Dr. Simon J. Harris

Title: Researcher (Gascon Rolls Project)
Email: sjsharris@aol.com
Contacting me: E-mail is best.

I undertook all of my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Keele University. My doctoral thesis was on a medieval Cheshire gentry family and its archive, supervised by Dr Robin Studd.

Following the completion of my thesis I worked briefly at Adlington Hall in Cheshire, listing the archives of the Legh family, and I still maintain ties there for research purposes. I was then appointed as one of the researchers on the ESRC funded ‘Settlement and Waste in the Palatinate of Durham’ project under Professor Brian K. Roberts and the late Professor Richard Britnell at the University of Durham, for three and a half years, which resulted in a series of papers, and important GIS map resources.

On the completion of that project I moved to the University of York to work on the AHRB/AHRC funded ‘Medieval Petition Project’ under Professor Mark Ormrod and Dr Gwilym Dodd, working on the SC 8 class of ancient petitions at The National Archives at Kew for four years, that resulted in an online resource and a series of papers.

I continued at York after the completion of the ‘Medieval Petitions Project’, being appointed on the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded ‘Cause Papers in the Diocesan Courts of the Archbishopric of York 1300-1858’ under Dr Philippa Hoskin, and remained there for a year. The project resulted in an online searchable database and a series of articles.

Since 2006 I have been closely tied to the ‘Gascon Rolls project, 1317-1468’, being part of the team that wrote funding applications, and received a small grant from the British Academy, and then a much larger grant of £730,000 from the AHRC. The project has been based at the universities of Oxford and Liverpool, and King’s College London, then the Université Bordeaux 3, Michel de Montaigne, and is now based at the universities of Keele and Southampton, and King’s College London with the collaboration of Université Bordeaux Montaigne.

I am presently chairman of the Ranulf Higden Society, and a trustee of Knutsford Heritage Trust.

I am currently a research assistant on the Leverhulme Trust funded project ‘Old Wine in New Bottles: English Gascony (1360-1453) For the Digital Humanities’, a project based at the universities of Keele and Southampton under Dr Philip Morgan and Professor Anne Curry, and King’s College London under Paul Spence. The project involves the active collaboration of the Université Bordeaux Montaigne and UMR Ausonius in France, and of Dr Paul Booth, formerly one of the investigators leading an earlier manifestation of the project, and now an Hon. Senior Research Fellow at Keele.

My other research interests include:

The Medieval Gentry. Originating in my doctoral research, I am interested in the construction and maintenance of landed estates, gentry culture, and their involvement in warfare.

Medieval Warfare. In part related to my doctoral research into the gentry, but having developed with my work on the Gascon Rolls, I am particularly interested in the recruitment and organization of English and Gascon armies in the early and middle fourteenth century.

Medieval Wills. Again emerging from my doctoral research, I have become particularly interested in the surviving medieval wills of the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, a diocese where no wills registers survive until the Reformation. This research includes editions of the surviving wills, but also examining them in relation to contemporary culture and patterns of piety.

Landscape. Stemming from my employment on a project of Durham, I retain an interest in wasteland colonization, agriculture and economy in the northern counties of England from the eleventh to sixteenth centuries.


Calendar of the Gascon Rolls: Edward II 1317-1326, vol. I, ed. by P.H.W. Booth, S.J. Harris, G. Pépin & M.G.A. Vale (Woodbridge, Summer 2015).



Dunsford, H.M., & Harris, S.J., ‘Colonization of the Wasteland in County Durham, 1100-1400’, Economic History Review, LVI, No.1, February 2003.

Harris, S.J., ‘Further Evidence of Accounting in Durham before 1270’, Archives, XXVI, No. 104, April 2001.


Book Chapters

Harris, S.J., ‘The York Cause Papers 1300-1858 : a new online resource for the church court records of the diocese of York’ in Hayes, R.C.E. & Shiels, W.J., Clergy, Church and Society in England and Wales c. 1200-1800 (York, 2013), 23-44.

Harris, S.J., ‘Taking your Chances: Petitioning in the Last Years of Edward II and the first years of Edward III’, in Ormrod, W.M., Dodd, G. and Musson, A. (edd), Medieval Petitions, (To be published by Boydel in February 2009).

Harris, S.J., ‘Spennymoor: The Priory of Durham and the Enclosure of Wasteland, 1150-1500’, in Britnell, R.H. and Dodds, B. (edd) Agriculture and Rural Society after the Black Death, (Univ. of Hertfordshire Press, 2008).

Roberts, B.K., Dunsford, H.M., & Harris, S.J., ‘Framing Medieval Landscapes: Region & Place in County Durham’, in R.H. Britnell & C.D. Liddy (edd.), North-East England in the Later Middle Ages, (2005).

Harris, S.J., ‘The Bishops and the Wasteland in County Durham’ in R.H. Britnell & C.D. Liddy (edd.), North-East England in the Later Middle Ages, (2005).

Harris, S.J., & Youngs, D. ‘Locating the Monstrous and the Medieval Night’, in B. Buildhauer, R. Mills (edd), The Monstrous Middle Ages, (2003).

Throughou my career I have taught at every institution where I have worked. In most of these cases it has been teaching on medieval and early modern general courses at first and second year levels.

At Keele I have been given the first real opportunities to develop my own courses. The first of these was one focusing on the reign of Richard II. In the 2013-14 academic year I developed and taught a course in the ‘Sources and Debates’ module based on the Gascon Rolls with Philip Morgan.

I also teach palaeography for local history groups.