Alister Sutherland


Alister is a medieval historian with a particular interest in the social, economic and cultural history of the medieval peasantry. He graduated from the University of Leicester in 2015 with a 1st class BA in Ancient History and History with a Year Abroad (in Germany). In 2016 he obtained his MA in English Local History which was also done at the University of Leicester. In the same year Alister began his PhD at Leicester where he studied how people in rural English communities used non-armorial wax seals to create and express aspects of their personal identities from 1175 to 1349. In 2020 he was awarded his PhD and joined the ArcHives project.


Alister’s research focuses on the non-armorial seals and sealing practices of the medieval non-elite, namely peasants, merchants, craftsmen and small landholders, in rural England. He is especially interested in the ways that people of lower status in the medieval period used their seals to construct and express aspects of their personal identities. Central to his approach is the integration of non-armorial seals and sigillants into their local, social, economic and cultural context. His current research concentrates on using the biomolecular record contained within medieval beeswax seals to explore the medieval trade in sealing wax, the nature of its supply and storage, whether there were differences in the composition of sealing wax used by people of different social status, and the processes associated with the authentication of sealed documents.