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Marking the retirement of five internationally-recognised scholars

11 December 2013

Five long-standing academic colleagues retire from their duties this month.

Here we acknowledge with gratitude their distinguished contributions to the School, the University and to their areas of scholarship more generally of Emeritus Professors Miranda Aldhouse-Green, Peter Coss, Peter Edbury, Denys Pringle and Geoffrey Samuel.  Staff and students thank them for their exceptional service and wish them well in even more productive and research-active retirements.

Miranda Aldhouse-Green took her first degree at Cardiff University, followed by her MLitt at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in 1974, and then a PhD with The Open University in 1981. She was a member of the faculty at the University of Wales, Newport between 1993 and 2006, being appointed Professsor of Archaeology in 1998. She previously held appointments at Worthing and Peterborough Museums and the Open University in Wales. Miranda as elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA) in 1979, is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and a former Vice-President and then President of The Prehistoric Society. Her research interests are Iron Age and Romano-Celtic, particularly Gallo-Roman iconography and sacrificial activities. She has published many books including Caesar’s Druids (2010), Boudica Britannia (2006), An Archaeology of Images: Iconology and Cosmology in Iron Age and Roman Europe (2004), Celtic Wales (with Ray Howell, 2000). She edited (with Ray Howell) the first volume of the Gwent County History – Gwent in Prehistory and Early History (2004).

Peter Coss was appointed to the established chair of medieval history, previously held by Henry Loyn in the School of History and Archaeology, University of Wales College of Cardiff in 1995. During his career at Cardiff he has been Head of the Department of History & Welsh History (1996-1999) and Head of the School (2006-11). During his tenure he oversaw the merger of the School of History and Archaeology with the School of Religious and Theological Studies to become the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.

Within the School he encouraged and developed the study of medieval history, as director of the Centre for the Study of Medieval Society and Culture, and organising conferences such as the 1999 conference on 'Secular Society and Social Display in Medieval England'. His courses on fourteenth-century England and on the rise of the English Gentry were always popular with undergraduates, and he also played a key role in the teaching of the MA in Medieval British Studies and supervised several PhD students who will be well known to former first-year BA History students -- such as Gideon Brough, Melissa Julian-Jones, Angelo Silvestri, and Sarah Williams. Peter is an internationally acknowledged expert on the society of medieval England, especially the gentry. He has published 5 monographs and 3 edited texts as well as contributing to journals including Past and Present of whose editorial board he is a long-standing member.  His current research is a study in comparative history across the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries on the English Gentry and the Tuscan Nobility, which has received funding from the Leverhulme Study Abroad Fellowship. The School organised a symposium in May 2011 to mark his retirement: 'Medieval England: Social and Cultural History'. Latterly he has served as a member of Cardiff University's REF 2014 Sub Group, which has been responsible for preparing and implementing the University's REF strategy.

Peter Edbury joined the historians at University College Cardiff in 1977, replacing Henry Loyn. During his career at Cardiff he has held many positions of authority within the School, including acting as head of the History & Welsh History Department and as deputy Head of School.  He has always played a key role in the teaching of medieval history within the department. His option modules on the Mongols and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem were particularly popular with undergraduates. He has also played a central role in the MA on the Crusades and has been a stalwart supporter of the Annual University of Wales staff-student colloquium in medieval history at Gregynog. Peter is the director of the Cardiff Centre for the Crusades, as well as being a member of the Centre for the Study of Medieval Society and Culture, and for many years he has convened the lecture series for the Cardiff Historical Association in the department. In 1999-2000 he held a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship to produce an academic edition of a thirteenth-century legal text, John of Ibelin, Le Livre des Assises (2003). In 2009 he produced the companion volume, Philip of Novara, Le Livre de Forme de Plait. . From 2009 to 2012 he was engaged on an AHRC-funded project 'The Old French William of Tyre and its Continuations', on which he has been assisted by Dr Massimiliano Gaggero and Philip Handyside. The School organised a celebration in December 2012 in honour of his retirement.

Denys Pringle obtained his BA in Archaeology and History from Southampton University in 1973 and a DPhil in Archaeology on 'Sixth Century fortifications in Byzantine Africa' from Oxford University (Keble College) in 1978. In 1977 he was briefly employed as a temporary lecturer in Roman Archaeology at Queen’s University Belfast. He was then served as Assistant Director at the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and Fellow in Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, before taking employment as a Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments in what ultimately became, Historic Scotland. He moved to Cardiff University in 1999. Denys has been an extremely productive member of the Cardiff department. His publications over the last 14 years include the major volumes: Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187-1291; Churches, Castles and Landscape in the Frankish East; Fortification and Settlement in Crusader Palestine; An Expatriate Community in Tunis, 1648–1885: St George’s Protestant Cemetery and its Inscriptions; Spynie Palace and the Bishops of Moray: History, Architecture and Archaeology; Belmont Castle: The Excavation of a Crusader Stronghold in the Kingdom of Jerusalem; and the completion of his magisterial four-volume corpus, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. He was also a major participant in the creation of the Cardiff Centre for the Crusades and has attracted a large number of postgraduate researchers to Cardiff.

Geoffrey Samuel began his academic life as a physicist, before obtaining a PhD in Social Anthropology at Cambridge in 1969. Subsequently he taught in Manchester, Otago, Brisbane, Lancaster, and Newcastle Australia, before joining the Cardiff School of Religious and Theological Studies as a Professorial Fellow in 2004. Geoffrey’s major teaching and research interests lie in the social and cultural anthropology of Buddhist societies in South Asia and the Himalayas, building and expanding on his groundbreaking, and highly influential, 1993 book, Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies. While in Cardiff, he followed this up with further major studies of Indic religions: Tantric Revisionings: New Understandings of Tibetan Buddhism and Indian Religion (2005), The Origins of Yoga and Tantra: Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century (2008), and most recently, Introducing Tibetan Buddhism (2012). With the aid of major grants from the AHRC and Leverhulme Trust, Geoffrey’s research has become increasingly focused on ‘traditional’ Asian medical and health practices. The research group he set up in Cardiff on Body, Health and Religion (BAHAR) has helped to bring much of this work to fruition, as well as providing a unique focal point for postgraduate researchers in the field. Extensive fieldwork in Asia, and numerous visiting professorships, mark Geoffrey out as a truly international scholar, a role that, happily for those interested in the religions and cultures of Asia, he will continue to play in ‘retirement’.