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John Blair (historian)

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John Blair
Blair in 2021
William John Blair

(1955-03-04) 4 March 1955 (age 69)
Woking, Surrey, England
TitleProfessor of Medieval History and Archaeology
Kanerva Blair-Heikkinen
(m. 2005)
ParentClaude Blair
Academic background
Alma materBrasenose College, Oxford
ThesisLandholding, Church and Settlement in Surrey before 1300 (1983)
Academic work
  • History
  • archaeology
Sub-disciplineEarly medieval English history
InstitutionsThe Queen's College, Oxford

William John Blair, FSA, FBA (born 4 March 1955) is an English historian, archaeologist, and academic, who specialises in Anglo-Saxon England. He is Emeritus Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford. He gave the 2013 Ford Lectures at the University of Oxford.

Early life and education


Blair was born on 4 March 1955 in Woking, Surrey, England.[1] His father was Claude Blair, a museum curator and "one of the foremost authorities on historic European metalwork, especially arms and armour",[2] and his mother was Joan Mary Greville Blair (née Drinkwater).[1]

Blair was educated at St John's School, Leatherhead, a private school in Leatherhead, Surrey.[1] He then studied at Brasenose College, Oxford, graduating with a first-class Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1976.[1] He remained at Brasenose College to undertake postgraduate research and completed his Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree in 1983.[1][3] His doctoral thesis was titled Landholding, Church and Settlement in Surrey before 1300: this subsequently became the basis of his first book, Early Medieval Surrey (1991).[4]

Academic career


During his doctoral research, Blair was a Junior Research Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford.[3] In 1981, he was elected a Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford.[1][3] Since then, he has been a praelector and tutor in history at the college.[1] On 1 October 2006, he was awarded a Title of Distinction by the University of Oxford as Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology.[5] He retired in October 2020 and was made an emeritus fellow of The Queen's College.[6]

Blair gave the 2013 Ford Lectures at the University of Oxford.[7] The lecture series was titled "Building the Anglo-Saxon Landscape".[8]

On 5 May 1983, Blair was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA).[9] He was elected Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2008.[10]

Personal life


In 2005, Blair married Kanerva Heikkinen. Together they have two children; one daughter and one son.[1]

Selected works

  • Blair, John (1991). Early Medieval Surrey: Landholding, Church and Settlement before 1300. Gloucester: Alan Sutton Publishing. ISBN 978-0-86299-780-9.
  • Blair, John (1994). Anglo-Saxon Oxfordshire. Oxford, Stroud and Dover, NH: Oxfordshire Books and Alan Sutton Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7509-0147-5.
  • Blair, John (2000). The Anglo-Saxon Age: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-285403-2.
  • Blair, John (2005). The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-822695-6.
  • Blair, John, ed. (2007). Waterways and Canal-building in Medieval England. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-921715-1.
  • Blair, John (2013). The British Culture of Anglo-Saxon Settlement. Cambridge: Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic. ISBN 978-0-9571862-9-3.
  • Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald, eds. (2014). The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England (2nd ed.). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-470-65632-7.
  • Blair, John (2018). Building Anglo-Saxon England. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691162980.
  • Blair, John; Rippon, Stephen; Smart, Christopher (2020). Planning in the Early Medieval Landscape. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 978-1-78962-116-7.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "BLAIR, Prof. (William) John". Who's Who 2016. Oxford University Press. November 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  2. ^ Badham, Sally (12 March 2010). "Claude Blair obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Prof John Blair". The Queen's College. University of Oxford. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  4. ^ Blair, John (1983). Landholding, Church and Settlement in Surrey before 1300 (PhD thesis). Oxford: University of Oxford. OCLC 863502663.
  5. ^ "Recognition of Distinction: Titles Awarded, 2005–6". Oxford University Gazette. 4784 (Supplement 1). 25 October 2006. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Prof John Blair FBA, FSA". The Queen's College. University of Oxford. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  7. ^ "John Blair to give the 2013 Ford Lectures". News. The Queen's College, Oxford. Archived from the original on 23 December 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Professor John Blair". Faculty of History. University of Oxford. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Fellows Directory – B". About us. Society of Antiquaries. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Professor John Blair". British Academy Fellows. British Academy. Retrieved 9 September 2016.