Guy Halsall (born 1964) is an English historian of Early Medieval Europe. He is currently based at the University of York, and has published a number of books, essays, and articles on the subject of early medieval history and archeology. Halsall's current research focuses on western Europe in the important period of change around AD 600 and on the application of continental philosophy (especially the work of Jacques Derrida) to history.
Guy Halsall was born in North Ferriby in 1964 and raised in Worcestershire. He studied Archaeology and History at the University of York, earning the first First-Class degree from York's archaeology department in 1986. He completed his D.Phil at York in 1991 with a thesis on the "history and archaeology of the region of Metz in the Merovingian period" supervised by Edward James and examined by Steve Roskams and Bryan Ward-Perkins.
In 1990 Halsall was awarded a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Newcastle. From 1991-2002 he was a permanent lecturer, and then reader, in early medieval history and archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London. In 2003 he moved to the University of York, and was promoted to a professorship there in 2006.
In June 2013, Halsall was one of the signatories to an open letter criticising the proposed changes to the British history curriculum being implemented by Conservative Minister for Education Michael Gove. The letter expressed the opinion that the proposed reforms were "underpinned by an unbalanced promotion of partisan political views" in that they emphasised an Anglocentric "national triumphalism" and thus contravened the Education Acts of 1996 and 2002.
In December 2012, Halsall briefly attracted attention in the Times Higher after a University of York student newspaper, Nouse, published an intemperate message he had sent to students enrolled on an undergraduate course, concerning non-attendance at lectures. The tone of his post caused some offence at the time, and the student newspaper published Halsall's apology. In view of the publicity the exchange had attracted, the History Department and Board of Studies at York made a joint statement highlighting that Halsall was "among the most highly rated" lecturers according to student evaluations, and suggesting that his original comments reflected the understandable frustration of "a world-leading scholar and excellent lecturer" faced with a noticeable degree of student non-attendance.
In 2013, Halsall published a book arguing that the historical King Arthur either never existed or that if he did, virtually nothing can be known about him. Although this view is widely held within academia, it contrasts greatly with the large body of popular books by amateur historians which have multiple and conflicting reconstructions of the 'real' King Arthur.
- Worlds of Arthur: Facts and Fictions of the Dark Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)
- Cemeteries and Society in Merovingian Gaul: Selected Studies in History and Archaeology, 1992-2009 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2010).
- Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
- Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West, 450-900 (London: Routledge, 2003).
- Early Medieval Cemeteries. An Introduction to Burial Archaeology in the Post-Roman West (Glasgow: Cruithne Press, 1995).
- Settlement and Social Organization. The Merovingian Region of Metz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
- (ed. with Wendy Davies and Andrew Reynolds) People and Space in the Middle Ages, 300-1300 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006)
- (ed.) Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1998).
- (ed.) Humour, History and Politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
- 'Nero and Herod? The death of Chilperic and Gregory of Tours' writing of history.' The World of Gregory of Tours, ed. K. Mitchell and I.N. Wood, (Brill; Leiden, 2002), pp. 337–50.
- 'Funny foreigners: Laughing with the barbarians in late antiquity.' Humour, History and Politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Halsall (see above), pp. 89–113.
- 'Childeric's grave, Clovis' succession and the origins of the Merovingian kingdom.' Society and Culture in Late Roman Gaul. Revisiting the Sources, ed. D. Shanzer & R. Mathisen (Aldershot, 2001), pp. 116–33.
- 'The Viking presence in England? The burial evidence reconsidered.' Cultures in Contact: Scandinavian Settlement in England in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, ed. D.M. Hadley & J. Richards, (Brepols: Turnhout, 2000), pp. 259–76.
- 'Archaeology and the late Roman frontier in northern Gaul: The so-called Föderatengräber reconsidered.' Grenze und Differenz im früheren Mittelalter, ed. W. Pohl & H. Reimitz, (Österreichische Akadamie der Wissenschaften: Vienna, 2000), pp. 167–80.
- 'La Christianisation de la région de Metz à travers les sources archéologiques (5ème-7ème siècle): problèmes et possibilités.' L'Évangélisation des régions entre Meuse et Moselle et la Fondation de l'Abbaye d'Echternach (Ve-IXe siècle), ed. M. Polfer, (Linden: Luxembourg, 2000).
- 'Burial customs around the North Sea, c. AD 350-700.' Kings of the North Sea, AD 250-850, ed. E. Kramer, I. Stoumann & A. Greg (Newcastle, 2000), pp. 93–104.
- 'Review Article: Movers and Shakers: The Barbarians and the Fall of Rome.' Early Medieval Europe 8.1 (1999), pp. 131–45.
- 'Reflections on Early Medieval Violence: The example of the "Blood Feud".' Memoria y Civilización 2 (1999), pp. 7–29.
- 'Social identities and social relationships in Merovingian Gaul.' Franks and Alamanni in the Merovingian Period: An Ethnographic Perspective, ed. I.N. Wood, (Boydell: Woodbridge, 1998), pp. 141–65.
- 'Burial, ritual and Merovingian society.' The Community, the Family and the Saint: Patterns of Power in Early Medieval Europe, ed. J. Hill & M. Swan, (Brepols: Turnhout, 1998), pp. 325–38.
- 'Violence and society in the early medieval west: An introductory survey.' Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West, ed. Halsall, (see above), pp. 1–45.
- 'Archaeology and Historiography.' The Routledge Companion to Historiography, ed. M. Bentley, (Routledge: London, 1997), pp. 807–29.
- 'Female status and power in early Merovingian central Austrasia: the burial evidence.' Early Medieval Europe 5.1 (1996), pp. 1–24.
- 'Towns, societies and ideas: The not-so-strange case of late Roman and early Merovingian Metz.' Towns in Transition. Urban Evolution in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. N. Christie & S.T. Loseby (Scolar: Aldershot, 1996), pp. 235–261.
- 'Playing by whose rules? A further look at Viking atrocity in the ninth century.' Medieval History vol.2, no.2 (1992), pp. 3–12.
- 'The origins of the Reihengräberzivilisation: Forty years on.' Fifth-Century Gaul: A Crisis of Identity? ed. J.F. Drinkwater & H. Elton, (C.U.P.: Cambridge, 1992), pp. 196–207.
- "Letters 13th June, 2013: Full list of signatories". The Independent. 12 June 2013.
- Blumsom, Amy (4 December 2012). "Lecturer "deeply regrets" offence caused by post". Nouse. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Jump, Paul (3 January 2013). "Don't you kids know who I am?". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 20 December 2014.