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Department of History

Staff Profile

Dr John-Henry Clay

Lecturer (Early Medieval History) in the Department of History
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41074
Room number: 102
Departmental Rep (History) in the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Contact Dr John-Henry Clay (email at


Research interests

My main research interests are in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology, particularly concerning themes of conversion and religious identity, landscape perception and the transition from the late Roman to the early medieval period both in Britain and on the Continent.

I am currently working on my second academic monograph, a study of the conversion of northern Germany under the Carolingians.


After obtaining BA in Archaeology (2001) and MA in Early Medieval Studies (2002) from the University of York, I worked for two years as a commercial archaeologist in the Republic of Ireland. I returned to the Centre for Medieval Studies at York in 2004 to start my PhD, a study of Christian missionaries in eighth-century Germany. A book based on my thesis, the melodramatically titled In the Shadow of Death, was published in 2010.

After completing my PhD I conducted fieldwork in Germany (2009), and spent six months as a visiting researcher at the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna (2009-2010). I was appointed Lecturer at Durham University in October 2010.

From September 2015 to May 2016 I was a visiting Solmsen Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Historical fiction

I am also a published historical novelist. I see fiction as a way of exploring the past in a more imaginative and emotive (not to say entertaining) fashion, and also a way of secretly teaching people about history without them realising it...

The Lion and the Lamb (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2013)

At the Ruin of the World (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2015)

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology
  • Early medieval missionaries and conversion
  • Post-Roman western Europe


Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Teaching Areas

  • HIST 1011: The Birth of Western Society
  • HIST 2922: Conversations with History: The End of the Roman Empire
  • HIST 31A3: The Ruin of the World
  • HIST 41830: Issues in Medieval History
  • HIST 43430: Anglo-Saxon Societies and Cultures