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Department of Archaeology



Sam’s doctoral research focuses on diet and mobility in Early Medieval England. Her project investigates shifts in burial practice and cultural changes from c. 450-1000 AD using stable isotope analysis on human and faunal skeletal material.

Sam studied a BSc in Immunobiology combined with a BA (1st class honours) in Archaeology and Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney. Followed by a MA in History at the University of New England and a research MPhil in Archaeology at the University of Sydney. Her previous theses all focussed on Early Medieval transitions, with her BA thesis winning the Maureen A. Byrne Prize for Best Archaeology Honours Thesis (USyd).  

Sam is a lapsed immunologist and has experience working in commercial pathology. She was also a laboratory demonstrator and prosector in the Faculty of Science at Sydney, as well as an Education Officer at the Nicholson Museum, and Visitor Interpretation Officer for Sydney Living Museums.

Her expertise covers a variety of archaeological science and data interpretation alongside a strong track record in medieval studies.



  • Early Medieval Europe
  • Death and Burial
  • Stable Isotope Analysis
  • Genetics
  • Christianisation
  • Palaeodiet
  • Migration and mobility

My current research interests are focused on bioarchaeology, socio-environmental transitions and statistical modelling. Specifically, my doctoral research utilizes stable isotope analyses (C, N, O and Sr) to investigate diet and mobility in Early Medieval Britain and Northwest Europe (c. 450-1100 AD), feeding into ecological simulations and Bayesian models, and considerations of socio-environmental transitions during the first millennium AD (e.g. 536 AD climate event). I have three other funded projects focusing on early medieval isotopic ecology: I am the principle investigator on a project with the Museum of London Archaeology Unit Northampton on a cemetery in Rutland, a co-investigator leading the biomolecular research with an international team of collaborators at the site of Azuqueca de Henares, Guadalajara, Spain, and a collaborator with the University of Trondheim researching Viking Age mobility, identity and violence using isotopic analysis.



Key publications: 

Damman, L and Leggett S. (eds.) (2018) The Others: Deviants, Outcasts and Outsiders in Archaeology Archaeological Review from Cambridge 33(2).

Leggett, S. and Damman, L. (2018) Introduction. In: Damman, L and Leggett S. (eds.) (2018) The Others: Deviants, Outcasts and Outsiders in Archaeology Archaeological Review from Cambridge 33(2) 3-10.

Leggett, S. (2017) The Power of Place – Colonisation of the Anglo-Saxon Landscape by Royal and Religious Ideologies (An Archaeological Perspective). Journal of Literary Onomastics.

Leggett S. (2012) Celticity: Migration or Fashion? Vexillum: The Undergraduate Journal of Classical and Medieval Studies 2.

Other publications: 

Leggett S. (2019) Review of Coombe, M., Mouron, A., and Whitehead, C. (eds.), Saints of North-East England, 600-1500. Paregon 36(1): 194-195.

Leggett S. (2019) Review of Mees, K., Burial, landscape and identity in Early Medieval Wessex. Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association 15: 141-142.

Leggett S. (2019) Review of Estes, H. Anglo-Saxon Literary Landscapes: Ecotheory and the Environmental Imagination. Early Medieval Europe 27(4): 594-95.

Leggett S. (2016) Review of Sánchez-Pardo, J.C. and Shapland, M.G. (eds.) Churches and Social Power in Early Medieval Europe: Integrating Archaeological and Historical Approaches. Paregon 33(2): 167-168.

Leggett S. (2015) Review of Jansen, K.L., Geltner, G., and Lester A.E. (eds.) Centre and Periphery: Studies on Power in the Medieval World in Honor of William Chester Jordan Journal of the Australian Early Medieal Association 11.

Leggett S. (2015) Review of Grajetzki, W. Tomb treasures of the Late Middle Kingdom: The Archaeology of Female Burials Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association 11.

Teaching and Supervisions


I am involved in the teaching of the following courses:

  • A11/B5/PG4 (From Data to Interpretation)
  • A10 (Archaeological Theory and Practice I)
  • History Paper 2 (British political history, 380-1100)
  • History Paper 7 (British economic and social history, 380-1100)
  • B1 (Humans in Biological Perspective)
Research supervision: 

Principal Supervisor: Dr Susanne Hakenbeck

Advisor: Dr Tamsin O'Connell

College Mentor: Dr Sam Lucy

Other Professional Activities

  • Member of Newnham College
  • Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • Member of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
  • Member of the Society for Archaeological Sciences
  • Member of the European Association of Archaeologists
  • Member of the International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England
  • Member of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology
  • Member of the Viking Society for Northern Research
  • Member of the Australian Early Medieval Association
  • Member of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Job Titles

PhD Candidate in Archaeology

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Human Palaeoecology
Human Population Biology and Health
Biomolecular Archaeology
Computational and Quantitative Archaeology

Contact Details

Newnham College
Sidgwick Avenue


Person keywords: 
Early Medieval
Archaeological Science
Science, Technology and Innovation
Material Culture
Rethinking Complexity
Geographical areas: 
Periods of interest: