Dr Hugh Willmott
BA Hons., MA, PhD (Dunelm), FSA, MCIfA
Department of Archaeology
Senior Lecturer in European Historical Archaeology
Course Director- MA Archaeology
Departmental Director of Learning and Teaching
+44114 222 2940
Full contact details
Department of Archaeology
Hugh studied medieval and early modern archaeology at the University of Durham, completing his PhD in 1999. After a brief period working in commercial archaeology, he was appointed a lecturer in European Historical Archaeology at Sheffield in 2004, and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010.
In 2017 Hugh featured as one of the university's Inspirational Academics.
- Research interests
Hugh's research interests lie in the the medieval and early modern periods in Europe, and the archaeology of monasticism in particular.
Currently, he is focused upon exploring the archaeology of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, although other aspects of his work include the examination of early medieval industrial processes and the evolution of early ecclesiastical settlement in Lincolnshire.
Current research projects/ collaborations
Working in collaboration with Historic England and the York Archaeological Trust, Hugh led the rescue excavation of an early Bronze Age burial at Tetney, Lincolnshire. Disturbed accidentally by the landowner, the mounded burial contained an exceptionally rare log coffin, hafted axe and well-preserved organic remains. Research is ongoing, including the precise dating of the burial, isotope analysis, detailed archaeobotanical study and reconstruction of the wider environment 4,000 years ago.
Since 2021, Hugh has been co-directing excavations, with Dr Duncan Wright (Newcastle University), at Crowland, Lincolnshire. Traditionally the location of the hermitage founded by St Guthlac in AD 699, the first season of excavation revealed well-preserved Middle-Saxon deposits as well as extensive later medieval occupation. Work will continue in 2022 to further explore the evolution of this complex ecclesiastical landscape.
Scremby Anglo-Saxon Cemetery
Hugh is working with Dr Katie Hemer on the current excavations of the late 5th- and early 6th-century cemetery at Scremby, Lincolnshire. Excavation of over 20 burials has show the cemetery to have been the focus for a number of very high status burials, clearly displaying connections with both Continental Europe, but more interestingly communities living on the south coast of England.
Nominated as Current Archaeology's Research Project of the Year 2017
Hugh led the Little Carlton Archaeology Project with focusing on the survey and excavation of the Middle Saxon marshland settlement at Little Carlton, Lincolnshire. To date, this work has identified Little Carlton as a very significant, high status, early Christian site and cemetery occupied between c. 650-780 AD. As well as evidence for literacy in the form of writing styli and inscribed lead plaques, excavations have shown that Little Carlton was clearly the focus for international trade and industrial craftworking.
Converting from Christianity, the Archaeology of the Dissolution
Between 2011-16 Hugh undertook a major survey and excavation project centred on the well-preserved monastic enclosure at Thornton Abbey, Lincolnshire, a site that was converted into a early modern estate by several successive families of wealthy landowners. This project is a key case study in a wider research project investigating the aftermath of the Dissolution on the Monasteries in England. Excavations also revealed the remains of the medieval hospital attached to the monastery and an extensive cemetery which included the first evidence for Black Death burials to have been found in England outside of London.
Early Medieval Industry and the Saxon Monastery
Hugh has recently finished investigating (with Prof. Kate Welham of Bournemouth University), the Saxon glassworking evidence from Raleigh Radford's 1950s excavations at Glastonbury Abbey as part of an AHRC funded project. He is now looking at the evidence for glass manufacture from other Middle Saxon monastic sites, and Barking Abbey in particular.
- The Dissolution of the Monasteries in England and Wales. London, United Kingdom: Equinox Publishing Ltd.
- Re-evaluating the landscape of early ecclesiastical foundation in the Kingdom of Lindsey. Church Archaeology, 21, 29-48.
- ‘Among his fellows cast’: A histotaphonomic investigation into the impact of the Black Death in England. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 39, 103161-103161.
- A Black Death Mass Grave at Thornton Abbey: the discovery and examination of a fourteenth-century rural catastrophe. Antiquity, 94(373), 179-196. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Glaziers and the removal, recycling, and replacement of windows during the Reformation in England. Church Archaeology, 19.
- Of saints, sows or smiths? Copper-brazed iron handbells in Early Medieval England.. Archaeological Journal. View this article in WRRO
- Excavations at the Priory of St. Mary Magdalene of Lund, Monk Bretton. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 88(1), 121-150. View this article in WRRO
- Glastonbury Abbey: Archaeological Investigations 1904–79.
- Cooking, Dining and Drinking In Gerrard C & Gutierrez A (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Later Medieval Archaeology OUP View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Saxon Glass Furnaces In Gilchrist R & Greene C (Ed.), Glastonbury Abbey: archaeological investigations 1904-79 (pp. 218-238). London: Society of Antiquaries of London.
- View this article in WRRO Table glass in the West Country home, c. 1500-1700 In Allan J, Alcock N & Dawson D (Ed.), West Country Households, 1500-1700 (pp. 321-338). Woodbridge: Boydell Press.
- Research group
Hugh is interested in supervising research students who have an interest in historical archaeology and/or material culture studies.
Current Research Students
Primary or co-supervisor
- Samuel Bromage (Co-supervised with Dr Kate Giles, University of York)- An Archaeology of the Dissolution of Urban Religious Houses in Yorkshire and its Impact on the Early Post-Medieval Townscape (WRoCAH)
- Emma Hook- An archaeological and osteological investigation of the medieval hospital cemetery in England and Wales (WRCoAH)
- Kathryn Libby- Metalworking and identity in Early Medieval Lindsey
- Cait Scott- The Evolution of Audley End (AHRC CDP)
- Angela Maccarinelli - The social and economic role of freshwater fish in medieval England (WRCoAH)
- David Montgomery - Glass Imports to China on the Silk Road during the Han and Six Dynasties (WRCoAH)
Completed PhD Students
- Rachel Askew - The social role of material culture in Civil War period castles (2013)
- Francesca Breeden - An archaeological study of the medieval Charterhouses of the English Province (2018)
- Alex Cassels - Dress accessories in England AD 1200-1500, an archaeological study of consumption (2014)
- Courtenay-Elle Crichton-Turley - The application of structure-from-motion 3D modeling in material culture studies (2018)
- Claire Finn - The material culture of drinking in the 17th-century Dutch Republic (2014)
- Samantha Garwood - Cross cultural exchange in the post-medieval Adriatic: An examination of glass artefacts from the 15th through mid 18th centuries (2017)
- Charlotte Howsam - Book fittings and fixtures: an archaeology of medieval literacy (2016)
- Martin Huggon- The Archaeology of the Medieval Hospitals of England and Wales, 1066-1546 (2018)
- Freya Massey - Ritual practices and special deposits in vernacular housing of the post-medieval period (2014)
- Greig Parker - The material environment and the formulation of social identity amongst Huguenot communities in London (2011)
- Peter Townend - An Archaeological Study of the Monastic Order of the Gilbertines (2017)
- Verónica Velasquez Sánchez-Hidalgo - Maiolica and the construction of ideologies in New Spain (2015)
- Tamsyn Fraser - Investigating animal husbandry practices through the analysis of animal remains from medieval to modern times (2020)
- Lenny Salvagno - The neglected goat: a methodological approach to the understanding of the role of this species in English medieval husbandry (2016)
- Teaching activities
- The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England (co-ordinator)
- Towards Modernity: Anthropology, Archaeology & Colonialism
- Archaeology of Britain: From Prehistory to the Industrial Revolution
- Catastrophe and Climate Change: From Prehistory to Modernity
- The Classical World and its Legacy
- Funerary Archaeology (co-ordinator)
- Heritage, Museum & Field: Archaeology in Practice (co-ordinator)
- Society & Culture in the Late Middle Ages (co-ordinator)
- Professional activities
- 2019 – Present- Chairman of the Society for Church Archaeology
- 2018 – Present- Council Member, Royal Archaeological Institute
- 2016 – Present- Archaeological Adviser to the Diocese of Sheffield
- 2016 – Present- External Examiner, School of Sciences, University of Staffordshire
- 2005 – Present- Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
- 2002 – Present- Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Recent Conferences & Invited Lectures
- Keynote speaker- 'A Black Death Mass Grave at Thornton Abbey', Society for Church Archaeology Conference (September 2019)
- Keynote Speaker- ‘A Century of Excavation: Challenging Some of the Myths of Monastic Archaeology in the 21st century’, Leeds Monasticism Conference (May 2014)
Invited Talks & Lectures
- Guest lecturer- 'Excavations at the migration period cemetery at Scremby', British Museum Medieval Seminar Series (February 2020)
- Guest Lecturer- 'Excavations at the Migration Period Cemetery at Scremby', Historical Association (December 2019)
- Invited speaker- 'Women of the Wolds, Excavation of the Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Scremby', Current Archaeology Awards (February 2018)
- Guest lecturer-'Famine and Plague at Thornton Abbey', The 2018 Maurice Barley Lecture, University of Nottingham (December 2018)
- Invited speaker- 'Monastic windows at the Dissolution', Society for Church Archaeology Conference (September 2017)
- Invited speaker- 'The Early Christian Settlement at Little Carlton', Current Archaeology Awards (February 2017)
- Invited speaker- 'Recent research and excavation at the Middle Saxon settlement at Little Carlton', Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology (September 2016)
- Invited speaker- 'Glassmaking and the Saxon Monastery, Glastonbury, Barking and Beyond', Society for Church Archaeology Conference (September 2016)
- Invited Speaker- ‘Recent excavations at Monk Bretton Priory’, Yorkshire Archaeological Society (April 2014)
- Invited Speaker- ‘The role of glaziers in the repair and recycling of medieval monastic windows in England’ 6th International Colloquium Abbey Museum Ten Duinen 1138, Koksijde (October 2013)
- The Dissolution of the Monasteries. (2020) Equinox Publishing. ISBN 9781781799543
- Glass from the Gnalic Wreck. (2006) Univerza na Primorskem. ISBN 9616328425 (with I.Lazar)
- A History of English Glassmaking AD 43-1800. (2005) ISBN 0752431315
- John Baker's 17th century glass furnace at Vauxhall. (2005) Museum of London Monograph 28. ISBN 1-901992-44-6 (with K. Tyler)
- Consuming Passions: Dining from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century. (2005) ISBN 0752434454. (With D. Hadley & M. Carroll)
- Early Post-medieval Vessel Glass in England: c.1500-1670. (2002) Council for British Archaeology ISBN 190277129X
Recent Book Chapters and Papers (last five years)
- Hemer, K., Booth, T., Raffone, C., Mann, C., Corkhill, C. & Willmott, H. 2021. ‘Among his fellows cast’: a histotaphonomic investigation into the impact of the Black Death in England, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 39.
- Willmott, H. & Wright, D. 2021. Rethinking early medieval 'productive sites’: wealth, trade and tradition at Little Carlton, East Lindsey, The Antiquaries Journal 101, 1-32.
- Willmott, H., Townend, P., Mahoney Swales, D., Poinar, H., Eaton, K. & Klunk, J. 2020. A Black Death mass grave at Thornton Abbey: the discovery and examination of a fourteenth-century rural catastrophe. Antiquity 94 (373). 179-96 .
- Willmott, H. & Daubney, A. 2020. Of saints, sows or smiths? Copper-brazed iron handbells in Early Medieval England, The Archaeological Journal 177, 63-82.
- Willmott, H. 2019. Glaziers and the removal, recycling, and replacement of windows during the Reformation in England. Church Archaeology 19.
- Willmott, H. 2018. Cooking, dining and drinking, in Gerrard, C. & Guttierrez, A., The Oxford Handbook of Later Medieval Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 697-712.
- Willmott, H. & Townend, P. 2016. Excavations at the Priory of St. Mary Magdalene of Lund, Monk Bretton. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 88, 121-50.
- Willmott, H. & Welham, K. 2015. Saxon glass furnaces, in Gilchrist, R. (ed.). Glastonbury Abbey Excavations 1904-79, London: Society of Antiquaries of London Monograph, 218-38.
- Willmott, H. 2015. Table glass in the West Country home, c. 1500-1700, in Allan J, Alcock, N & Dawson, D. (eds) West Country Households, 1500-1700. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 321-38.