 2013 'Travelling the Viking World'

Danish Research Council 2012 for ENTREPOT, (Co-I; directed by Soren Sindbaek)

British Academy Small Grant 2010 for Crafting Networks in Viking Towns (with Soren Sindbaek)


Vice Chancellor's Teaching Award, 2013.

Runner-up  Martyn Jope award 2010 for best paper in Medieval Archaeology

University of York/YUSU Supervisor of the Year 2010.


Joann Fletcher (TASTE)

Soren Sindbaek (CNVT, ENTREPOT)

Gitte Hansen and Irene Baug, Bergen Museum (Actors and Affordable Crafts)

Available PhD research projects

I am interested in supervising PhDs on any area of study in the fields of early-medieval craft, trade, identity, or material culture.


I currently supervise the following Research Students:

Vanessa Castagnino (with Aleks McClain)

Harriet Evans (with Matt Townend)

Alison Leonard

Paul Montgomery

Robert Webley

Megan von Ackermann


External activities



  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Steering Committee Member, 'Researching Ivory' AHRC/EPSRC Research Cluster
  • Member, ICAZ Worked Bone Research Group
  • Member, Committee for Finds Research Group 
    • 2013-present Awards Officer
  • Member, Society for Medieval Archaeology
  • Member, Viking Society for Northern Research


Editorial duties

Invited talks and conferences


2015. Invited Speaker, Society for American Archaeology

2015. Invited Speaker, University College Cork, Student Lecture and Research Seminar Series

2013. Invited Delegate, Viking Congress, Shetland

2010. Invited Speaker, Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2010

2010. Invited Speaker, Early Medieval Finds from the British Isles conference, University of Oxford, 2010

2009. Session Chair, Early Medieval Archaeological Students Symposium, 2009

2009. Invited Speaker, Viking Summer School, University of Aarhus

2009. Session Chair and Invited Speaker, Researching Ivories workshops.

Media coverage

Radio: Appearances on BBC Radio Orkney, BBC Radio Northamptonshire.




First year
  • Field Archaeology - Lecturer (Metal-detecting)
  • Prehistory to Present - Lecturer (Anglo-Saxon and Viking)
Second year
  • Themes in Historical Archaeology - Lecturer
  • Practical Option (artefacts) - Lecturer
  • Team Project (artefacts) - Lecturer
  • Research Skills- Module leader
Third year
  • Dissertation - Module leader
  • Special Topic: Diocletian to Danelaw- Module leader
  • Special Topic: Landscape and Community in Viking-Age Britain and Ireland - Module leader
  • Assessed Seminar: Viking-Age Britain and Ireland - Module leader
  • Assessed Seminar: The Medieval Artisan - Module leader


  • The Vikings - Module leader
  • Collection of Field Archaeology Data - Lecturer (Artefacts)
  • Skills - Lecturer (Assessed Lecture)
  • Using Archaeology (for Medieval Studies) - Lecturer (Artefacts)
  • Core Course (for Medieval Studies) - Lecturer (Viking-Age Sculpture and Literature)
  • Viking-Age Northumbria (for Medieval Studies) - Lecturer (Artefacts)

Other teaching

Postgraduate, in Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Using Archaeology - Lecturer (Artefacts)
  • Core Course  - Lecturer (Viking-Age Sculpture and Literature)
  • Viking-Age Northumbria - Lecturer (Artefacts)

Dr Steve Ashby

Contact details

Dr Steven Ashby
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 323952