Dr Alexander Langlands

I am an archaeologist and historian specialising in the early medieval period but with interests across British landscape history, from the Bronze Age through to the Second World War. My particular areas of research look at developments in the Anglo-Saxon landscape, from the fall of Roman Britain to the eve of the Domesday Book and the Norman Conquest. I am also interested in the topography of early medieval towns and proto-urban development from the ninth to the eleventh centuries. I have developed a strong GIS-orientated approach to landscape interpretation and heritage management and in recent years I have worked with Ordnance Survey exploring methods for assessing the historic character of landscapes and understanding temporality in both landscapes and the mapped and digital data relating to them.

I have over six years’ experience working as a field archaeologist on commercial and research excavations across Britain and Europe. I have also worked in the broadcast media as a presenter and producer for BBC Two and Channel 4, including Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm, one of the most successful history television brands on BBC Two, achieving regular viewing figures of over 3 million but peaking at 5.9 million viewers. I have co-authored a Sunday Times Bestseller in the Hard-back Non-Fiction category, been nominated for British Broadcast Awards in category of Best Factual Programme and presented in a BBC Two series winning the prestigious Learning on Screen Award given by the British Universities Film & Video Council. As an independent heritage professional I continue to consult on a range of heritage related projects and feature in broadcast productions for BBC Two.

Areas of Expertise

  • Medieval history
  • Medieval archaeology
  • Landscape history
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Broadcast media

Publications

  1. The Ancient Ways of Wessex: Travel and Communication in an Early Medieval Landscape. Oxford: Windgather.
  2. Concepts of the 'local' in Anglo-Saxon Wessex. In J. Escalona Monge, O. Vésteinsson and S. Brookes (Ed.), Polity and Neighbourhood in Early Medieval Europe. Turnhout: Brepols.
  3. Travel as communication: A Consideration of Overland Journeys in Anglo-Saxon England. World Archaeology 43(3), 410-427.
  4. Placing the burh in Searobyrig: Rethinking the urban topography of early medieval Salisbury. Wiltshire Archaeology and Natural History Magazine 107, 91-105.
  5. Swanborough Tump. Wiltshire Archaeology and Natural History Magazine 94, 249-267.

See more...

Teaching

  • HI-M80 Directed Reading in History

    Under the guidance of an expert supervisor, students analyse developments in research and historiography relating to a topic in History which they choose from a wide range of options.

  • HIH117 Medieval Europe: an introduction

    The module is a basic introduction to the history of Europe c600-c1450, a period usually described as 'Medieval'. It outlines the political and economic structures of the period, and examines the medieval 'world view' by discussing attitudes to life, death and the afterlife. Its first theme, expansion, charts the growth of Europe as a major world power and includes topics such as the crusades against the Muslims and pagans, political and economic growth, and intellectual development in the foundation of the universities. Its second theme, crisis, focuses on the devastating impact of plague, famine and warfare, and the increasing persecution of heretics, lepers, homosexuals, and Jews.

  • HIH122 Making History

    History is an imprecise art and what historians say and write about the past is not the same as what actually happened in the past. Most people's knowledge about the past doesn't come from professional historians at all but rather from 'public history'. Public history is the collective understandings of the past that exist outside academic discipline of history. It is derived from a diverse range of sources including oral traditions, legends, literature, art, films and television. This module will introduce you to the study and presentation of the past. It will consider how the content, aims and methods of academic and public history compare and contrast and you will engage in your own small research project to investigate this. The module will also teach you about the fundamentals of studying and writing history at university. You will learn about essay writing, group work and critical analysis and employ these skills to understand and assess history today, both as an academic activity and as public knowledge.

  • HIH237 The Practice of History

    The purpose of the module is to encourage you to think more deeply about how historians work and, in particular, about how we as historians can locate and use primary historical sources effectively as a means of interpreting and understanding the past. During the module we will learn about the survival of historical evidence, how it is organised and made accessible to historians to undertake their research, and how to effectively locate and interpret it in your studies. We will consider how the process of doing historical research changes over time, in particular with the impact of recent developments like digitization. At the core of the module will be the work you undertake with others in your seminar group using a range of primary sources which your seminar tutor will introduce to you. As part of the module assessment you will also undertake your own primary source based research project using items from these collections. The module is designed strengthen your analytical skills and to help prepare you for the more extensive uses of primary evidence which you will encounter in final year special subjects and dissertation.

  • HIH276 Anglo-Saxon and Viking-Age England

    Between the eighth and the eleventh centuries England was subjected to an almost relentless onslaught of Viking raids and invasions. This titanic clash between the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and the Danish armies who sought to commandeer their lands was to have a profound effect on the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the period. This module will provide an overview of the key historical and archaeological debates concerning the impact of Viking activity in England. From the earliest chance raids of the eighth century, through the collapse of the European Age of Emporia in the ninth, to the founding of the Danish kingdom of the Danelaw and the ascendency of the Danish kings to the English throne in the eleventh century, the module will evaluate how the Viking incursions had both a catastrophic effect on society in some areas of England but also served as a stimulus to economic developments in others. The legacy of these centuries was the birth of a state infrastructure, a system of effective governance and a developing economy that was the envy of the wider European.

  • HIH3300 History Dissertation

    The History dissertation is a free-standing, 40-credit module that runs across both semesters of Level Three. Candidates conduct research upon a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of staff teaching for the degrees in History, and concerning a topic that falls within staff research and teaching interests.

  • HIH3355 The Crucible of Defeat: Wessex in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries 1

    During the ninth century Viking armies wrought havoc across Northern Europe; raiding, pillaging and seeking new land with which to pay off their mercenary war bands. England was taken, as one commentator put it, in to 'The crucible of defeat'. Only one of the English kingdoms ¿ Wessex ¿ managed to hold out against this near relentless onslaught and as the tenth century dawned, it was to find itself the dominant force in the British Isles. Whilst this module will explore the narrative sources for this remarkable turnaround in fortunes, its primary aim will be to set one of English history¿s most popular stories in its proper academic context. Themes that will be studied in depth in this module will be the broader cultural assimilation across the medieval west, the rise of literacy, the emergence of complex societies and state formation, governance, civil defense and developments in urbanism and the economy of northern Europe. This module will provoke critical readings of traditional narrative sources, provide a broad chronological understanding of England in the ninth and tenth centuries and encourage the full interdisciplinary study of this formative period in our island¿s history.

  • HIH3356 The Crucible of Defeat: Wessex in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries 2

    During the ninth century Viking armies wrought havoc across Northern Europe; raiding, pillaging and seeking new land with which to pay off their mercenary war bands. England was taken, as one commentator put it, in to 'The crucible of defeat'. Only one of the English kingdoms ¿ Wessex ¿ managed to hold out against this near relentless onslaught and as the tenth century dawned, it was to find itself the dominant force in the British Isles. Whilst this module will explore the narrative sources for this remarkable turnaround in fortunes, its primary aim will be to set one of English history¿s most popular stories in its proper academic context. Themes that will be studied in depth in this module will be the broader cultural assimilation across the medieval west, the rise of literacy, the emergence of complex societies and state formation, governance, civil defense and developments in urbanism and the economy of northern Europe. This module will provoke critical readings of traditional narrative sources, provide a broad chronological understanding of England in the ninth and tenth centuries and encourage the full interdisciplinary study of this formative period in our island¿s history.

  • HIH3357 Mapping Medieval Landscapes

    In the understanding of medieval societies there is an increasing emphasis on the study of their social and economic landscapes. From the development of towns and patterns of land-use, to the locations of battles and other major historical events recorded in annals or charters, analysing data in a spatial context ¿ the act of `mapping¿ ¿ and relating it to other environmental and cultural information has the capacity to yield new understandings about the periods and places we study. From simple location and distribution maps, to more complex renderings of temporality and space, this module will provide students with a firm grounding in the techniques of digital mapping, cartography and spatial analysis and will allow for the exploration of a particular landscape during a period of your choice in a level of unprecedented depth and detail. The module will invite you to critique the process of mapping and to think about the validity of mapped data whilst at the same time giving you an invaluable insight into how a rich variety of contextual data can be integrated with historic evidence and presented in mapped form.

  • HIHD00 Heritage Dissertation (Practice-Based)

    This module affords students the opportunity to complete their MA in Heritage by undertaking a practical heritage project. The project, worth 67% of the marks, may be undertaken independently, or via a placement with a heritage project or organisation. It will be accompanied by a reflective commentary worth 33% of the marks.

  • HIHD01 Heritage Dissertation (Written)

    Students produce a dissertation on a heritage topic, chosen and developed in conjunction with their supervisor in line with the standard College MA requirements.

  • HIHM04 Heritage Work Placement

    This module enables students to gain practical experience of working with a heritage organisation or project in a graduate-level role. Placements may involve the acquisition of skills in museum work, community projects, heritage interpretation and policy (but are not restricted to these areas). Group discussion and individual tutorials will support students in preparing an extended essay reflecting on their work experience in the context of literature on heritage and public history.

  • HIMM01 Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 1: Skills and Approaches

    This module introduces students to recent and current trends in medieval studies, to the research skills required for MA-level research, and to the medieval heritage of South Wales and the surrounding region. Seminars will consider the nature of medieval sources and texts, and a selection of themes that have made a significant impact upon medieval studies in recent years.

  • HIMM04 Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 2: Themes and Sources

    This module aims to apply the skills and approaches learned in the module HIMM01: Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 1: Skills and Approaches to a range of important themes in Medieval Studies, including gender, identity, laws and customs, spirituality, heritage. The module is interdisciplinary and draws on historical, literary and visual sources. The content of the module will be arranged in 2-weekly blocks, with the first week in each block dedicated to introducing students to the specific theme and the second week being used as a practical application of this knowledge to a source or text.

  • HIMM06 Directed Reading in Medieval Studies

    Under the guidance of an expert supervisor, students analyse developments in research and either historiography or literary criticism, relating to a topic in Medieval Studies which they choose from a wide range of options.

Supervision

  • Mapping the Historic Landscape Character of the South Wales Region (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Alexander Langlands
    Other supervisor: Dr Matthew Stevens

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
January 2015 Present Author Faber & Faber
October 2013 August 2015 Lecturer University of Winchester
October 2013 March 2015 Consultant researcher Ordnance Survey
September 2003 Present Broadcaster Freelance
January 2001 August 2007 Archaeologist Freelance

Key Grants and Projects