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Professor Duncan Sayer

Professor of Archaeology, Director of the UCLan Research Centre for Field Archaeology and Forensic Taphonomy
School of Natural Sciences

Professor Duncan Sayer is a leading expert in historical archaeology and has a particular interest in early medieval cemeteries, migration, death, burial and ethics. Duncan has lead field work projects for over 20 year, most recently these have included Oakington early Anglo-Saxon cemetery and Ribchester Roman fort. As a result Duncan is currently collaborating with DNA labs in Harvard and Max Planck to put together one of the largest ancient DNA projects in Europe.

Duncan teaches a range of subjects including early medieval/post Roman Europe, death and the dead body and theoretical archaeology. He is the Director of the UCLan Research Centre for Field Archaeology and Forensic Taphonomy. Duncan’s books include 'Ethics and Burial Archaeology' (published by Bloomsbury) 'Mortuary Practice and Social Identity' (Liverpool University Press) and most recently 'Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries: Kinship, community and identity', published by Manchester University Press and available Open Access.

He is also an editor for the book series ‘Social Archaeology and Material Worlds’, Manchester University Press.

In 2017 Professor Sayer was a Visiting Associate Professor to the Faculty of the Arts and Humanities at the Australian National University. He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath, and has presented at international conferences all over the world. Duncan has been invited to present at research seminars in Germany, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Australia, Ireland and the USA.

He has run conferences for the Association for the Study of Death and Society, The Society of Medieval Archaeology and as part of an interdisciplinary network looking at the cultural encounters with the corpse. In fact, one of The first things Duncan did after his undergraduate degree was co-organdie a conference looking at Public Archaeology in the 20st century, we had over 250 delegates.

His research projects have been funded by Historic England, Leverhulme, the ESRC, IFR and ANU as well as HEFC via the Dimond research facility.

Duncan has appeared on BBC4’s ‘Digging for Britain’ in shows first broadcast in 2017, 2016 and 2015 and widely repeated since. These shows focus on the excavation at Oakington and Ribchester. He also appeared on BBC2’s ‘The Truth About King Arthur’ (2018) which looked at ancient DNA and migration evidence from early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, He has been interviewed for number of news items including ITV Look East and other local TV and radio programmes.

As an avid fan of BBC Radio 4 his Personal highlights have include an interview on BBC World Service Europe Today (live 4th Feb 2011); BBC Radio 4 Material World (live 14th Oct 2010); BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed (live 14th Oct 2009) in a programme on Modern Day Grave Goods 

  • PhD in Archaeology, University of Reading
  • MA Death and Society, University of Reading (with distinction)
  • BA (hons) Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield
  • 2015 Students Union ‘We Heart U’ award for teaching and student support
  • 2012 Livesey Fellow, University of Central Lancashire
  • 2011 Award for Excellence in Research-Informed Learning and Teaching

Modules Taught

  • FZ1205 - Bones, Bodies and Burial
  • FZ2215 - The Archaeology of Death and the Dead Body
  • FZ3215 - The Archaeology of Death and the Dead Body
  • FZ2206 - Thinking about the past: Archaeological Theory
  • FZ3218 - Themes in British Archaeology 2
  • FZ4206 - Approaches to Archaeology
  • Field Archaeology
  • Field Work Pedagogy
  • Death Burial and the Body
  • Ethics and Archaeology
  • Research Ethics in Business,
  • Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Early Medieval Migration
  • Archaeology of Family kinship and Identity
  • early Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries
  • Post Roman Archaeology
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists
  • Hon Treasurer for The Society for Medieval Archaeology
  • Founding member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society
  • Member of the European Association of Archaeologists
  • Elected Member of Sachsensymposium
  • Member of Royal Archaeological Institute
  • Member of British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology