Professor Joanna Story

Professor of Early Medieval History

Jo StoryContact details

  • Office: Attenborough Tower 610

Personal details

ASK poster – King Edgar

My major research interests fall within the period c. AD 600–900 and cover the early English kingdoms, Carolingian Francia, and Italy (especially Rome), and the connections between them. The material culture of the written word is at the heart of my work which focuses on the contemporary manuscript and epigraphic evidence. I worked closely with colleagues at the British Library on their major international exhibition, Anglo-Saxon kingdoms: Art, Word, War which ran from October 2018 to February 2019, during my tenure of a British Academy / Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship.

My research is characterised by its interdisciplinarity, as shown especially by my work on the Epitaph of Pope Hadrian I, on Old St Peter's, Rome,  by a major Research Programme funded by the Leverhulme Trust on The Impact of Diasporas in the Making of Britain: Evidence, Memories, Inventions which ran from 2011–2017, for which I was the PI.

I have been running an International Research Network (2016–19), also funded by the Leverhulme Trust, on Insular Manuscripts AD 650–850, in collaboration with colleagues in Ireland (NUI-G & TCD), France (BnF), Austria (ÖAW) and the UK (BL). I am working on Volume XIV of the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, with Professor Rosemary Cramp and am General Editor of the Routledge series, Studies in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland (SEMBI), which I co-edit with Dr Roy Flechner (UCD).

With the 'Friends of All Saints', Brixworth', I convene the Brixworth Lecture held annually in late October.



My undergraduate and postgraduate teaching reflects many of my research interests. I run courses on early medieval Europe (including England and Carolingian Francia, and on the Viking Age), as well as broader thematic courses such as Race and Ethnicity, and on medieval palaeography and book history.


Topics in early medieval English or Frankish History, particularly those that focus on cross-Channel, Northumbrian, or Mercian themes as well as those which involve the exploration of archaeological as well as historical evidence.

Early medieval Europe

My research concentrates on early medieval Europe, especially England, Francia, and Italy from the seventh to ninth centuries as well as aspects of twelfth-century history, and manuscript studies. My principle area of research is the links between the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England and the Empire of Charlemagne, working primarily with written sources but also with material culture (especially manuscripts, epigraphy and sculpture).

I have been running three major research projects: the first is on the Epitaph of Pope Hadrian I, extant in St. Peter's in the Vatican for which a monograph is forthcoming with OUP. I was also PI for a Leverhulme Trust International Network on Insular Manuscripts, AD650–AD850: Networks of Knowledge (2016–2019), and PI for a research programme on The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain: evidence, memories, inventions sponsored by The Leverhulme Trust that ran from January 2011 to January 2017. I am also currently a Co-I on the AHRC funded project, Worked in Stone: Completing the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture (PI: Professor RJ Cramp, Durham University), and am working with Professor Cramp on Volume XIV of the Corpus, which will produce a definitive catalogue of extant pre-Conquest sculpture in the East Midlands, including the major sites at Breedon-on-the-Hill, Peterborough and Barnack.

I am also General Editor, with Dr Roy Flechner (UCD) of the Routledge series, Studies in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland.

Current and recent research projects

  1. Insular Manuscripts AD650-850: Networks of Knowledge Royal
    There are about 650 manuscripts (complete or fragmentary) written before c. 850 in Britain or Ireland, or in continental scriptoria that used Anglo-Saxon or Irish script. This project uses this corpus of evidence to examine networks of knowledge in early medieval Europe, and the contribution of English and Irish scholars to intellectual culture in Europe in the age of Charlemagne.
  2. An interdisciplinary, international project on Charlemagne's Epitaph for Pope Hadrian I, in collaboration with colleagues from the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, and the Dipartimento di Energetica, Rome, sponsored by the AHRC. This project has generated an article already published in The Papers of the British School at Rome, 74 (2005), 157-90 and a book entitled Charlemagne and Rome: Alcuin's Epitaph of Pope Hadrian I is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. A volume of papers based on a conference held at the British School at Rome in March 2010 on Old Saint Peter's, Rome was published in 2013 with Cambridge University Press, (co-editors R. McKitterick, J. Osborne and C.M. Richardson).
  3. The Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture XIV: East Midlands, with Prof. R.J. Cramp, Durham University, for the British Academy.
  4. Bede - The discovery in a Cambridge collection of a cast of the skull taken from the tomb of Bede in Durham Cathedral has led to an article, jointly authored with Richard Bailey, in The Antiquaries Journal.  A new exhibition on The Skull of Bede opened at Jarrow Hall: Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum (formerly Bede's World Museum) in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear on 8 September 2015. This follows a prize-winning article on Bede, Willibrord and the Letters of Pope Honorius I on the genesis of the Archbishopric of York, published in EHR (2012) which demonstrated using manuscript evidence from the 720s how Bede acquired old papal letters and used them to create a context for the creation of two archbishoprics in Anglo-Saxon England.
  5. The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain: evidence, memories, inventions. A major interdisciplinary research programme sponsored by The Leverhulme Trust on Britain in the first millennium AD, using evidence derived from history, archaeology, historical linguistics, genetics and sociology. The programme runs for 5 years from January 2011– March 2016 (with continued funding until January 2017).
  • A conference on Aliens, Foreigners and Strangers was held at the British Academy on 17 March 2015, and a book of essays called, Migrants in Medieval England, 500–1500 is under contract to the Proceedings of the British Academy.
  • A joint Impact of Diasporas event with the Oxford Diasporas Programme was held at The Royal Geographical Society, Kensington, London on 17 September 2015.
  • Collaboration between the Impact of Diasporas team and the Landscape Research Centre have produced 3D photogrammetry projects on the later 5th C Loveden Hill Urn (for the British Museum, Object No.1963,1001.14) which is inscribed with one of the earliest pieces of written English, and the 10th-Century Viking Age Gosforth Cross. See below, and here for teaching resources generated through our Gosforth Cross Project collaboration with Roger Lang, Culture Street, the RSA, and two schools – Richard Cobden Primary, Camden, and Gosforth CE Primary). Lesson plans and videos are available to dowload here.

    Anglo-Saxon Cremation Urn by The British Museum, Dominic Powlesland (Landscape Research Centre), and the Diasporas Team (Martin Findell and Jo Story) on Sketchfab

    Gosforth Cross Colour annotated by Professor Dominic Powlesland, Landscape Research Centre, with the Diasporas team (Pragya Vohra and Jo Story) on Sketchfab

Anglo-Saxon sculpture in the eighth century: The Headda Stone, Peterborough Cathedral by Professor Dominic Powlesland with Jo Story and Jackie Hall (Peterborough Cathedral Archaeologist) on Sketchfab

Research Supervision

I supervise PhD projects on many aspects of medieval studies, especially those that combine material culture and textual analysis. Current and recent doctoral projects include:

  • P Shaw, Cultures, crops and choices: new insights into Anglo-Scandinavian farming and settlement from analysis of terroir (AHRC M4C Studentship)
  • J Hodgkinson, Gender and Literacy: the participation of women in book culture in England and Francia, c. 650–c. 950 (AHRC M4C Studentship)
  • T Porciani, Figural Sculpture in Anglo-Saxon England: networks, agency and cross-cultural contacts, c. 700–900 (AHRC M4C Studentship)
  • W Scott, Money, Economy and Society in Late Saxon England: The Lenborough Hoard and the monetary impact of Anglo-Danish rule (AHRC M4C CDA studentship with Bucks County Museum Trust and the British Museum)
  • E Quigley, Matthew the Evangelist in the works of Bede (AHRC M4C studentship, held at U of Nottingham, with Peter Darby)
  • H Wilkinson, The Night and Darkness in Anglo-Saxon England (AHRC M3C studentship)
  • E Henderson: Franco-Saxon Manuscripts in the Ninth Century (AHRC CDP studentship with the British Library)
  • A Sutherland, Peasant seals and sealing practices in eastern England, c.1200-c.1500 (AHRC M3C studentship)
  • R Lawton, Knowing Rome from Home: Reassessing Early Manuscript Witnesses of Papal Letters, Pilgrim Itineraries and Syllogae in Anglo-Saxon England and Francia, c. 600-900 (AHRC CDP studentship with the British Library)
  • E Vosper, Bede, Archbishop Theodore and the Canterbury Commentaries (AHRC M3C Studentship, supervised with Dr Peter Darby, U. of Nottingham)
  • R Da Silva, The Northumbrian Aristocracy in the Long Eighth Century: Production, Circulation, Consumption (CAPES Studentship, Brazil)
  • C Ball, “A Creeping Thing”: the motif of the serpent in Anglo-Saxon England (University of Leicester, School of History Studentship)
  • S Ling, The Cloister and Beyond: Regulating the Life of the Canonical Clergy in Francia from Pippin III to Louis the Pious, (School of History, GTA Studentship)
  • A Morris, Forging links with the past: the twelfth-century reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon Peterborough.

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