Dr Eleanor Standley

Associate Professor and Assistant Keeper in Medieval Archaeology (AD 500-1800)

Institute of Archaeology
36 Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PG

Tel: +44 (0)1865 288013

Fax: +44 (0)1865 278254

E-mail: eleanor.standley@arch.ox.ac.uk


I studied for a BSc in Archaeology and then an MA in Historical Archaeology at Durham University. Staying at Durham I went on to complete my PhD on later medieval and early modern dress accessories in 2010. Later that year I joined the School of Archaeology and the Ashmolean Museum as University Lecturer and Assistant Keeper of the medieval archaeological collections.

My research focuses on the later medieval period in Britain and Europe, with a particular interest in themes of daily life. I am especially interested in the use and socio-cultural significance of everyday objects, and the people that used them. These interests transcend the traditional disciplinary boundary to incorporate literature, documentary and art historical evidence to understand more about daily life in the past. The Portable Antiquities Scheme data are also widely used in my studies. Identity, religion, memory, reuse, and the meaning of things and places are themes that feature greatly in my research. 

As the curator of the medieval archaeology collections in the Ashmolean, which date from c.AD 500 to 1800 and come from Britain, mainland Europe and Scandinavia, I have a broad ranging interest in historical archaeology. I would welcome applications from potential students, to supervise projects on later medieval archaeological topics, particularly those with a strong focus on artefacts.

Research Interests

  • Medieval artefacts
  • Historical dress
  • Material culture and emotion
  • The archaeology of medieval religion
  • The archaeology of medieval sexuality
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to later medieval research 

Current Activities

My research is currently focussed on the archaeology of emotion, c.1200–1700. I am particularly interested in how material culture can be used to investigate emotions in the later medieval and early modern periods. I am exploring the effect human emotions had on objects, including their designs, uses and deposition; and how objects affected emotions.

I am also researching the medieval nunnery, Godstow Abbey, and the site’s post-Dissolution history. New survey work has recently been carried out at the site with John Pouncett of the School of Archaeology. This work follows on from the successful Godstow Abbey Knowledge Exchange project, which was a collaboration between the University of Oxford and Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum, funded by the HEIF. I was a Co-I on this project alongside Prof Heather Viles (PI) and Dr Martin Coombes (Co-I), both of the School of Geography and the Environment.



2013, Trinkets and Charms: The use, meaning and significance of dress accessories 1300-1700, Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph: 78

Journal articles:

2016 ‘Hid in the Earth and Secret Places: A reassessment of a hoard of later medieval gold rings and silver coins found near the River Thame’, Antiquaries Journal 96, 117–42

2016 ‘A Handmaiden’s Yarn? The Evidence for Spinning and its Social Implications, c.1200–1500’, Medieval Archaeology 60:2, 266–99

2008, ‘Ladies Hunting: A late Medieval Decorated Mirror Case from Shapwick, Somerset’ The Antiquaries Journal 88: 198–206

Contributions to edited books:

2018 ‘Coneys, coneygarths and cunnies: the rabbit and great households, c.1080–1600’ in CM Woolgar (ed) Proceedings of the 2016 Harlaxton Symposium (Harlaxton Medieval Studies), Shaun Tyas

2018 ‘Dressing the Body’ in CM Gerrard and A Gutiérrez(eds) The Oxford Handbook of Later Medieval Archaeology in Britain, OUP: Oxford, 789–804.

2016 ‘‘Best’ Gowns, Kerchiefs and Pantofles: Gifts in 16th century North-East England’ in T Martin and R Weetch (eds) Dress and Society: Contributions from Archaeology, Oxbow: Oxford, 130–50

2013, with D. Hicks and A. Forward, ‘Post-Roman Europe’ in D. Hicks and A. Stevenson (eds.), World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum: A characterization, Archaeopress: Oxford, 262–78

2009, ‘Artefacts, archaeology and daily life’ in G. Beresford, Caldecote: The Development and Desertion of a Hertfordshire Village, Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 28: 232–4

2007, ‘Glass bead’ in A. Barber, S. Cox and A. Hancocks, ‘Late Iron Age and Roman farmstead at RAF St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan: Evaluation and excavation 2002–03’ Archaeologia Cambrensis 155, 49–115


2017, with A. Roberts, The Ashmolean Story, a permanent exhibition gallery in the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. The display tells the narrative of the founding of the Ashmolean Museum (opened 1683), the collections of the founder, Elias Ashmole, and the rarities of the University in the late 17th century.

2011, with C. Ferguson, England 400 – 1600, a permanent exhibition gallery in the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.




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