Dr Faye Sayer

Dr Faye Sayer

Department of History
Assistant Professor in Heritage and History
Director, International Centre for Heritage

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am interested in the value cultural heritage has to communities, and how it can or has the potential to impact human and social capital; including wellbeing, mental health and human dignity. 


  • PhD: The University of Exeter (2010)
  • MA Public Archaeology: University College London (2003)  
  • BA (Hons), Archaeology and Prehistory: The University of Sheffield (2002)
  • PGCAP: Manchester Metropolitan University (2012)


I recently joined the University of Birmingham in 2022, to contribute to teaching and research in heritage and public history. Before arriving at Birmingham, I worked at Manchester Metropolitan University as a Reader in Public History and Community Archaeology (2010-2022). Previously I have worked as an associate lecturer from University of Chester, and University of Exeter. Prior to academia I worked for heritage organisations including English Heritage, The Portable Antiquates Scheme, Museum of London, British Museum, Tullie House Museum, and Museum of Central Lancashire.

I am through my research-based consultancy lucky to work with and advise a range of heritage organisation and NGO’s in the UK, US, Palestine, Nigeria, Australia, Europe and India on evaluating community heritage projects. This has included recently Premiere Urgence International, Anxiety UK, Historic England, Solider On!, National Museum Institute, Biltmore Estate, Nemours Estate, Chatsworth House, Well-City Salisbury, Elizabeth Gaskell House, Northern Heartlands and Dulwich Picture Gallery.

I am currently PI for international British Academy project ‘Heritage and Wellbeing: Creating Healthier Societies Through Heritage’ and a visiting fellow at National Museum Institute (India, Delhi). I have published extensively on evaluating and measuring wellbeing in a cultural context, including in the Oxford Handbook of Public Heritage Theory and Practice and I published the textbook Public History: A Practical Guide. 

I am a regular contributor to international network conferences, International Federation of Public Historians (IFPH), National Council on  Public History (NCPH) and European Archaeological Association (EAA).  I am a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College. 


  • Distance Learning Programme in International Heritage Management
  • Distance Learning Programme in World Heritage Studies
  • Public History

Postgraduate supervision

I offer PhD supervision in several areas of heritage, public history and community archaeology, particularly related to the positive and negative impacts the past and its narratives has or can have on society and communities. I welcome collaborations with external partners. I am currently supervising PhDs including ones on heritage Sites and wellbeing (Amy Luck) Downs), sustainability of military museums (Brian Stoor).

Find out more - our PhD Cultural Heritage  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


I am a public historian and heritage scientist covers a range of periods and geographic areas. I have ongoing interests in the examination and measurement of the myriad social and cultural impacts public history and heritage has to diverse communities. As such, my research forges interdisciplinary synergies between subjects such as healthcare, psychology, sociology, human geography, archaeology, education, and creative arts. I have considerable experience in public engagement and research led commercial projects, and I have worked with various cultural heritage sector organisations including museums, heritage sites, historic house, art galleries, theatres and government agencies.


This research seeks to address important contemporary challenges and sustainable development goals including ‘wellbeing inequality,’ and has been awarded a British Academy small grant ‘Creating Healthier Societies Through Heritage’ project (2019-22) and Anxiety UK Harold Fisher research grant (2022-2023). It has been published in the International Journal for Arts and Health (2015) and as a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Public Heritage Theory and Practice (OUP, 2018) and informed future strategic aims, funding priorities and strategies within the UK heritage sector and government for example Historic England.


Public engagement is at the core of both my research and teaching and I have published an internationally textbook ‘Public History: A Practical Guide’ (Bloomsbury, 2019). I work with a range of international heritage organisations, NGOs and charities, government agencies, engaging in a diverse array of cultural activities, including in India, Nigeria, USA, Palestine and UK.  My current research into the preservation, presentation and value of contested and ethically and morally sensitive public histories and heritages has been published. International Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage (2022) and Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage (2021) and this research appeared in The Conversation (2022). 


I have delivered externally funded local, national, and international public engagement heritage projects and various commercial projects. The NHLF community heritage project ‘Bones without Barriers Project’ led to publication in Archaeologists and The Dead (OUP, 2016), The Historic Environment: Policy and Practice (2014) and Nature (2022). In partnership with Soldier On!, Liverpool John Moore’s, and National Heritage Lottery Fund, I delivered a professional workshop on ‘Wellbeing, Therapy and Heritage’ (2019), developed ‘Guidelines for Heritage Wellbeing.’ This workshop has been delivered international the National Museum in Delhi and Centre for Public History in Institute in Bengaluru and National Council on Public History.

Currently I am collaborating with the historic estates of Biltmore (US), Nemours (US) and Chatsworth (UK) developing public engagement and participatory research projects centred a creative ‘expert by experience’ led programmes as a mechanism to co-develop new ‘storied experiences’ with diverse community. This public engagement and research project will inform future organisational strategic visions to support community wellbeing and human dignity. 

Other activities

  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquities
  • Fellow of Higher Education
  • Member of Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
  • Arts and Humanities Council Peer Review College


Recent publications


Sayer, F 2023, Heritage and Wellbeing: The Impact of Heritage Places on Visitors' Wellbeing. Oxford University Press.

Sayer, F 2019, Public History: A Practical Guide. Bloomsbury Academic, London .

Sayer, F, Edwards, S & Dolski, M 2018, Histories on Screen: The Past and Present in Anglo-American Cinema and Television. Bloomsbury Academic.


Sayer, F, Leyva, R, Luck, A, Lidbetter, N & Smith , D 2024, 'Testing The Potential Therapeutic Effects of An Online Creative Arts-Based Intervention For People With Anxiety.', Arts and Health.

Luck, A & Sayer, F 2023, 'Digital Engagement and Wellbeing: The Impact of Museum Digital Resources on User Wellbeing During COVID-19', Heritage and Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159032X.2023.2228173

Luck, A & Sayer, F 2023, 'Public History and Wellbeing: A comparative analysis of the impact of digital and in-person engagement on visitors’ subjective wellbeing at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, UK', International Public History . https://doi.org/10.1515/iph-2023-2011

Sayer, F 2022, 'Hard road to travel: lessons learnt from practicing community archaeology', Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage. https://doi.org/10.1080/20518196.2022.2041341

Sayer, F 2022, 'Open dialogues and localized approaches: reflections on international public history perspective and practices', International Public History , vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 53-55. https://doi.org/10.1515/iph-2022-2037

Gretzinger, J, Sayer, D, Justeau, P, Altena, E, Pala , M, Dulias, K, Edwards, C, Jodoin, S, Lacher, L, Sabin, S, Vagene, A, Haak, W, Ebenesersdottir, SS, Moore, K, Radzeviciute, R, Schmidt, K, Brace, S, Bager, M, Patterson, N, Papac, L, Broomandkhoshbacht, N, Callan, K, Harney, E, Lliev, L, Lawson, A, Michel, M, Stewardson, K, Zalzala, F, Rohland, N, Kappelhoff-Beckmann, S, Both, F, Winger, D, Neumann, D, Saalow, L, Krabath, S, Becket, S, Van Twest, M, Faulkner, N, Read, C, Barton, T, Caruth, J, Hines, J, Krause-Kyora, B, Warnke, U, Schuenemann, V, Barnes, I, Dahlstrom, H, Clausen, J, Richardson, A, Popescu, E, Dodwell, N, Ladd, S, Phillips, T, Mortimer, R, Sayer, F, Swales, D, Stewart, A, Powlesland, D, Kenyon, R, Ladle, L, Peek, C, Grefen-Peters, S, Ponce, P, Daniels, R, Spall, C, Woolcock, J, Jones, A, Roberts, A, Symmons, R, Rawden, A, Cooper, A, Bos, K, Booth, T, Schroeder, H, Thomas, M, Helgason, A, Richards, M, Reich, D, Krause, J & Schiffels, S 2022, 'The Anglo-Saxon migration and the formation of the early English gene pool', Nature, vol. 610, no. 7930, pp. 112-119. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-05247-2

Sayer, F 2021, 'Localizing the narrative: the representation of slave trade and enslavement within Nigerian museums', Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage , vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 257-282. https://doi.org/10.1080/21619441.2021.1963034

Sayer, F 2015, 'Can Digging Make You Happy: Archaeological Excavations, Happiness and Heritage', Arts and Health, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 247.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Sayer, F 2018, The Moving Image as a Secondary Source: Trust, Authenticity and Narrative. in Histories on Screen: the Past and Present in Anglo-American Cinema and Television . Bloomsbury Academic, London, pp. 29.

Sayer, F 2018, Understanding Well-Being: A Mechanism for Measuring the Impact of Heritage Practice on Wellbeing. in The Oxford Handbook of Public Heritage Theory and Practice. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 387.

Sayer, F & Sayer, D 2016, Bones Without Barrier: Social Impact of Digging the Dead . in Archaeologists and the Dead : Mortuary Archaeology in Contemporary Society. Oxford University Press, pp. 139.

View all publications in research portal