Janet Kay

Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer
Archaeology of Late Roman and Early Medieval Britain
Office Phone
1N-6 Green Hall
Office Hours
Tuesday: 3:00 pm-4:30 pm


Ph.D., Boston College, 2017

Janet Kay holds a B.A. in Archaeology and History from Boston University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Boston College. Her interdisciplinary work uses archaeological methods and data to study the history of late Roman and early medieval Britain. At Princeton, Kay teaches courses that combine archaeological and textual sources to study the past. She is a former fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows and is affiliated with the Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity and the Program in Medieval Studies, where she is the Executive Director of the Environmental History Lab.

Kay's first book, Norse in Newfoundland, explored the relationship between the Vinland Sagas and archaeological evidence for Norse exploration in the North Atlantic. Her current book project, provisionally entitled “Burying the Past,” looks at burial practices and bioarchaeology to study how people in Britain’s post-Roman fifth century – a period for which there are no surviving texts – negotiated their relationships with the past and with their newly-arrived neighbors. She employs ArcGIS and stable isotope analyses to focus on the uses of funerary landscapes and material culture, arguing that “ethnicity” was not a defining concept in how people from different places interacted in Britain after the end of Roman rule. Kay’s secondary research project examines the concept of a cosmological and physical underworld in late Roman Britain.

Selected Publications

L. Mordechai, M. Eisenberg, T.P. Newfield A. Izdebski, J.E. Kay, and H. Poinar, “The Justinianic Plague: An Inconsequential Pandemic?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dec. 2, 2019), 1–9.

“Moving from Wales and the west in fifth-century Britain: isotope evidence for eastward migration,” in Patricia Skinner, ed., The Welsh and the World in the Middle Ages (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, March 2018), 17–47.

“Children’s Burials in Fifth-Century Britain and Connections to the Roman Past,” Childhood in the Past, 9/2 (September 2016), 86–108.   

Norse in Newfoundland: A Critical Examination of Archaeological Research at the Norse Site at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, British Archaeological Reports, International Series, 2339 (Oxford: Archaeopress, February 2012).