Dr Katherine Fennelly

Department of Archaeology

Teaching Associate in Cultural Heritage Management

Course Director- MA Cultural Heritage Management

Dr Kat Fennelly

Full contact details

Dr Katherine Fennelly
Department of Archaeology
Minalloy House
Regent Street
S10 2TN

Katherine is a historical archaeologist and cultural heritage researcher. Katherine’s research looks at the buildings and landscapes of institutional confinement with a specific focus on asylums and workhouses in the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. She is interested in the cultural heritage of welfare and state provision, and migration. She is an experienced archaeological fieldworker and has dug in the UK, Europe, and Australia.

  • 2013- PhD – University of Manchester
  • 2008- MA – University College Dublin
  • 2007- BA (Hons) – University College Dublin
Research interests

Research Interests

  • Built heritage of institutions for welfare and confinement
  • Landscapes of social improvement – archaeology and cultural heritage management
  • Legacies of institutionalisation
  • State provision and migration

Current research projects/ collaborations

‘Poverty Archaeology’ 

Katherine is working with Dr Charlotte Newman (National Trust) on a monograph about the built heritage and archaeology of workhouses in the north of England in the early nineteenth century. The book examines the buildings and spaces for welfare provision in rural and urban areas before the new Poor Law.

Constructive Play: Lego for learning in history, heritage and beyond

In 2018/19, Katherine worked with Dr Jamie Wood (University of Lincoln) on a project to explore the potential of play in supporting student learning in the arts. The project focused on the use of Lego and classroom activities and worked with students to explore how play activities can be applied in understanding abstract thought and to visualise learning. 

 Dig it! Bandstand

Between 2016 and 2018, Katherine directed excavations on historic bandstand sites in Sheffield alongside Colin Merrony. Focusing on two Edwardian bandstands in Firth Park and Meersbrook Park, the project sought to establish the situation and construction models for urban bandstands. Students from schools around Sheffield were invited to take part and work alongside students from Sheffield and Lincoln and community volunteers on the sites. 

The Bedehouse Project

Supported by the Council for British Archaeology, the Bedehouse Project was a survey project on the gardens and interior of Lyddington Bedehouse, an English Heritage property in Rutland. The Bedehouse was established in the former palace of the Bishop of Lincoln after the Dissolusion, and in the later historical period was a small, rural welfare institution. The project entailed a geophysical survey of the gardens which turned up the remains of allotments, and a 3D Scan of the main chamber in the building to identify changes in the layout. 

Institutional Districts Project

This research looked at the development of cities and towns around lunatic asylums and workhouses in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The project involved the desk-based assessment of two urban locales and archival research in London and Dublin. Some of this research, on a case study in Dublin, was published in Urban History in 2019. The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology supported an extension of this research project in 2015, to examine the urban development of the city of Lincoln around the lunatic asylum there. The results of that project were published in An Archaeology of Lunacy (2019).

Teaching activities


  • Towards Modernity: Anthropology, Archaeology & Colonialism


  • Heritage, History and Identity (co-ordinator)
Professional activities
  • 2019 – present- Fellow – Higher Education Academy
  • 2018 – present- Journal Editor – Post-Medieval Archaeology
  • 2017 – present- Fellow – Society of Antiquaries of London

Recent invited talks and lectures

  • Spring 2020- Guest Speaker, ‘Landscapes and Lunacy’, Archaeology Café UK
  • Spring 2017- Guest Speaker, ‘The Built Heritage of the Georgian Asylum.’ Research Seminar, University of Leicester 
  • Spring 2015- Guest Speaker, ‘An archaeology of the sonic.’ Recomposing the City, Queens University Belfast
  • Autumn 2014- Guest Speaker, ‘Lunatic Asylums and the Sonic Environment.’ Radical Media Forum, Goldsmiths, University of London 


  • 2019 Fennelly, K. An archaeology of lunacy: Managing madness in early nineteenth-century asylums. Manchester: MUP

Journal articles and book chapters