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Photo of Dr Hajnalka Herold

Dr Hajnalka Herold

Senior Lecturer in Historical Archaeology


01392 264351

I am an archaeologist with two principal fields of interest, the study of the early Middle Ages in Europe and beyond (c. 400–1100 CE), and the archaeometric and experimental analysis of pottery from various geographical and chronological backgrounds.

I have been PI of the recent Leverhulme-funded project ‘Glass Networks: Tracing Early Medieval Long-Distance Trade, c. 800–1000 CE’ as well as of a series of projects investigating post-Roman to medieval landscape transformations in the Erlauf Valley, Austria, funded by the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Society for Medieval Archaeology, and the County of Lower Austria. My earlier research, funded, among others, by the Austrian Science Fund and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, has included the study of élite settlements in central Europe from the 9th and 10th centuries CE, with a particular focus on connections to the Carolingian and Byzantine worlds; the investigation of aspects of the archaeology of the Avar Khaganate and its relation to former Roman sites; as well as the examination of connections between the production technology of early medieval ceramic artefacts and the identity of their producers/users.

Through my research and teaching, I aim to contribute to making medieval archaeology and the study of medieval heritage more international in various regions of Europe and beyond. While prehistoric archaeology frequently tackles questions on a large geographical scale and views the past as part of a common human heritage, archaeology of historical periods, including the Middle Ages, is often focused on one present-day country or smaller region. Medieval archaeology is necessarily diverse and has its regional characteristics; however, I am convinced that by promoting a supra-regional perspective much can be gained for the subject area, both in terms of research results and relevance for present-day society. In my view, medieval heritage should become a part of our common human history, as opposed to national approaches of (often conflicting) narratives. This can be facilitated by an intensive exchange between researchers from different backgrounds as well as by connecting research results from various regions and different schools of thought.

Selected indicators of esteem

  • Member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council – AHRC Peer Review College (since 2014)
  • Reviewer/selection panel member for European Commission; German Science Fund (DFG); Irish Research Council; Italian Science Fund; Fulbright Commission; REF equivalent of the Czech Republic; Czech, Polish, and Hungarian Science Funds; Austrian Academy of Sciences; Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; Central European University; German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development
  • External roles: Society of Antiquaries of London (Fellow since 2015, member of the Fellowship Committee since 2022); International Sachsensymposion (member since 2016); MERC – Medieval Europe Research Community (Committee member 2015–2020); Society for Medieval Archaeology, United Kingdom (Council member 2015–2018); Austrian Society for Medieval Archaeology (Council member since 2022); European Association of Archaeologists – EAA 2020 conference (Scientific Committee member); Journal Dissertationes Archaeologicae (Editorial Board member since 2022)
  • Reviewer for publishing houses Brill, Routledge, Equinox, Medieval Institute Publications/Arc Humanities Press, BAR Publishing, Sidestone Press, and journals Antiquity, Archaeometry, Medieval Archaeology, Journal of Urban Archaeology, STAR: Science & Technology of Archaeological Research, Archaeologia Austriaca, Acta Archaeologica Carpathica, Beiträge zur Mittelalterarchäologie in Österreich
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), United Kingdom (since 2014)

Edited volume profile



Research interests

My research focuses on two main topics

  • Archaeology of the early Middle Ages in Europe and beyond (c. 400–1100 CE)
  • Archaeometry and experimental archaeology of pottery from various chronological and geographical backgrounds

Selected projects and publications

1) Glass Networks: Tracing Early Medieval Long-Distance Trade, c. 800–1000 CE
This recent project has analysed early medieval glass beads with chemical and archaeological methods, in order to develop a novel perspective on European long-distance trade networks and interconnectedness. Early medieval raw glass production mainly took place in Mediterranean and Near Eastern centres. Each produced glass with distinct chemical compositions, which was circulated to various regions, including Europe. Small-scale raw glass production also existed in north-western Europe. While the study of glass in the Mediterranean has received considerable attention, the potential of glass circulation networks to transform our understanding of trade and communication routes in Europe has yet to be fully utilised. This project has investigated glass beads from central Europe (Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic), along the long-distance trade route postulated in this region, and will combine this new data with available results on glass from the Mediterranean and north-western Europe, in order to link these territories, and trace Europe-wide distribution networks. The project has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2018-224).

2) Post-Roman to Medieval Landscape Transformations in the Erlauf Valley, Austria (5th to 11th Centuries CE)
This current project investigates, by systematic fieldwalking survey and targeted geophysical survey, the open rural settlement types and strategies adopted prior to the renaissance of a strong urbanism in a core zone of central Europe, the Erlauf Valley (Austria), in order to study two transformations of the 5th to 11th centuries relevant to large parts of Europe: the end of Roman rule and Frankish colonisation. The study region provides excellent opportunities for investigating these phenomena, as it was part of the Roman province Noricum until 488 CE, and subsequently variously impacted upon by Germanic groups and Avars, until it became part of the ‘East-Land’, an area colonised by the Carolingians in the Danube Basin in the 9th century, and colonised again by the Ottonians in the late 10th to 11th centuries. The project has been funded by the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Society for Medieval Archaeology, and the County of Lower Austria.

3) Between the Carolingian West and the Byzantine East: fortified élite settlements of the 9th and 10th centuries CE in central Europe
This recent project has investigated fortified élite settlements of 9th- to 10th-century central Europe, situated in the border region of the Carolingian and Byzantine spheres of influence. An important aspect of this research has been to reflect upon, and go beyond, current national narratives of the investigated period, to develop interpretative frameworks for the entire central European region and to contextualise these results in a wider European perspective. The analysis of excavations from Gars-Thunau in Lower Austria constituted the starting point of these investigations. The large-scale excavations at this site, spanning almost four decades, represent a prestige project of the Department of Prehistoric and Medieval Archaeology of the University of Vienna. The project has been funded by the Austrian Science Fund (project P21256) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

4) Trade and technology transfer in central and south-eastern Europe in the Carolingian and Ottonian period: archaeometry and experimental archaeology of pottery
Projects on this theme have analysed high-quality ceramic wares (e.g. polished yellow ceramics, graphite containing ceramics) and lower-quality pottery from centres of the the Carolingian and Ottonian period (9th to 10th centuries CE) in central and southeastern Europe. Samples have been investigated from e.g. Zalavár (Hungary), Mikulčice, Uherské-Hradiště, Břeclav-Pohansko (Moravia, Czech Republic), and Pliska (Bulgaria). Applied archaeometric methods include petrographic thin section analysis, X-ray fluorescence analysis, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray diffraction analysis. The results suggest that while preferences concerning the culturally accepted appearance of ceramic vessels, especially of high-quality pottery, may have been shared at a supra-regional level, the exchange of actual ceramics only occurred within particular regions (e.g. Moravia).

5) Aspects of the archaeology of the Avar Khaganate: the site of Zillingtal in context
The final publication of the 7th- to 8th-century CE settlement, and of the pottery from the 797-grave cemetery, at Zillingtal (Austria) was completed in this project, including the contextualisation of the results within the broader field of early medieval central Europe. Particular use was made of archaeometric ceramics analysis (petrographic thin sections and X-ray diffraction analysis) and experimental archaeology, providing new insight into the organisation of early medieval economy. In addition, novel contributions were made to the understanding of the re-use of Roman ruins, and of age/gender-specific patterns in the deposition of grave goods. Additional publications in English make results accessible to a wider audience.

6) Technological traditions in early medieval eastern Austria
Archaeological and archaeometric analysis (petrographic thin sections) of 7th- to 9th-century CE ceramics was carried out in this project from two groups of sites, one associated with an ‘Avar’ and the other with a ‘Slavic’ population. The analysis revealed that the inhabitants of all these sites shared complex technological traditions, and are thus, contrary to long-standing previous opinion, unlikely to have represented two unrelated population groups. The investigations embraced English and French-speaking theoretical approaches to material culture and thus bring a novel perspective into the early medieval archaeology of central Europe.

7) Early and high medieval settlements in Hungary
These projects comprised establishing a chronological framework for early and high medieval (6th to 12th centuries CE) settlements, as well as reconstructing settlement patterns and production dynamics in the regions under study. Investigated sites included Örménykút in south-eastern Hungary, Karos and Zemplénagárd in north-eastern Hungary, and Alsóbogát and Vörs in south-western Hungary. In some regions, these projects represented the first attempt to provide an in-depth analysis of early medieval settlements.

8) Pottery production and distribution in the prehistoric and Roman periods in central and south-western Europe
In addition to the analysis of medieval artefacts, I have also investigated prehistoric and Roman-period ceramics from different geographical and chronological contexts using methods of archaeometric ceramics analysis. Sites of origin include Hallstatt (Upper Austria, early Iron Age), Hoyas del Castillo (Pajaroncillo, Cuenca, Spain, Bronze Age), Schwarzenbach (Lower Austria, La Tène period), Franzhausen (Lower Austria, late neolithic period – early Bronze Age), and Halbturn (Burgenland, Austria, Roman period). These investigations identified various complex production and distribution systems both in the prehistoric and the Roman periods.


Research supervision

I am happy to supervise research students for PhD/MPhil/MRes degrees in the following areas

  • late antique and early medieval archaeology (400–1100 CE)
  • archaeometric analysis of ceramic finds from any geographical and chronological background
  • experimental archaeology of pottery

Funded studentships are available for UK and international students – please consult the University of Exeter's Postgraduate Funding Database at and/or send me an email (for the email address see the Overview tab).

Currently, I am looking for a strong candidate for a PhD project on the theme of 'Ceramics archaeometry in early medieval central Europe, 8th–10th centuries CE'. Please email me if you are interested in this opportunity.


Research students

PhD/MPhil/MRes students

  • Dóra Szabó – Household archaeology of 5th- to 6th-century AD settlements in central Europe (PhD, first supervisor, AHRC SWW DTP Studentship) – Dóra won the 2019 John Hurst Award of the Medieval Settlement Research Group (United Kingdom) for her research.
  • Teodóra Polyák – Ceramics archaeometry in early medieval eastern Austria (PhD, Exeter supervisor, Exeter-Cranfield Studentship)
  • Clara Freer – Functionality of bronze-age pottery (PhD, second supervisor)
  • Stephen Armstrong – An exploration in the cultural diversity within southwest Britain during the late Roman/early medieval period (PhD, second supervisor, Collaborative Studentship)
  • Barbara Klessig – Experimental archaeology of 4th- to 8th-century AD textile production in Gotland, Sweden (MPhil, second supervisor)
  • Leah Moradi – Human and animal depictions on objects from early Anglo-Saxon graves in the light of theories of material culture (MA by Research, first supervisor)
  • Sarah Stainer – From tinners to antiquarians: an archaeological analysis of the evidence for medieval and later attitudes toward prehistoric features on southern Dartmoor (MPhil, second supervisor)
  • Robert Waterhouse – The landscape archaeology of islands in physically and culturally remote zones (MPhil, second supervisor)
  • Carlos Salgado Ceballos – Ceramic production and circulation in Colima, Mexico, AD 500–1000 (PhD, second supervisor, CONACyT Studentship)
  • Jacqueline Veninger – Norman colonialism and Welsh identities (PhD, second supervisor)

Supervised MA/MSc and BA/BSc Dissertation topics

  • A study of the training area used by the Machine Gun Corps at Elveden Estate, near Thetford
  • Millefiori beads in Viking-age Scandinavia
  • Viking-age glass beads from Gotland, Sweden
  • Experimental archaeology of Viking-age glass beads
  • Viking-age ship burials in the British Isles and Norway
  • Silver armrings in Viking-age hoards from northern England
  • Women warriors in Viking society: an assessment of archaeological and written sources
  • Viking Warrior Women: the presence and positions of Norse women in warfare
  • Pagan apotropaic objects and their incorporation into the Christian world in conversion-period England
    Winner of the Geoff Egan Prize of the Finds Research Group, United Kingdom, awarded in recognition of extraordinary potential in the field of finds research in the post-Roman to modern periods.
    Shortlisted for the John Hurst Prize of the Society for Medieval Archaeology for the best Undergraduate Dissertation in Medieval Archaeology in the United Kingdom.
  • Analysing the differences between funerary and living costume in Anglo-Saxon Berkshire
  • Pennies for pendants: A discussion of the piercing of coinage for ornamentation in early medieval England
  • An examination of the artistic motifs on the Staffordshire Hoard and a comparison to contemporary items
  • Human depictions on Anglo-Saxon metalwork
  • Costume in life and death: An analysis of brooches in Anglo-Saxon Norfolk
  • A survey and comparison of Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in East Anglia and Wessex
  • Public perceptions of the early medieval period in England and Wales: What are they and how have they come about?
  • Roman and Romano-British pottery in early medieval grave contexts at Ipplepen, Devon
  • Calcium carbonate tempers in pre-medieval pottery in England: an experimental approach
  • The fall of the Western Roman Empire: an archaeological and historical perspective
  • The contribution of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to the archaeology of the Roman period in Somerset
  • A comparative study of experimental pottery using clays from the surroundings of three iron-age settlements in Southwest Britain
  • Decoration tools and their application: a comparison between three selected regions in early neolithic Europe and North Africa
  • An experimental approach to neolithic and bronze-age cooking methods in western Europe
  • Experimental archaeology of Near Eastern faïence objects



I completed my PhD in Prehistoric and Medieval Archaeology at the University of Vienna (Austria) in 2002, and my Diploma in Archaeology at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (Hungary) in 1999. During my undergraduate and postgraduate years, I was a visiting student at the Universities of Sheffield (United Kingdom) and Vienna, as well as at the J. W. Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main (Germany). After finishing my PhD, I joined the Vienna Institute of Archaeological Science (VIAS), University of Vienna, and was a Research Associate (2002-2009) and Project Leader (2009-2013) there until my appointment at the University of Exeter.

In 2010, I was awarded a Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Bonn, Germany), which I spent at the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg (Germany) and at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom). The research topic that I pursued during this 18-month fellowship was ‘The Archaeology of the Frankish Empire and its Successor States as a Basis for the Analysis of their South-Eastern Border Region’. Over 2003/04 and 2005, I held postdoctoral fellowships in ceramics archaeometry at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) in the framework of the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships Programme.

Prior to joining Exeter, my teaching experience included positions as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Vienna (2003-2013), and as a visiting lecturer at the Universities of Graz (Austria, 2012), Freiburg (2011), Basel (Switzerland, 2009), and Budapest (2009 and 2005).

At Exeter, I have been Senior Lecturer in Historical Archaeology (since 2018), and Lecturer in Historical Archaeology (2013-2018).

Membership of Societies and Networks

  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (since 2015; member of the Fellowship Committee since 2022)
  • Society for Medieval Archaeology, United Kingdom (Council member 2015-2018)
  • Committee member for MERC – Medieval Europe Research Community (2015–2020)
  • Member of the International Sachsensymposion – Research network for the archaeological study of the Saxons and their neighbouring peoples (since 2016)
  • Austrian Society for Medieval Archaeology – ÖGM (Council member since 2022)
  • Medieval Settlement Research Group, United Kingdom
  • European Association of Archaeologists – EAA
  • LandCover6k – a working group of the PAGES (Past Global Changes) project
  • Medieval Central Europe Research Network – MECERN
  • Rethinking the Medieval Frontier Network, United Kingdom
  • Austrian Society for Prehistory and Early History – ÖGUF
  • Working Group Medieval and Post-medieval Ceramics in Austria
  • Commission for Archaeometry, Hungarian Academy of Sciences



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