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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 of Scotland, 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
And see some of his media work here: Living with Vikings
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 oversee the Geoff Egan Prize for Finds Research.
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 is currently directing two funded research projects:
Melting Pot: Food and Identity in the Age of Vikings (focused on ceramics)
Culture and Communication in the Long Viking Age (focused on metal-detected finds froma round the North Sea littoral.
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.
AHRC Early Career Research Grant, 2016 Melting Pot
University of York RPF Grant, 2016 Cultures in Communication
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.
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:
Vanessa Castagnino (with Aleks McClain)
Harriet Evans (with Matt Townend)
Megan von Ackermann
2017 Session Chair, EAA Maastricht
2017 Invited delegate, Viking Congress, Denmark
2017 Invited Speaker, Finds Research Group, Orkney.
2017 Invited Speaker, Inverness Vikings Exhibition
2016 Invited Speaker, University of Aberdeen
2016 Invited Speaker, University of Newcastle
2016 Invited Speaker, Northern Research Network
2016 Invited Speaker, UNPAC, Nottingham
2016 Invited Speaker, Barnsley Museum Vikings Exhibition
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.
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.