Professor David Griffiths

Profile details

Professor of Archaeology / Director of Graduate Studies - Research

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

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Research Interests

Viking-Age and medieval archaeology; landscape archaeology (method, theory and practice); past environmental and coastal landscape change; landscape heritage; public engagement and community archaeology. Geographic areas: England, Wales, Northern Isles of Scotland, Irish Sea region, North Atlantic, Scandinavia. I am also interested museums, material heritage and society, and currently sit as a governor (Member of the Board of Visitors) of the Ashmolean Museum.  

Recently published:


I am (Full) Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and Director of Studies in Archaeology at the Department for Continuing Education. I have taught at Oxford and been a Fellow of Kellogg College since 1999. From Wirral, in north-west England, of Welsh family heritage, I studied History and Archaeology at Durham University, and was a visiting student and fieldworker at the University of Tromsø, Norway. In the 1990s I was a professional archaeologist working in the gas pipeline construction industry and for a planning consultancy. I have also been a temporary lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA), Scotland (FSA Scot.) and a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA).

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

Co-Organiser and Co-Chair, 19th Viking Congress (Wales and North-West England) July 2022, and co-editor of congress proceedings. 

Member of Board of Visitors, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2019-23.

Member of Academic Reference Group for Museum of the Viking Age (Viking Ships Museum), University of Oslo, Norway.

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).

Panel reviewer for the Norwegian Research Council, NordForsk, the Icelandic Research Council, the Irish Research Council and the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft.  

REF 2021 Impact Case Study: Archeox

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); University of Cambridge ICE; Aberdeen, Southampton, Birmingham and Chester. M.Phils/PhDs examined at Cambridge, Durham, UC Cork, Glasgow, Nottingham, York, Chester, UC Dublin.

D.Phil Supervision

I am happy to discuss supervising or co-supervising topics which are a good fit with my 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.

I currently have seven D.Phil supervisees across Continuing Education and the School of Archaeology, and have previously seen five through to completion.

Departmental positions

I am Director of Studies in Archaeology which means (together with Dr Alison MacDonald and Dr Toby Martin) I oversee 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

I am also serving a three-year term of office as Director of Graduate Studies - Research (DGS-R) covering all D.Phil programmes in the Department.  

Research and Public Engagement activity

I am or have been PI on four major externally-funded research projects:

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. The project was published as a monograph entitled 'Beside the Ocean' by Oxbow Books in 2019. Work on the excavation archive is ongong with colleagues in UHI and Durham, with new studies under way of soil chemical mapping, lipid biomarkers and animal isotopes.  

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.

In 2007, I 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, I have 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. Current survey work and related field teaching focuses on the multi-period landscape of Hampton Gay, a rural medieval settlement in the Cherwell Valley north of Oxford.

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

I am currently taking part as lead reviewer in the project to publish 60 years of excavations at Dublin Castle, Ireland. I 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). I was a member of the expert panel for EMASS, a major UCD-based project synthesising evidence for medieval settlement from recent development excavations in Ireland.

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

For online reviews see:

I have given numerous lectures, conference papers and university research seminars in the UK and overseas, in Ireland, France, Greenland, Iceland, USA and Scandinavia. I have lectured twice to the Society of Antiquaries of London, and given invited named lectures including the H Addyman Lecture in York and the Whithorn Lecture.  I continue 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.


Public profile / media

I am a regular and experienced speaker to local and national societies and groups, and am lightly active on social media promoting Oxford's part-time archaeology courses, landscape archaeology, heritage, and Viking studies@davegrifx

In association with recent publications in Antiquity and the Orkney monograph Beside the Ocean, I did several media interviews and features on BBC Radio. My TV career has been a bit more sporadic; I  was a consultant to the BBC 2 programme Blood of the Vikings in the early 2000s and appeared in a historical documentary for ITV presented by Eric Robson. Perhaps my most satisfying TV exploit to date was as a co-script writer and and commentator for a retrospective documentary on the history of TV depictions of the Vikings, fronted by Alice Roberts and made by 360 Productions, Timewatch on BBC4.


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.)

Downham, C, Griffiths, D, Edwards N. and Edmonds, F. (eds) [in prep] Viking Connections, Proceedings of the 19th Viking Congress, Wales and North-West England, 2022, Liverpool University Press.

Jamieson, A. et al. (including Griffiths, D.)  'Palaeogenomic Evidence for the Long-Term Reproductive Isolation Between Wild and Domestic Cats'. Current Biology 14 March 2023, SSRN: or

Griffiths, D. 2023 Chapter 1: 'Landnam and Landscape in Viking Orkney', in Horne, T, Pierce, E and Barrowman, R (eds) The Viking Age in Scotland, Edinburgh University Press, 13-28.

Griffiths, D. 2021 Chapter 21 (502-11) and Chapter 23 (533-540) in Morris, C, Batey, C, Emery, N, Fawcett, R, Griffiths, D, Outram, Z, Ovenden, S, Rackham, D.J, The Birsay Bay Project Volume 3, The Brough of Birsay, Orkney, Investigations 1954-2014, Oxbow, Oxford.

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.