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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Professor Sarah Semple, BA (hons), MSt Hist. Res., DPhil

Professor and Head of Department in the Department of Archaeology
Travel Approver, Department of Archaeology
Travel Reporter, Department of Archaeology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41115
Room number: 201D

Contact Professor Sarah Semple (email at


After studying at the Institute of Archaeology in London (UCL) I spent several years working in commercial archaeology in the UK before completing my PhD studies at The Queen’s College, Oxford and an early career post-doctoral research fellowship at St Cross College Oxford. I took up my first permanent lectureship at the University of Chester in 2004 before moving to the Department of Archaeology at Durham in 2006.

Indicators of Esteem

Research Interests

  • 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
  • Material culture, memory and commemoration
  • Landscape archaeology

Related Links

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Semple, S., Orsini, C. & Mui, S. (2017). At the Limits: Frontiers and Boundaries in Early Medieval Northern Europe. In Life on the Edge: Social, Political and Religious Frontiers in Early Medieval Europe. Semple, S., Orsini, C. & Mui, S. Braunschweig: Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum. 6: 7-25.
  • Semple, S., Buchanan, B., Harrington, S., Oliver, D. & Petts, D. (2017). Power at the Edge: Yeavering, Northumberland, England. In Life on the Edge: Social, Political and Religious Frontiers in Early Medieval Europe. Semple, S., Orsini, C. & Mui, S. Braunschweig: Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum. 6: 91-112.
  • Semple, S. & Williams, H. (2015). Landmarks of the Dead: Exploring Anglo-Saxon Mortuary Geographies. In The Material Culture of the Built Environment in the Anglo-Saxon World. Clegg Hyer, M. & Owen-Crocker, G. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. II: 137-161.
  • Semple, S. (2015). The Pre-Christian Landscape in Anglo-Saxon England. In Dying Gods - Religious beliefs in northern and eastern Europe in the time of Christianisation. Ruhmann, C. & Brieske, V. Stuttgart: Niedersächsischen Landesmuseum Hannover In Kommission bei Konrad Theiss Verlag. 5: 101-110.
  • Reynolds, A. & Semple, S. (2012). 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.

Edited book

Edited Journal

Journal Article

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • History & Archaeology: Medieval Archaeology

Selected Grants

  • 2018: Worked in Stone: Completing the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture (£578649.39 from AHRC)
  • 2016: 'Funerary Landscapes and Social Change in Early Medieval North-West Europe, c. AD 400-900'. British Academy (£236,435.20)
  • 2015: People and Place in the Kingdom of Northumbria AD 300 - 800 (£275742.00 from Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2010: IP 2. Landscape, Authority and Power: assembly places and structures in Britain and Europe. (£114974.40 from HERA)
  • 2009: As One Monastery in Two Places, English Heritage, £59,780, 2009-2012