Lectures Offered

I offer the following lectures, many of which can be expanded into longer study days if required. My fees are negotiable and I am always happy to discuss new lecture subjects and ideas should you wish to have something bespoke. Should you wish to book me to speak to your group, please contact me using this form.

M.R. James’ East Anglia

Best known as the writer of some of the finest ghost stories ever published, M.R. James was also the foremost medieval scholar of his day and had a strong academic and personal interest in East Anglia’s landscape and history. This lecture examines James’ East Anglian connections, from his childhood in Suffolk to his involvement with excavations at St Edmund’s abbey in Bury, and looks at the influence which the region had on the development of his ghost stories.

“Wonderful Things”: Howard Carter and The Discovery of Tutankhamun

Marking the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, this lecture tells the story of Howard Carter and one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made. The son of a Swaffham artist, Carter was inspired by visits to the Egyptian collections at nearby Didlington Hall and went on to forge a career in Egyptology, throughout which he doggedly pursued the tomb of the boy-king.

The Abbey and the Antiquaries: Discovering the Abbey of St Edmund

From depictions of the ruins of the abbey to the excavation of the grave of Abbot Samson, this lecture examines the ways in which antiquaries and archaeologists have approached the study of the abbey since the Dissolution, and reveals what recent archaeological fieldwork has told us about the development of the monastic site.

Viking-Age East Anglia

From the middle decades of the 9th century until the Norman Conquest, East Anglia was an integral part of the Viking world which spanned the North Sea basin. Drawing on historical sources, archaeological sites, artefacts and place-names, this lecture explores the evidence for the Viking presence in East Anglia, from the initial campaign of the Great Heathen Army and the martyrdom of King Edmund, to the subsequent settlement and integration under the Danelaw, and the second wave of raids on the region’s towns which took place in the 11th century.

Cold War Archaeology of East Anglia

East Anglia was home to a disproportionately large part of Britain’s infrastructure for a potential nuclear war. It included V-bomber bases, one of the country’s two nuclear bomb stores, Thor missile sites, Royal Observer Corps bunkers and much more. This lecture examines the archaeological evidence for the Cold War in East Anglia and places it into its national context.

‘Bare Ruin’d choirs’: The Archaeology of Medieval Monasteries

Monasteries were one of the most important and influential features of the medieval landscape. This lecture examines the monastic landscapes of Britain throughout the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods. Using examples from within East Anglia and from further afield, the history of monasticism in Britain, the development of the monastic cloister and precinct, and the management of monastic estates are explored.

A Portrait of the Artist: J.M.W. Turner in East Anglia

This lecture examines a series of watercolours Joseph Mallord William Turner made of sites along the East Anglian coast in the 1820s, including views of Orford, Aldeburgh, Dunwich, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Happisburgh. As well as being beautiful paintings in their own right, these images tell us a great deal about the dynamic coastal landscape and illustrate the changing artistic fashions of the early 19th century.

‘A very remote period indeed’: Discovering East Anglia’s Earliest Humans

Beginning with John Frere’s famous letter of 1797 reporting the discovery of ancient flint tools in brick-pits at Hoxne and culminating with the exposure of million-year-old footprints on Happisburgh beach in 2013, this lecture looks at the string of significant East Anglian archaeological discoveries which have revolutionised our understanding of the early human occupation of Britain.

Raising the Dead: Discovering the Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries of East Anglia

From the 17th-century excavations at Walsingham described in Sir Thomas Browne’s Hydriotaphia to the splendours of the royal ship-burial at Sutton Hoo, this lecture focuses on the contrivances of circumstance and rich cast of historical characters which led to the discovery of the region’s numerous Anglo-Saxon cemeteries.

Excavation and Experiment: 50 Years of West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village

It is more than 50 years since the start of the archaeological excavations at West Stow which revealed the remains of an extensive Early Anglo-Saxon settlement in Suffolk’s Lark valley. The site has since become better known for the experimental reconstructions of Anglo-Saxon buildings which were constructed after the excavations finished, and this lecture examines the results of the original excavations and assesses the conclusions which can so far be drawn from the ongoing experiment.

Changing Beliefs: The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion

The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity was one of the most significant cultural changes in our nation’s history and it changed the Anglo-Saxon landscape forever. This lecture uses documentary sources and artefacts, cemeteries, settlements and early churches from the region’s rich archaeological record to present an overview of the adoption of Christianity in seventh-century East Anglia.

Thoughts and Crosses: New Research into the Anglo-Saxon Church in East Anglia

We have recently seen a number of significant steps forward in our understanding of the origins and development of the early Church in East Anglia and this lecture presents the latest thoughts on the artefacts, sites and documents which shed light on this formative period. Subjects to be covered include the early use of Christian iconography, the high-precision dating of Anglo-Saxon burials, and the recently published Middle Saxon sites at Brandon, Sedgeford and Barber’s Point, as well as the spectacular new discovery of Middle Saxon timber coffins and a possible chapel at Great Ryburgh.