Alison Leonard - Department of Archaeology, University of York (2024)

  • Research project
  • Profile
  • Publications
  • Teaching
  • Outreach

Research project

Nested Negotiations: landscape and portable material culture in Viking-Age England

My research on the Anglo-Scandinavian period seeks to characterise rural landscapes at both local and regional scales, accessing and interpreting them through the distribution of metal-detected portable material culture.It aims in particular to assess changes in land use and in attitudes to material culture across the Middle to Late Saxon period (c. AD 600-1100), especially in light of potential influences between Anglo-Saxon populations and settling Scandinavians. Did culture contact inspire shifts in practice? How were migrant identities shaped and exhibited? Secondary, methodological aims are to reconcile studies of portable material culture (derived from the PAS database and HERs) with landscape archaeology approaches, and to demonstrate the value of datasets synthesised from lesser-known and unpublished records.



I graduated from McGill University, Montreal, Canada with a joint honours BA in History and Anthropology. After teaching ESL in Korea and Taiwan, I moved to York to undertake a Masters in Medieval Archaeology. It was here that I discovered my passion for the Viking Age.

My research interests currently focus on rural landscape, settlement and metal-detected artefacts from the Anglo-Scandinavian period, but I maintain an enthusiasm for the Scottish Viking Age, migrant identities, the past in the past, movement through the landscape, anthropological archaeology, landscapes of memory, and more recently, Islamic archaeology. I am also interested in the pedagogy of higher eduation, especially the links between research and teaching.


Peer Reviewed Publications

Other Publications

  • (2013) ‘EMASS 2013: A Review’. Early Medieval Archaeology Student Symposium, May 2013, University of Chester.

  • (2011) 'Monuments and Artefacts of Prehistoric and Norse Orkney' [dissertation database] submitted to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland for inclusion in the online Canmore catalogue:


  • (2014) 'Learning by leading: encouraging ownership in seminar settings', paper presented at Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference, Manchester, 17 December, 2014.By invitation.
  • (2014) 'Anglo-Saxons in the Viking Age: small finds and the evolution of memory in communities of Scandinavian-occupied England', paper presented at the 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, University of Western Michigan, 8 May, 2014.
  • (2014) 'Exploring Anglo-Scandinavian landscapes through PAS data', paper presented at The World of Vikings Conference in Honour of Dr Richard Hall. University of York, 21 March, 2014.By invitation.
  • (2013) 'Landscapes of transition, landscapes of settlement: contextualising portable artefacts in Anglo-Scandinavian England', paper presented at EMASS, Chester, 20 May, 2013.
  • (2013) 'Vikings on the Edge: Portable material culture as a window into rural Anglo-Scandinavian landscapes', paper presented at the Nordic TAG conference, Reykjavik, 23 April, 2013.
  • (2013) ‘The teaching and research relationship: Is there evidence for reciprocity?’, paper given at University of York PFA Symposium. York, 11 April 2013.
  • (2012) 'Contextualizing metal-detected artefacts in Anglo-Scandinavian England', public talk given at Sc*nthorpe, Sc*nthorpe Metal-Detecting Society meeting, 8 October 2012.
  • (2011) 'Landscapes of Viking-Age Orkney', paper given at The University of York and York Archaeological Trust’s New Perspectives on the Viking Age conference, 25 February 2011.

Conference Organisation

  • Early Medieval Archaeology Student Symposium (EMASS) 2014: neEMASS, co-hosted by Universities of York, Durham, and Newcastle, 19th-21st May 2014.
    • EMASS is the primary forum for discussion of the archaeology of the Early Medieval period and is in its eighth year. It is organised by and primarily for postgraduate students, but welcomes postdocs, early career researchers and established academics as delegates. EMASS normally hosts over 50 international delegates and we expect that this year's collaborative effort will result in another lively and friendly symposium.


I was awarded the Vice Chancellor's Teaching Award for outstanding teaching in 2014.

I completed the 20 Masters credit postgraduate programme, PFA (Preparing Future Academics) in June 2013, and was awarded Prize for Outstanding Portfolio for my teaching portfolio.

I have lectured on the following modules:

  • Artefacts (MA skills module at Yorkshire Museum) with Dr Hilary Paterson
  • Early Medieval Themes: Vikings (2nd year Themes in Historical Archaeology)
  • Age of Sutton Hoo (3rd year Special Topics)

I have taught on the following UG modules:

  • Accessing Archaeology (1st year survey)
  • Age of Sutton Hoo (3rd year Special Topics) with Professor Martin Carver
  • Early Medieval Themes (2nd year Themes in Historical Archaeology)
  • Archaeology of Islam (2nd year Themes in Historical Archaeology)
  • Various IT Skills Workshops (2nd year Skills)

I have taught on the following PG modules:

  • Artefacts (MA skills module at Yorkshire Museum) with Dr Hilary Paterson


I have spoken at metal-detecting society meetings about my research and continue to keep in touch with members of the communities whose detecting work has contributed to the PAS datasets I research.

I am 'guest archaeologist' at Clifton Green Primary School, York. I work with classes to engage them in archaeological exploration and assist with fieldtrips. I spoke at school assemblies about my research and becoming an archaeologist. I also visited classes at Haxby Road Primary School. I am keen to work with older year groups in the future and talk to A-level students and staff about the transition from college to university.

I have assisted with the York-based 'Common Grounds Community Archaeology Project', led by Alastair Oswald and David Roberts to engage local community groups in the archaeology of Walmgate Stray.

Alison Leonard - Department of Archaeology, University of York (2024)
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