Professor Christopher Dyer

Department of History
Senior Research Fellow

Contact details

I am an economic and social historian of the middle ages, with interests in archaeology and landscape history.




Chris Dyer began his career at the University of Birmingham as an undergraduate and postgraduate, before taking up his first post at the University of Edinburgh. He returned to Birmingham in 1970, where he eventually rose to become Professor of Medieval History before joining the University of Leicester in 2001. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the History Department at Birmingham, as well as Emeritus Professor of History at Leicester. 

Postgraduate supervision

He is currently jointly supervising three PhD students.

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


Professor Dyer’s broad research interests focus on the economic and social history of medieval England, which includes the management of  landed estates, agrarian history, peasant mentality and rebellion, standards of living (including diet and housing), consumers and consumption, relations between town and country, the role of towns, especially of smaller towns, the conditions and attitudes of wage earners, poverty, the origins of capitalism, landscape history, rural depopulation, and money and commerce. Much of this research has been focussed on the west midland region (Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire) but has also included the east midlands,  East Anglia and Yorkshire.  He is currently completing work on ‘Peasant farming 1200-1540’ which was initially funded by the  Leverhulme Trust. This is intended to make a new assessment of the types of farming practised by peasants, and to evaluate their role in the economy.

Other activities

He no longer teaches undergraduates, but regularly gives lectures and papers to conferences, and to seminars and historical societies. He is Vice president of the Agricultural History Society, Society for Medieval Archaeology, Medieval Settlement Research Group; Chair of the British Academy Research Project Committee; Chair of the Leicestershire Victoria County History Trust Executive Committee.


Recent publications

  • A Country Merchant: 1495-1520.   Trading and Farming at the End of the Middle Ages (Oxford, 2012)
  •  (with Richard Jones), Deserted Villages Revisited (Hatfield, 2010)
  • (with Andrew Hopper, Evelyn Lord and Nigel Tringham), New Directions in Local History since Hoskins (Hatfield, 2011)
  • (with Matthew Tompkins), Dartmoor’s Alluring Uplands (Exeter, 2012)

Articles and chapters

  • ‘Excavations and documents: the case of Caldecote, Hertfordshire’, Medieval Settlement Research, 24 (2009), 1-5
  • (with D. Aldred), ‘Changing landscape and society in a Cotswold village: Hazleton, Gloucestershire, to c. 1600’, Transactions of the  Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society,  127 (2009), pp. 235-70
  • ‘Villages in crisis: social dislocation and desertion, 1370-1520’, in C. Dyer and R.Jones (eds), Deserted Villages Revisited (Hatfield, 2010), pp. 28-45
  • ‘Methods and problems in the study of social mobility in England (1200-1350)’, in S. Carocci (ed.), La Mobilità Sociale nel Medioevo (École Francaise de Rome, 2010), 97-116
  • ‘Did the rich really help the poor in medieval England?’, in Ricos y Pobres: Opulencia y Desarraigo en el Occidente Medieval (XXXVI Semana de Estudios  Medievales, Navarra, 2010), 307-22.
  • ‘The crisis of the early fourteenth century. Some material evidence from Britain’, in D. Boisseuil, P. Chastang, L. Feller and  J. Morsel (eds.), Écriture de l’Espace Social. Mélange d’Histoire Médiévale Offerts à  Monique Bourin (Paris, 2010), 491-506.
  • (with R.Hoyle),’Britain, 1000-1750’, in B.van Bavel and R. Hoyle (eds.), Rural Economy and Society in North-Western Europe, 500-2000. Social Relations: Property and Power (Turnhout, 2010), 51-78.
  • ‘Luxury goods in medieval England’, in Ben Dodds and Christian D. Liddy (eds.), Commercial Activity, Markets and Entrepreneurs in the Middle Ages. Essays in Honour of Richard Britnell (Woodbridge, 2011), 217-38.
  • ‘Modern perspectives on medieval Welsh towns’, in R.A. Griffiths and P.R. Schofield (eds.), Wales and the Welsh in the Middle Ages. Essays presented to J. Beverley Smith (Cardiff, 2011)
  • (with Paul Everson), ‘The development of the study of medieval settlements, 1880-2010’; (with Keith Lilley), ‘Town and countryside: relationships and resemblances’, in Neil Christie and Paul Stamper (eds.), Medieval Rural Settlement. Britain and Ireland, AD 800-1600 (Oxford, 2012), 11-30, 81-98
  • ‘Harold Fox: his contribution to our understanding of the past’, in Sam Turner and Bob Silvester (eds.), Life in Medieval Landscapes. People and Places in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 2012), 8-14
  • ‘The late medieval village of Wharram Percy: farming the land’; ‘The late medieval village of Wharram Percy: living and consuming’; ‘The inventory of William Akclum and its context’, in S. Wrathmell (ed.), A History of Wharram and its Neighbours (Wharram, a Study of Settlement on the Yorkshire Wolds, 13, York University Archaeological Publications, 15, 2012), 312-27; 327-40; 342-
  • ‘The value of fifteenth-century Inquisitions Post Mortem for economic and social history’, in  M. Hicks (ed.), The Fifteenth-Century Inquisitions Post Mortem. A Companion (Woodbridge, 2012), 97-115.
  • ‘Poverty and its relief in late medieval England’,  Past and Present, 216 (2012), 41-78.
  • ‘Was Bidford-on-Avon a town in the middle ages?’, Warwickshire History, 15 (2012), 93-110.
  • ‘Did peasants need markets and towns? The experience of  late medieval England?’, in M. Davies and J. Galloway  (eds.), London and Beyond. Essays in Honour of Derek Keene (London, 2012), 25-47.