Dr Emma Cavell
Telephone: (01792) 602074
Room: COAH Research Assistants Office - 116
First Floor
James Callaghan
Singleton Campus

I am a Research Officer in medieval history, specialising in the social history of Britain, especially England and Wales, during the central Middle Ages (c. 1000-1300). In particular, I am fascinated by the intersections of gender, locality and class attendant upon the actions and experiences of the female members of the greater Marcher families before the conquest of Wales in 1282. My most recent work looked at women’s litigation and the interaction of different legal systems at the Anglo-Welsh border, and resulting publications include an article in English Historical Review and a prize-winning essay in the recently founded Mortimer History Society Journal – the latter aimed at bringing academic scholarship to a wider readership.

Most recently I have begun working on in Jewish women’s litigation in England before 1290. I was recently awarded funding from the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grants scheme and the Jewish Historical Society of England to pilot a study of Jewish litigants, men and women, in England before 1290 and to explore the northwest European context up to the Black Death.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of MEMO, the Swansea Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research.

Areas of Expertise

  • aristocracies and frontier in the British Isles 1000-1300
  • women and gender in medieval Britain
  • medieval Wales and Anglo-Welsh relations before 1300
  • medieval law and litigation
  • Jewish communities in England and northwest Europe before 1350


  1. Widows, native law and the long shadow of England in thirteenth-century Wales*. The English Historical Review 133(565), 1387-1419.
  2. Periphery to core: Mortimer women and the negotiation of the king's justice in the thirteenth-century March of Wales. Journal of the Mortimer History Society 2, 1-19.
  3. 'Reform, crisis and renewal: the English heralds at the close of the middle ages'. In Heralds and Heraldry in Medieval England (ed. Nigel Ramsay) Donington: Shaun Tyas). Donington: Shaun Tyas.
  4. 'Emma d'Audley and the clash of laws in thirteenth-century Northern Powys'. In The Welsh and the Medieval World. Travel, Migration and Exile (ed. Patricia Skinner). Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  5. (2014). Offa’s Dyke; Strata Florida; The Oldest House in Wales. (The Western Mail).

See more...


  • HIH2019 Gendering the Middle Ages: Power and Exclusion

    This module introduces gender theory as it has been applied to medieval culture. It traces the development of gender studies from early attempts at medieval women's history through successive `waves¿ of feminist studies, to gendered approaches which broadened considerations to include masculinity, sexuality and transgender identities. Exploring case studies from the 5th to the 15th centuries, the course will introduce students to the processes by which many voices have been excluded from traditional medieval histories, offering an alternative view from the perspective of the disempowered.

  • HIMM02 Research Folder

    A course designed to help students to identify their dissertation subject, to prepare for it bibliographically, and to plan its research and writing.

  • 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.

External Responsibilities

  • Fellow , Royal Historical Society

    2012 - Present

Key Grants and Projects

  • ‘Discord and Dispute Resolution: Litigating Jews in England, c. 1150-1290: a pilot study’ 2018 - 2020

    British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, and Jewish Historical Society of England Research Grant

Research Groups

  • Rethinking the Medieval Frontier

    Coordinated by Dr Jonathan Jarrett at the University of Leeds, this network aims, through the exploration of medieval frontiers of any and all geographical regions, to develop more flexible models of frontier than currently exist. For more visit https://rethinkingthefrontier.leeds.ac.uk