Stuart Henderson


My academic background is primarily concerned with agrarian history, with an emphasis on developing post-medieval livestock stockbreeding techniques and livestock management practices, as well as how these changes shaped our agricultural histories, geographical variation and various connected industries. I hold a First Class Honours in Archaeology from the University of York, however my research to-date has often crossed several academic disciplines, combining economic history, archaeology, legal history and geography. The journey leading me to my current area of study started with my undergraduate dissertation (awarded the Charles Wellbeloved Prize in 2016), which reviewed the changes in sheep farming and management techniques, with an emphasis on livestock improvement. Upon completion, I undertook a fully-funded Masters (by research) at the University of York continuing my investigations into livestock improvement and changing management techniques, with an emphasis on the effects on the post-medieval parchment industry. This project supported the work of several colleagues within the Palaeome group working on hDNA studies of historic parchment samples. The combination of these projects has brought me to the University of Cambridge, after being awarded the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award, in partnership with the National Leather Collection, to study the English leather industry during the long nineteenth century.


The English Leather Industry during the long 19th century

My current research is in collaboration with the National Leather Collection (Northampton) and the University of Cambridge Archaeology Department, in partnership with Leigh Shaw-Taylor of the University of Cambridge History Department. This doctorate project will explore three aspects of the leather Industry during the long 19th century. Firstly, I will be reviewing the economy of leather, using the published data from the Livery Companies archives, contemporary trade journal and various other occupational data sources discovered during my previous years of research. Secondly, I will be aiming to contextualise the oral and written archives of the leather economy within the legal history of the industry, of which my previous research has shown to be a complex and hugely significant area of study. Finally, I will be studying the material culture of the industry by reviewing the Museum’s vast collections, the work of the Leather Conservation Centre and the archives of the partnered Livery Companies. It is my intention that this research can then be woven into several of the projects currently being conducted by those within the Beasts2Craft group, offering important insights and historical context

Education & Expertise

2020>: PhD in Archaeology, University of Cambridge (The English Leather Industry during the long 19th century)

2017-2019: MRes in Archaeological Studies, University of York (A Study of the English Parchment Industry between 1650 and 1850)

2013-2016: MA in Archaeology, University of York (History of Post-Medieval Sheep Farming)