Dr David Griffiths

Reader and Associate Professor in Archaeology; Director of Research

Research Interests

Viking-Age and medieval archaeology; landscape archaeology (method, theory and practice); past environmental and coastal landscape change; heritage; public engagement and community archaeology. Geographic areas: England, Wales, Northern Isles of Scotland, Irish Sea region, North Atlantic, Scandinavia.


David has been a Lecturer, subsequently Reader / Associate Professor in Archaeology, and a Fellow of Kellogg College, since 1999. From Wirral, in north-west England, David studied History and Archaeology at Durham University, and was a visiting student and fieldworker at the University of Tromsø, Norway. In the 1990s he was a full-time professional archaeologist working in the gas pipeline construction industry, in developer-funded archaeology, and as part of a planning consultancy. He has also been a temporary lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. From 1994 to 2004 he was Editor of the journal Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History.

David won university teaching awards in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014. He has been Chair of the Sub-Faculty of Archaeology, Oxford University, Treasurer of the Society for Medieval Archaeology, and has held the Newlands Visiting Fellowship at the University of Glasgow. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA), Scotland (FSA Scot.) and a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA). He is currently an Hon. Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, where he is part of developing inter-disciplinary research networks for understanding the early medieval Irish Sea region.

British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellow, 2014-15.

Winner: Inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement with Research, 2016 (Archeox, Archaeology of East Oxford Project)

National Archaeological Award Nominations (finalist):

     2011 Current Archaeology: Best Research Project (Vikings of the Irish Sea)

     2012 Current Archaeology: Best Research Project (Settlement under the Sand - Orkney)

     2012 British Archaeological Awards: Best Community Archaeology Project (Archeox)


Course Director and supervisor for Postgraduate courses - MSc Applied Landscape Archaeology and D.Phil in Archaeology (part-time stream). Also Course Director for the Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology.

External Examinerships: University of Aberdeen MA and undergraduate programme (current), Southampton, Birmingham and Chester (terms completed). M.Phils/PhDs examined at Cambridge, Durham, UC Cork, Glasgow, Nottingham, UC Dublin.

D.Phil Research Supervisees: Jill Hind (Kellogg College - completed/passed); Lisa Hill (St Cross College - completed/passed); Jane Harrison (Kellogg College - completed/passed); Jamie Anderson (Hertford College); Russell Weston (Kellogg College); Richard Walsh (St Peter's College); Sally Taylor (Kellogg College & Clarendon Scholar); Emma Bonthorne (Kellogg College); Scot Robinson (Kellogg College).

Departmental positions

David is Director of Studies in Archaeology which means (together with Dr Alison MacDonald) he oversees the part-time teaching programme in Archaeology and Anthropology, including  (shared with Dr Paul Barnwell) the programme of Courses and Workshops in the Historic Environment. He is also the Department's Director of Research, which covers research policy, seminars and research-led training across the subjects represented on the full-time teaching staff at OUDCE. In this capacity he is a member of the departmental strategy group.

Research and Public Engagement activity

David is PI on four major research projects, three of which are complete or near-complete and have been externally funded to between c.£0.1 and £0.5m.

Birsay-Skaill Landscape Archaeology Project (Orkney, Scotland), funded by Historic Scotland, Oxford University and Orkney Islands Council. Since 2003, geophysics and selective excavation have revealed a wealth of exciting new data in this archaeologically-rich area. This project was nominated for 'Research Project of the Year' by Current Archaeology Magazine in 2012.  

SPLAT - Salisbury Plain Landscape Transitions, with Dr Olaf Bayer and Richard Osgood of the MoD. In 2015 we were awarded an ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant to develop proposals and methods for a multi-period landscape investigation on Salisbury Plain Training Area. This resulted in a series of seminars and a successful pilot project surveying (with Applied Landscape MSc students) the Neolithic Causewayed enclosure of Robin Hood's Ball, near Larkhill. Details can be found here

East Oxford Community Archaeology Project - http://www.archeox.net A five year project has recently concluded, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Oxford University on the archaeology and history project on the urban landscape of East Oxford. This is based on partnerships with university museums, the School of Archaeology, local government and charities. The project was also successful in securing a CBA Community Archaeology Training Bursary for 2012-13. Nominated for 'Best Community Archaeology Project' by the BAA Awards 2012. Winner 2016 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Public Engagement with Research.

During the past decade he completed a major research and publication project on the coastal site of Meols, Wirral, in conjunction with National Museums Liverpool. http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/collections/archaeology/field/projects/meols/ The online project archive with the Archaeology Data Service is at http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/meols_sal_2007/

He has also undertaken and completed work funded by Cadw on the Viking Age sculptured cross 'Maen Achwyfan' in North Wales (see list of publications below).

He has been involved in an advisory capacity in two publication projects for recent Viking-Age excavations, Cumwhitton Viking cemetery (Cumbria, with Oxford Archaeology North) and Woodstown, a Viking defended river camp (Co. Waterford, Ireland, with National Roads Authority and OPW Ireland). (both now published). He was a member of the expert panel for EMASS, a major Irish project synthesising evidence for medieval settlement from recent development excavations, and a post-doctoral peer reviewer for the Irish and Icelandic Research Councils. In 2016 he chaired an international progress and funding review of LBI Arch Pro for the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft, Vienna.

David's book Vikings of the Irish Sea (2010 reprinted 2012) continues to be popular with academic, student and public audiences See: http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/index.php/archaeology-books/vikings-of-the-irish-sea.html

For online reviews see: http://suite101.com/article/vikings-of-the-irish-sea-book-review-a233532#.UWvcu_Kk6So%20

David has given numerous lectures, conference papers and research seminars in the UK and overseas, in Ireland, France, Greenland, Iceland, USA and Scandinavia. University research seminars: at Oxford, Liverpool, Durham, Glasgow, Aberdeen, UCL, Dublin (UCD and TCD), Cork, Bangor, Reading, Leicester, Caen and Uppsala. He has lectured (twice, on different topics) to the Society of Antiquaries of London, and given several invited 'named' lectures including the H Addyman lecture in York and the 2013 Whithorn lecture. Most recently, he spoke at IMC Leeds, ISMARN in the Isle of Man, and the 18th Viking Congress in Ribe, Denmark, and was invited keynote speaker for EMWARG, the Early Medieval Wales study group, at Bangor in Oct 2017.

David has undertaken, with colleagues from Bangor, Liverpool and Lancaster, to organise the 19th Viking Congress to Wales and North-west England in July 2021.

Public profile/Media

David is a regular and experiened speaker to local and national societies and groups, and is active on social media promoting Oxford's part-time archaeology courses, landscape archaeology in general and Viking studies@davegrifx

David's initiation into public archaeology came early in his PhD studies as a consultant to the 1990 exhibition 'A Silver Saga' at Liverpool Museum. Meols, Archeox, Vikings of the Irish Sea and Birsay-Skaill have all featured as news and articles in British Archaeology, BBC HIstory Magazine and Current Archaeology as well as regular coverage in local/regional media.  Archeox has been featured as a film in Oxford Impacts, a show-case for Oxford University's most innovative projects. David has also been an invited speaker at the 'Archaeology Live' conference, and has taken part in numerous Festival of Archaeology events, excavation open days, museum exhibitions and gallery talks.

David was a consultant to the BBC programme Blood of the Vikings, and appeared in a historical documentary for ITV presented by Eric Robson. David has been a contributor to the script and an on-screen commentator for a new retrospective documentary on the history of TV depictions of the Vikings, made by 360 Productions, Timewatch, broadcast on BBC4 in July and November 2017.


Monographs currently In preparation/ final editing:

Beside the Ocean: Coastal Landscapes at the Bay of Skaill, Marwick and Birsay Bay, Orkney. Archaeological Research 2003-17. (in conjunction with Historic Scotland, Oxbow, Oxford, 2018).

The Archaeology of East Oxford: Archeox, the Story of a Community (OUDCE, Oxford 2018).


Books, Monographs, journal articles, book chapters and edited volumes (list does not include book reviews which have been published in Medieval ArchaeologyAntiquityArchaeological JournalAgricultural History Review, Scottish Historical Review, amongst others.)

'Medieval Coastal Sand Inundation in Britain and Ireland', Medieval Archaeology Vol 59 (2015), 103-121.

‘Status and Identity in Norse Settlements: A Case Study from Orkney’ in Barrett, J.H. and Gibbon, S-J. (eds) Maritime Societies of the Viking and Medieval World, Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 37 (2015) (Maney, Leeds), 219-36.

'Irish Sea identities and interconnections during the Viking Age' in Clarke, H B. and Johnson, R. (eds) Vikings in Ireland and Beyond (Dublin,Four Courts Press, 2015), 470-484.

Preface, in Hurley, M.F, Russell, I.R. and Eogan, J (eds) Woodstown, A Viking Age Settlement in County Waterford (Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2014) http://www.fourcourtspress.ie/books/2014/woodstown/

Early Medieval Whithorn, the Irish Sea Context, 21st Whithorn Lecture (2014), Whithorn Trust, Stranraer.

In Search of Vikings, Interdiscipinary approaches to the Scandinavian Heritage of North-West England. Harding, S, Griffiths, D, Royles, E. (eds) Taylor & Francis, (2014). Interdisciplinary papers mainly on NW England topics.

'Living in Viking Age Towns' in Hadley, D.M. and Ten Harkel, L (eds) Towns in the Viking Age (2013), Oxbow, 1-13.

'The Context of the 1858 Skaill Hoard', in Reynolds, A. and Webster L. (eds) Early Medieval Art and Archaeology in the Northern World, Studies in Honour of James Graham-Campbell, Brill, (2013), 501-26.

(with Jane Harrison) 'Interpreting Power and Status in the Landscape of Viking Age Orkney', in Sigmundsson, S (ed.) Viking Settlements and Society,Proceedings of the XVI Viking Congress, Reykjavik, 2009, National Museum of Iceland, (2011), 132-46.

'A Viking Age Settlement under wind-blown sand' Medieval Britain and Ireland, 2010, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 55, (2011), 321-6.

'The Ending of Anglo-Saxon England: Identity, Allegiance and Nationality', in Hamerow, H, Hinton, D. and Crawford, S. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology, Oxford, OUP, (2011),  62-78.

'Towns and their Hinterlands', in Crick, J and Van Houts, L (eds) A Social History of England, Cambridge, CUP (2011), 152-78. 

Aeolian Archaeology, the Archaeology of Sand Landscapes in Scotland Co-editor with P.J. Ashmore (Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports 48, 2011)  http://www.sair.org.uk/sair48/%20

Vikings of the Irish Sea, History Press (2010).

'The Archaeological Background', in Graham-Campbell, J. and Philpott, R. (eds) The Huxley Hoard, Scandinavian Settlement in the North West, National Museums Liverpool (2009), 13-21.  

'Sand Dunes and Stray Finds: evidence for pre-Viking Trade?' in Graham-Campbell, J. and Ryan, M. (eds) Anglo-Saxon/Irish Relations before the Vikings, Proceedings of the British Academy 157 (2009), 265-280.  

Meols, The Archaeology of the North Wirral Coast (D. Griffiths, R. Philpott and G. Egan + 17 contributors) Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph Series 68 (2007).

‘Birsay and Skaill, Orkney, Landscape Survey 2003-4’, in Jones, R.E. and Sharpe, L (eds.) Going over Old Ground: Perspectives on archaeological, geophysical and geochemical survey in Scotland, BAR British Series 416 (2006), 213-24.

‘Maen Achwyfan, and the context of Viking Settlement in North-East Wales’, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 155 (2006), 143-62.

‘Settlement and Acculturation in the Irish Sea Region’ in Hines, J, Lane, A. and Redknap, M. (eds) Land Sea and Home, Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series 20 (2004), 125-38.

‘Trade, Exchange and Urbanisation’ in Davies, Wendy (ed.) From the Vikings to the Normans, Short Oxford History of the British Isles 800-1100, OUP (2003), 73-104.

‘Markets and Productive Sites, a view from Western Britain’ in Pestell, T. & Ulmschneider, K. (eds) Markets in Early Medieval Europe (Windgather Press, 2003) 62-72 (volume was winner of 2004 BAA Award for best scholarly publication).

'Boundaries in Early Medieval Britain’ Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History Vol 12, (2003), edited by D. Griffiths, A. Reynolds and S. Semple.

‘The North-West Frontier’ in Hill, D. & Higham, N. (eds.) Edward the Elder Routledge (2001), 167-187.

'The Making of Kingdoms' (ed. with Tania Dickinson) Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History Vol. 10 (1999).