The Archaeology Grrl Blog


Welcome to the Archaeology Grrl Blog. Here you can read excavation journals, educational articles and participate in enlightening discussions.

New Publication: Sung, Drawn and Quartered: The Roman Ideogram of Bread (Part 1).

After several years of research, the first half of a two-part paper on the symbolic value of Roman bread has been released. Abstract: When duplicated, the single icon of a monument, deity, or object, could recall entire narratives of divine intervention, great ancestral feats, and desirable ‘Roman’ attributes. The common, round, and quartered loaf of wheat-bread was produced and eaten […]

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Episode 7: Dr. David Walsh – A Specialist in Roman Religion and Mithraism.

Name: Dr David Walsh Area of Specialism: Roman History and Archaeology Topics of Interest: Roman religion (especially the cult of Mithras), and the reception of Roman Britain by wider audiences (such as the works of Rudyard Kipling and Rosemary Sutcliff). Job Title: Lecturer in Roman Archaeology Job Responsibilities: I am a lecturer at Newcastle University, teaching modules on Roman Archaeology […]

Birdoswald Roman Fort and Excavation, Northumberland, England, UK. July 2023

The Site Along the Irthing River in Northumberland, between the areas of Gisland (east) and Triermain (west) sits Birdoswald. From prehistory to the present, this settlement has been a hive of activity providing land for prehistoric burial, Roman barracks, medieval raids, and early modern farming. To visit Birdoswald today is to be confronted by impressive remains of the Roman age. […]

Exciting Free Event: The Impact of Digital and Historical Gaming Conference (Online and In Person)

Greetings All, You are warmly invited to an exciting interdisciplinary event: on April 17th 2023. This workshop, funded by Artfund, will address the challenges and benefits of collaboration between the digital and gaming industry, education, and heritage. Hosted by the Vindolanda Charitable Trust, Newcastle University and Creative Assembly, the event will comprise of a range of speakers from digital and heritage backgrounds, […]

Coffee and Circuses

ArchaeologyGrrl has been a little quiet for a few months, largely because of various exciting developments we can’t wait to share with you all. There are new academic positions, new pages being built, and new resources for you to tap into. We may have a little less time, but fear not there’s a lot of content coming up for you […]

3 Talks on The Late Roman Republic

On 8th December 2021, Professor Federico Santangelo, Dr John Holton and I gave three online talks about different aspects of Roman Republican life. Recorded for a sixth form audience, these talks address the theories, methods, practices and importance of studying ancient literature, archaeological material and the Roman past. Oragnised by Dr Stephanie Holton, Each talk is twenty minutes long with […]

How to – An Instructional Mini-series for All – Episode 1: Desk Based Assessments.

Today Archaeology Grrl releases the first episode of the mini-series ‘How to…’. This collection of original videos provides information, guidance and resources on different elements of archaeological, classical and historical research and professional pathways. The aim of the series is to create a playlist of instructional videos that anyone can reference and re-watch at their own pace. Each video will […]

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Episode 6: Ms. Roberta Dainotto – A PhD Researcher Specialising in Ancient Greek Philology.

Interviewee: Ms. Roberta Dainotto. Interviewer: Bunny Waring. Date: 16th July 2021 Welcome to the mini-series called What’s it Like? Originating from my work with the Classics Department, University of Reading, these episodes include interviews of staff, volunteers and students from across the globe, who specialise in all the different fields of academic and commercial studies in Classics, Archaeology and Museums. […]

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Episode 5: Prof. Amy Smith – A Specialist in Art History, Ancient Greek Ceramics & Classical Antiquities.

Interviewee: Prof. Amy Smith. Interviewer: Bunny Waring. Date: 18th June 2021 Welcome to the mini-series called What’s it Like? Originating from my work with the Classics Department, University of Reading, these episodes include interviews of staff, volunteers and students from across the globe, who specialise in all the different fields of academic and commercial studies in Classics, Archaeology and Museums. […]

What Can a Dog Called Margarita Teach us About Ancient Rome?

Recently, the Classics Department of the University of Reading was delighted to announce the release of a special video called What Can a Dog Called Margarita Teach us About Ancient Rome? In this video Prof. Peter Kruschwitz (University of Vienna), Prof. Xavier Espluga (University of Barcelona) and Dr. María Limón (University of Seville) discuss the lettered world of ancient Rome […]

What’s it Like? – A Mini-Series that Dishes the Dirt on Archaeology and Classics!

At the beginning of the year, I started a mini-series during my role as Social Media Manager for the Classics Department, University of Reading. The aim was to produce a collection of short interviews which articulated what it was really like to work in the various areas of ancient history careers. These interviews discuss the stark reality of the pros, […]

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Episode 4: Prof. Barbara Goff – A Specialist in Ancient Greek Literature, Language, Tragedy and their Later Reception.

Interviewee: Prof. Barbara Goff. Interviewer: Bunny Waring. Date: 21st May 2021 Welcome to the mini-series called What’s it Like? Originating from my work with the Classics Department, University of Reading, these episodes include interviews of staff, volunteers and students from across the globe, who specialise in all the different fields of academic and commercial studies in Classics, Archaeology and Museums. […]

The Secrets of Saqqara Tomb (no spoilers)

In April this year, I watched a documentary on the recent excavations at the Bubasteion Necropolis in the Giza desert. The film follows the 2019 excavation season of  Egyptologist Mohammad Mohammad Yousef and his team as they uncover the tomb of Wahyte, a high-ranking priest who lived around 4500 years ago.  Recording the highs, lows, logistics and passions of an […]

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Episode 3: Dr Claudina Romero Mayorga – A Specialist in Sensorial Archaeology in Museums and Classics.

Interviewee: Dr. Claudina Romero Mayorga. Interviewer: Bunny Waring. Date: 16th April 2021 Welcome to the new mini-series called What’s it Like? Originating from my work with the Classics Department, University of Reading, these episodes include interviews of staff, volunteers and students from across the globe, who specialise in all the different fields of academic and commercial studies in Classics, Archaeology […]

An Introduction to: Ides of March – Frivolity, Feasting and Folklore.

The Ides of March 44 BCE is remembered each year by history enthusiasts as the day of Julius Caesar’s assassination. The execution of the most prevalent Roman leader of his time by the co-governing senate was no small matter and is often marked as a turning point in Roman politics. Before this infamous day, however, the 15th March was already […]

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Episode 2: Dr James Lloyd-Jones – A Specialist in Ancient Music and Song.

Interviewee: Dr. James Lloyd-Jones, Interviewer: Bunny Waring. Date: 5th March 2021 Welcome to the mini-series called What’s it Like? Originating from my work with the Classics Department, University of Reading, these episodes include interviews of staff, volunteers and students from across the globe, who specialise in all the different fields of academic and commercial studies in Classics, Archaeology and Museums. […]

21st Century Classics – Why Bother?

If there is one thing Lockdown number 5,409 has taught the collective ‘us’, it’s adaptation. With enforced periods of dull, gray nothingness, Covid has presented many of us with time to think, reflect and redirect our unspent energies. As an experienced archaeologist and a relatively green Classicist, I find myself confronted more and more with questions such as Why is […]

WHAT’s IT LIKE? Episode 1: Professor Eleanor Dickey – A Specialist in Ancient Languages and Education.

Interviewee: Prof. Eleanor Dickey, Interviewer: Bunny Waring. Date: 19th February 2021 Welcome to the first in a new mini-series called What’s it Like? Originating from my work with the Classics Department, University of Reading, these episodes include interviews of staff, volunteers and students from across the globe, who specialise in all the different fields of academic and commercial studies in […]

An Introduction to: The Nereid Monument

Introduction In 1848, antiquarian Charles Fellows began directing an excavation on the south-west coast of Turkey. Inspired by ancient literary descriptions of the socio-political influence of Lycia during the Persian Wars, Fellows began searching for material remains of the key Lycian settlement, Xanthos.[1] During the excavation, large stone fragments surrounded by the rubble of carved stones were discovered, just outside […]

Statues, Slavery and Standing Together.

In these already chaotic, pandemic times, the recent and unnecessary death of another black man at the hands of white policemen in the United States, has sparked protests across Europe and America. George Floyd was misidentified and after eight minutes of pleading for his life, suffocated beneath the bent knee of an officer, which was pressed upon his throat. The […]

Whoomp! There it is.

Archaeology Grrl has been a little quiet recently. The pandemic chaos has halted all excavations and rearranging all teaching. It has produced an intense level of work and anxiety for all involved and so I thought now would be the ideal time to improve my online presence. And so, on this sunny afternoon in England, I am happy to announce […]

Heritage in Times of Conflict – A Reflection on the Culture Academic Forum 2018.

The following post was written but not fully published online in 2018. Enjoy! On 18th April I was invited to attend the Heritage and Culture Academic Forum 2018. The topic of focus was: Heritage in Times of Conflict and included talks, a film viewing and discussion with a  panel of specialists. Chaired by Professor Roger Matthews an expert in Near […]

The Internet Archive

Let me introduce you all to This is a non-profit, online platform for free resources. They have everything from peer-reviewed papers to childrens films and it’s all for free. You can read old books in ancient languages and the latest magazine edition. They also have archivists writing interesting blogs. Here are some of the options they have suggested for the […]

Happy Halloween 2019!

Some spooky stories with a classical twist for you, from the genius of The Petrified Muse. Gory, gruesome, and grotesque: two ancient vampire tales

Dunyvaig Castle, 2019 – Overview

The 2019 excavation at Dunyvaig was immensely successful. The discovery of: new buildings, special finds, wall foundations, stairways, floor surfaces and middens allowed for some solid new theories on the chronological story of this important site. In Trench 2 specifically, the Sea Gate Crew had been working around the clock to uncover as much as possible of the new building […]

Dunyvaig Castle, 2019 – Week 1

The University of Reading has kicked off its second field school of the year at the site of Dunyvaig Castle. The castle is situated on the South-East of the Hebridian isle of Islay and except for last years UoR evaluation, there have been no previous archaeological excavations on the site. So far, 6 trenches have been opened. The main trenches […]

Silchester Bath House 2019 – Week 4 (Contains images of Human Remains)

Once again the University of Reading’s Archaeology Department has done a sterling job organising and running a field school for its students. Alongside undergraduate and postgraduate students, local residents, archaeology enthusiasts, A-Level students and long-time Silchester volunteers arrived to help excavate, record and decipher the Roman Bathhouse of Calleva. The areas opened in 2019 were a combination of extensions from […]

Silchester Bath House 2019 – Week 3

Upon my return from the Eternal City, I gathered my site-gear and head out into the fields of Silchester Roman town. Everyone has been working very hard and after setting up my tent and meeting this years students, I found myself in the midst of teaching in week 3 of the excavation. All three trenches are now well underway with […]

Rome Residency – Week 9 (27th – 29th May)

Day 57 – Our final Monday on the City of Rome course was spent at the Mausoleum of Hadrian the Castel Sant’Angelo. Here we were greeted by Paolo Vitti, a scholar in architecture with a wealth of knowledge about the tomb and the challenges it presented to those who built it. Built in the 1st century CE for the emperor […]

Rome Residency – Week 8 (21st – 25th May)

Day 51 – On Tuesday of week 8, the fellows of the City of Rome walked along the Via Salaria to the Mausoleum of Santa Costanza. This tomb for the daughter of Constantine sits high on a hill and still houses some magnificent pieces of mosaic artistry. The building is circular and in the concave ceiling that runs above the […]

Rome Residency – Week 7 (13th – 19th May)

Day 43 – Trastevere is an area of Rome that sits on the opposite side of the river Tiber to the centre of the city. It is filled with orange stuccoed buildings, random ruins and columns, bars, restaurants, churches and shops. For the City of Rome cohort, we arrived at the Excubitorium of the Vigiles on Via della VII Coorte […]

BSR Residency Week 6 – (6th – 11th May)

Day 36 – There was no day off for last week and so on Monday we travelled by tram to the Vatican City. Here, we looked at the Museums including the Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding, Odyssey Frescoes of Via Graziosa, Museo pio Clementino, Museo Chiaramonti, Museo Pio Cristiano, Museo Gregoriano and the Hall of Portraits. Needless to say, this […]

BSR Residency Week 5 – (30th April – 5th May)

Apologies for the delay on last week’s update! It’s been an intense few days! Week 6 will be out this weekend like normal. Day 30 & 31- During our time at the BSR, we are expected to carry out a research project, the title of which was proposed as part of the original application. The project is judged on the […]

BSR Residency Week 4 – (23rd-27th April)

The Italian bank holidays have made this week a short one regarding exploration, allowing for time to calibrate the intense days of research we have been part of since we arrived. With anything up to 11 hours of walking, seminars, lectures, tours and project work 6 days a week, there hasn’t been much time for rest and it has been […]

Rome’s 2773rd Birthday

Every year on the 21st April, Rome celebrates its birthday. The date derives from ancient literary sources who mark the day in 753 BCE as the mythological founding of the city by Romulus. The celebrations are taken seriously, with a mixture of triumphal parades, ancient sports, oratory and crafts. There is a strong sense of heritage identity that seems to […]

BSR Residency Week 3 – (15th-19th April)

Day 15 – Monday was the second day exploring the Campus Martius for the City of Rome awardees and we started with the Montecitorio obelisk. The monument is now situated in Piazza del Parlamento, where we were also introduced to Mark Bradley, an Associate Professor of Ancient History at the University of Nottingham who was joining us for the day. […]

BSR Residency Week 2- Part 2 – (11th April – 13th April 2019)

Day 11 – The Esquiline Hill is one of many hills that collectively create the topography of the city of Rome. It’s elevation made it a quieter area than the bustle of the city centre for those with enough status to afford the land. Large Domus and gardens were more than just a spectacle and provided privacy for the elites […]

BSR Residency Week 2 – Part 1 – (8th April – 10th April 2019)

Day 8 – On Monday the group took a trip on a minibus to the Alban Hills, stopping briefly at Villa Palazzola (Venerabile Collegio Inglese) to admire the remains of a tomb, embedded in their back gardens. Onward from Rocca di Papa we climbed the road, paused to admire the beautiful Lago Albano and then continued up the Albano mountains […]

BSR Residency – Week 1 – Part 2 (4th April – 6th April 2019)

Day 4 – The following day the City of Rome group marched down to the Insula of the Aracoeli, which is not far from the Theatre of Marcello. Here, once again with special access, we explored the four floors of the remains of apartments and workshops from the 2nd Century CE, built in a similar way to the aforementioned Mithraeum. […]

BSR Residency – Week 1- Part 1 (1st April 2019 – 3rd April 2019)

Greetings from the British School at Rome (BSR), I am currently sat in the library with a stack of books on Roman Republican history to my right and a sunny garden to my left. This first week has been a whirlwind of adventure and knowledge! There is so much to discuss I shall have to post more than once a […]

The British School at Rome (BSR) Residency – Ready to Go

Today I start my journey to the British School at Rome (BSR). In all my previous years of being an archaeologist (since 2001!) I have had many adventures to far off places and this will not be the first time I have been to Rome. This studentship, however, is possibly the most prestigious position I have obtained and it wasn’t […]

Women in the Field – PPE

Comfortable and correctly fitting PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for fuller, smaller, taller, chestier and shorter folks (essentially anyone who isn’t straight shaped) has been an ongoing topic of contention for many years. Beyond the dismissively waved hands of those saying “why should women get different clothing if they want equality?” (by the way, any people wanting to safety clothing to […]

Virtual Rome Run 5

Good Morning All, We would like to draw your attention to the following FREE ONLINE COURSE starting on 18th March. Futurelearn: VIRTUAL ROME Prof. Matthew Nicholls (St. John’s College Oxford and University of Reading) and a cohort of experts, will be guiding you through Matthew’s fantastic virtual model of the city. Watch the short videos, learn about Roman history, ask […]

Comics, Contexts and Classics

Before the winter break, I attended a short seminar on the use of comics in the heritage sector. PhD student Katy Whitaker gave an interesting and informative introduction into the use of comics to educate, illustrate and emotively communicate historical messages. Beyond the initial exploration of colour use and artistic styles, Whitaker drew on the work of fellow colleagues: Prima […]

The Neighbouring Bill – A Follow Up

In a follow-up post to my recent entry regarding the Neighbouring Bill, this is worth a read. Before you read this article, it is important to understand that the jury is still out on this issue and that the Guardian has deliberately articulated this article in a storytime fashion, nevertheless, this is an important topic that needs to be highlighted. […]

Introduction to: The Aphrodite of Cyrene

Introduction At the entrance of the Ure Museum, University of Reading, stands a freestanding statue depicting the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros (Figure 1). The Aphrodite of Cyrene stands 1.07m tall (including the plinth) and is thought to date from the second century CE. The posture of this piece is a Roman adaptation of a famous original […]

Archaeologists, Curators and Brexit

An interesting piece in the Guardian Newspaper today. I may not agree with everything that’s written but I think it’s important that the media is looking beyond accusations on scaremongering and attempting to cover some of the issues that a departure from the EU may bring. One aspect beyond funding, that is often not approached, are the conservation laws. Some […]

Dunyvaig Castle 2018 – Final Week and Pack Down

Final week and pack down The final week of this evaluation dig at Dunyvaig Castle produced a high profile find (see earlier blog), gained the interest of newspapers both national and local, helped educate hundreds of primary and secondary Islay school children, whilst uncovering some fantastically preserved stratigraphy. Trench 1 GPS- recorded the location of seal, cleaned the floor surface […]

Dunyvaig Castle 2018 – Week 2

The trenches have been working full steam ahead this week with the new students settling into their roles and gaining confidence in recently acquired skills. Layers have been cleaned, photographed, planned, sampled and levelled in all three trenches. Trench 1 had a wonderful discovery of a seal bearing the name of John Campbell of Cawdor. This name has belonged to […]

Dunyvaig Castle 2018 – Breaking News!

The press release is now out and so I can finally share with you all some wonderful news! We have found the seal of John Campbell of Cawdor! With an engraved date of either 1598 or 1593 (the jury is still out), this seal is an exquisite archaeological find that is both rare and highly informative. Either date would corroborate […]

Dunyvaig Castle 2018 – Week 1

Students from Reading and Highlands Universities joined visitors and locals alike, creating a community for the breaking of ground at Dunyvaig. Tens of people turned out to help de-turf two trenches laid out inside the castle walls. The day was a huge success and marked the beginning of the first season of Dunyvaig’s Archaeology Field School. Since the 12th August, […]

Dunyvaig Castle 2018- A Little Note

And so let the second half of Archaeology at the University of Reading Field School commence! Our next instalment is one close to my heart. Islay is a wonderful place filled with an archaeological kaleidoscope of sites. All periods from the Mesolithic to the Second World War are amply represented in landscape, monuments and ruins. On this, my 5th visit to the […]

Silchester Bath House 2018 – Final Weeks and Pack Down

After the first half of Archaeology at the University of Reading Field School 2018, it’s clear to see that Silchester was a booming success. Three trenches filled with multi-phase archaeological features and masonry, with wonderful finds and environmental preservation to match, the bath-house was a site that just kept on giving. These photographs show the final weeks of the excavation, including the […]

Silchester Bath House 2018 – Week 3

Wow! What a week! We have had so many wonderful discoveries this week, so let’s get to it! Trench 1: This trench has indeed revealed three columns in total! All three sit in a carved stone plinth, with two being ruined and one where only the base remains. Amazingly, the carved bases still remain and although the uprights are unfluted, […]

Silchester Bath House 2018 – Some Recent Finds

  Complete bone hair pin – Trench 3 Carved bone knife handle – Trench 2 Carved bone thread separator for weaving – Trench 2 Roman pottery base with (later?) graffiti – Trench 1                             Jet bead – Trench 3   Copper bracelet fragment (twisted) – Trench 3 […]

Silchester Bath House 2018 – Week 2

All three trenches are now open and have had two weeks of excavating students uncovering their archaeological remains. Trench 1: Has uncovered the suspicious decorative tiles in the south side to reveal an intact archway at the end of the latrine. Large amounts of standing masonry has also been uncovered, the alignments of which suggest multiple building phases of the […]

Silchester Bath House 2018- Week 1

The first week of this excavation has uncovered some amazing archaeology. The targetted Bathhouse is survived by both architectural ruins and material culture such as: A latrine of standing walls, archways and plinths. A hypocaust system of structural walling and pilae tile stacks. A possible changing room and adjoining structural features (still to be identified). Tiles with kitten paw prints, […]

The Art of Money

Czibulka Dániel has created a wonderful short film on the Art of Money. The piece looks at the development of iconology within numismatic designs, posing some interesting questions regarding imagery associated with cultural heritage. Make sure you have the sound up for this delightful and educational short documentary (ten minutes). All permissions, credits and rights of this film go to […]

Silchester Bath House 2018 – Set up week

There has been an awful lot of activity occurring already at this year’s Silchester branch of the #UoRarchaeologyfieldschool. The tents have been pitched, the trenches are exposed, the spoil is tidy and the kettle is on. There have been some fantastic finds and discoveries already so watch this space for weekly updates on the excavation and information on open days where […]

Respect on Site

It’s always good to see people standing up for what they believe in. An important post from BAJR that has my respect. Worth reading the whole thing.   Recently, a member of the BAJR Facebook felt it acceptable to comment on the way the admins carry out the work here. Remember, that BAJR Facebook is administered by three of us. Liz, […]

Rubha Port an t’Seilich 2018

Two weeks ago I returned to the Hebridean island of Islay for the most recent excavation at the Rubha Port an t’Seilich site. Since then myself and a team of staff and students of the University of Reading have been excavating and processing this wonderful, Mesolithic site. The stratigraphic horizons discovered last year have been investigated  further by focusing the […]

Poster Exhibition for UROP

Last week I completed my Undergraduate Research Opportunities Placement by presenting a research poster of my work at the UROP Finalist Exhibition. A full day of discussing the Virtual Rome project and my role as Dr Nicholl’s assistant left me even more enthused about continuing to advocate the virtues of digital heritage and education outreach. I highly recommend the UROP […]

Ancient Rome – A Digital Reconstruction

The UROP Virtual Rome Project that I am currently seconded to is led by Dr Matthew Nicholls of the Department of Classics at Reading. Dr Nicholls spent the best part of 10 years digitally reconstructing ancient Rome via a digital programme called SketchUp. The model portrays Rome around 315AD, a date chosen for its ability to show off a multitude […]

Speaking at Digifest 2018

Yesterday Dr Matthew Nicholls and I attended #Digifest18 at The ICC to talk about 3D modelling in teaching in learning. It was great to have such a large audience interested in the #VirtualRomeUoR project and it resulted in some very interesting conversations. The panel discussions, technology stands and speakers of Digifest brought up a variety of interesting issues, with Nick Wooley of Northumbria University making […]