Professor Sarah Tarlow

Professor of Historical Archaeology

School/Department: Archaeology and Ancient History, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)787 468 3802



I am Professor of Historical Archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester. Following a first degree in English Literature at Sheffield University I completed an MPhil and PhD in archaeology at Cambridge. I was a lecturer at the University of Wales Lampeter for five years before moving to Leicester in 2000. While at Leicester I have been promoted to Senior Lecturer and then Professor. Since 2016 I have been working part-time at the university.


My research interests are principally in the archaeology of death and burial the archaeology and history of the early modern and modern periods archaeological theory and ethics. From 2011 to 2017 I led the interdisciplinary Wellcome-funded project ‘Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse’ which secured grant funding of nearly a million pounds. Before that I worked on the Leverhulme-funded ‘Changing Beliefs of the Human Body’ project and researched the idea of Improvement in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I love pursuing research that starts with interesting and difficult questions and finding approaches to address them which generally means I do highly interdisciplinary research. In 2022 and 2023 I am working with Professor Liv Nilsson Stutz of Linnaeus University on a project called ‘Ethical Entanglements’ which examines the principles and practice informing the display of human remains in museums around Europe.


Tarlow, Sarah and Emma Battell Lowman 2018. Harnessing the power of the criminal corpse. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Tarlow, Sarah 2017. The golden and ghoulish age of the gibbet in Britain. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Tarlow, Sarah (ed.) 2015. The archaeology of death and burial in post-medieval Europe. Berlin: DeGruyter Open (|)
Tarlow, Sarah and Liv Nilsson Stutz (eds). 2013. The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of death and burial. Oxford: OUP
Tarlow, S. 2012. The archaeology of emotion and affect. Annual Review of Anthropology41: 169-85
Tarlow, Sarah 2011. Ritual, belief and the dead in early modern Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Cherryson, Annia, Zoe Crossland and Sarah Tarlow 2012. The archaeology of death and  burial in post-medieval Britain and Ireland. Leicester: Leicester Archaeological Monographs 
Tarlow, Sarah 2007. The Archaeology of Improvement: Britain 1750-1850. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Reprinted in Paperback September 2012
Tarlow, Sarah 2001. Decoding ethics. Public archaeology 1: 245--59 
Tarlow, Sarah 2000. Emotion in archaeology. Current Anthropology 41(5): 713-45
Tarlow, Sarah 1999. Bereavement and commemoration: an archaeology of mortality  Oxford: Blackwell 


I am always looking for interesting PhD projects to supervise. I am happy to consider students working on the archaeology of historical periods and/or the archaeology of death burial and commemoration. I am especially keen to supervise students who are interested in interdisciplinary approaches and who want to engage with theory and take an original and critical approach. I have supervised more than 20 PhD students both traditional on-campus mode and by distance learning. Please contact me for an informal discussion if you would like to explore the possibility of doing a PhD with me.


Because of my part-time status I currently do little teaching outside PhD supervision but I still contribute to our Masters level teaching especially in historical archaeology and often co-ordinate the ‘Doing Historical Archaeology’ module.

Press and media

I am happy to address media queries on archaeological ethics the archaeology of death and burial the archaeology of execution and punishment sites in the period from 1500 to the present. I am also an authority on emotion and the past - particularly bereavement and the changing relationship between the living and the dead
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