Professor John F. Potter


Visiting Professor

Areas of Interest:

  • The geology and structural relationships of the building materials of the early Christian, Anglo-Saxon and Norman churches in the British Isles. The distinctions in differences and patterns in stone use over these periods.
  • The re-use of Roman stone and tiles in later walls.
  • Application of the above studies to other early walls such as those in castles and town walls (A British Archaeological Report on Great Yarmouth town wall has just been completed).
  • The building materials of the early churches of the London Basin.

Key Facts:

Trained as a geologist (BSc Manchester) specialising in lithostratigraphy (PhD London), John entered teaching and lecturing in further and higher education, ultimately leading to administration and management roles. From 1975 to 1997 he served as Principal of Farnborough College of Technology in Hampshire. During this period his concern for the environment led him to become Hon. Secretary of the Institution of Environmental Sciences and Editor for many years of the international quarterly journal, The Environmentalist. From the beginning he retained his interest in geology by lecturing for the University of London. With retirement, he was invited to join the staff of the University of Surrey as an Emeritus Professor, and at that time he also joined the University of Reading in order to continue with his church building fabric studies first commenced in 1975.

With more than 200 scientific and similar published papers to his credit, in recent years John has concentrated on work related to ecclesiastical geology.


2009 - 'Looking at Jurassic churches - Saturday June 7 2008 (part 20', Magazine of the Geologists' Association, 8, (1), 15-16

Patterns in Stonework: The early church in Britain and Ireland. An introduction to ecclesiastical geology2009 - 'Patterns in Stonework: The early church in Britain and Ireland. An introduction to ecclesiastical geology', British Archaeological Report, 496, xxvi + 191pp., Archaeopress, Oxford

2008 - 'The Medieval Town Wall of Great Yarmouth, a geological perlustration', British Archaeological Report, 461, xiv + 106pp., Archaeopress, Oxford.

2008 - 'Looking at Jurassic churches - Saturday June 7 2008 (part 1)', Magazine of the Geologists' Association, 7, (4), 16

2007 - 'A Review of some early West Sussex Churches', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 145, 81-96

2007 - 'A day visiting churches: The geology of some West Surrey Churches: 12th May 2007', Magazine of the Geologists' Association, 6, (3), 14-15

2006 - 'A technique for distinguishing the textures of bricks and tiles', The Antiquaries Journal, 86, 326-330

2006 - 'Anglo-Saxon building techniques: Quoins of twelve Kentish Churches reviewed', Archaeologia Cantiana, 126, 185-218

2006 - 'A geological review of some Hampshire Anglo-Saxon churches', Hampshire Studies: Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, 61, 134-152

2006 - 'Stone emplacement in early Scottish churches: evidence of Early Christian Craftsmanship',Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 136, 227-236

2006 (published 2008) - 'An analysis of ecclesiastical stone cut backs', Church Archaeology, 10, 57- 80

2006 (published 2008, jointly with P. Minter & P. Ryan) - 'Roman and early medieval bricks and tiles: can they be distinguished?', Essex Archaeology and History, 37, 95-102

2005 - 'Field Meeting: Romney Marsh - its churches and geology, 22 May 2004', Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 116, 161-175

2005 - 'Some observations on Orford Castle', Orford & District Local History Bulletin, 4, 4-8

2005 - 'Ecclesiastical Geology: a return to Victorian Field Standards', Geoscientist, 15, 10, 5-7

2005 - 'No stone unturned - a re-assessment of Anglo-Saxon long and short quoins and associated structures', The Archaeological Journal, 162, 177-214

2005 - 'Field Meeting Report - The Geology of some East Anglian Crag churches, 7th May, 2005',Magazine of the Geologists' Association, 4, 3, 8-9 (by R. Dixon).

2005 (published 2008) - 'A geological review of some Early Essex Churches', Essex Archaeology and History, 36, 99-109

2005 (published 2009) - 'A geological review of some early Borderland churches', Shropshire History and Archaeology, 80, 1-16

2004 - 'Suffolk's Crag churches: with observations on other Crag building structures', Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, 40, (4), 399-413

2004 - 'Viviparus Limestone ('Purbeck Marble') - a key to financially well-endowed churches in the London Basin', Church Archaeology, 5 & 6, 80-91

2004 - 'The London Basin, three Early Christian fonts', Church Archaeology, 5 & 6, 124-125


BSc, PhD, FGS, CBiol, FSB, FIEnvSc

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