Dr Sarah Semple, BA (hons), MSt Hist. Res., DPhil
I undertook my undergraduate training at University College London and after several years in contract archaeology, completed an MSt and then a DPhil in archaeology at Oxford University. After holding Career Development Fellowship in Archaeology at St. Cross College, Oxford, I took up a full-time lectureship in archaeology at the new University of Chester and arrived in Durham in 2006.
My research focusses on the early medieval period in Britain and Europe. I am especially interested in understanding early medieval interaction with the natural and man-made environment with particular reference to the role of landscape in definitions of identity, religion and cult practice, as well as charting the ideological and political uses of natural topography and ancient remains. These interests have come to fruition in a new book Anglo-Saxon Perceptions of the Prehistoric. Ritual, Religion and Rulership due out with OUP in 2013. They led as well to a successful collaboration with Richard Jones (Leicester) in the delivery of an AHRC-funded network series in 2009: Sense of Place in Anglo-Saxon England now published as an edited volume Sense of Place in Anglo-Saxon England (2012).
My interests in assembly and political practice are on-going and I currently collaborate on a three-year international project funded by the Humanities in Europe Research Area. The Assembly Project TAP examines multidisciplinary evidence for the emergence of assembly sites and administrative frameworks across Northern Europe from AD 300-1300.
Since joining the department at Durham, I have initiated a number of regional field projects. In 2009, I began a collaboration with Sam Turner (Newcastle), funded by English Heritage, exploring the internationally important monastic sites of Wearmouth and Jarrow. One Monastery in Two Places has used a combination of non-intrusive survey techniques and digital data resources to explore the fabric of the buildings and the impact of these monasteries on the immediate and wider hinterlands. The results are forthcoming as a jointly-authored monograph.
Further regional involvements include field investigation at Yeavering, Northumberland, Sockburn, Co Durham and at Etal on the Northumberland border and buildings survey at Seaham Church.
I now assist with the Corpus for Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture working to facilitate the online release of the full corpus. I have just become Deputy Editor for the international journal Medieval Archaeology, and as Associate Director in 2011, helped in the creation of the new Durham Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. These involvements my keen interest and commitment to furthering research of all kinds on early medieval societies. At present I lead the Ritual Religion Belief and Place Research Group.
Department of Archaeology
Department of Archaeology
- Archaeology of Assembly and Governance: European Themes
- Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture
- Durham Medieval Archaeologists (DMA)
- Temples and cult sites: long term religious traditions in Britain
- Religion, belief and popular practices in pre-Christian and Conversion Period Europe
- The archaeology of governance and power in North West Europe
- Death and burial in early medieval Britain
- Church archaeology and monasticism
- Anglo-Saxon Sculpture
- Interdisciplinary approaches to early medieval research
- Historiography of Anglo-Saxon Studies
- Material culture, memory and commemoration
- Landscape archaeology
- Semple, S.J. (2013). Perceptions of the Prehistoric in Anglo-Saxon England.Religion, Ritual and Rulership in the Landscape. Oxford University Press.
- Turner, S. Semple, S. J. & Turner, A. (2013). Wearmouth and Jarrow: Northumbrian Churches in an Historic Context. English Heritage.
- Jones, R. & Semple, S. (2012). Sense of Place in Anglo-Saxon England. Shaun Tyas.
- Lewis, H. & Semple, S. J. (2010). Perspectives in Landscape Archaeology. BAR International Series 2103. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.
- Carver, M.O.H., Sanmark, A. & Semple, S.J. (2010). Signals of Belief. Anglo-Saxon Paganism Revisited. Oxford: Oxbow.
- Semple, S. J. & Williams, H. M. R. (2007). Early Medieval Mortuary Practices. Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History, 14. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
- Pantos, A. & Semple, S. J. (2004). Assembly Places and Practices in Medieval Europe. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
- Griffiths, D., Reynolds, A. & Semple, S. J. (2003). Boundaries in Early Medieval Britain. Anglo-Saxon Studies in History and Archaeology, 12. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Essays in edited volumes
- Reynolds, A. & Semple, S. (Published). Digging for names: archeology and place-names in the Avebury Region. In Sense of Place in Anglo-Saxon England. Jones, R. & Semple, S Shaun Tyas. 76-100.
- Jones, R. & Semple, S. (2012). Making Sense of Place in Anglo-Saxon England. In Sense of Place in Anglo-Saxon England. Jones, R. & Semple, S. Shaun Tyas. 1-17.
- Reynolds, A. & Semple, S. (2011). Anglo-Saxon non-funerary weapon depositions. In Studies in Early Anglo-Saxon Art and Archaeology: Papers in Honour of Martin G. Welch. Brookes, S., Harrington, S. & Reynolds, A. Oxford: Archaeopress. 40-48.
- Semple, S. (2011). Sacred Spaces and Places in Pre-Christian and Conversion Period Anglo-Saxon England. In The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology. Hamerow, H., Hinton, D. A. & Crawford, S. Oxford: University Press. 742-763.
- Semple, S.J. (2010). In the Open Air. In Signals of Belief in Early England: Anglo-Saxon Paganism Revisited. Carver, M.O.H, Sanmark, A. & Semple, S.J. Oxford: Oxbow.
- Sanmark, A. & Semple, S. J. (2010). The topography of outdoor assembly sites in Europe with reference to recent field results from Sweden. In Perspectives in Landscape Archaeology. Lewis, H. & Semple, S. J. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports. BAR International Series 2103: 107-119.
- Semple, S.J. (2009). Recycling the Past: Ancient Monuments and Changing Meanings in Early Medieval Britain. In Antiquaries and Archaists, the Past in the Past, the Past in the Present. Aldrich, M. & Wallis, R. J. Reading: Spire Books Ltd. 29-45.
- Semple, S.J. (2004). Locations of Assembly in Early Anglo-Saxon England. In Assembly Places and Practices in Medieval Europe. Pantos, A. & Semple, S.J. Dublin: Four Courts Press. 135-154.
Journal papers: academic
- Semple, S. J. & Sanmark, A. (Submitted). Assembly in North West Europe: collective concerns for early societies?. Journal of European Archaeology
- Stephen Mitchell, Neil Price, Ronald Hutton, Catharina Raudvere, Carlo Severi, Miranda Aldhouse-Green, Sarah Semple, Aleks Pluskowski, Martin Carver & Carlo Ginzburg (2010). Witchcraft and Deep Time - a debate at Harvard. Antiquity 84(325): 864-79.
- Sanmark, A. & Semple, S. J. (2008). Places of Assembly: New Discoveries in Sweden and England. Fornvännen 103(4): 245-259.
- Semple, S.J. (2008). Polities and Princes AD 400-800: New Perspectives on the Funerary Landscape of the South Saxon Kingdom. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 27(4): 407-429
- Semple, S (2007). Defining the OE Hearg: a preliminary archaeological and topographic examination of hearg place names and their hinterlands. Early Medieval Europe 15(4): 364-385.
- Semple, S. J (2003). Burials and Political Boundaries in the Avebury region, North Wiltshire. Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History 12: 72-91.
- Semple, S.J. (2003). Illustrations of Damnation in Late Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts. Anglo-Saxon England 32: 31-45.
- Semple, S.J. (1998). A fear of the past: the place of the prehistoric burial mound in the ideology of middle and later Anglo-Saxon England. World Archaeology 30(1): 109-126.
Available for media contact about:
- History & Archaeology: Medieval Archaeology