Ian Wood

Ian Wood
Ian Wood

I took my BA, MA and Ph.D. at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and I also held a research fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research from 1974-6.  My thesis was on Avitus of Vienne: Avitus was a bishop and writer of importance in the late fifth and early sixth century, and he has left us with an important dossier of letters and poems which are central to an understanding of the culture of the post Roman West from 470-530.

I was appointed to a lectureship at the University of Leeds in 1976 and remained there (as senior lecturer from 1989-95 and as Professor of Early Medieval History from 1995 to 2015, when I retired).  I am currently Professor Emeritus of Early Medieval History.

I was a co-ordinator of the European Science Foundation's scientific programme on the Transformation of the Roman World (1992-8), and have held guest professorships at the universities of Vienna (1994-5, 2000) and Århus (1997), and fellowships at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (1995-6), the British School at Rome (2006) and the Collegium Budapest (2009). I have also held a British Academy Research Readership in 2005-6 as well as a grant from the AHRC (2009).

I was one of three investigators on a HERA-funded project Cultural memory and the resources of the past, 400-1000 AD, which has now concluded.  We explored the eclectic uses of the resources of the past in the post-Roman successor states of western Europe in the early middle ages.

Research interests

My research interests focus on the history and historiography of the early Middle Ages and my published work has covered:

  • The historiography of the early Middle Ages
  • Barbarian migrations and settlements
  • The history of the Franks
  • Cultural history of the post-Roman period
  • The history of mission from 400-1050
  • Jarrow and Northumbrian monasticism
  • Anglo-Saxon sculpture (the book I co-authored on the Ruthwell and Bewcastle monuments (Fragments of History) won the 2008 Historians of British Art prize for a multiauthored volume)


Current Research Projects

A study of Bruno of Querfurt’s letter to Henry II, as a document of the state of missionary activity in central, eastern and northern Europe around the year 1000.
A study of the Transformation of the Roman World (for the publishers Oldenburg).
Studies on the Burgundians.

Past Research

My first book was on The Merovingian Kingdoms (450-751) (London, 1994), and was a history of France in the Merovingian period.  This was followed by Gregory of Tours (Bangor, 1994) and The Missionary Life (2001), which was a study of the lives of missionary saints.  In 2002 I published, jointly with Danuta Shanzer, Avitus of Vienne: Letters and Selected Prose (Liverpool, 2002), and, with Fred Orton and Clare Lees, Fragments of History: Rethinking the Ruthwell and Bewcastle Monuments (2007).  I have since published The Modern Origins of the Early Middle Ages (2013), and, together with Christopher Grocock, Abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow (2013), and most recently, with Alexander O’Hara, a new translation Jonas of Bobbio, Life of Columbanus, Life of John of Réomé, and Life of Vedast (2017).
Most recently I have completed a short book on The Transformation of the Roman West.