Professor David Griffiths

Profile details

Professor of Archaeology / Director of Graduate Studies - Research

BA, PhD (Durham), MA (Oxon), FSA, FSA Scot, MCIfA

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.

Recently published:


David has taught at Oxford and been a Fellow of Kellogg College since 1999. From Wirral, in north-west England, of Welsh family heritage, he 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 professional archaeologist working in the gas pipeline construction industry and for a planning consultancy. He has also been a temporary lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. 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).

Visiting Reader, University of Highlands and Islands, Institute for Northern Studies

Co-Organiser and Co-Chair, 19th Viking Congress (Wales and North-West England) 2022. 

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)

Teaching and examining

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

External Examinerships: University of Durham (BA / MA in Historical Archaeology) (current); University of Cambridge ICE; Aberdeen, Southampton, Birmingham and Chester (terms completed). M.Phils/PhDs examined at Cambridge, Durham, UC Cork, Glasgow, Nottingham, UC Dublin.

D.Phil Supervision

David is happy to discuss supervising or co-supervising topics which are a good fit with his academic interests in historical/medieval, Viking-Age, or landscape archaeology and heritage, either as part-time D.Phil students admitted through Continuing Education, or as full-time D.Phil students who would have to apply via the School of Archaeology.

Five D.Phils have been supervised to completion, and I currently have seven supervisees. Current:  Richard Walsh (St Peter's College); Sally Taylor (Kellogg College & Clarendon Scholar); Emma Bonthorne (Kellogg College); Genevieve Cain (Kellogg College); Louise Formby-Tiedman (St Catherine's College), Jennifer Nolan (Kellogg College); Jakov Mlinarevic (Kellogg College).

Departmental positions

David is Director of Studies in Archaeology which means (together with Dr Alison MacDonald and Dr Toby Martin) he oversees the part-time teaching programme in Archaeology and Anthropology, including  (shared with Dr David Lewis) the programme of Courses and Workshops in the Historic Environment. He is also the liaison contact within Cont Ed for GLAM (Gardens Libraries and Museums at Oxford) and sits on the Board of Visitors of the Ashmolean Museum.

From October 2021, David is the Director of Graduate Studies - Research (DGS-R) covering all D.Phil programmes in the Department.  

Research and Public Engagement activity

David is PI on four major externally-funded research projects, three of which are complete or near-complete:

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 MSc Applied Landscape Archaeology students) the Neolithic Causewayed enclosure of Robin Hood's Ball, near Larkhill. Details can be found here

East Oxford Community Archaeology Project - 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.  Nominated for 'Best Community Archaeology Project' by the BAA Awards 2012. Winner 2016 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Public Engagement with Research. Open access monograph (2020) can be downloaded here.

During the past decade David completed a major research and publication project on the coastal site of Meols, Wirral, in conjunction with National Museums Liverpool.  The online project archive with the Archaeology Data Service is at where the open access monograph pdf can be downloaded.

With William Wintle and Gill Hey, he has undertaken several geophysical surveys in the environs of the Roman and Medieval small town of Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in conjunction with the field training weeks of the MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology.

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).

David is currently taking part as lead reviewer in the project to publish 60 years of excavations at Dublin Castle, Ireland. He was previously an advisor for the publication of Woodstown, a Viking defended river camp in SE Ireland (Co. Waterford, with National Roads Authority and OPW Ireland). He was a member of the expert panel for EMASS, a major UCD-based 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 a funding review of LBI Arch Pro, Europe's leading centre for archaeological geophysics, for the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft, Vienna, Austria.

David's book Vikings of the Irish Sea (2010 reprinted 2012) continues to be popular with academic, student and public audiences See:

For online reviews see:

David has given numerous lectures, conference papers and university research seminars in the UK and overseas, in Ireland, France, Greenland, Iceland, USA and Scandinavia. He has lectured twice to the Society of Antiquaries of London, and given named lectures including the H Addyman lecture in York and the Whithorn lecture.  He continues to participate in international conferences and research workshops such as the Viking Congress, IMC Leeds, ISMARN, EMWARG and the St Magnus conference series in Orkney.

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, heritage, and Viking studies@davegrifx

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 recent retrospective documentary on the history of TV depictions of the Vikings, made by 360 Productions, Timewatch on BBC4.

In association with recent publications in Antiquity and the Orkney monograph Beside the Ocean, David has done several media interviews and features on BBC Radio.

Selected Publications

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.)

Griffiths, D. 2020 'How Scandinavian was the Viking Age in the Northern Isles?' Viking Encounters: Proceedings of the XVIII Viking Congress, Aarhus University Press, 318-330.

Griffiths, D and Harrison, J. (eds) 2020 The Archaeology of East Oxford: Archeox, the Story of a Community, Thames Valley Landscapes Monograph Series 43, Oxford.

Griffiths, D. 2019 'Rethinking the Early Viking Age in the West', Antiquity 93, Issue 368, April 2019, 468-77.

Griffiths, D, Harrison J. and Athanson, M. 2019  Beside the Ocean: Coastal Landscapes at the Bay of Skaill, Marwick and Birsay Bay, Orkney. Archaeological Research 2003-18. (in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland, Oxbow, Oxford).

Wintle, W. and Griffiths, D. 2017 'Dorchester Abbey Cloisters Geophysical Survey 2012'. South Midlands Archaeology, 47, 80-81.

Wintle, W., Griffiths, D. and Hey, G. 2016 'Geophysical Survey in Dorchester-on-Thames 2008'. South Midlands Archaeology, 46, 93-95.

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

Griffiths, D. 2015 ‘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 (Maney, Leeds), 219-36.

Griffiths, D. 2015 '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), 470-484.

Griffiths, D. 2014 'Preface', in Hurley, M.F, Russell, I.R. and Eogan, J (eds) Woodstown, A Viking Age Settlement in County Waterford (Dublin, Four Courts Press)

Griffiths, D. 2014 Early Medieval Whithorn, the Irish Sea Context, 21st Whithorn Lecture, 2013, (Whithorn Trust), Stranraer.

Harding, S, Griffiths, D, Royles, E. (eds) 2014 In Search of Vikings, Interdiscipinary approaches to the Scandinavian Heritage of North-West England (CRC Press, Taylor & Francis).

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

Griffiths, D. 2013 '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, 501-26.

Griffiths, D. and Harrison, J. 2011 '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),  132-46.

Griffiths, D. and Harrison J 2011 'A Viking Age Settlement under wind-blown sand' Medieval Britain and Ireland, 2010, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 55, 321-6.

Griffiths, D. 2011 '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 University Press),  62-78.

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

Griffiths, D. and Ashmore, P. (eds) 2011 Aeolian Archaeology, the Archaeology of Sand Landscapes in Scotland (Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports 48)

Griffiths, D. 2010 (reprinted 2012) Vikings of the Irish Sea, Conflict and Assimilation AD 790-1050, (History Press).

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

Griffiths, D. 2009 '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, 265-280.  

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

Griffiths, D. 2006 ‘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), 213-24.

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

Griffiths, D. 2004 ‘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), 125-38.

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

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

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

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

Dickinson, T. and Griffiths, D. (eds) 1999 'The Making of Kingdoms' Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History Vol. 10

Griffiths, D (ed) 1998 Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History Vol.  9.

Griffiths, D (ed) 1995 Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History Vol.  8.

Filmer-Sanker, W. and Griffiths, D. (eds) 1994 Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History Vol.  7.