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Department of Archaeology



I completed my BA in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in 2014, my MA in Medieval Archaeology at the University of Sheffield in 2015, and my PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2019. My PhD thesis was entitled "Burial Practices in Transition: A study of the cultural and religious cohesion of early medieval Europe".

In 2020, I was elected a research fellow at Girton College, Cambridge.


My research focuses on burial practices in the early Middle Ages (5th-10th centuries AD), and how such burial practices varied across Europe. I combine geospatial and statistical approaches with historical evidence and anthropological theory, to examine themes of globalisation, relations between the living and the dead, and the evolution of funerary practices.

I am currently working on a book, co-written with Alison Klevnäs and Astrid Noterman (University of Stockholm), which will compare the nature of burial practices across early medieval Europe, from Ireland to Hungary, Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. The book is under contract with Routledge.

Other projects include:

  • Understanding changing burial practices using radiocarbon models
  • Reassessing Girton's Roman-early medieval cemetery
  • A GIS approach to migration and grave goods in early medieval England

I have been involved with excavations at the site of the monastery and Great Viking Army camp at Repton 2017-2023. I have also excavated on a Viking age site at Vypovziv, Ukraine, and am currently involved in excavations of a Roman villa in Northamptonshire.


Key Publications

Key publications: 

Brownlee, E. & Klevnäs, A. (in press) Where is everybody? The unburied dead in Late Roman and early medieval England. Antiquity

Brownlee, E. (2023) A Radiocarbon-based Model of Changing Burial Rites in Early Medieval England. Radiocarbon

Brownlee, E. (2022) Bed burials in early medieval Europe. Medieval Archaeology

Brownlee, E. (2021) Grave goods in early medieval Europe: regional variability and decline. Internet Archaeology 56

Brownlee, E. (2021) Connectivity and funerary change in early medieval Europe. Antiquity 95.379, 142-159

Brownlee, E. (2020) The dead and their possessions: the declining agency of the cadaver in early medieval Europe European Journal of Archaeology 23.3, 406-427.

Brownlee, E. (2017) “In the resurrection, no weakness will remain”: perceptions of disability in Christian Anglo-Saxon England. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 32.1, 53-71

Other publications: 

Book Reviews

Brownlee, E. (2021) Early Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries. Kinship, Community and Identity by Duncan Sayer. Medieval Archaeology 65.2, 433-434.

Brownlee, E. (2018). Book Review, Life on the Edge: Social, Political and Religious Frontiers in Early Medieval Europe by S. Semple, C. Orsini, and S. Mui (eds). Archaeological Review from Cambridge 32.2, 133-137.

Teaching and Supervisions


I currently supervise on A24 - The Medieval Globe (Part II and IIB)

I have previously supervised

  • A2 - Archaeology in Action (Part I)
  • A12 - Archaeological Theory and Practice II (Part IIB)
  • ARC24 - The North Sea in the Early Middle Ages (Part IIA and IIB)

In 2021-22, I was acting Director of Studies for Girton College.

I have supervised undergraduate dissertations on early medieval funerary practices

Other Professional Activities

  • Member of the Internationales Sachsensymposium
  • Winner of the 2017 EAA student award presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists

Job Titles

Ottilie Hancock Research Fellow in Archaeology, Girton College
Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

General Info

Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Archaeological Theory
Computational and Quantitative Archaeology
Field Methods

Contact Details

Girton College
ecb58 [at]


Person keywords: 
Funerary Archaeology
Early Medieval Europe
GIS and Statistics
Material Culture
Cultural Change
Material Culture
Geographical areas: 
Periods of interest: