Sarah Rees Jones
Professor of Medieval History



BA (Oxon), DPhil (York), FRHistS, FSA

Sarah Rees Jones is a Professor of Medieval History and director of the Centre for Medieval Studies.

She works on medieval urban history, with special interests in the history of citizenship and townplanning. She is the author of York, the Making of a City, 1068-1350 (Oxford, 2013). Other recent publications address the processes through which collective bonds were formed in medieval towns, whether through the shaping of the lived environment, through faith or through the development of skills and bureaucratic processes.





The major focus of Sarah Rees Jones’ current and future research interests is in urban society and culture in England between the Norman Conquest and the Reformation. Her monograph on York, The Making of a City 1068-1350 was published by OUP in 2013 and she recently was a major contributor the British Historic Towns Atlas, volume V, York (Oxford, 2015). She is a Trustee of the UK Historic Towns Trust. Her current focus is on the relationship between public history and social reform in the later medieval city in the decades around 1400 and in part realised through a focus on the built environment. This new project brings together her interests in topography and popular architecture, civic writing and archives, and utopianism.

In March 2010, together with Sethina Watson, she organised an international interdisciplinary conference on ‘York 1190: Jews and Others in the Wake of Massacre’ with financial support from the British Academy. Out of this grew the volume Christians and Jews in Angevin England. The York Massacre of 1190, Narratives and Contexts (Woodbridge, 2013) which was republished in paperback in 2016.

A second strand of research is in Public History developed through partnership with a number of local heritage institutions.  From 2008-15 she collaborated with the York Archaeological Trust, and with Natasha Glaisyer and Kate Giles (Archaeology), in a project on material cultures of urban domesticity and poverty 1000-1900 which was funded through three AHRC collaborative PhD awards.

In particular her interest in public history has led to the development of research to improve public access to archival resources using both digital and non-digital approaches. She was PI on the interdisciplinary collaborative project ChartEx, from 2012 to 2014 which was funded through the international Digging Into Data challenge. This developed new software tools using various approaches from artificial intelligence and Human Computer Interaction to support the more sensitive analysis and interpretation of digital historical records. The industry partner in this project was The National Archives. Currently (2013- ) she is CI on a project with the City of York Council led by John Schofield: ‘Within the Walls: Heritage Values and the Historic City,’ in which she is supervising a PHD on ‘Archives, Community and Values in the Heritage City’. See podcast by The National Archives here.

Resources available for research students in York

Sarah Rees Jones has supervised seventeen successful PhD students on a range of topics relating to medieval English social and cultural history and public history.

The J.B. Morrell, King’s Manor and York Minster Libraries contain excellent collections of journals, secondary works and printed primary sources to support research in medieval English urban and rural history. The city also houses four major collections of medieval archives for the city and the northern province, including exceptionally rich collections of ecclesiastical, civic, and guild records. Other local archives contain major medieval collections for the urban and rural history of Yorkshire and the north. Students undertaking research degrees may also want to take advantage of resources both nearby both in the British Library Lending Division at nearby Boston Spa and in the archives of North Yorkshire (Northallerton) and West Yorkshire ( Leeds). York has excellent communication links to libraries in Leeds, Manchester and elsewhere in the North, and is conveniently placed for research in London.




Contact details

Prof. Sarah Rees Jones
Kings' Manor, K/183
Department of History
University of York
King's Manor

Tel: Internal 3943, External (01904) 323943
Student hours