Dr Eleanor Standley

Research Profile

Research Activities

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.

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.


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.


Undergraduate teaching

  • BA Archaeology and Anthropology FHS course lecturer

Postgraduate teaching

Previous teaching

  • MSc, MPhil and MSt Archaeology: course director

  • BA Archaeology and Anthropology: FHS 4 paper convenor

  • BA Archaeology and Anthropology: dissertation supervisor

  • BA Archaeology and Anthropology: MODS examiner

  • Department for Continuing Education: Undergraduate Diploma and Advanced Diploma in British Archaeology, and day school lecturer.



Doctoral supervision

I am happy to supervise on later medieval archaeology topics, particularly those with a strong focus on artefacts, and archaeologies of beliefs, religion, the body and emotion.

Current students

Moulding Emotion: later medieval badges in England and Wales
John Dinges | DPhil Archaeology | Supervisor: Eleanor Standley
Wearable Containers of Meaningful Things: English Late Medieval and Early Modern Jewellery to Enclose, Conceal, and Enshrine
Caroline Croasdaile | DPhil Archaeology | Supervisor: Eleanor Standley


I am also supervising Renee Trepagnier who is an AHRC CDP student (with Bristol) working on the project Creating the First Europeans.

Key words: material, materiality, gender and identity, religion, museums, archives, curation, religion, later medieval material culture, archaeology of emotion, archaeology of the body, memory and beliefs, medieval, post-medieval, later medieval, early modern, Europe, Britain