Katherine Cross

Within Empires of Faith, I work on the early medieval west and particularly the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain during the sixth to ninth centuries. I am interested in how individuals and societies negotiate religious conversions and cultural exchanges, and so my research focuses on transitions from paganism to Christianity in the British Isles. Investigating material culture enables us to explore the experiences of people whose voices are rarely heard in the textual record. In addition, I am committed to employing comparative approaches to issues of religious change.

I first became interested in the early medieval period and these issues during my undergraduate study in History at Balliol College, Oxford, which I followed with an interdisciplinary Masters in Medieval Studies, also at Balliol (2005-09). I then pursued research into integration and distinction in Viking-Age societies, taking a comparative approach, during my PhD in History at University College London, supervised by Dr Antonio Sennis (2009-14). I joined the Empires of Faith project as a Postdoctoral Researcher in September 2013.

During work on the project, I have also become interested in how ideas of early excavators and collectors continue to shape our understanding of this period, and how museum display can reinforce or challenge these narratives. I explore these ideas in the forthcoming Empires of Faith historiography volume, in a discussion of the development of British Museum collections of early medieval art from the British Isles.

The process of curating our forthcoming Ashmolean exhibition means putting these ideas to the test in practice. I am primarily responsible for the section of the exhibition on Christianity in the early medieval British Isles. Here, we showcase objects that reveal the combination of imported and local traditions (such as the Franks Casket) and development of characteristic forms of Christian monument (such as a range of stone sculpture from across the British Isles).



‘The Mediterranean Scenes on the Franks Casket: narrative and exegesis’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 78 (2015), 1-40

‘Byrhtferth’s Historia regum and the transformation of the Alfredian past’, Haskins Society Journal, 27 (forthcoming 2016), 55-78

‘“And that will not be the end of the calamity”: why emphasise viking disruption?’, Stasis in the Medieval World, ed. by Michael Bintley, Martin Locker, Victoria Symons and Mary Wellesley (forthcoming 2016, Palgrave Macmillan)

(forthcoming) ‘Barbarians at the British Museum: Anglo-Saxon art, race, and religion’, chapter in Empires of Faith methodological volume (collaborative volume)

(forthcoming) ‘Christianity in the British Isles’, chapter in: Imagining the Divine. Art and the Rise of World Religions (Exhibition catalogue, Ashmolean Museum Oxford, 19 October 2017-18 February 2018)

(in preparation) Heirs of the Vikings: History and Identity in Normandy and England, c.950-c.1015 (York Medieval Press for Boydell and Brewer)