Photo of Dr Ruth Nugent

Dr Ruth Nugent BA(Hons), MPhil, PhD, FHEA

UKRI Future Leader's Fellow Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology


Research Overview

I currently supervise the following doctoral candidates:

As primary supervisor: Thomas J. Fitzgerald, "Charnelling in Post-Medieval England: Encountering the Fragmented Body, 1500-1900AD" (Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology) with Professor Martin Heale.

As tertiary supervisor: Elizabeth West, "Women and Viking Army Camps in Northern Britain" (History) with Dr Clare Downham and Dr Eoghan Ahern.

Mortuary Archaeology

My main research interest is in burial, post-burial, and post-mortem practices in Britain (particularly in England) from the 5th century AD to the modern day. I study perceptions of, and interactions with, human remains in all forms, and how the dead are managed over time. Later interference and/or re-engagement with exhumed or unburied bodies, burial spaces, mortuary monuments, and memorials by later generations are of prime interest to me. This includes iconoclasm, graffiti, theft, and tokenism of the dead, their accoutrements, and their physical surroundings. My work currently focuses on the long-dead in churches and cathedrals from the early medieval period to the 19th century as part of my UKRI Future Leader's Fellowship "Digital Library of Historic British Mortuary and Science and Investigation". If you have any examples to share, discuss, or would like to use the library for your own research, please do email me as I would be delighted to connect with you!

Thinking through the Body

My secondary research interest is in exploring how people in the past viewed their own bodies (both living and dead, real and imagined) and used their bodies to interpret and navigate the physical world around them. I’m interested in archaeological, textual, and visual evidence of this from the 5th century AD to the 19th century and themes and theories relating to:
- bodiliness, corporeality, and identities
- emotions and the senses, especially their role in epistemology and communal expression
- haptic culture and the role of touch
- bodies in built environments, especially spatial hierarchies and 'rules' of engaging with architectural spaces
- abjection and psychological encounters with the dead
- fragmentation and reconstruction of the body
- religious, political, and social proprieties of the body (e.g. poise, posture, gesture, costume, bodily adornment)