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Dr Emma J. Wells BA (Hons.), MA (Dist.) PhD, MCIfA, FRSA, SFHEA is an ecclesiastical historian and buildings archaeologist at the University of York, specializing particularly in the history and archaeology of the late medieval/early modern English parish church and cathedral, with a distinct concentration on pilgrimage, the cult of saints, sensory experience and applying cross-disciplinary and comparative approaches to the past.
After receiving a Distinction in the MA in Buildings Archaeology which followed a BA (Hons) in History of Art, both from the University of York, Emma was then awarded a PhD in Buildings Archaeology from Durham University for which she was the 2011-12 British Archaeological Association Ochs Scholar and the recipient of the 2011 Society for Church Archaeology Research Grant. Her PhD thesis was entitled ‘An Archaeology of Sensory Experience: Pilgrimage in the Medieval Church, c. 1170–c. 1550’.
From 2009-13 Emma joined Durham University’s Archaeology and Combined Honours departments as a graduate lecturer/tutor and, following this, was a Visiting Lecturer in Theology at York St John University. Simultaneously, Emma set up her own heritage consultancy which she saw go from strength to strength. In 2014, Emma was then appointed as Programme Director of the PGDip in Parish Church Studies within the Department of History at the University of York. In January 2016, she was also made Associate Lecturer and Programme Director for the Centre for Lifelong Learning then, in 2017, was appointed as Programme Director for the new collaborative MA in English Building History between the Centre for Lifelong Learning and Department of Archaeology, at York which Emma created, designed and developed.
Emma has played a number of roles within British building and ecclesiastical history, including: a member of Newcastle Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC); Durham University’s Castle Society executive committee; Centre for Parish Church Studies (CPCS) Academic Advisory Board; Guardian for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB); and executive committee member of the Ecclesiastical History Society. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a full member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA).
Emma is also a regular writer for BBC History, History Today, History Revealed, BBC Countryfile and Listed Heritage, and a tour guide for Historical Trips and Andante Travels. Her television, radio and podcast work includes appearances on Viral History, Michael Wood’s BBC1 spinoff to ‘A Great British Story’, Oxford historian and broadcaster, Dr Janina Ramirez’s History Hit Art Detective podcast, and as a ‘Don’ on BBC Radio 4’s The 3rd Degree, as well as various research consultancy work.
Contributions to books and edited volumes
All other works
Recent research projects include:
2018-present Guardian, Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).
2018-present Member, Newcastle Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC).
2018-present Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).
2017–present Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).
2017-present Executive Committee Member, Durham Castle Society, University College, Durham.
2016-present Member, Society of Authors.
2014-15 Communications Officer (Committee Member), Chartered Institute for Archaeologists Archives Group.
2013-15 Executive Committee Member & Social Media Manager, Ecclesiastical History Society.
2013 – present Member, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA)
2012 – present Member, Society for Architectural Historians of Great Britain
2011 – present Member, British Archaeological Association