Skip to content

About Dr Thomas Pickles

My monograph, Kingship, Society, and the Church in Anglo-Saxon Yorkshire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018) explored the social dynamics of religious conversion and church building in the kingdom of the Deirans (modern Yorkshire), AD 400-1066. I am the Principal Investigator of an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project called Early Christian Churches and Landscapes.

After completing my BA in History, Master of Studies in Historical Research, and Doctorate at Wadham College, University of Oxford, I worked as a Fellow by Special Election and Lecturer at St Catherine’s College, Oxford from 2005-2009, a Lecturer at the University of York from 2009-2012, and a Lecturer at Birkbeck from 2012-2013, before arriving at Chester in 2013.



  • Europe and the Wider World: Turning Points in History, 1000-2000
  • The Mystery of History
  • Constructing History
  • The Crusades, 1095-1204
  • History at Work
  • The Vikings – A Local-Global Diaspora
  • The Norman Conquest, 1066-1154
  • History Dissertation


  • Research Methods and Skills in History
  • Approaches to Historiography
  • The Power of the Court


My research focuses on social organization and religious belief AD 400-1200. It combines the study of historical sources with archaeological sites, church buildings, stone sculpture, and place-names. To explore this period I regularly work with a wide range of historical sources including histories, charters, wills, homilies, penitentials, Domesday Book, medieval cartularies, medieval bishops' registers, and antiquarian writings. Moreover, a wider European context informs my study of Britain.

Editorial Positions

I am General Editor for the Brepols series Studies in the Early Middle Ages:

The series focuses on Western Europe in the Early Middle Ages and covers work in the areas of history, literature, archaeology, art history, and religious studies. The series aims to bring together current scholarship on early medieval Britain with scholarship on western mainland Europe and Viking Scandinavia, more traditionally studied separately or in terms of the interaction of discrete cultures and areas.

Research Projects

Corpus Architecturae Religiosae Europeae (CARE) and Early Christian Churches and Landscapes (ECCLES)

I am part of a pan-European research network, Corpus Architecturae Religiosae Europeae (CARE) investigating the evidence for pre-Romanesque churches. I am Principal Investigator for an Arts and Humanities funded project within CARE called Early Christian Churches and Landscapes (ECCLES), to investigate the evidence for the Isles (Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England), through collaboration with Dr Sally Foster (University of Stirling), Prof. Nancy Edwards (Bangor University), and Dr Tomás Ó Carragáin (University College Cork).

Research Supervision

I have supervised a huge range of successful BA and MA dissertations on the Earlier Middle Ages (400-1200).

I co-supervised an Oxford doctoral project on texts, place-names, and attitudes to place and space in early medieval England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

I supervised the first John Doran Memorial Scholar, Ms Dale Copley, researching a doctorate on Insult in Orderic Vitalis.

I would particularly welcome approaches from potential MA and doctoral students in interested in inter-disciplinary research on Britain in the period 400-1100.

Areas of MRes and MPhil/PhD Supervision

  • Medieval Britain, AD 400-1200
  • Social organisation
  • Religious beliefs and institutions
  • Historical Writing
  • Settlement archaeology
  • Material culture - especially stone sculpture
  • Place-names

Published Work


Pickles, Thomas, ‘The Liberty of Whitby Strand: The Origins and Significance of a Jurisdictional Immunity’, The English Historical Review (accepted, in press, 2023).

Pickles, Thomas, ‘The Christian Landscape of Early Medieval Chester and Wirral’, in Sharon M. Varey and Graeme J. White (eds), Looking at the Landscape: Glimpses into the History of Cheshire and Beyond (Chester: University of Chester Press, 2022).

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Conclusion: Why did some objects become more mobile, 1000-1700?’, in Katherine Wilson and Leah Clarke (eds), The Mobility of Objects Across Boundaries (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2022), pp. 267-284.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Were Early Medieval Lists Bureaucratic? The Whitby Abbot’s Book, Folios 1r-4v’, Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften (Austrian Journal of Historical Studies), 32 (3) (2021), pp. 66-90.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘The Social History of a Medieval Fish Weir, c. 600-2020’, Social History, 46 (4) (2021), pp. 349-371.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Why should we write about Anglo-Saxon farms and farming?’, Early Medieval Europe, 29 (3) (2020), pp. 466-482.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Conversion, Ritual and Landscape: Streoneshalh (Whitby), Osingadun, and the Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Street House, North Yorkshire’, in Meg Boulton and Michael D. J. Bintley (eds), Insular Iconographies: Essays in Honour of Jane Hawkes (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2019), pp. 81-100. 

Pickles, Thomas, Kingship, Society, and the Church in Anglo-Saxon Yorkshire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Pickles, Thomas, ‘The Historiography of Anglo-Saxon Conversion: the state of the art’, in R. Flechner and M. Ní Mhaonaigh (eds), From Paganism to Christianity in the Insular World, Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), 61-92.

Streanaeshalch (Whitby), its satellite churches and its estates’, in T. Ó Carragáin and S. Turner (eds), Making Christian Landscapes in Atlantic Europe. Conversion and Consolidation in the Early Middle Ages (Cork: University of Cork Press, 2016), 265-76.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Introduction and Context: Cathedrals and Monasteries c. 600-c. 1100’, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Church: The Church and property’, ‘Lastingham Priory’, and ‘Whitby Abbey’, in D. Dyas (ed.), English Cathedrals and Monasteries through the Centuries: Interactive DVD (York: University of York, 2013).

Pickles, Thomas, Power, Religious Patronage and Pastoral Care: Religious Communities, Mother Parishes and Local Churches in Ryedale, c. 650-c. 1250, The Kirkdale Lecture, 2009 (York: Friends of Kirkdale, 2012).

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Anglo-Saxon Monasteries as Sacred Places: Topography, Exegesis and Vocation’, in P. Thomas and J. Sterrett (eds), Sacred Text - Sacred Space (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011), pp. 35-55.

Pickles, Thomas, and John Blair, ‘Deantune and Bishopstone: The estate and the church under the Mercian kings and the South Saxon bishops’, in G. Thomas (ed.), The later Anglo-Saxon settlement at Bishopstone. A downland manor in the making, Council for British Archaeology Research Report 163 (York: CBA, 2010), pp. 17-22.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Church: The Church and property’ and ‘The Anglo-Saxon Church: Minster parishes and the development of local churches’, in D. Dyas (ed.), The English Parish Church Through the Centuries: Interactive CD-ROM (York: University of York, 2010).

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Chapter 11: Church Organisation and Pastoral Care’, in P. Stafford (ed.), A Companion to the Early Middle Ages: Britain and Ireland c. 500-c. 1100 (Oxford: Blackwells, 2009), pp. 160-76.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Biscopes-tūn, muneca-tūn and prēosta-tūn: dating, significance and distribution’, in E. Quinton (ed.), The Church in English Place-Names, English Place-Name Society Extra Series 4 (Nottingham: EPNS, 2009), pp. 39-108.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Angel Veneration on Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture from Dewsbury (WY), Otley (WY) and Halton (La): Contemplative Preachers and Pastoral Care’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 162 (2009), pp. 1-28.

Pickles, Thomas, ‘Locating Ingetlingum and Suthgedling: Gilling West and Gilling East’, Northern History, XLVI:2 (2009), pp. 313-25.


MA (Oxford), M.St. (Oxford), D.Phil. (Oxford), PG CAP (York), Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.