Department of Archaeology

Dr Glyn Coppack BA PhD FSA


1967-1970 BA, History and Archaeology, University of Nottingham
1974-1980 PhD, Archaeology, University of Nottingham. Thesis: The Medieval Pottery of Lincoln, Nottingham and Derby

Career and research interests

1973-1988 Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Directorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings / English Heritage.
1988-1993 Principal Inspector for Properties in Care, English Heritage.
1993-2001 Head of Midlands and East Anglia Historic Team, Historic Properties, English Heritage.
2001-2010 Senior Inspector of Ancient Monuments, East Midlands Region, English Heritage.

Current Research

Current research is concentrated in three areas: the earliest stone buildings of the Cistercians, based around unpublished excavations and building recording at Fountains Abbey; the long-delayed study of Sempringham Priory, Lincolnshire, founding house of the Gilbertines, the only purely English monastic order; and the completion of research begun in the 1970s on religious houses in Lincolnshire.

Fountains Abbey has the most complete first generation stone buildings of any Cistercian abbey in Europe, and one of only two sites where excavation has been used to determine the order of construction. Only now are comparable buildings starting to emerge in France, Germany and Austria. Current proposals are the completion of publication of a series of excavation carried out in the 1980s and the completion of building recording. An academic book on Fountains Abbey is proposed, to support the popular account that has been in print for the past decade.

Sempringham Priory, with its precinct of over 80 acres, lies below the remains of a major Tudor house on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens. Apart from small scale excavation in 1938-39, the site has remained unknown and in cultivation since 1940. Working with the Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire, a major piece of field walking and geophysical survey has been completed, revealing for the first time the planning of the medieval monastery and the house and gardens that succeeded it. Sempringham is a site of international significance, the mother house of a monastic order that compares with Cîteaux, Premontré, or the Grande Chartreuse in France.

The historic county of Lincolnshire had 110 medieval religious houses, only 10 fewer than Yorkshire. Compared with Yorkshire, their remains are few but impressive above ground (with important exceptions in Lincoln and Boston), though the county has a substantial number of monasteries surviving as well-preserved earthworks. Many more survive as collections of architectural fragments either on or off site. A small number have been excavated on a reasonable scale (Bardney Abbey, South Witham Preceptory, and Thornholme Priory), and others are being recorded in the course of development. The History of Lincolnshire have commissioned a book currently entitled Medieval Monastic Houses in Lincolnshire.

Recent Publications

  • 2006 Abbeys and Priories (Stroud: Tempus)
  • 2006 ‘De archeologishe context van tegels in Fountains Abbey’. Novi Monasterii 5: 29-36
  • 2007 ‘Tupholme Abbey: What is there, what ought to be there, and what should it be like?’, in E Bates (ed), The Lost Buildings of Tupholme Abbey, Lincolnshire. Heckington: Heritage Lincolnshire.
  • 2007 ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: William Fowler and Thornholme Priory, an early venture in Lincolnshire Archaeology and its Sequel’, in J Howard and D Start (eds), All Things Lincolnshire: 64–72 (Lincoln: Soc. Lincolnshire History and Archaeology).
  • 2008 [with Jackie Hall] ‘The Church of Mount Grace Priory’ in J Luxford (ed) Studies in Carthusian Monasticism in the Late Middle Ages: 299-322. Medieval Church Studies 14. Tournhout: Brepols.
  • 2008 ‘Make straight in the desert a highway for our God – Carthusians and Community in late medieval England’, in J Burton and K Stöber (eds), Monasteries and Society in the British Isles: 168-179. Studies in the History of Medieval Religion 35. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  • 2008 'Prehistoric, Roman, Medieval and Post-Medieval Pottery' in P Cope-Faulkner (ed), Assessment of the Fieldwalking and Geophysical Survey Undertaken at Sempringham Priory and Village, Pointon and Sempringham, Lincolnshire (APS Report No. 113/08)
  • 2009 Abbeys and Priories. Stroud: Amberley.
  • 2009 Fountains Abbey: the Cistercians in Northern England. Stroud: Amberley


In Press

  • (with Laurence Keen) Mount Grace Priory: the excavations of 1957 - 92, English Heritage monograph.
  • ‘How the other half lived – the planning of Cistercian nunneries in early sixteenth century Yorkshire’, Citeaux - Commentarii Cistersienses





Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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