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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Dr Kate Mees, BA (Hons), MA, PhD

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Archaeology
Room number: 303

Contact Dr Kate Mees (email at

Current Research Project

Funerary Landscapes and Social Change in Early Medieval North-West Europe, c. AD 400-900

The Early Middle Ages in north-west Europe saw ethnic and political realignments that laid the foundations for the concepts of nationhood and society we recognise today. In this competitive post-imperial milieu, the recurrent negotiation of identities and territories was manifested in a renewed investment in funerary monumentality. To date, research into burial practice during this period has been essentially regional or insular in outlook. Scholarly exchange between Britain and its nearest Continental neighbours has in particular been hindered by linguistic barriers and nationally-driven agendas. This project examines for the first time how communities on either side of the English Channel and southern North Sea adapted their inherited landscape for burial, and how they harnessed the power of ancient monuments and natural topography. Through an exploration of funerary activity at range of scales, from the micro to the supra-regional, this research will provide new insights into the context of such strategies, and how they reflect social change across physical and perceived frontiers.


I originally studied Italian & French at UCL (with periods of study at the Universities of Paris-Sorbonne and Bologna), and spent a year teaching English in Rome, Italy, before returning to the UK to undertake an MA in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bristol. This was followed by an AHRC doctoral studentship (2010-13), held at the University of Exeter. My PhD research investigated the motivations behind the positioning of burial sites in 5th- to 9th-century Wessex, taking into account patterns of movement, territorial development, resource exploitation, and political and religious ideologies.

My research interests are principally focused around early medieval interaction with the physical and cultural environment, particularly through funerary practices. As a landscape archaeologist I pursue the development of multidisciplinary approaches that deploy and integrate a full range of archaeological, historical and toponymic sources, alongside the use of GIS and related technologies.

I have been involved in fieldwork projects in England, Wales, the Channel Islands, France, Italy and Slovenia. I have worked with the National Trust on numerous excavations as well as assisting with data management (HBSMR) and conducting Archaeological and Historic Landscape Surveys.

Indicators of Esteem

Research Groups


Authored book

Book review

Journal Article


Selected Grants

  • 2016: 'Funerary Landscapes and Social Change in Early Medieval North-West Europe, c. AD 400-900'. British Academy (£236,435.20)