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The School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science has been successful in receiving the Silver Athena SWAN award, given by the Equality Challenge Unit.

Athena SWAN was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to tackling gender inequality in higher education. It has traditionally covered science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines, but has been expanded to include arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law departments (AHSSBL) as well.

The winning submission from the Gender & Fieldwork photo competition, by George Hibberd

The winning submission from the Gender & Fieldwork photo competition, by George Hibberd

SAGES received the Bronze Athena SWAN Award in 2011 and has continued to be committed to creating an inclusive environment for all. Our School-specific objectives for Athena SWAN are:

1. To aspire to a culture of equality for our staff (academic, admin, research and technical) and students;

2. To enhance induction, communication and consultation processes within and between Archaeology, GES and SAGES;

3. To improve collegiality and achieve a more cohesive structure in SAGES;

4. To foster a supportive culture of mentoring, review (PDRs), training and promotion across SAGES (regardless of career stage).

Dr Nick Branch, current Head of School, says “The last three years has been a period of rapid and positive change for the School. Since our Bronze Award, we have extensively refurbished the School infrastructure, changed the School name and mission, and prioritised equality, diversity and wellbeing. Athena SWAN has been the key platform for transforming the culture and improving working lives within the School.”

Ellie Highwood, Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, said the silver award to SAGES reflected the impact of innovative actions, such as a year-long School-wide “Gender in Fieldwork” project, on everyone in the School.

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The new Reading Young Archaeologist Club has announced the programme for 2016! Make sure to mark these dates in your diary…



Saturday 30th January 2016 2pm – 4pm

What is Archaeology?

An introduction to what archaeology involves and some fun activities to help you find out more about what it’s like to be an archaeologist!


Saturday 27th February 2016 2pm – 4pm

Journey to the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife

Learn more about how the ancient Egyptians prepared for the afterlife!


Saturday 19th March 2016 2pm – 4pm


Learn about the development of modern humans using the collection of hominid skull casts and stone axes from the department of archaeology collections. What did early humans look like and how did they live?


Saturday 16th April 2016 2pm – 4pm

Brilliant Brooches

Explore Iron Age and Roman brooches found in Britain and have a go at making your very own brooch inspired by the designs.


Saturday 21st May 2016 2pm – 4pm

Medieval Magic

People in medieval times believed in good and bad magic. In this session you will learn about the different types of magic in medieval times, and what archaeologists have found for the medieval practice of magic.


June/July – Dig at Pewsey (TBC)

A chance to experience life as an archaeologist by visiting the University of Reading’s Archaeology field school at Pewsey in Wiltshire.

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On Wednesday 14th October, Mike Fulford gave a public lecture on the results of the Insula IX ‘Town Life’ Project: 500 years. The fieldwork aspect of the 18 year excavation project came to an end in 2014, but a large team are busy undertaking the post-excavation analysis. Mike’s last public lecture at Reading was 5 years ago, so there was plenty to talk about – the lecture theatre was fully booked, and the audience was packed with old friends from fieldwork, local residents, staff and students.


After an introduction from archaeologist and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Stephen Mithen, Mike started off by setting the scene. Calleva Atrebatum is one of only three major Roman towns in Britain on a greenfield site, meaning the archaeology is preserved much better than places like London and York. The Society of Antiquaries excavated the site from 1890-1909, but they missed an awful lot of the archaeology and stratigraphy. Insula IX was chosen back in 1997 as there were plenty of gaps on the map (meaning undisturbed archaeology), plus buildings on the ‘Late Iron Age’ alignment.

Mike casually offered some impressive stats – Insula IX has produced 62486 finds and 16240 contexts! Based on all of this information, the current chronological outline of Insula IX was presented. The Late Iron Age phase of occupation is currently dated from c. 20 BC to AD43, consisting of a ‘Great Hall’, a series of trackways, pits and wells. After the Roman conquest in AD43, activity within the Insula became much more intensive, but still clinging on the northwest-southeast alignment. At the end of the first century AD, there was a major reorganisation of buildings within the Insula, and again in the late Roman period.

Mike with the Silchester artist in residence, Jenny Halstead

Mike with the Silchester artist in residence, Jenny Halstead

Faced with the wealth of material and environmental evidence for life in Insula IX, Mike highlighted a few key themes. Firstly, the wealth of Silchester was shown through objects such as Harpocrates, the Silchester eagle and imported glassware. Secondly, dogs! From the Late Iron Age lap dog buried in the foundation trench of the Great Hall, to the dogs buried in a later Roman pit along with a raven and the famous mating dogs knife handle, and the evidence for dog skinning in the mid Roman period, dogs were a theme of the excavations. Thirdly, the living conditions within Insula IX were a key point, with trickling filter fly, whipworm and maggots all found through the environmental analysis of wells and cesspits. Along the way, Mike highlighted the work of researchers in the Department of Archaeology, including Rowena Banerjea’s study of floors and buildings through soil micromorphology, John Allen’s work on building stone, and Lisa Lodwick’s research on early food imports. Plus of course the amazing archaeological work of Amanda Clarke and her team of excavators!

Mike rounded proceedings off with the end of Insula IX, the mysterious ogham stone, and the role Silchester may have had in the fifth century AD. There was time for questions at the end – with lots of interest in the Insula IX dogs, the decline of Silchester, plus the important question “would you choose Insula IX again?”

The lecture was accompanied by a display of artwork from the Silchester artist in residence Jenny Halstead. Jenny’s paintings and sketches will be on display at the Old Fire Station Gallery, Henley-on-Thames from Saturday 24th October – Tuesday 3rd November.

Looking forward, work is steaming ahead on preparing the next Insula IX monograph on the Late Iron Age archaeology. Meanwhile, the exciting new Iron Age environs project is using a range of techniques, from LIDAR to geophysics, to investigate Iron Age activity in the wider area – something which will provide a vital prologue to the Insula IX story.

You can watch the video of the lecture here.


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Congratulations to Imogen Burrell and Lisa Nick, current Archaeology students who are receiving the Chancellor’s Award this year for their academic excellence!

The Chancellor’s Award is the most prestigious student award scheme at the University of Reading, which recognises the very best and highest academically achieving students from across the University. This year, 60 students who achieved the highest results in their subject at the end of either their first or second year of study were awarded the prize and will attend a special awards evening tonight hosted by the University’s Chancellor Sir John Madejski and Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell in December.

Well done Imogen and Lisa!

Imogen at Silchester

Imogen at Silchester

Follow the story of William Westoby, a 14 year old apprentice in the city of York, in this brilliant new video!

A cartoon has been made to illustrate the life of a medieval teenager based on the research findings of Dr Mary Lewis’ project “Adolescence, Migration and Health in Medieval England“.

You can view the video on our Youtube channel here.

A team from our department, led by Dr Karen Wicks, are on their way to the Isle of Gigha in the Southern Hebrides for a week to investigate Mesolithic activity there. Watch this video to see what they got up to at Easter on the Isle of Mull!

Turkey Lectures

Visit our seminar page for more info




Last Friday afternoon in the Meadow Suite on campus, colleagues, former students and friends enjoyed a retirement party for Professor Richard Bradley, one of the founding fathers of our Archaeology department, and a very well respected and world renowned Prehistorian. There were speeches from Professors Roberta Gilchrist, Mike Fulford, Chris Gosden from the University of Oxford, and our Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell, followed by a jolly speech by Professor Richard Bradley himself. As well as a photography exhibition displaying amusing images from Richard’s career, to mark Richard’s love of avant-garde classical music a university string quartet played a suite by Finzi, and Richard was presented with a sculpture by one of his favourite artists, the potter, Antonia Salmon, who started her career as a circuit digger in the 1970s.


Richard has been with the department for over 40 years, starting as an Assistant Lecturer at the age of 25, but did his undergraduate degree in Law at Oxford University. Fortunately for us and for the world of Prehistory, he switched his allegiance to Archaeology, where he found that there was much more enjoyment to be had. Despite his official retirement, Richard assures us that he will not disappear from Reading, or from Archaeology, and that he’ll continue to be around for all the fun events in the department!


In collaboration with Cotswold Archaeology and support from English Heritage, the Dept of Archaeology UoR hosted a one-day conference on 30th November 2013 to explore the contribution that commercial archaeology has made to our knowledge of Roman towns in Britain since the implementation of Planning Policy Guidance 16 in 1990. Guest speakers included colleagues from the Universities of Bournemouth, Cambridge, KCL, Oxford and UCL as well as from Cotswold Archaeology, English Heritage and South Shields.developer archaeology conf speakers2

Congratulations to:  Helen McGauran, Chris Beckman and Wei Chu  on the recent successful defence of their PhD theses!

Helen McGauran

Thesis title:  ‘Contextual analysis of economic and social networks: the circulation of Bronze Age soft-stone artefacts in Bahrain and Cyprus’.

Supervisors:   Wendy Matthews, Stuart Black and Bob Chapman.

Christopher Beckman

Thesis title: ‘The Bearded man and the Pig-tailed women:  Hierarchy-enacting practices in Late Chalcolithic Mesopotamia.

Supervisors:  Roger Matthews and Bob Chapman. 

Wei Chu

Thesis title:  ‘No stone left unturned: fluvial processes in the Pleistocene of northern Europe’.

Supervisors:  Rob Hosfield and Martin Bell.

We celebrate the important contributions they have made to the School’s research output and wish them every success for the future.

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