Dr Jo Kirton

Visiting Research Associate

I am an archaeologist with research interests in a variety of areas, including early medieval stone sculpture, landscape and biography. I work for a not for profit organisation, as Head of Operations. I deliver a variety of projects from commercial undertakings to community focused research ventures and the design and curation of temporary and permanent museum exhibitions. I am also Co-Director of the Bamburgh Research Project, exploring Bamburgh Castle and its environs and I am a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

E: j.kirton@chester.ac.uk


Ph.D in Archaeology, University of Chester



Current Position

I currently work as Head of Operations for Big Heritage CIC based in Chester. As Head of Operations I am responsible for the planning, implementation and reporting of multiple archaeological and heritage projects.

On a daily basis I have a number of varied responsibilities, including working with consultants and volunteers, costing, organising, managing and delivering projects and managing the execution of projects to meet stakeholder requirements. I also manage the general business and staff activity, plus mentor our paid interns.

To learn more about Big Heritage please visit: http://bigheritage.co.uk/


I recently completed and published my doctoral research:

Sculpture and Place: a Biographical Approach to Early Medieval Stone Sculpture in Cheshire

Researching early medieval stone sculpture has long been enabled and constrained by approaches devised and subsequently honed over the last century focusing on form and ornamentation. These approaches largely prioritise the physical appearance of sculptural fragments, often distancing them from their physical and cognitive contexts in which they operated from their creation to the present.

My doctoral thesis brings together popular strands of research from other areas of archaeology - landscape, biography, materiality and monumentality - to explore how early medieval stone sculpture operated in place and time, from their construction through processes of use and reuse. The thesis recognises that sculpture did not function independent of physical location or the socio-political context with which it was connected and that many sculptures have life-histories which can be charted through individual monuments, assemblages of sculpture, and regional patterns.

Using a tenth-/eleventh-century assemblage from Cheshire, the biographies of the county’s early medieval monuments and architectural fragments are explored in relation to their physical location and the local historical frameworks with which they are connected. Through this original and distinctive approach, Cheshire's corpus of early medieval stone sculpture is both revisited and reinterpreted to emphasis the power of place and the biographies of stone sculpture.

I am actively involved in the write-up of the on-going excavations at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. For more information about the project please visit: http://bamburghresearchproject.co.uk/

Published work


Williams, H. Kirton, J. and Gondek, M. 2015. Early Medieval Stone Monuments: materiality, biography and landscape, Martlesham: Boydell and Brewer

Book Chapters

Kirton, K. 2015. Locating the Cleulow Cross: materiality, place and landscape, in H. Williams, J. Kirton and M. Gondek (eds.) Early Medieval Stone Monuments: materiality, biography and landscape, Martlesham: Boydell and Brewer

Journal Articles

Kirton, J. and Young, G. 2017. Excavations at Bamburgh: new revelations in light of recent investigations at the core of the castle complex, Archaeological Journal 174(1), 146-210

Kirton, J. and Young, G. 2012. An Anglo-Saxon mortar-mixer at Bamburgh Castle, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th ser 41, 251-8

Book Reviews

Kirton, J. Forthcoming. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture Volume XII: Nottinghamshire by Paul Everson and David Stocker, Medieval Archaeology

Kirton, J. 2016. Middle Saxon Settlement and Society: the changing rural communities of central eastern England by Duncan Wright, Archaeological Journal, 174

Kirton, J. 2014. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture Volume X: Western Midlands by Richard Bryant, Early Medieval Europe, 22(2), 237-9

Kirton, J. 2014. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture Volume IX: Cheshire and Lancashire by Richard N. Bailey, Early Medieval Europe, 22(1), 90-2

Kirton, J. 2012. New Voices on Early Medieval Sculpture in Britain and Ireland edited by Michael F. Reed, Archaeological Journal, 169, 568-9

Kirton, J. 2011. Trees in Anglo-Saxon England: literature, law and landscape by Della Hooke, Archaeological Journal, 168, 428

Kirton, J. 2011. Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England by Nicholas J. Higham and Martin J. Ryan, Archaeological Journal, 168, 427-8

Grey Literature

Kirotn, J. Bromborough Courthouse: excavation report 2016, Big Heritage CIC

Kirton, J. 2016. Dig Blacon: test pitting report, Big Heritage CIC

Kirton, J. 2015. Bromborough Courthouse: excavation report 2014, Big Heritage CIC

Kirton, J. 2015. Bromborough Courthouse: report on resistivity survey, Big Heritage CIC

Kirton, J. 2015. Bromborough Village: test pitting report, Big Heritage CIC

Kirton, J. 2010. Report on the Geophysical Survey around St Edith’s Church, Shocklach, Cheshire, University of Chester, Department of Archaeology Report: 2/2010