Dr Ben Jervis

Dr Ben Jervis

Lecturer in Archaeology

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 (0)29 2087 5611
5.05, John Percival Building

I am a lecturer in archaeology, specialising in the archaeology of medieval Britain and the analysis of ceramics. My research seeks to use material culture to understand how people coped with and experienced change, and how the roots of contemporary society are planted in the medieval period. For example, my research into diet examines how communities adapted to social and political change in the early medieval period and my analysis of medieval rural material culture considers how the development of commercial attitudes can be seen in the archaeological record. My work also applies archaeological theory (particularly ‘non-representational’ theories such as Assemblage Theory and Actor-Network Theory) to important archaeological questions. I also examine the relationship between historical text and the archaeological record. I am currently co-Editor of the journal Medieval Ceramics.

Currently I am researching 3 core areas; the material culture of medieval rural households (as co-investigator with Dr Chris Briggs, Cambridge University on the project Living Standards and Material Culture in English Rural Households 1300-1600), the impact of the Norman Conquest of England on dietary practice (with Dr Richard Madgwick, Cardiff University and Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins, University of Sheffield) and the archaeology of early and later medieval urbanism. I am also actively engaged in the study of medieval pottery, with a particular emphasis on questions of trade and consumption.

Recently published books include Pottery and Social Life in Medieval England: Towards a relational approach, Objects, Environment and Everyday Life in Medieval Europe (with Lee G. Broderick and Idoia Grau-Sologestoa), Insight from Innovation: New light on archaeological ceramics (with Emilie Sibbesson and Sarah Coxon) and Food and Drink in Archaeology 4 (with Wendy Howard and Kirsten Bedigan).

I am currently participating in the Cardiff Futures programme for future research leaders, through which I will be participating in a project intended to better enable 1st year students to transition into university life.

Education and Qualifications

2011: PhD (Archaeology), University of Southampton.

2007: MA Ceramic and Lithic Analysis for Archaeologists, University of Southampton.

2006: BA Hons Archaeology, University of Exeter.

Career overview

2014- Lecturer in Archaeology – Cardiff University

2013-2014: Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments – English Heritage

2012: Research Associate – Department of History, University of Cambridge

2012-2013: Associate Lecturer in Medieval History and Archaeology – Birkbeck College, University of London

2012-2013: Archaeology Officer – Berkshire Archaeology

2010: Research Assistant – Institute of Archaeology, University College London

2007-2008: IfA Workplace Bursary in Medieval Pottery Research – Southampton City Council

2006: Graduate Attachment – British Institute in Eastern Africa

Honours and awards

  • Co-Investigator, Leverhulme Trust funded project Living Standards and Material Culture in English Rural Households 1300-1600
  • Recipient of grant from Cardiff University International Collaboration Seedcorn Fund, to visit Vrije Universiteit Brussel (2017)
  • Recipient of grant from the Royal Archaeological Insitute Tony Clark Fund (2016)
  • Recipient of research grant from Society of Antiquaries  (2016)
  • Recipient of research grant from Society for Medieval Archaeology (2016)
  • Recipient of grant from Society for Medieval Archaeology Eric Fletcher Fund (2009)
  • AHRC Doctoral Award (2008)
  • AHRC MA studentship (2006)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists New Generation Special Interest Group: Secretary (2012-2015)
  • Medieval Pottery Research Group: Assistant Secretary (2009-2014); Assistant Editor (2015-2016); co-Editor (2016-2021)
  • Society for Medieval Archaeology

Academic positions

  • 2014 - Present: Lecturer in Archaeology, Cardiff University
  • 2012-13: Lecturer in Medieval History & Archaeology, Birkbeck
  • 2012: Research Associate, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge
  • 2010: Research Assistant, Institute of Archaeology, UCL.
  • 2006: Graduate Attachment, British Institute in East Africa, Nairobi.

Speaking engagements

Invited Talks

  • 2017: Diet and the Norman Conquest: New Archaeological Research. Cultural Transfers in the Norman World conference, University of Caen
  • 2016: Quentovic in Context: Mid-Saxon pottery from Hamwic and south-east England. Workshop on excavations at Quentovic, Arras, France (invited by Professor Laurent Verslype, Catholic University of Louvain).
  • 2015: Beyond Expression: Objects and the self in medieval Sussex. Research seminar series, University of Nottingham (invited by Dr Chris King, University of Nottingham).
  • 2015: 2050: An Archaeological Odessey. A vision for the future of our profession from the New Generation (with Natalie Ward). Chartered Institute for Archaeologists conference, Cardiff (invited by Kate Geary, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists).
  • 2015: 'Consumer' Identity, Values and Consumption in Medieval Rural England. GW4 Medieval Network conference, Bristol University (invited by Dr James Doherty)
  • 2015: Trade, Towns and Consumption in Medieval Southern England: An archaeological perspective. Wessex Centre for History and Archaeology day conference, Salisbury Museum (invited by Dr Ryan Lavelle, University of Winchester).
  • 2014: Plenary speaker, Launch of Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (with Natalie Ward). Museum of London (invited by Kate Geary, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists).
  • 2014: Pottery and Coastal Communities Before the Emporia: A case-study from south-east England. The 2nd Dorestad Congress, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, Netherlands (invited by Dr Annemarieke Willemsen, RVO).
  • 2013: Pottery and the Middle Ages. Research seminar series, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (invited by Dr Jill Hilditch, University of Amsterdam).
  • 2012: Pots as Things. Theoretical Archaeology Group, University of Liverpool (invited by Paul Blinkhorn and Dr Chris Cumberpatch).
  • 2012: Objects as Agents of Social Change: A case-study from Anglo-Norman Southampton. Archaeology after interpretation workshop, Burford, Oxfordshire (invited by Dr Andrew M Jones, University of Southampton).
  • 2012: Pottery in Stuart Southampton and Beyond (with Duncan H. Brown). Southampton Museum Archaeological Society day conference, Southampton (invited by Anna Welch).
  • 2011: Pottery in Tudor Southampton and Beyond (with Duncan H. Brown). Southampton Museum Archaeological Society day conference, Southampton (invited by Anna Welch).
  • 2010: Pottery and Early Medieval Archaeology. Early Medieval Finds from the British Isles conference, Oxford University (invited by Jane Kershaw and Christopher Ferguson).
  • 2009: Rubbish and the Creation of Urban Landscape. Medieval diet group, Oxford University (invited by Maureen Mellor).

Conference Papers

  • 2015: Assembling Urban Space. TAG, Bradford University.
  • 2015: Towns in the Wilderness: Material culture, identity and urbanisation in Medieval southern England. European Association of Archaeologists Conference, University of Glasgow.
  • 2015: Pots from Ports. European Association of Archaeologists Conference, University of Glasgow.
  • 2015: Early Anglo-Saxon Pottery in South-East England: Progress and potential (with Lorraine Mepham, Phil Jones, Luke Barber, Chris Jarrett, Lyn Blackmore, John Cotter and Berni Seddon). Medieval Pottery Research Group conference, Doncaster.
  • 2013: Between Text and Objects: The value and consumption of metalwork amongst the Medieval English peasantry (with Chris Briggs and Matt Tompkins). TAG, Bournemouth University.
  • 2013: Entangled Pots: The meaning and value of medieval pottery. International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds.
  • 2013: Emergent Value: Archaeology and inventories in later medieval England. Society for Historical Archaeology conference, Leicester University.
  • 2012: The Agency of Rules: The case of Southampton’s Oak Book. TAG, University of Liverpool.
  • 2012: At the Edge of Empire: Pottery from the Noviodunum Archaeological Project, Romania. Medieval Pottery Research Group (MPRG) conference, Douglas.
  • 2011: What are they Doing it like that for? Culinary practices in medieval Southampton. MPRG conference, London.
  • 2010: Making-do or making the World? Tempering choices in Anglo-Saxon pottery manufacture. TAG, Bristol University.
  • 2010: Social Stratigraphy: Contextualising site formation processes a case study.  TAG, Bristol University.
  • 2010: Anglo-Saxon Pottery Production in Chichester, West Sussex, UK. Tourner Autor du Pot... Les Ateliers de Potiers Médiévaux du Ve au XIIe Siècles dans l’Espace Européen (Early Medieval Pottery Production in Europe), Douai.
  • 2010: Pottery, Food and Status in Medieval England. Medieval Diet Group, Oxford University.
  • 2010: Dealing with Rubbish in a Medieval Town. MPRG conference, Perth.
  • 2010: Pottery and the Norman Conquest of England. Early Medieval Archaeology Student Symposium (EMASS), University College Dublin.
  • 2010: Provisioning and Diet in Hamwic: New data and new perspectives. Food and Drink in Archaeology Conference, University of Exeter. 
  • 2010: Late Saxon pottery from Chichester. MPRG regional group meeting (south), Winchester.
  • 2009: Is this a Cooking Pot I see Before me? A biographical approach to the categorisation of early medieval pottery. TAG, University of Durham
  • 2009:Categories of Pots and Categories of People: A case study from Hamwic (mid-Saxon Southampton). TAG, University of Durham.
  • 2009: Rubbish and the Creation of Urban Landscape. European Association of Archaeologists conference, Riva del Garda.
  • 2009: How did Saxons Use Pots (and why should we care)?’ EMASS, University of Sheffield.
  • 2008: Redwares, Blackwares and Greywares: Colour and the study of medieval pottery. TAG, University of Southampton.
  • 2008: Following the Grain? A ceramic approach to social fragmentation in medieval Southampton. TAG, University of Southampton.
  • 2008: Pottery in Post-Medieval Southampton. MPRG regional meeting (south), Southampton.
  • 2008: Pottery, Materiality, Identity. EMASS, University of Exeter.
  • 2008: Understanding People Through Clay: A theoretical application of ceramic petrology. Ceramic Petrography Group, University of Sheffield.
  • 2007: Pottery and Identity in Late Saxon Sussex. EMASS, Cardiff University.
  • 2006: Is There a Role for Ethnoarchaeology in the Study of Anglo-Saxon pottery?  TAG, University of Exeter.
  • 2006: Local Flavour: The pottery from Bishopstone. MPRG conference, Chester.

Other Roles

  • 2013: Discussant, Early Medieval Archaeology Student Symposium, University of Chester (invited by Ruth Nugent).
  • 2012: Session chair, Early Medieval Archaeology Student Symposim, University of Glasgow (invited by Alison Kyle). 

Committees and reviewing

  • 2014 - present: Member of SHARE integrated board of studies
  • 2014 - present: Member of archaeology board of studies

External committees

  • 2016-2021: Editor and council member, Medieval Pottery Research Group
  • 2015-2016: Assistant editor and council member, Medieval Pottery Research Group
  • 2012-2015: Chartered Institute for Archaeologists New Generation Group
  • 2009-2014: Assistant secretary and council member, Medieval Pottery Research Group


My teaching is focussed on medieval archaeology and the analysis of artefacts. 

I am convener for the following modules:

  • Medieval Archaeology - 20 Credits (HS2382)
  • Ceramics in Archaeology - 20 Credits (HS2431) 
  • Deep Histories (HS2124)

I contribute to the teaching of the following modules:

  • Discovering Archaeology (HS2126)
  • The History of Archaeological Thought (HS2350)

Research Supervision

I am happy undergraduate indpendent studies and dissertations on topics relating to medieval and post-medieval archaeology and material culture (particularly pottery). I have recently supervised students researching prehistoric pottery, medieval pottery, medieval towns and medieval material culture.

I would also be interested to hear from potential postgraduate students looking to develop research projects in the following areas:

  • Medieval material culture (particularly pottery)
  • The archaeology of the Norman Conquest
  • Medieval urbanism
  • The archaeology of medieval southern England

I am currently supervising 4 Postgraduate Research Students:

  • Lisa Backhouse (SWW DTP student, co-supervised with Dr Gabor Thomas, Reading and Duncan Brown, Historic England): Changing Social Relations and the Making of an Early Medieval Kingdom: People and Pottery in Anglo-Saxon Kent AD 450-850
  • Dóri Szabó (SWW DTP student, co-supervised with Hajnalka Herold, University of Exeter): Household Archaeology in 5th-6th Century Central Europe
  • Gill Vickery: Medieval settlement in Dorset, focussing on Witchampton
  • Thanasis Garonis (second supervisor): Iron Age pottery

Research Projects & Interests

Living Standards and Material Culture in English Rural Households 1300-1600

The project (undertaken in collaboration with Dr Chris Briggs, University of Cambridge and funded by a grant from the Leverhule Trust), seeks to understand the consumption patterns of medieval rural communities. How did these differ from those of urban communities? How did they change through time? What was the role of everyday objects in the negotiation of social identity? The project seeks to address these questions through the integrated analysis of escheators inventories found in manorial records and material culture excavated from medieval rural sites. A pilot project was funded by the Newton Trust and the Economic History Society.

Related Publications: 

Jervis, B., Briggs, C. and Tompkins, M. 2015. Exploring text and objects: Escheator's inventories and material culture in Medieval English rural householdsMedieval Archaeology , pp. 168-92.

Dietary Change and The Norman Conquest

I have a long running interest in the impact of the Norman Conquest on everyday life. This began during my PhD where I analysed cooking practices in early medieval Southampton by examining use wear on pottery. I have recently collaborated with Dr Alex Livarda (Nottingham) and Dr Fiona Whelan (Oxford) to review the archaeological and historical evidence relating to the impact of conquest on diet. I am currently working with Dr Richard Madgwick (Cardiff) and Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins (Sheffield) on a project exploring the impact of diet using a variety of scientific techniques. Funded by the Society of Antiquaries, The Royal Archaeological Institute, The Society for Medieval Archaeology and Cardiff University.

Related publications:

Jervis, B., Livarda, A. and Whelan, F. 2017, 'Conquest and cuisine: Interdisciplinary perspectives on food, continuity and change in 11th century England and beyond', in C. Dyer and D. Hadley (eds), The Archaeology of the 11th Century, Routledge.

Jervis, B. 2014. Pottery and social life in medieval England: Towards a relational approach. Oxbow Books.

Jervis, B. 2013. Conquest, ceramics, continuity and change. Beyond representational approaches to continuity and change in early medieval England: a case study from Anglo-Norman SouthamptonEarly Medieval Europe 21(4), pp. 455-487.

Jervis, B. 2013. Objects and social change: a case study from Saxo-Norman Southampton. In: Jones, A. M., Alberti, B. and Pollard, J. eds. Archaeology After Interpretation: Returning Materials to Archaeological Theory.   Left Coast Press, pp. 219-234.

Urban Fortunes in Medieval England

This project seeks to understand the extent to which medieval towns suffered decline in the later middle ages. This work addresses a long running historical debate using archaeolgoical evidence from southern England. By reviewing the evidence from archaeological excavations I am assessing the extent to which towns appear to have declined and also seeking to understand the factors which impact upon urban fortunes.

Related publications:

Jervis, B. 2016. Decline or Transformation? Archaeology and the Late Medieval ‘Urban Decline’ in Southern England. The Archaeological Journal 174.

Jervis, B. 2015. Assessing urban fortunes in six late medieval ports: an archaeological application of assemblage theoryUrban History 

Anglo-Saxon Pottery in Southern England

This has been a key research area since my undergraduate research into the Anglo-Saxon pottery from Bishopstone in Sussex. My MA dissertation examined pottery production in the late Saxon town of Chichester and during my PhD I worked on material from Southampton and its region. Through my involvement in the Lyminge Archaeology Project, directed by Dr Gabor Thomas (Reading) my interests have examined into Kent. Recently I have collaborated with colelagues working in commercial archaeological units in the region to assess the current state of knowledge and highlight areas for future research and have also considered the relationship between imported pottery and identity in early Anglo-Saxon Kent.

Related Publications:

Jervis, B., Barber, L., Blackmore, L., Cotter, J., Jarrett, C., Jones, P., Mepham, L. and Seddon, B. Forthcoming, 'Early Anglo-Saxon Pottery in South East England: Recent research and a framework for the future, Medieval Ceramics.

Jervis B. 2016, 'Changing Places? Place-making in Anglo-Saxon Hamwic, Southampton and Winchester', in Jervis, B., Broderick, L. and Grau Sologestoa, I. eds. Objects, Environment and Everyday Life in Medieval Europe, Brepols, 235-60.

Jervis, B. 2016, 'Trade, Cultural Exchange and Coastal Identities in Early Anglo-Saxon Kent: A Ceramic Perspective'. In: Willemsen, A. and Kik, H. eds. Golden Middle Ages in Europe. New Research into Early-Medieval Communities and Identities, Brepols. pp. 57-63.

Jervis, B. 2015. The context of pottery production in Late Saxon Chichester, England. In: Thuillier, F. and Louis, E. eds. Tourner autour du pot... Les ateliers de potiers médiévaux du Ve au XIIe siècle dans l’espace européen, Actes du colloque international de Douai (8-10 octobre 2010).  Caen:  Presses universitaires de Caen.

Jervis, B. 2015. Provisioning and Diet in Hamwic (mid-Saxon Southampton): New data and new perspectives. In: Jervis, B., Howard, W. and Bedigan, K. eds. Food & Drink in Archaeology, Vol. 4.  Prospect Books, pp. 110-127.

Jervis, B. 2014. Middens, memory and the effect of waste. Beyond symbolic meaning in archaeological deposits. An early medieval case studyArchaeological Dialogues 21(02), pp. 175-196.

Jervis, B. 2012. Medieval pottery from Romsey: an overviewHampshire Studies 67(Pt II), pp. 32-46.

Jervis, B. 2012. Making-do or making the world? Tempering choices in Anglo-Saxon pottery manufacture. In: Jervis, B. and Kyle, A. eds. Make-do and mend: Archaeologies of compromise, repair and reuse.   Archaeopress, pp. 67-80.

Jervis, B. 2011. A patchwork of people, pots and places: Material engagements and the construction of 'the social' in Hamwic (Anglo-Saxon Southampton), UKJournal of Social Archaeology 11(3), pp. 239-265.

Morris, J. and Jervis, B. 2011. What's so special? A reinterpretation of Anglo-Saxon 'special deposits'Medieval Archaeology 55(1), pp. 66-81.

Jervis, B. 2011. Medieval pottery in East Hampshire: a preliminary surveyMedieval Ceramics 32, pp. 34-54

Jervis, B. 2010. Pottery. In: Thomas, G. ed. The later Anglo-Saxon settlement at Bishopstone. A downland manor in the making.  Council for British Archaeology, pp. 87-101.

Jervis, B. 2009. Pottery from late Saxon Chichester: A reassessment of the evidenceSussex Archaeological Collections 147, pp. 61-76.

Jervis, B. 2008. Pottery and identity in Saxon SussexMedieval Ceramics 29, pp. 1-8.

Archaeology and Text

An emerging area in my research is the understanding of the relationship between archaeological material culture and text. My work on medieval inventories and medieval guild rules seeks to view documents as a form of active material culture and to examine the social implications of the action of writing things down.

Related Publications:

Hausmair, B., Jervis, B., Nugent, R. and Williams, E. Forthcoming, Archaeologies of Rules and Regulations: Between text and practice.

Jervis, B. Forthcoming, The Effect of Rules: The Case of Southampton's Oak Book, in Hausmair, B., Jervis, B., Nugent, R. and Williams, E. Forthcoming, Archaeologies of Rules and Regulations: Between text and practice.

Jervis, B., Briggs, C. and Tompkins, M. 2015. Exploring text and objects: Escheator's inventories and material culture in Medieval English rural householdsMedieval Archaeology , pp. 168-92.

Jervis, B. 2014. Pots as things: value, meaning and medieval pottery in relational perspective. In: Blinkhorn, P. and Cumberpatch, C. eds. The Chiming of Crack'd Bells: Recent Approaches to the Study of Artefacts in Archaeology. British Archaeological Reports International Series, Vol. 2677. Oxford:  Archaeopress, pp. 3-16.

Conferences and Sessions Organised

TAG 2017: Cardiff University are hosting the TAG conference from 18th-20th December 2017.

Space The Final (Archaeological) Frontier? Session at Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) Conference, December 2015 (With Benjamin Morton, University of Newcastle).

Border Cultures: Pottery and the Social Dynamics of Border Regions in Medieval Europe. Session at the European Association of Archaeologists Coference, Glasgow, September 2015 (With Jette Linnaa, Moesgaard Museum).

Medieval Pottery Research Group Annual Conference: Early Medieval Pottery. Doncaster Museum, June 2015 (With Duncan Brown, Historic England and Lyn Blackmore, MoLA),

It’s All Material Culture, Ain’t It! Interdisciplinary Approaches to Material Culture. Session at TAG, December 2013 (With Dr James Morris, University of Central Lancashire).

ANT(ics): Objects and the Thingliness of Things. Actor-Network Theory and other Relational Approaches in Archaeology. Session at TAG, December 2013 (With Prof Harold Mytum, University of Liverpool).

ANT(ics): Objects and the Thingliness of Things. International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2013. (With Helen Price, Department of English, University of Leeds).

Actor-Network Theory and other Relational Approaches in Historical Archaeology. Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, University of Leicester, January 2013. (With Prof Harold Mytum, University of Liverpool).

The Archaeology of Rules. Session at TAG, University of Liverpool, December 2012. (With Eleanor Williams, University of Southampton; Ruth Nugent, University of Chester and Dr Barbara Hausmair, University of Vienna).

Insights Through Innovation. The Southampton Ceramics Research Group Conference. University of Southampton, October 2012. (With Emilie Sibbesson and Sarah Coxon).

Life in the City: Environmental and Artefactual Approaches to Urban Europe in the Middle Ages. European Association of Archaeologists Conference/Medieval Europe Congress, Helsinki, August 2012. (With Lee Broderick, University of York and Idoia Grau Sologestoa, Universidad del País Vasco).

Death Rules! Maintaining and Transgressing Funerary Rules Across Medieval Europe. International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2012. (With Eleanor Williams, University of Southampton; Ruth Nugent, University of Chester and Barbara Hausmair, University of Vienna).

The Tenth Postgraduate Archaeology Students Symposium (PGRAS10). University of Southampton, June 2011 (on organising committee).

Make-do and Mend. Archaeologies of Compromise? Session at TAG, Bristol University, December 2010. (With Alison Kyle, University of Glasgow).

Mad About Pots seminar series. University of Southampton, October 2010-January 2011.

Early Medieval Pottery in Southern England. Medieval Pottery Research Group (MPRG) regional meeting (south), Winchester, March 2010.

Putting Humpty Together Again: Overcoming fragmentation in medieval archaeology. Session at TAG, University of Southampton, December 2009. (With Tehmina Goskar, University of Southampton).

The End of Medieval Pottery in Southern England. MPRG regional meeting (south), Southampton, October 2008.