Centre for Historical Archaeology

The School is home to Britain’s largest grouping of researchers specialising in historical archaeology.


Centre for Historical Archaeology

The Centre for Historical Archaeology is the UK’s only research institution dedicated to the archaeological study of the past 500 years. The CHA strives to foster productive and exciting scholarly discussion and debate on the recent past. We coordinate interdisciplinary and holistic research, while mentoring our postgraduate students as teachers and researchers. We aim to nurture a highly engaged community of historically-minded archaeologists and archaeologically-minded historians interested primarily in the social issues that cross-cut our various theoretical, temporal and geographical specialties.

What is historical archaeology?

The CHA takes historical archaeology to mean the study of the past 500 hundred years, but embraces comparison with other historical periods. Drawing upon archaeological, archival, and oral data sets, historical archaeologists combine multiple lines of evidence to foster sophisticated and complex perspectives on the past. These perspectives relate directly to issues that continue to colour the world in which we live, such as social inequality, conflict, and identity. Members of the CHA practice local, regional, national and international archaeologies, with particular expertise in English and North American archaeologies and histories. The CHA’s  flagship projects is Professor Sarah Tarlow’s Criminal Corpses Project.

History and Goals of the CHA

The Centre for Historical Archaeology was established in 2008 by Professor Marilyn Palmer to build on the strength of historical archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester.


The Centre is focusing activity on developing jointly funded research projects, creative student dissertation projects, PhD studentships and post-doctoral fellowships. During 2009-2010, we welcomed two short-term residential fellows: Dr M. Dores Cruz of the University of Denver  (examining Portuguese colonialism in Africa) and doctoral candidate Brent Fortenberry of Boston University (researching public space in Bermuda). The Centre also launched the (already well established and very successful) MA in Historical Archaeology in October 2008, available campus-based and through our distance learning programme.

Caribbean archThe Centre also supports dialogue in the discipline through the coordination of conferences and seminar series. We have held three successful postgraduate conferences that brought together research students examining topics in historical archaeology with a geographic range that included Australasia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Britain, and Ireland. Our fourth conference ran in April 2013.

Since 2008, we have also welcomed eleven international guest speakers.

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Currently, staff of the School play major roles in the Society for Historical Archaeology, the Society for Medieval Archaeology, the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, the Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group and the Association for Industrial Archaeology.


Core Staff

Sarah Tarlow (Professor of Historical Archaeology)

Penelope Allison (Professor of Archaeology)

Deirdre O'Sullivan (Lecture in Archaeology)

Marilyn Palmer (Honorary Professor of Industrial Archaeology)

Richard Thomas (Senior Lecturer in Archaeology)

Ruth Young (Senior Lecturer in Archaeology)

B. Tyr Fothergill (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Sarah Newstead (Teaching Fellow in Historical Archaeology)


Postgraduate Associates

Emma Dwyer

Rebecca Gordon

Eric Tourigny


Additional related staff

Dr Neil Christie, Dr David Edwards, Professor Lin Foxhall, Dr Andy Merrills and Professor Graham Shipley


Honorary Fellows

Mr Nick Brannon, Dr M. Dores Cruz, Prof. David Gaimster, Dr Brent Fortenberry, Prof Audrey Horning, Dr Ian West, Dr Alasdair Brooks, and Dr Craig Cipolla.

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