Dr Emma J. Wells

Dr Emma J. Wells


Dr Emma J. Wells is an historian of religious and architectural history, specialising particularly in the medieval and early modern eras. She is a passion advocate of the buildings history approach which seeks to understand people and the past through their surroundings. Her expertise covers everything from parish churches and cathedrals, the saints, pilgrimage and stained glass, to historic buildings in the modern age. Emma is the author of Pilgrim Routes of the British Isles (Hale, 2016) and is the midst of finalising another on the senses in the medieval church for OUP. Her next book, Heaven On Earth: The Lives & Legacies of the World’s Greatest Cathedrals will be published by Head of Zeus (2020/21).

Emma writes often and reviews for newspapers and magazines, including BBC History, History Today, the Times Literary Supplement, History Revealed and BBC Countryfile. A lively broadcaster and frequent acclaimed public speaker at literary festivals, academic conferences and corporate lectures, Emma’s experience also stretches beyond the world of religion and architecture, having lectured in archaeology, history, and art. She wrote and presented a three-part documentary for Viral History on St Cuthbert’s Way and appears often as a talking head as well as podcast contributor, with appearances on History Hit’s Art Detective, History Extra, and as a ‘Don’ on BBC Radio 4’s The 3rd Degree.

Emma gained her PhD from Durham University, for which she was awarded the 2011-12 British Archaeological Association Ochs Scholarship and Society for Church Archaeology Research Grant. She is now a lecturer and Programme Director of English Building History and Parish Church Studies at the University of York, and a Research Associate within the Department of Archaeology.

She gained her racing licence aged 18 and previously raced with Formula Woman.

Dr Emma J. Wells @Emma_J_Wells

What tickled me today? Writing about Suger’s theological rationale behind the Gothic style and “spiritual” kept autocorrecting via Word dictionary to “spitball”! 😂 I appreciate this might be a “you had to be there/#amwriting” kinda funny.

Dragon? Horse! No, dog...? 🤷🏽‍♀️ Another C15 poppy head, this time from All Saints, Thornham in Norfolk. #ImaginaryAnimals #AnimalsInChurches

Your guess is as good as mine— C15 poppy head from St Margaret's Church, Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk #ImaginaryAnimals #AnimalsInChurches

A “hunky-punk” from the S aisle, Evercreech in Somerset. Apparently the mason quarrelled w/ parson + publican of village inn where he was lodged during work. Mason took revenge by carving 2 of these grotesques, on parapets. #imaginaryanimals #animalsinchurches

A very odd “demonic” chap, but couldn’t resist. 16th-century glass from Fairford, Gloucestershire #animalsinchurches #imaginaryanimals

First up for today’s #animalsinchurches theme of #imaginaryanimals are these Viking Hogback tomb beauties from Brompton church, Northallerton in North Yorks. Technically I believe they’re bears but, they look a tad odd.

My latest podcast with @thehistoryguy for @HistoryHit
Very much fun to record. Thanks for having me, Dan!


The first batch has arrived!!!! More will follow. This batch will now be sent to all pre orders. They look stunning. Thank you to @DrLindseyFitz @drjohnwoolf @wyattauthor3 and the @History_Chap for helping to make it possible. A new history magazine will be out soon. #histmed

I already know I live in the best city in the UK but it's nice to have confirmation #York #Yorkshire https://t.co/l3f4xXx5FW

What a load of rubbish. Why do we feel the need to keep remaking classics?! The original already had the perfect blend of ingredients—oh, and no CGI was required! 🙄

#AnimalsInChurches #ImaginaryAnimals @johnevigar @pacoulmag @stiffleaf @MorleyRA @Wuzmi @sarahjigpoon @DEmiliopics @DrJACameron @last_of_england @ArtGuideAlex @Rach_Arnold @bwthornton @cotentinologue1 @DrFrancisYoung @Emma_J_Wells @FRH_Europe @Moodyarchive

So, Malcolm Thurlby has been helping my ‘tholos’ problem in relation to @WellsCathedral1. We are now thinking it very well might be a sort of dome supported by pillars but I’ve read somewhere it was centrally located. Thoughts...? 🙏🏼

Interesting inscription in my recently-purchased @BritArchAssoc Salisbury volume...

Wishing I was here right now... 🥾 ☀️#lindisfarne #holyisland #pilgrim

You know is really shit about #academia?...ECRs paying £400 to present a 15-minute paper to less than 20 people in a small room because they think it will help them get their work out there & improve their career prospects.