Dr Thomas Pickles

Senior Lecturer in Medieval History

(E-mail: t.pickles@chester.ac.uk)


I am a historian who researches social organization and religion in Anglo-Saxon England, c. 400-c. 1100.


MA (Oxford), M. St. (Oxford), D. Phil. (Oxford), PG CAP (York), Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


During my first term at University, I discovered that the small seaside town of Whitby in north-eastern England, where I grew up, was the site of one of most influential religious communities in seventh- and eighth-century England. This prompted an interest in the society that existed at this time: how was it organized and how might this explain why Whitby was important?

I read for an MA in History at Wadham College, University of Oxford (1997-2000). I then studied for a Master of Studies in Historical Research (Medieval) (2000-2001) and then a Doctorate (2001-2005), also at Wadham College, University of Oxford.

After my doctorate, I was appointed Lecturer in History and Fellow by Special Election at St Catherine’s College, Oxford (2005-2009), then Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of York (2009-2012), and Lecturer in Medieval History and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, University of London (2012-2013). I joined the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Chester in September 2013.


I contribute to the teaching of the following undergraduate modules:

  • Europe and the Wider World: Turning Points in History 1000-2000
  • The Mystery of History
  • Constructing History
  • The Crusades, 1095-1204
  • Debates in History
  • The Making of England, 400-1066
  • The Norman Conquest, 1066-1154
  • Vikings

I contribute to the following postgraduate modules:

  • The Theory and History of Western Warfare
  • Kingship and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England, 400-1066


My research focuses on Anglo-Saxon England, c. 400-c. 1066, and combines the study of historical sources with archaeological sites, church buildings, stone sculpture, and place-names. To date I have been working on a study of conversion and church building in Anglo-Saxon England with a particular focus on the kingdom of the Deirans, roughly modern Yorkshire.

Whilst my research focuses on Anglo-Saxon England in the period c. 400-c. 1066, I regularly work with sources from later periods, including Domesday Book, medieval cartularies, medieval bishops' registers, and Romanesque buildings and sculpture. Moreover, I self-consciously think about England in a wider British and European context. Hence my teaching reflects these broader interests in Britain and Europe 400-1300.

Editorial Positions

I am General Editor for the Brepols series Studies in the Early Middle Ages: http://www.brepols.net/Pages/BrowseBySeries.aspx?TreeSeries=SEM

The series focuses on Western Europe in the Early Middle Ages and covers work in the areas of history, literature, archaeology, art history, and religious studies. The series aims to bring together current scholarship on early medieval Britain with scholarship on western mainland Europe and Viking Scandinavia, more traditionally studied separately or in terms of the interaction of discrete cultures and areas.

Research Networks

Corpus Architecturae Religiosae Europeae (CARE) and Early Christian Churches and Landscapes (ECCLES)

I am part of a pan-European research network, Corpus Architecturae Religiosae Europeae (CARE) investigating the evidence for pre-Romanesque churches: http://www.corpus-care.eu I am establishing a research network within CARE called Early Christian Churches and Landscapes (ECCLES), to investigate the evidence for the Isles (Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England), through collaboration with Dr Sally Foster (University of Stirling), Prof. Nancy Edwards (Bangor University), and Dr Tomas O’Carragain (University College Cork).

The Anglo-Welsh Frontier in the Middle Ages

I am a collaborator with Dr Marios Costambeys (University of Liverpool) and Dr Charlie Insley (University of Manchester) in a research network funded by the University of Liverpool, and investigating the formation of the Anglo-Welsh frontier across the Middle Ages.

Royal Residences 500-800 AD

I am an invited participant in the Royal Residences Network 500-800AD, organized by Gabor Thomas (University of Reading) and Dr Gordon Noble (University of Aberdeen), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and investigating places of royal residence in early medieval Britain.

Research Supervision

I have supervised a number of very successful BA and MA dissertations on the earlier middle ages, including interdisciplinary dissertations on Viking settlement in northern England and the Vikings in Spain.

I have co-supervised a doctorate on texts, place-names, and attitudes to place and space in early medieval England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

I am currently supervising the recipient of the first John Doran Memorial Scholarship, Ms Dale Copley, who researching a doctorate on Insult in Orderic Vitalis.

I would particularly welcome approaches from potential MA and doctoral students in interested in inter-disciplinary research on the Isles in the period 400-1100.

Published work

Pickles, Thomas, ‘The Historiography of Anglo-Saxon Conversion: the state of the art’, in R. Flechner and M. Ní Mhaonaigh (eds), From Paganism to Christianity in the Insular World, Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Turnhout: Brepols, in press).

Streanaeshalch (Whitby), its satellite churches and its estates’, in T. Ó’Carragáin and S. Turner (eds), Making Christian Landscapes in Atlantic Europe. Conversion and Consolidation in the Early Middle Ages (Cork: University of Cork Press, in press).

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Introduction and Context: Cathedrals and Monasteries c. 600-c. 1100’, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Church: The Church and property’, ‘Lastingham Priory’, and ‘Whitby Abbey’, in D. Dyas (ed.), English Cathedrals and Monasteries through the Centuries: Interactive DVD (York: University of York, 2013), http://www.christianityandculture.org.uk/products/cam

Pickles, Thomas, Power, Religious Patronage and Pastoral Care: Religious Communities, Mother Parishes and Local Churches in Ryedale, c. 650-c. 1250, The Kirkdale Lecture, 2009 (York: Friends of Kirkdale, 2012), http://www.kirkdalechurches.org.uk/st-gregorys-kirkdale/the-kirkdale-lecture/

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Anglo-Saxon Monasteries as Sacred Places: Topography, Exegesis and Vocation’, in P. Thomas and J. Sterrett (eds), Sacred Text - Sacred Space (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011), pp. 35-55, http://www.brill.com/sacred-text-sacred-space

Pickles, Thomas, and John Blair, ‘Deantune and Bishopstone: The estate and the church under the Mercian kings and the South Saxon bishops’, in G. Thomas (ed.), The later Anglo-Saxon settlement at Bishopstone. A downland manor in the making, Council for British Archaeology Research Report 163 (York: CBA, 2010), pp. 17-22, http://www.archaeologyuk.org/books/Thomas2010

Pickles, Thomas, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Church: The Church and property’ and ‘The Anglo-Saxon Church: Minster parishes and the development of local churches’, in D. Dyas (ed.), The English Parish Church Through the Centuries: Interactive CD-ROM (York: University of York, 2010), http://www.christianityandculture.org.uk/products/epc

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Chapter 11: Church Organisation and Pastoral Care’, in P. Stafford (ed.), A Companion to the Early Middle Ages: Britain and Ireland c. 500-c. 1100 (Oxford: Blackwells, 2009), pp. 160-76, http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118425138.html

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Biscopes-tūn, muneca-tūn and prēosta-tūn: dating, significance and distribution’, in E. Quinton (ed.), The Church in English Place-Names, English Place-Name Society Extra Series 4 (Nottingham: EPNS, 2009), pp. 39-108, https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/epns/other-publications.aspx#church

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Angel Veneration on Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture from Dewsbury (WY), Otley (WY) and Halton (La): Contemplative Preachers and Pastoral Care’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 162 (2009), pp. 1-28

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Locating Ingetlingum and Suthgedling: Gilling West and Gilling East’, Northern History, XLVI:2 (2009), pp. 313-25