About our staff
Dr Sam Leggett
BA, BSc, MA, MPhil, PhD, FSAScot
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow; (Early) Medieval Archaeology and History, Bioarchaeology, Isotopic Analysis
Affiliated research centres
I graduated from the University of Sydney (Australia) with a double degree BA (Hons I) degree in Archaeology and Medieval Studies, and BSc in Immunobiology (2010-2014). My honours thesis on early medieval funerary archaeology won the Maureen A. Byrne Prize for best Archaeology IV thesis. I obtained a MA in History (Medieval) from the University of New England (Aus) and a Commonwealth Government funded research MPhil in Archaeology from the University of Sydney which focussed on early medieval urbanisation in southern Britain.My Cambridge Trust funded PhD at the University of Cambridge utilised isotopic data (C, N, O and Sr) alongside osteological and funerary evidence to investigate diet and mobility at multiple scales across western Europe in the first millennium AD, with a particular regional focus on early medieval England. This work won the 2020 European Association of Archaeologists Student Prize.I have worked in higher education teaching across a variety of archaeology, history and biology courses at the University of Sydney and University of Cambridge. I have most recently been a postdoctoral research assistant on the “Women of the Conversion Period – a Biomolecular Investigation” project with Professor Helena Hamerow at the University of Oxford, investigating female mobility in early medieval England during the seventh century AD, before starting my role as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Edinburgh in January 2022.Previously I also worked in visitor and educational roles in the museum sector (University of Sydney Museums and Sydney Living Museums), commercial pathology, and as an anatomical prosector in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney (title of prosector awarded 2012).
- Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
- Membership Secretary for the Scottish Society for Northern Research
- Member of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) Trading and Sale of Human Remains Sub-group
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Britain & Ireland
- Ancient Civilisations
- Bioarchaeology & Human Origins
- Early Historic
- Medieval & Renaissance
My research interests are centred around the early medieval period in Europe, and utilising biomolecular/bioarchaeological techniques to understand the period and the people holistically.
- Early medieval archaeology
- Funerary archaeology
- Mobility and migration
- Diet and health
- Computational archaeology
- Archaeology of identity
- Socio-environmental transitions
- Isotopic analyses
- Biomolecular archaeology
Current research activities
Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship project: ArchaeoFINS - medieval archaeology of fishing around the Irish and North Seas.
ArchaeoFINS is centred around an old and still unresolved archaeological question of when, where, how and why people began to eat fish again after the introduction of farming in Europe, which brought about a decline in fish consumption c. 5-10,000 years ago in favour of cereal crops and dairying. Tackling this question is timely and given recent debate over European fisheries and the important role fish have in modern foodways and economies in Europe. I have identified Scotland and its islands as a watershed region for the Medieval reintroduction of fish consumption to Europe. By combining multiple lines of evidence (isotopes, pottery residues, traditional archaeo-historical data) for the first time at scale (both geographically and chronologically) in the region ArchaeoFINS will show the nature and speed of change in fish consumption around the Irish and North Seas. It will demonstrate the mechanisms behind these shifts, re-centring the Atlantic Archipelago in the narratives of migration and changing foodways in the Middle Ages. ArchaeoFINS will scientifically confirm debates over the Fish Event Horizon in Europe and challenge perceptions of its catalyst, which can now be achieved due to the advances in biomolecular archaeology.
In addition to my current Leverhulme Trust funded project ArchaeoFINS I am involved in these collaborative projects focused on early medieval communities using biomolecular archaeology:
- Ketton Quarry, Rutland, Early Medieval Cemetery project with MOLA Northampton. Partially funded through a Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society grant.
- Priory Orchard Godalming, Surrey, cemetery project with the University of Roehampton, Surrey County Archaeological Unit with NERC/NEIF radiocarbon funding.
- Understanding Iberian Transitions - Diet and Mobility in Azuqueca de Henares through the first millennium AD (BABAO grant funded).
- Women of the Conversion Period: A Biomolecular Investigation. John Fell Fund, University of Oxford. PI: Professor Helena Hamerow.
- Collaborator on Viking Age isotopic analyses in Norway with Lisa Strand, NTNU.
Knowledge Exchange and Impact
Some recent talks/events/interviews can be found here:
Isotopes and aDNA: teasing apart ancestry versus migration in early medieval England
The end of Roman Britain: bones, diet and migrants (Podcast)
NY Times: Anglo-Saxon Kings Made Sure to Eat Their Vegetables, Study Shows
- Diet and Migration at Ketton Quarry: an isotopic perspective
- You Are What You Eat: Isotopic Evidence from Whitehall Farm and Early Medieval England
Pre-Honours level (years 1-2 undergraduate):
- Archaeology 1B (contributor)
- The Human Skeleton in Archaeology and Forensic Science (contributor)
Honours level (years 3-4 undergraduate):
- GIS for Archaeologists (ARCA10086) (course organiser)
- Mariners, Monks and Mobility: the archaeology of the early medieval Atlantic Archipelago (ARCA10096) (course organiser)
- GIS and Spatial Analysis for Archaeologists (PGHC11460) (course organiser)
- Mariners, Monks and Mobility: the archaeology of the early medieval Atlantic Archipelago (PGHC11546) (course organiser)
|Name||Degree||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Link|
|Monique de Pace||PhD|| |
|Geoffrey Edgson||PhD|| |
|Daniel Claggett||PhD (Flinders University)||A Review of the Development of Metallurgical Technologies in Northern Europe and its Influence on Maritime Technologies, 750 – 1500 CE||Secondary (external)||LINK|
Currently accepting research student applications : Yes
Areas accepting Research Students in:
- (Early) medieval archaeology
- Biomolecular archaeology
- Computational archaeology (Bayesian methods and meta-analysis especially)
My full publication and research record can be viewed at: https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/en/persons/sam-leggett
Strand L.M., Leggett S. and Skar B. (2022) Multi-Isotope Variation Reveals Social Complexity in Viking Age Norway. iScience. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.105225.
Leggett S. (2022) A hierarchical meta-analytical approach to western European dietary transitions in the first millennium AD. European Journal of Archaeology. https://doi.org/10.1017/eaa.2022.23
Leggett S., Hakenbeck S. and O'Connell T.C. (2022 - Pre-print) Large-scale Isotopic Data Reveal Gendered Migration into early medieval England c AD 400-1100. OSF Preprints. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/jzfv6
Leggett S. and Lambert T.B. (2022) Food and Power in Early Medieval England: a lack of (isotopic) enrichment. Anglo-Saxon England. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0263675122000072.
Lambert T.B. and Leggett S. (2022) Food and Power in Early Medieval England: Rethinking Feorm. Anglo-Saxon England. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0263675122000084.
Leggett S. and Praet E. (2022). “Carbon, nitrogen and oxygen isotope analysis of human and animal remains.” In: C. Chinnock (ed.) A Bronze Age barrow and Anglo-Saxon cemetery: Archaeological excavations on land adjacent to Upthorpe Road, Stanton, Suffolk. Northampton: MOLA Monograph Series.
Leggett S. (2021) Migration and cultural integration in the early medieval cemetery of Finglesham, Kent through stable isotopes. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 13:171. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-021-01429-7.
Leggett S., Rose A., Praet E., Le Roux P. (2021) Multi-tissue and Multi-isotope (δ13C, δ15N, δ18O and 87/86Sr) data for Early Medieval Human Palaeoecology. Ecology 102(6): e03349. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3349.
Leggett S. (2021) Grey Literature report for MOLA Northampton (full publication in prep): Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Strontium Isotope Analysis of Human and Animal Bone Collagen, Dentine and Tooth Enamel from the Early Medieval Cemetery at Ketton Quarry, Rutland.
Damman, L and Leggett S. (eds.) (2018) The Others: Deviants, Outcasts and Outsiders in Archaeology Archaeological Review from Cambridge 33(2).
Leggett, S. and Damman, L. (2018) Introduction. In: Damman, L and Leggett S. (eds.) The Others: Deviants, Outcasts and Outsiders in Archaeology Archaeological Review from Cambridge 33(2): 3-10.
Leggett, S. (2017) The Power of Place – Colonisation of the Anglo-Saxon Landscape by Royal and Religious Ideologies (An Archaeological Perspective). Journal of Literary Onomastics 6(1): Article 7.