Skip to main content

Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies

Photo of Professor Oliver Creighton

Professor Oliver Creighton

Professor of Archaeology


01392 724397


Oliver Creighton is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Exeter. He is also President of the Society for Medieval Archaeology.

Prof. Creighton's research and publications focus primarily on the archaeology of medieval Britain and Europe (for a list of key books, book chapters and articles, click the ‘Publications’ tab). Oliver’s work has a strong interdisciplinary dimension and he has a particular interest in medieval elite culture, buildings and landscapes. He has published widely on medieval castles and their wider social and landscape contexts, as well as other fortifications, including town and city walls. Oliver is also interested in the archaeology and history of designed landscapes, towns and townscapes, and in conflict archaeology and medieval warfare.

Oliver was the Principal Investigator for a major AHRC-funded project on the archaeology of medieval warhorses: for the project website see:

Oliver is the Co-Investigator of 'Where Power Lies', an AHRC-funded research project run in conjunction with Newcastle University that is mapping and investigating Saxo-Norman power centres. See

Back to top


Oliver Creighton researches and publishes in the following fields:

Medieval castles and elite culture

Oliver has a long-term research interest in the study of medieval castles within their broader landscape and social contexts and in the impact of lordship upon society and landscape.  His first book was Castles and Landscapes (2002), now available as a second edition (Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England, 2005) in paperback.

A more recent publication that explores the wider European context of early castle building is Early European Castles: Aristocracy and Authority, AD800-1200 (2012). Oliver has also published a concise guide to the subject with R.A. Higham, Medieval Castles (2003), as well as numerous other journal articles and papers in edited volumes. He continues to pursue new approaches to the study of castles, with particular emphasis on their social and symbolic roles.

A linked research project, funded by a Leverhulme Trust grant, was the first ever archaeological study of the 'Anarchy' of King Stephen’s reign on the landscape. This has produced two books: The Anarchy: Conflict and Landscape in 12th-Century England (2016) and Castles, Siegeworks and Settlements: Surveying the Archaeology of the Twelfth Century (2016), as well as a series of journal articles. Read a blog on these publications here.

Oliver is the Principal Investigator for a major AHRC-funded project on the archaeology of medieval warhorses: for the project website see:

Landscape archaeology (especially ‘designed’ and elite landscapes)

The phrase ‘designed landscape’ is generally associated with the great parks and gardens of the post-medieval period. But can the concept of landscape design by traced back before the Renaissance? Oliver’s 2009 monograph Designs upon the Land: Elite Landscapes of the Middle Ages explores how elite landscapes of the medieval period were manipulated for reasons of leisure, pleasure and visual impact.

Medieval urbanism and townscapes

The archaeology, heritage and social history of town defences is another central theme within Oliver’s research. Along with Exeter colleague Robert Higham, Oliver published the first volume of research on the subject for over thirty years, Medieval Town Defences: A Social History and Archaeology (2005).

Oliver was also a co-director of a major AHRC-funded research project that investigated the historic townscape of Wallingford in Oxfordshire. Working with the Universities of Leicester and Oxford, the project culminated in the 2013 volume published in the Society for Medieval Archaeology Monographs Series Transforming Townscapes. From Burh to Borough: The archaeology of Wallingford, AD 800–1400. Oliver is interested in the origins and functions of open space within medieval towns and led the first ever geophysical survey of Exeter's Cathedral Green.

Archaeological heritage and heritage management

Oliver also researches in the field of archaeological heritage management, with a particular interest in buildings and landscapes. He co-directed the AHRC-funded project Community and Landscape: Transforming Access to the Heritage of the Poltimore Estate. Running from 2010–12, this knowledge exchange project promoted public involvement with the rich and multi-layered heritage of a country estate in the Exeter region. Learn more about the Poltimore House Trust by following this link.

Back to top


Professor Creighton supervises postgraduate research students working in the following areas: medieval archaeology; castle studies; landscape archaeology; medieval towns; buildings archaeology; conflict archaeology; and designed landscapes.

Research students

Oliver is currently first supervisor for the following research students:

2019–present: Crystal Hollis, PhD, Interpreting Historic Graffiti in the Risbridge Hundred.

2019–present: Helene Benkert, PhD, Medieval Horse Remains from Continental Europe.

2018–present: Eleanor March, PhD, The Landscape of Tewkesbury Abbey.

2018–present: Alison Norton, PhD, GIS Analysis of Castle Landscapes in South-west England.

2017–present: Carole Lomas, PhD, Early Churches in Somerset.

2017–present: Charlotte Vendome-Gardner, PhD, Flute-Playing Landscapes in the USA.

Graduated research students

Oliver has supervised the following students through to completion:

2019: Richard Parker, PhD, Nineteenth-century Churches, Church Furnishings and Church Restoration in Devon, 1800-1939: A Study of the Impact of the Ecclesiological Movement in an English County.

2019: Eddie Procter, PhD (second supervisor), The Topographical Legacy of the Medieval Monastery: Evolving Perceptions and Realities of Monastic Landscapes in the Southern Welsh Marches.

2019: Joanne Pye, PhD (second supervisor), Cornish Place-Names in the Landscape.

2019: Mandy Kingdom, PhD (second supervisor), The Past People of Exeter: Health and Status in the Middle Ages.

2018: Richard Nevell, PhD, The Archaeology of Castle Slighting in the Middle Ages.

2017: Robert Clark, PhD, Landscape, Memory and Secrecy: The Cold War Archaeology of the Royal Observer Corps.

2017: David Gould, PhD, Mutually Assured Construction: Æthelflæd’s burhs, Landscapes of Defence and the Physical Legacy of the Unification of England, 899-1016.

2017: David Stone, PhD, Rabbit Warrens of South-West England: Landscape Context, Socio-Economic Significance and Symbolism.

2017: Madeleine Knibb, PhD (second supervisor), Speaking for Themselves: The Significance of Field-names in Understanding a Diverse Historic Landscape in Somerset.

2016: Hayley Foster, PhD (second supervisor), A Zooarchaeological Study of Changing Meat Supply and Butchery Practices at Medieval Castles in England.

2015: Jacqueline Veninger, PhD, Archaeological Landscapes of Conflict in Twelfth-Century Gwynedd.

2015: Gill Cobley, MPhil (second supervisor), Devon's Antiquarians: Identifying what has been Lost from the Archaeological Record.

2014: Kate Mees, PhD (second supervisor), The Early Medieval Funerary Reuse of Prehistoric and Romano-British Landscapes in Wessex.

2012: Margaret Wilby, MPhil, Control, Co-Operation and Conflict: An Interdisciplinary Study of Later Medieval Urban Water Management in Britain, AD 1066–1540.

2012: Katherine Hollinghurst, MRes, Anglo-Norman Monastic Landscapes in Wales.

2011: Michael Fradley, PhD, The New in the Old: Urban Castles in Britain.

2011: Imogen Wood, PhD, Changing the Fabric of Society: Ceramics in Early Medieval Cornwall.

2011: Martin Goffriller, PhD, The Castles of Mallorca: Territorial Control on an Islamic Island.

2010: Samuel Walls, PhD, The Materiality of Remembrance: 20th-Century War Memorials in Devon.

2010: Simon Foote, PhD, Early Medieval Urbanism in South-West England.

2006: Adam Wainwright, PhD (co-supervisor), Created Landscapes: Using the Past in Post-Medieval Designed Landscapes.

Back to top


Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| To Appear | 2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2000 | 1998 |

To Appear

  • Pryor A, Ameen C, Outram A, Creighton O, et. A. Isotopic biographies reveal horse rearing and trading networks in medieval London, Science Advances.




  • CREIGHTON OLIVER. (2022) Lincoln Castle Revealed. The Story of a Norman Powerhouse and its Anglo-Saxon Precursor, MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY, volume 66, no. 1, pages 208-209. [PDF]



  • Fenwick C, Carman J, Cummings V, Carman J, Insoll T, Breen C, Rhodes D, Routledge B, Moreland J, O’Keeffe T. (2020) Early Islamic North Africa, Bloomsbury Academic, DOI:10.5040/9781350075221.


  • Barrett JC, Boyd MJ, Carman J, Cummings V, Carman J, Insoll T, Breen C, Rhodes D, Routledge B, Moreland J. (2019) From Stonehenge to Mycenae, Bloomsbury Academic, DOI:10.5040/9781474291927.
  • Creighton OH. (2019) Constructing chivalric landscapes: aristocratic spaces between image and reality, A Companion to Chivalry, Boydell Press, 187-218.
  • Creighton O. (2019) Contested townscapes: the walled city as world heritage, A Museum Studies Approach to Heritage, Routledge, 736-745.


  • Creighton O. (2018) 1066 and the landscape, 1066 in Perspective, The Royal Armouries, 213-237.
  • Creighton OH. (2018) Castles, settlement and lordship: re-shaping English landscapes, L'Incastellamento: Storia e Archeologia a 40 Anni da Les Structures di Pierre Toubert, Fondazione Centro Italiano di Studi Sull’alto Medioevo, 233-255.
  • Creighton OH. (2018) Overview: castles and elite landscapes, The Oxford Handbook of Later Medieval Archaeology in Britain, Oxford University Press, 355-370.
  • Creighton OH. (2018) The development of medieval castles, Exploring and Teaching Medieval History in Schools, The Historical Association, 28-32.


  • Christie N, Creighton O, Edgeworth M. (2017) Investigating the Townscape and Hinterland: Methods and Sources, Transforming Townscapes, Taylor & Francis, 15-44, DOI:10.4324/9781351191432-2.
  • Creighton OH, Wright DW. (2017) Castles, Siegeworks and Settlements: Surveying the Archaeology of the Twelfth Century, Archaeopress Archaeology. [PDF]
  • Creighton OH, Rippon S. (2017) Conquest, colonisation and the countryside: archaeology and the mid-11th- to mid-12th-century rural landscape, Archaeology and the Norman Conquest, Society for Medieval Archaeology.



  • Creighton OH, Wright DW, Fradley M, Trick S. (2015) Fieldwork in conflict landscapes: surveying the archaeology of ‘the Anarchy', Medieval Archaeology, volume 59, pages 313-319.
  • Creighton OH. (2015) Landscapes of power: looking in, looking out in the medieval Mediterranean, Living in the Landscape: Essays in Honour of Graeme Barker, McDonald Institute, 287-298.
  • Creighton OH. (2015) Castle, landscape and townscape in thirteenth-century England: Wallingford, Oxfordshire and the ‘princely building strategies’ of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, Rank and Order. The Formation of Aristocratic Elites in Western and Central Europe, 500-1500, Jan Thorbecke Verlag, 309-341.



  • Christie N, Creighton O, Edgeworth M. (2013) Wallingford: Place, Space, and Defence, Landscapes of Defence in Early Medieval Europe, Brepols Publishers NV, 111-127, DOI:10.1484/m.sem-eb.1.100876.
  • Creighton OH, Cunningham P, French H. (2013) Peopling polite landscapes: community and heritage at Poltimore, Devon, Landscapes, volume 34, no. 2, pages 61-85.
  • Creighton OH, Liddiard R. (2013) Fighting yesterday’s battle: beyond war or status in castle studies, Medieval Archaeology, volume 52, no. 2008, pages 161-169, DOI:10.1179/174581708x335477.


  • Creighton OH. (2010) Room with a view: framing castle landscapes, Chateau Gaillard, volume 24, no. 2010, pages 37-49.



  • CREIGHTON O. (2008) A Place to Believe in: Locating Medieval Landscapes Edited by Clare A. Lees and Gillian R. Overing, History, volume 93, no. 310, pages 261-262, DOI:10.1111/j.1468-229x.2008.423_7.x.
  • Creighton OH. (2008) Castle studies and archaeology in England: towards a research framework for the future, Château Gaillard, Etudes de Castellologie Medievale, volume 23, pages 79-90.
  • Creighton OH, Liddiard R. (2008) Fighting yesterday’s battle: beyond war or status in castle studies, Medieval Archaeology, volume 52, pages 161-169.
  • Creighton OH. (2008) Castle studies and archaeology in England: towards a research framework for the future, Chateau Gaillard, volume 23, no. 2008, pages 79-90.


  • Creighton OH. (2007) Contested townscapes: the walled city as world heritage, World Archaeology, volume 39, no. 3, pages 339-354, DOI:10.1080/00438240701464822.
  • Creighton OH, Barker G, Mattingly D. (2007) Recording and classifying the archaeological record, Archaeology and Desertification: the degradation and well-being of the Wadi Faynan Landscape, Southern Jordan, Council for British Research in the Levant, 97-140.
  • Barker, G.W., Mattingly, D.M.. (2007) The archaeological survey: the wider landscape, The Wadi Faynan Landscape Survey.
  • Creighton OH. (2007) Town defences and the making of urban landscapes, The Making of the British Landscape: Medieval.


  • Freeman JP. (2006) Putting fortification in its place: castles and the medieval landscape of the south west, Unravelling an Ancient Countryside: The Landscape of the South West.
  • Bruce D. (2006) Contested identities: the dissonant heritage of European town walls and walled towns, International Journal of Heritage Studies, volume 12, no. 3, pages 234-254, DOI:10.1080/13527250600604498.
  • Creighton OH. (2006) Castles of Communities: Medieval Town Defences in England, Wales & Gascony, Château Gaillard, Etudes de Castellologie Medievale XXI, Caen, CRAHM, 75-86.



  • Creighton OH. (2004) 'The Rich Man in His Castle, the Poor Man at His Gate’: Castle Baileys and Medieval Settlements in England, Château Gaillard, Etudes de Castellologie Medievale XXI, Caen, CRAHM, 25-36.
  • Christie NJ, O Sullivan D. (2004) The Wallingford burh to borough research project: 2003 interim report, South Midlands Archaeology, volume 34, pages 94-102.
  • Higham RA. (2004) Castle studies and the ‘landscape’ agenda, Landscape History, volume 26, pages 1-18.


  • Creighton OH. (2003) Medieval settlements and settlement study in the South West, Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report, volume 18, pages 5-6.
  • Creighton OH. (2003) Castles, lordship and settlement in Norman England and Wales, History Today, volume 53, no. 4, pages 12-19.
  • Christie NJ, O Sullivan D. (2003) Wallingford burh to borough research project: first interim report, South Midlands Archaeology, volume 33, pages 105-113.
  • Christie NJ, O Sullivan D. (2003) The Wallingford burh to borough research project: 2003 fieldwork, Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report, volume 18, pages 9-13.


  • Creighton OH. (2002) Castles and Landscapes, Continuum Books.
  • Christie NJ, O Sullivan D. (2002) The Wallingford burh to borough research project, Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report, volume 17, pages 43-46.
  • Higham RA, Creighton OH. (2002) Medieval Castles.



Back to top


Oliver contributes to teaching in the Department at all levels, from first year Undergraduates to Masters students. His teaching covers British archaeology, aspects of archaeological methodology (such as geophysics and landscape analysis) and specialist thematic modules on medieval castles and the social archaeology of medieval Britain. He also teaches on the Masters in Medieval Studies.

Modules taught

Back to top


Born in Wiltshire, Oliver attended Kingdown Comprehensive School. He gained his BA (Combined Honours Archaeology and Geography, First Class) from the University of Exeter and his Masters (Landscape Archaeology, Distinction; British Academy Scholarship) from the University of Leicester. His PhD (on castles and landscapes in central and northern England; British Academy Scholarship) was also based at the University of Leicester and awarded in 1998.

After a first Lectureship at the University of Wales, Oliver arrived at the University of Exeter in 1999, first as Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, then Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Professor in 2014.

Oliver was elected elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2006.

Back to top

 Edit profile