Ryan Lavelle is Professor in Early Medieval History. He is a member of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research and was convener of the Wessex Centre for History and Archaeology between 2014-19.
He gained his first degree at Royal Holloway, University of London, and an MA in Medieval Studies at the University of York. He studied for a PhD at Winchester, which he was awarded in 2002.
An internationally recognised expert in Anglo-Saxon Winchester and King Alfred, he is the author of the award-winning book Alfred's Wars: Sources and Interpretations of Anglo-Saxon Warfare in the Viking Age.
In October 2018, he chaired the event 'Bernard Cornwell, in conversation on the making of England' and presented 'The Death of Cnut the Great and the End of the Viking Empire', both part of the BBC History Weekend 2018, which is held annually in Winchester.
He chaired and organised the 2017 conference 'Winchester, a Medieval Royal City', hosted by the University, and has been acting as historical advisor for The Last Kingdom, the hit BBC series, based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell, that tells the story of King Alfred and the birth of England.
He was also involved in the development of 878AD, the immersive visitor attraction bringing Anglo-Saxon Winchester to life, which opened in 2022.
Areas of expertise
Late Anglo-Saxon political history, particularly Wessex
- Early Medieval Winchester Communities, Authority and Power in an Urban Space, C. 800C. 1200. Edited with Simon Roffey and Katherine Weikert. (Oxford: Oxbow 2021)
- Places of Contested Power: Conflict and Rebellion in England and France, c.830-1150 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2020)
- The Land of the English Kin: Studies in Wessex and Anglo-Saxon England in Honour of Professor Barbara Yorke. Edited with Alexander Langlands (Leiden: Brill, 2020)
- Cnut, The North Sea King. Penguin Monarchs Series (London: Allen Lane, 2017)
- Danes in Wessex, the Scandinavian impact on southern England ca 800 - 1100. Edited with Simon Roffey. (Oxford: Oxbow, 2016)
- Alfred's Wars: Sources and Interpretations of Anglo-Saxon Warfare in the Viking Age, Warfare in History series (Woodbridge: Boydell 2010)
- Royal Estates in Anglo-Saxon Wessex: Land, Politics and Family Strategies, British Archaeological Reports British Series 439 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2007)
- Aethelred II: King of the English, 9781016 (Stroud: Tempus, 2002; revised edition published by the History Press, 2008)
- Fortifications in Wessex, c.8001066 (Oxford: Osprey, 2003)
- From (North-)East to West: Geographical Identities & Political Communities in the Ninth- to Eleventh-Century Anglo-Scandinavian World, in: F. Leneghan, M. Atherton and K. Karasawa (eds), Ideas of the World in Early Medieval English Literature (Studies in Old English Literature 1) (Turnhout: Brepols 2022)
- Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens: Defeated Warriors, Masculinity, and Mistaken Identity in Western Europe, 679-1141, in John D. Hosler and Steven Isaac (eds), Military Cultures and Martial Enterprises in the Middle Ages: Essays in Honour of Richard P. Abels (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2020), pp. 61-80
- 'Places I'll Remember? Reflections on Alfred, Asser and the Power of Memory in the West Saxon Landscape', in Alexander Langlands and Ryan Lavelle (eds), The Land of the English Kin: Studies in Wessex and Anglo-Saxon England in Honour of Professor Barbara Yorke (Leiden: Brill, 2020), pp. 312-35
- ‘Le contrôle des terres royales dans le royaume anglo-saxon (IX e au début du XI e siècle) : que saurions-nous sans le Domesday Book?’, in F. Bougard and V. Loré (eds), Biens publics, biens du roi: Les bases économiques des pouvoirs royaux dans le haut Moyen Âge (Turnhout: Brepols, 2019), pp. 213-31
- 'Perceiving and Personifying Status and Submission in Pre-Viking England: Some Observations on a Few Early Hostages', in M. Bennett and K. Weikert (eds), Medieval Hostageship, c.700c.1500: Hostage, Captive, Prisoner of War, Guarantee, Peacemaker (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 36-59
- 'Controlling and Contesting Urban Spaces: Rulers and Urban Communities in Southern England and Northern France from the Later 9th to 11th Century', in N. Christie and H. Herold (eds), Fortified Settlements in Early Medieval Europe: Defended Communities of the 8th10th Centuries (Oxford: Oxbow, 2016), pp. 158-74
- ‘Sous la lumière d’Alfred le Grand ou dans l’obscurité des Vikings? Quelques problèmes et possibilités dans la périodisation de l’histoire anglaise pre-Conquest’, in J.-F. Dunyach (ed.) Les âges de Britannia. Repenser l'histoire des mondes britanniques (Moyen Âge-XXIe siècle) (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2015), pp. 33-54
- ‘Anglo-Saxonists, Æthelred II and a Rolling Millennium 1978 2014, and beyond’, in B. [K.] Carella and L. S. Chardonnens (eds), Unræd: intellectual thought and rule in Æthelredian England, special issue of English Studies 95 (2014), 72132
- ‘Royal Control and the disposition of estates in tenth-century England: reflections on the Charters of King Eadwig (955959)’, Haskins Society Journal 23 (2014), 2349
- ‘Ine 70.1 and royal provision in Anglo-Saxon Wessex’, in G. Owen-Crocker and B. W. Schneider (eds), Kingship, legislation and power in Anglo-Saxon England, publications of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2013), pp. 25973
- ‘Representing authority in an Early Medieval Chronicle: submission, rebellion and the limits of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, c.899 1065’, in J. Dresvina and N. Sparks (eds), Authority and gender in Medieval and Renaissance Chronicles (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2012), pp. 62101
- ‘Campagnes et stratégies des armées anglo-saxonnes pendant l'époque viking’, Médiévales 63 (autumn 2012), 12344 (Translation, with modifications, of Chapter 5 of Alfred's Wars)
- ‘Geographies of power in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: The Royal Estates of Wessex’, in A.D. Jorgensen (ed.), Reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Language, Literature, History, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 23 (Turnhout: Brepols 2010), pp. 187-219
- ‘The politics of rebellion: The Ætheling Æthelwold and West Saxon Royal Succession, 899-902’, in P. Skinner (ed.), Challenging the Boundaries of Medieval History: the Legacy of Timothy Reuter, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 22 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), pp. 51-80
- ‘A Territorial Landscape: The Late Anglo-Saxon and Post-Conquest Estates', in B. Cunliffe, The Danebury Environs Roman Programme, Volume 1: Overview (Oxford: Institute of Archaeology, 2008), pp. 133-57
- ‘The King's Wife and Family Property Strategies: Late Anglo-Saxon Wessex, 871-1066’, Anglo-Norman Studies 29 (2007), 84-99
- ‘The Use and Abuse of Hostages in Later Anglo-Saxon England’, Early Medieval Europe 13.3 (2006), 269-96
- ‘Why Grateley? Reflections on Anglo-Saxon Kingship in a Hampshire Landscape’, Hampshire Studies: Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society 60 (2005), 154-69
- ‘All the King’s Men? Land and Royal Service in Eleventh-Century Wessex’, Southern History 26 (2004), 1-37
- ‘Review Article: Documenting Winchester’s Minsters’, Southern History 26 (2004), 141-50
- ‘The Farm of One Night and the Organisation of Royal Estates in Late Anglo-Saxon Wessex’, Haskins Society Journal 14 (2005 for 2003), 53-82
- ‘Towards a Political Contextualization of Peacemaking and Peace Agreements in Anglo-Saxon England’, in D. Wolfthal (ed.), Peace and Negotiation: Strategies for Coexistence in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance 4 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2000), pp. 39-55
- (with Simon Roffey) ‘Introduction: Danes in Wessex’, in R. Lavelle and S. Roffey (eds) Danes in Wessex: the Scandinavian impact on Southern England, c.800 c.1100. (Oxford: Oxbow, 2015)
- (with Elton O. S. Medeiros) ‘Entrevista: Estudos Anglo-Saxônicos’, Brathair 12:2 (2012), 14954.
- 'The Dark Side of the Anglo-Saxons’, BBC History Magazine 2012, No. 13 (Christmas 2012), 21
- ‘Fighting the Vikings’, BBC History Magazine 12:1 (January 2011), 22-28.
- Entries on works concerning King Æthelred II, Earl Godwine of Wessex, King Edward the Martyr and a review of general works on Anglo-Saxon England for D. Loades (ed.), Reader’s Guide to British History (New York and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003)
- ‘Ethnic Cleansing in Anglo-Saxon England’ (on the St Brice’s Day Massacre, 1002), BBC History Magazine 3:11 (November 2002), 42-4
- ‘The Bayeux Tapestry: Images of Battle in the Eleventh Century’, Osprey Military Journal 4:3 (2002), 7-10
- ‘Æthelwold of Wessex: King of the Pagans’, Osprey Military Journal 2:6 (2000), 15-24