Victoria Yuskaitis

Victoria Yuskaitis


I am currently a Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute (LAHRI) Postdoctoral Fellow, starting in January 2021. The non-stipendiary fellowship provides support for recently graduated PhD students to advance their research and academic careers. I also began a full-time role as a Public Engagement Officer at the University of Central Lancashire in January 2021. 

I study English anchorites, the cells they lived in, and their varied experiences, and my PhD thesis is an interdisciplinary project combining historical, literary, and archaeological approaches and diverse source materials, both archaeological and textual. 

I earned my BA in May 2014 from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA (USA), where I studied Archaeology, Medieval Studies, and Creative Writing. After this I completed my MA in Medieval Archaeology in September 2015 at the University of Sheffield, where I was supervised by Hugh Willmott (Senior Lecturer in European Historical Archaeology at Sheffield).

I started my PhD at the University of Leeds in October 2016, and I was funded through an Arts Cross Disciplinary Research Scholarship, supported jointly by the School of History and the School of English, from 2016–2019. My supervisors were Emilia Jamroziak (Professor of Medieval Religious History at Leeds) and Catherine Batt (Senior Lecturer in the School of English at Leeds). I was awarded the John Pagett Bursary during the final year of my PhD (2019–2020), which is awarded to postgraduate researchers carrying out historical, archaeological or natural history research on Shropshire or the immediate region. 

I sat my viva on 19 November 2020 and passed with only editoral corrections, submitted the final version of my PhD in December 2020, and graduated with my doctorate in January 2021. My PhD thesis is titled Anchorites in Shropshire: An Archaeological, Historical, and Literary Analysis of the Anchoritic Vocation (2020)

Research interests

My research interests include antiquarianism, medieval archaeology, medieval parish church history and archaeology, and of course anything related to anchorites.  

The central research questions for my PhD thesis are:

  • What can archaeological remains of anchorite cells, particularly in Shropshire, indicate about anchoritic experience?
  • How do the archaeological record and the documentary and literary record inform each other?
  • What does this comprehensive analysis offer in terms of new ways to consider the anchoritic vocation and the lived experience of anchorites?

Archaeological Experience

I have worked on various archaeological sites, either excavating or surveying, almost every summer since my first excavation in 2013:

In addition to working on these sites, I have been focusing on my own archaeological analysis of a group of parish churches in Shropshire, and have carried out research trips in April 2017, April 2018, and June 2019 for this purpose. In addition, I have analysed churches outside of Shropshire with potential comparative anchoritic archaeology, including churches in the following areas:

  • Norwich, August 2017
  • Kent, October 2017
  • Durham, February 2018 and January 2019
  • Yorkshire, September 2018
  • Surrey, April 2019
  • Sussex, May 2019 
  • Newcastle-On-Tyne, November 2019

I have also coordinated research trips to the Shropshire Archives and Historic Environment Record (HER) in Shrewsbury alongside my April 2017 and 2018 archaeological research. 


My academic publication record is as follows: 

  • 'Archaeology and Medievalism at Julian of Norwich's Anchorite Cell', Studies in Medievalism, 29 (2020), pp. 123–54
  • 'The Archaeological Context of an Anchorite Cell at Ruyton, Shropshire', Early Middle English, 3.1 (2021), pp. 131–36
  • 'The Archaeological Context of an Anchorite Cell at Ruyton, Shropshire', in Early Middle English, ed. by Michelle M. Sauer and Jenny C. Bledsoe (York: Arc Humanities Press, 2021), pp. 131–36

In addition, the following publications are forthcoming:  

  • ‘Performative Anchorite Grave at St. Anne’s, Lewes, Sussex’, Sussex Archaeological Collections,158 (2020), forthcoming (expected December 2020, but pushed back due to Covid-19)
  • ‘The Mythical Outcast Medieval Leper: Perceptions of Leper and Anchorite Squints’, in [title to be determined], Writing History in the Middle Ages, (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2021) (pushed back due to Covid-19, expected late 2021/early 2022) Invited to participate after presenting in the International Medieval Congress (IMC) 2019, from the series of sessions titled Reconstituting the Middle Ages: using medieval sources to recover the material past
  • ‘Anchorites, Antiquarians, and Archaeology: The Material Remains of Shropshire Anchorites in Parish Churches’, Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology in Shrewsbury and Mid-Shropshire, British Archaeological Association (BAA) Conference Transactions 2019 (pushed back due to Covid-19, expected late 2021/early 2022)

Invited Academic Lectures 

  • IMS/School of History Medieval History Seminar (12 December 2019): I received an invitation to speak as part of the IMS/School of History Medieval History Seminar series, and presented Anchoresses, Anchorites, and Anchorite-Priests: Re-evaluating Lived Experience through the Archaeology of Anchorite Cells at the University of Leeds
  • Colloquium and Class Seminars at Lycoming College (14–17 April 2020): I was invited to lecture at History Colloquium and to speak in various classes in the English, History and Archaeology departments at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, USA. I would also have spoken to students about international study opportunities. Funded in part by the IMS PGR Extaordinary Fund. Cancelled due to Covid-19

Public Engagement Experience 

  • Harrogate Archaeological Society Online Public Talk (6 March 2021): I presented a talk titled, Archaeology, Antiquarians, and Anchorites: A New Methodology for Studying Anchoritism to an audience of 13. A future talk agreed for the following year 
  • Wrekin Historical Group Online Public Talk (5 November 2020): In-person public talk originally scheduled for 1 October 2020, but cancelled due to Covid-19. I presented a talk titled, Archaeology, Antiquarians, and Anchorites: A New Methodology for Studying Anchoritism to an audience of 15. Part of my funding agreement for the John Pagett Bursary
  • Morley Medieval Online Public Talk (23 October 2020): In-person public talk originally scheduled for 27 March 2020, but cancelled due to Covid-19. I presented a talk titled, An Anchorite Cell at Chester-le-Street: An Archaeological Perspective to an audience of 34
  • #ResearchNightsIn (26 August 2020): Presented a short talk titled, An Anchorite at Chester-le-Street: Visting a Medieval Cell and Museum. Posted to Youtube, and intended for a non-specialist audience new to the topic
  • Virtual Be Curious (June 2020): Originally intended to be held on-campus, but changed to a virtual event due to Covid-19. Participated in Question Week, answering: Did medieval people quarantine or social distance? Video posted to Twitter, and I answered queries via social media
  • Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society Public Talk (8 February 2020): I presented a public talk titled, Anchorites, Archaeology, and Antiquarians: A New Archaeological Approach in Anchorite Studies at the Swarthmore Centre in Leeds to an audience of 20 people
  • The Arts Society Public Talk (19 June 2019): I received an invitation to speak on the day to The Arts Society at The Lord Hill in Shrewsbury after a speaker had to cancel last-minute, and I delievered a similar talk with the same title (see below) to an audience of over 100 people
  • The Much Wenlock Civic Society Public Talk (18 June 2019): I presented a public talk titled An Anchorite at Much Wenlock? The Archaeological Evidence at The Priory Hall in Much Wenlock, to an audience of 37 people
  • Bedale Archaeolgy & History Society Public Talk (5 February 2019): I presented a public talk titled An Anchoress at All Saint's, York? Archaeological Remains of English Anchorites in Parish Churches, attended by an audience of 30 people
  • Outreach Event at the Shropshire Archives (28 August 2018): I presented my archaeological findings from my case study churches in Shropshire to 27 locals who have supported, encouraged, and facilitated my research in the area. The talk, titled Anchorites in Shropshire: Archaeological and Archival Evidence, was accompanied by relevant archival documents available to view and, in some cases, handle
  • Be Curious (2018): I created an interactive timeline about anchorites for this campus-wide festival, celebrating various types of research at Leeds and encouraging locals and their families to visit campus and explore. Received positive feedback from parents as well as children, and also helped with interactive demonstrations from medievalists nearby
  • Archaeology in the City (2015): I introduced archaeology to middle-school children through an interactive display of archaeological tools, and encouraged their interest in the field
  • Sheffield Cathedral Placement (2015): I designed a two-week project which invovled creating a web-based resource to educate visitors about the Cathedral's archaeologically preserved medieval past. This entailed significant archaeological and historical research, requiring access to private collections and the Sheffield archives

Teaching Experience

  • School of History Postgraduate Tutor (Autumn Term 2020): Led discussion-based weekly seminars for HIST1055: Historiography and Historical Skills, The Norman Conquest. Co-delivered lecture and graded three major written assignments. Due to Covid-19, classes and office hours conducted online via TEAMS and Blackboard
  • Education Outreach Fellow (2017–2020): Introduced Year 12 sixth-form students to concepts necessary to suceed in HE education and in the EPQ or IB qualification through customised interactive skills workshops. Delivered workshops with tailored content to audiences of various sizes and ages. Workshops discussed various aspects of research, from the definition and avoidance of plagiarism to strategies for taking notes, to skills workshops such as interview skills and time management. Designed workshop content and format, including re-designing key workshops and creating new content such as online bite-size sessions. Required liasing with school officials in advance of on-campus and off-campus events, and customising presentations to accommodate the needs of particular schools and groups of students
  • Plus Programme Ambassador (August–September 2020): Reviewed the online content available to MA students, titled Prepare for Postgrad. Prompted discussion on the discussion boads and encouraged interaction between students, which involved signposting students towards futher support, providing assurances about concerns with starting an MA degree, and answering any direct questions
  • Access to Leeds Research Skills Team Leader (June–July 2020): Co-ordinated creating weekly online content with three team members featuring research skills necessary for university. Involved navigating, adding content to, and editing Minerva; procuring engagement with and replying to discussion boards; and leading multiple live events of various types, including webchats and workshops on Blackboard
  • MA Class Teaching (November 2018): Co-taught a two-hour, discussion-based University of Leeds MA class, MEDV 5295, titled Religious Communities and the Individual Experience of Religion, 1200-1500

Other Work Experience

My work experience at the University of Leeds includes: 

  • Brotherton Library, Weekend Customer Service Assistant (2019–2020): Maintained the Library’s Customer Service Excellence award by assisting customers in accessing library services in a friendly, efficient, and welcoming manner. Operated library systems, including databases, and delivered services and operations such as overdues, reservation requests, till work, and more
  • School of History Men, Women, and Care Data Entry Internship (2019–2020): Developed a database of social and demographic information drawn from the National Archives as part of a European Research Council-funded project. Entered data taken from photographs of primary source documents into specially-designed forms
  • IMS External Communications Intern (2018–2019): Updated and generated website content, worked with new website platforms, and maintained a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook
  • IMS Website Intern (2017–2018): Updated and generated website content, including events, news stories, online resources, calls for papers, and the calendar
  • IMS Promotions and Communications Intern (2016–2017): Maintained the IMS email list, publicised medieval events at Leeds as well as other universities, and wrote regular newsletters

Conference Experience

My graduate conference experience includes presenting, organising panels, and working in various capacities: 

  • IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2020 (6–9 July): Held at the University of Leeds. Organised two panels in a session sponsored by the International Anchoritic Society titled Enclosed for Life: The Rigidity – or Permeability – of Anchoritic Borders. However, these papers were not carried over to the virtual programme. Presented a paper titled Anchoritic Borders in the Welsh Marches: A Welsh Grave Slab in a Shropshire Anchorite Cell
    • Post-Congress Tour: Scotland the Brave! Castles & Battlefields of Central Scotland (10–14 July 2020, part of IMC programming): Invited to work as an Excursions Assistant (see IMC 2018), but cancelled
    • Changed to a virtual Congress (vIMC) due to Covid-19
  • 55th International Congress on Medieval Studies (7–10 May 2020): Held at Western Michigan University, USA. Part of IMS panels organised by Axel W. Muller titled: Medieval Borders and Environments I: Changing Boundaries. Presented a paper titled Anchoritic Borders: A Welsh Grave Slab in a Shropshire Anchorite Cell 
    • Received funding from IMC and PGR Extraordinary Fund to present and attend
    • Cancelled due to Covid-19
  • British Archaeological Association (BAA) Annual Conference 2019. Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology in Shrewsbury and Mid-Shropshire (15–19 July): Held in Shrewsbury. Presented a 20-minute paper titled Anchorites, Antiquarians, and Archaeology: The Material Remains of Shropshire Anchorites in Parish Churches 
    • Received Student Scholarship
    • Delivered short on-site presentations at two churches with anchorite cells (Ruyton and Much Wenlock)
  • IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2019 (1–4 July): Held at the University of Leeds. Presented a 20-minute paper titled Anchorites’ Cells and Lepers’ Squints: Medieval or Modern Materialities?
    • Worked as an Interviewer for delegate video interviews and Social Media Coordinator with the other IMS interns, which involved updating Twitter and Instagram regularly to promote the IMC
  • IMS Workshop: Contesting Medieval Masculinities (17 May 2019): Held at the University of Leeds. Presented a 20-minute paper titled Male Anchorite-Priests: Medieval or Modern Masculinity?
  • IMS Workshop: ‘Borders’ (3 April 2019): Held at the University of Leeds. Presented a 5-minute paper talk titled A Welsh Grave Slab in a Shropshire Anchorite Cell: Border Perceptions, Medieval and Modern. Participated in the group discussion following a series of short papers
  • IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2018 (2–5 July): Held at the University of Leeds. Co-organised a session titled Memory and Methodology: Anchoritic Legacies and Historical Reconstruction with Alicia Smith (The Queen's College, University of Oxford). The session was held on Thursday, 5 July from 14:15–15:45, and was sponsored by the International Anchoritic Society. Presented Archaeology and Anchoritism: A New Methodology in this session
    • Post-Congress Tour: The Wars of the Roses - Medieval Castles and Battlefields of the Midlands (6–9 July, part of IMC programming): I worked as an Excursions Assistant on this tour, which entailed organising the details of the trip and managing any issues or concerns raised by the tour guides, delegates, hotel staff, or bus driver
  • International Anchoritic Society Conference (28–30 June 2018): Held at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Presented The Materiality of Anchoritic Cells
  • Future of Medieval Studies (31 May–1 July 2018): Held at the University of Leeds. On the concluding panel
  • Revealing Records IX (Ninth Annual Conference Series) (25 May 2018): Held at King's College London. Presented Archaeology and Antiquarianism: Interactions Between Medieval Material Culture and Post-Medieval Discourse
  • IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2017 (3–6 July): Attendee, and also worked as an Excursions Assistant and Interviewer for delegate video interviews
  • Re-evaluating the Religious: Recent Approaches to Monastic Archaeology (19–20 May 2017): Held at and sponsored by the University of Sheffield. Presented Anchorites and the Medieval Church: An Archaeological Perspective, and involved in organising and promoting the conference

Other Academic Experience

  • IMC Standing Committee Member (2019–2021): Served as the PGR representative. Provided input concerning the oversight of all matters relating to the IMC, including proposing academic decisions and strategy in conjunction with the management structure of the IMS
  • International/EU Student Support Group (2019–2020): Co-ordinated support group for History PhD students as a response to the unique pressures faced by International and EU students. Focus on creating a space for peers to share knowledge and support
  • PhD Workshop Coordinator (February 2019): Co-coordinated this workshop, designed to bring modernist and medievalist historians into dialogue on theme of marginalisation and inclusivity. Also helped plan a follow-up event in May 2019 
  • Medieval Group Steering Committee (2018–2019): A member of the committee determining upcoming events and speakers for the IMS Medieval Group. Organised a talk given by Dr John Moreland, a prominent archaeologist, and also chaired and set up events
  • Work-in-Progress Coordinator (2018–2019): Co-ordinated the Pizza and Peer Support PhD Work-in-Progress meetings, designed to offer a supportive and student-led environment to discuss research, practice conference papers, or ask for advice
  • Leeds University Union (LUU) Medieval Society Secretary (2018–2019): The LUU Medieval Society seeks to reach out to all members of the Leeds University and wider community. My role involved providing input determining events and trips, and helping to facilitate and prepare for meetings
  • IMS Student-Staff Forum Member (2016–2019): Served as a representative for International students and expressed concerns, issues, and comments on behalf of these students at regular meetings. Brainstormed with other forum members about how to address issues and concerns. Also participated in Research and PGR Committee meetings when appropriate
  • Track Changes (2014–2015): Trained as a peer review editor for the Postgraduate Journal of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Sheffield. Provided helpful but critical feedback and was asked to provide further feedback due to thorough remarks
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA in Medieval Studies, Archaeology, and Creative Writing from Lycoming College (USA)
  • MA in Medieval Archaeology from the University of Sheffield
  • PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of Leeds

Professional memberships

  • British Archaeological Association (BAA), early career
  • The Medieval Academy of America (MAA), early career
  • Royal Historical Society (RHS), early career
  • Society for Medieval Archaeology (SMA), early career