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The Archaeology, History & Heritage of Sherborne Abbey PhD Studentship.


   College of Humanities

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  Prof J Clark, Prof O Creighton  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Research Project Summary:

This project establishes a new understanding of the building history and heritage of Sherborne Abbey during and after the medieval period. It will engage with conservation and curation priorities for the site and deliver a PhD and a Conservation Management Plan.

Project Description:

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship, beginning in January 2023, to work with the University of Exeter and Sherborne Abbey on a research project considering the archaeology, history and heritage of Sherborne Abbey.

This project will establish a new understanding of the building history and medieval and post-Reformation heritage of Sherborne Abbey (Dorset). Sherborne’s abbey church presents some of the finest Perpendicular architecture in South-West England and it also preserves fragments of Norman and even the Saxon buildings. The origins of the church and its site can be traced back to the eighth century and their phases of development can be followed through periods of political, cultural and social change from the era of the Saxon kings of Wessex to the Tudors and beyond. For more than seven centuries the church at Sherborne was the centre-point of a large and influential monastery. After the Tudor Reformation it became the town’s main parish church and the old buildings of the monastery became a school. In the mid-19th century the abbey church was subject to systematic restoration and redecoration under the direction of the Gothic revival architect, Richard Cromwell Carpenter. Today, Sherborne is the showcase for more than ten centuries of church history, architecture and art.

This new study is prompted by a plan for the enhancement of the buildings and their setting for the use of the parish, the surrounding community and for heritage visitors. The doctoral project will engage with this plan, incorporating conservation and curation priorities among its’ principal research questions, to identify and interpret the successive churches of Sherborne and to evaluate their significance in the context of medieval, early modern and later religious life and culture.

The research methods will be interdisciplinary, involving archaeological surveys of the buildings and immediate grounds (including geophysical prospection) as well as a systematic investigation of the surviving archival records in regional and national repositories (e.g. Dorset History Centre, National Archives, etc.). Alongside an academic study, the project will provide the parish with a Conservation Management Plan (CMP). The doctoral researcher will be expected to compile the CMP in conjunction with the completion of their dissertation.

The doctoral researcher will be based in Exeter’s Department of Archaeology & History. Their primary academic supervisors will be James Clark, a specialist in England’s medieval monasteries, and Oliver Creighton, a specialist in the historical archaeology of medieval England. They will also benefit from advice and assistance from Sherborne Abbey’s Consultant Conservation Architect.

The doctoral researcher will be given appropriate training in both archaeological and historical research methods; they will also be provided with training in Latin and palaeography necessary for research with medieval and early modern archives.

They will be expected to travel to Sherborne when necessary for surveys of the archaeology and standing buildings. They will also be required to visit regional and national archives and libraries.

As a PhD student in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, a personal research allowance will be available to assist with the costs of research training.

This unique research opportunity is ideally suited for a doctoral candidate with interests in medieval or early modern architecture, religious, cultural and social history and for those aiming to pursue an applied research career in the heritage sector. 

Contact for informal enquiries

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisors, Professor James Clark ([Email Address Removed]) and Professor Oliver Creighton ([Email Address Removed])

Entry requirements

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or international equivalent, in Archaeology, History or related subject-areas and have obtained, or be currently working towards, a Master’s degree at Merit level or international equivalent, in Archaeology, History or related subject-areas. Previous experience of the study of medieval church buildings and their history and/or applied research in a heritage context may be advantageous.

Please note that these studentships are only open to applicants who will start their study in January 2023, not those who have already started.

Residency Entry Requirements:

1) UK only

This studentship, including full tuition fees and maintenance allowance, is available to UK candidates.

2) No international eligibility

Candidates who are classed as international for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for this studentship.

How to apply

You will be asked to submit the following by Monday 12th December 2022.

• a full CV

• a covering letter which should explain your interest in this opportunity and your overall suitability for the research role

• a statement of research interests, outlining how your previous and/or present studies will enable you to make a valuable contribution to the aims of this project

• Details of two academic referees

• Proof of your English language proficiency, if relevant

You will also be asked to upload verified transcripts of your most academic qualification.

All application documents must be submitted in English. Certified translated copies of academic qualifications must also be provided.

You must arrange for your referees to email their references to [Email Address Removed] from their institutional email accounts by the application deadline. Please note that we will not be contacting referees to request references, you must arrange for them to be submitted by your referees. We cannot accept references from personal/private email accounts, unless it is a scanned document on institutional headed paper and signed by the referee.

We anticipate that interviews will be held at Sherborne Abbey in the w/c 19 December 2022, but they may take place in early January 2023, depending on availability of the interview panel.

Please quote reference 4636 on your application and in any correspondence about this studentship.

For general information about this studentship and the application process, please contact [Email Address Removed].


Funding Notes

UK tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate of £17,668 per year (2022/23 rate)
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