Professor John Moreland

BA (Hons), PhD

Department of Archaeology

Professor of Medieval Archaeology

Level 2 and 3 Assessment Officer

Professor John Moreland
Profile picture of Professor John Moreland
+44 114 222 2909

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Professor John Moreland
Department of Archaeology
Room D02
Minalloy House
10-16 Regent Street
S1 3NJ

My interest in archaeology was stimulated by reading books on the Greeks and Romans borrowed from the mobile library that visited our village in Ireland.

I came over to Sheffield in 1977, and graduated with a 1st class honours degree. I returned in 1982 to begin a PhD (with Richard Hodges) on Settlement Patterns and Social Relations in Early Medieval Italy.

I lived in Rome for two years, and in 1988 went to America as Visiting Assistant Professor at Wesleyan University, Connecticut.

I was appointed to a lectureship at Sheffield in 1989 – and have been here ever since. I was promoted to Professor in January 2010, and was Head of Department from 2010-2014.

Research interests
  • the use of writing in Antiquity and the Middle Ages – as a technology of control, a vehicle for resistance, and as a means of communicating with the supernatural
  • the role of images (particularly the Cross) in medieval and early modern societies
  • the transition from late Antiquity to the middle ages in Europe (particularly in the Britain and the Mediterranean)
  • the archaeology of the Reformation
  • Sheffield and its region in the Middle Ages

Current research projects / collaborations

Research group

I would welcome applications from students interested in pursuing research into:

  • The use of writing/images in past societies
  • The archaeology and history of South Yorkshire from Antiquity to the Reformation
  • The archaeology of belief (particularly in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages)
Teaching activities


  • Archaeology and Text (co-ordinator)
  • Thinking Through Archaeology (co-ordinator)
  • Towards Modernity: Anthropology, Archaeology & Colonialism 
  • Archaeology of Britain: From Prehistory to the Industrial Revolution
  • The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England
  • The Classical World and its Legacy
  • The Celtic West: From the Fall of Rome to the Viking Age


  • Reinventing Archaeology
Professional activities and memberships

Between 2007-10 I was President of the Hunter Archaeological Society (est. 1912), and initiated the planning and preparations for their 100th anniversary.

In 2013 I was asked by a local councillor to Chair the newly-formed Friends of Sheffield Castle, a group set up to protect and promote the archaeological site of Sheffield Castle for the benefit of the people of Sheffield and surrounding areas, and for future generations. I chaired the Friends for two years, and have sat on their organising Committee ever since.

I chair the University’s Castlegate Steering Group (2013-present). This comprises all the University departments with research interests in the Castlegate area (that includes, but is not restricted to, the castle) and professional services colleagues.

From 2014-present I have been the University’s representative on, and played a very active part in, Sheffield City Council’s Castlegate Partnership. It comprises representatives of local businesses, community groups, both Universities, the City Council, South Yorkshire police, hoteliers etc.. Its brief is to develop a shared vision for the Castlegate, allow more informed decisions by its members, to influence, promote and steer consultation and help with and contribute to the co-production of plans for the future of Castlegate and its various buildings and sites.

Selected Publications and Conferences

Selected Publications


  • Sheffield Castle. Archaeology, Archives, Regeneration - 1927-2018. York: White Rose University Press, (August 2020) (with D. Hadley, M. Rajic, and A. Tuck).

  • Encounters, Excavations and Argosies. Oxford, Archaeopress, (2017), (edited with John Mitchell and Bea Leal)

  • Archaeology, Theory and the Middle Ages. London: Duckworth, (2010)

  • Archaeology and Text. London: Duckworth, (July 2001)

Selected Articles

  • Mary, Queen of Scots and the archaeology of Sheffield Castle. History Scotland 19: 10-12 (2019)

  • AD536 – back to nature? Acta Archaeologica 89: 91-111 (2019).

  • Recreating Sheffield’s medieval castle in situ using outdoor augmented reality, in P. Bourdot et al. (eds) Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. EuroVR 2018, 213-229 (Springer) (with M. Leach, S. Maddock, D. Hadley, C. Butterworth, N. Bax, G. Dean. R. Mackinder, M. Mckone, and D. Fleetwood) (2018). 

  • Powerful matter – agency and materiality in the early Middle Ages, in J. Moreland, J. Mitchell, and B. Leal (eds) Encounters, Excavations and Argosies: 217-35 (Oxford) (2017).

  • Converting the Peak District? Britons, Angles and Christians, in T. Ó’Carragain and S. Turner (eds) Making Christian Landscapes in Atlantic Europe: 278-300 (Cork) (2016).

  • Words and things: technology and belief, in Andrew Gardner, Mark Lake and Ulrich Sommer (eds) Oxford Handbook of Archaeological Theory (Oxford). (2013).

  • Arqueología historíca: más allá de las ‘evidencias’, in Juan Antonio Quirós Castillo (ed.) Le Materialidad de la Historia. La Arqueología en los inicios del siglo XXI: 37-65 (Madrid) (2013).

  • Landscape and belief in medieval England, Arquelogia Medieval V: 17-37 (2013). 

  • The mountains survey: Loch Aoineart, in Mike Parker Pearson (ed.) From Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist: 83-117 (Oxford) (2012).

  • Excavations of early modern, early historic and prehistoric sites in Kirkidale, in Mike Parker Pearson (ed.) From Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist: 331-58 (Oxford) (2012).

  • Land and power from Roman Britain to Anglo-Saxon England?, Historical Materialism 19: 171-89 (2011).

  • Lo maravilloso y lo mundano de la arqueologia medieval, in Miguel Jiménez Puertas and Guillermo Garcia-Contreras Ruiz (eds.) Paisajes Históricos y Arqueología Medieval: 22-48 (Granada) (2011).

  • Catastrophe, continuity … or Late Antiquity, in Denis Sami and Gavin Speed (eds) Debating Urbanism: Within and Beyond the Walls: 141-44 (Leicester) (2010).

  • Going native, becoming German: Isotopes and identities in late Roman and early medieval England, postmedieval 1: 142-49 (2010).


Selected Presentations

  • 2020 ‘Discovering Sheffield Castle - Excavators and Analysts, 1927-2020’, Ken Barraclough Memorial Lecture (with Mili Rajic, Wessex Archaeology), Sheffield Metallurgical and Engineering Association and South Yorkshire Industrial History Society, 10th March.

  • 2020 ‘Sheffield Castle - Archaeology, archives and Augmented Reality, 1927-2020’. Paper presented to the Huddersfield Archaeological Society, 6th March

  • 2019 ‘Uncovering Sheffield Castle - the role of the Hunter Archaeological Society’. Paper presented to the Hunter Archaeological Society, Sheffield, 5th November.

  • 2019 ‘Excavations at Sheffield Castle, 1927-2018 - archaeology and development’, Paper presented to the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, Leeds, 13th April.

  • 2017 ‘AD536 – the return of environmental determinism’. Presented at Crossroad Archaeology: Global Narratives of Local Encounters, at the University of Copenhagen, 26th-29th October 2017.

  • 2015 ‘Predestination or agency? Historical processes in the early Middle Ages’. Paper presented at the North American Theoretical Archaeology Group meeting, New York, 22nd May 2015. 

  • 2013 ‘Words and objects: making things happen in the Middle Ages’. Paper presented at the Fuentes Escritas y Arqueología Medieval. Más allá de la Evidencia conference at the University of Granada, Spain (June 2013).

  • 2012 ‘The barrow and the cross: landscapes of belief in Anglo-Saxon England’. Paper presented at University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, 5th April 2012.

  • 2010 ‘Archaeology and belief: angels, elves and demons in medieval England’. Paper presented to the Algarve Archaeological Association, Faro, Portugal (4th May).

  • 2010 ‘Words, objects and belief in Anglo-Saxon England’. Paper presented at the conference on Words and Things: Texts and Material Culture in Late Antiquity, Cornell University, USA (17th April).

  • 2010 ‘Landscape and belief in medieval England’. Paper presented at the Recerca Avançada en Arqueologia Medieval conference, Lleida, Spain (11th March).