Dr Sarah Tarlow

KrkaProfessor of Archaeology

BA (Sheffield), MPhil, PhD (Cambridge)

Centre for Historical Archaeology

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 5783

Email: sat12@le.ac.uk


Personal details

BA, MPhil, PhD

After completing my PhD at Cambridge in 1995, I became Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Wales Lampeter. I moved to Leicester to join the School in June 2000 as Lecturer in Historical Archaeology and became Senior Lecturer in 2006. In Spring 2012 I was awarded a Chair in Archaeology at the School.

From 2011 to 2016 I led a major research programme 'Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse' funded by the Wellcome Trust. I currently work at the university only one-day days a week


Contributions to teaching are largely at MA level adn above, although I do contribute a few lectures to team-taught undergraduate courses


Selected recent publications

  • The golden and ghoulish age of the gibbet in Britain (2017). London: Palgrave
  • Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse (2018). London: Palgrave
  • The Archaeology of Post-medieval Burial in Europe. (2015) Warsaw and Berlin: DeGruyter
  • The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial. (OUP 2013) Edited with Liv Nilsson Stutz
  • 'Cromwell and Plunkett: two early modern heads called Oliver'. (2013) In J. Kelly and M. Lyones (eds) Death and dying in Ireland, Britain and Europe: historical perspectives. (Irish Academic Press)
  • A fine and private place: the archaeology of death and burial in post-medieval Britain and Ireland (Leicester Archaeological Monograph 22. 2012). With Annia Cherryson and Zoe Crossland
  • 'The archaeology of emotion and affect' (2012) Annual Review of Anthropology 41.
  • Ritual, belief and the dead body in early modern Britain and Ireland (Cambridge University Press 2011)
  • The Archaeology of Improvement in Britain, 1750-1850 (Cambridge University Press 2007).

View a CV and full list of publications.



My most recent projects include 'Harnessing the power of the criminal corpse' (now a major Wellcome Trust funded project - click here for details), the meaning of coffin plates, and burial and commemoration in Leicestershire. I am currently beginning new research into medieval and post-medieval church graffiti.

Before those research programmes,I completed a Leverhulme-funded project related to the central theme 'Changing beliefs about the human body.' My part of the project explored what the treatment of the dead body in Britain between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries can tell us about changing ideas of self and person as they relate to the body. The project involved assembling all archaeological evidence from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland relating to the disposal of the body over this period and comparing that to ideas of the self and person as known from textual sources. My 2011 book Ritual, belief and the dead in early modern Britain and Ireland (CUP) was one result of this project; A fine and private place: the archaeology of death and burial in post-medieval Britain and Ireland, co-authored with Annia Cherryson and Zoe Crossland is available as a Leicester Archaeological Monograph. For details see: Changing beliefs about the human body project

My book 'The archaeology of Improvement' (2007) examines the meaning of 'improvement' in the eighteenth and nineteenth century through a study of landscapes, documentary sources, material culture and literature of the period. Stemming from this central project are a number of more specific research interests including the theory and practice of utopian settlements in the eighteenth to nineteenth century and the meanings of apparently mundane material culture and unremarkable archaeological features such as window glass and rubbish pits.

My work in archaeological theory has concentrated on the archaeology of emotion and issues of archaeological ethics, especially regarding the relationship between modern archaeologists and the past people they study.

Supervision of PhDs

I especially welcome enquiries from students wishing to work on the body, death and commemoration in later historical periods, and on aspects of archaeological theory, especially emotion and ethics.

Topics available for PhD supervision are:

  • Archaeology of the period 1500-1900
  • Historical archaeology of Britain and northern Europe
  • Archaeological ethics
  • Archaeology of death and burial

Learn more about studying for a PhD with us.

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