Department of Archaeology

If you wish to get in touch with our administrative staff, please see the admin staff contact page.

Image of William Bowden

William Bowden

Associate Professor in Roman Archaeology, Faculty of Arts


  • workArchaeology and Classics Building
    University Park
    NG7 2RD
  • work+44 (0)115 95 14830
  • fax+44 (0)115 95 14812


I became involved in archaeology in 1986, working in advance of new construction at Stansted Airport, as part of a Manpower Services scheme. After several years working on rescue archaeology projects in Essex and Norfolk, I undertook a degree at the Institute of Archaeology (UCL). Following my degree I worked for the British School at Rome in Italy for several years, working particularly at the medieval monastery at San Vincenzo al Volturno but also working in Rome, the Sabina, Tuscany and on the island of Elba. Since 1994 I have been a member of a team of archaeologists working at Butrint in southern Albania under the direction of Richard Hodges and gained my PhD (Town and Country in Late Antique Epirus Vetus) from the University of East Anglia in 2000. Following research fellowships at UEA, sponsored by the Butrint Foundation/Packard Humanities Institute, I taught at the University of Reading from 2005-2006. I have been at the University of Nottingham since 2006.

Expertise Summary

My areas of interest encompass the Roman period in Britain and Europe, with particular focus on the changes that occurred with the coming of the Romans and also on the end of the Roman Empire. I have published extensively on the end of Roman period and have also published the results of several major excavations. My current fieldwork is based at Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk, a town founded following the revolt of Boudica., which involves an extensive field survey, excavation, geoarchaeology and geophysical survey. I have carried out fieldwork in Italy, Jordan, Albania and the UK. I have a particular understanding and interest in of the archaeology of Albania, the relationship between archaeology and politics in Greece and the Balkans and the use of archaeology to construct national and regional identities. I have also carried out research on the way that identities were constructed in the past and this forms one of my principal research directions at present. I am also interested in the relationships between different interest groups involved in archaeology and in the involvement of community groups in archaeological projects. I place great emphasis on community involvement in my own projects and see the dissemination of information to the public as a key part of archaeological research.

I am also involved with the interpretation of heritage and worked extensively on the creation of a new museum and visitor trails at Butrint (Albania). I am currently working in collaboration with the Norfolk Archaeological Trust on a new interpretation scheme for the Roman town at Caistor St Edmund, to be funded by Natural England.

Teaching Summary

I teach in the areas of Roman and late antique archaeology at UG and PG level. I also run active field projects in which students are involved and am interested in the development of on-line learning… read more

Research Summary

  • The Roman and late antique Mediterranean (with particular focus on Greece and the southern Balkans)
  • Roman and late antique urbanism
  • The Christianisation of urban and rural environments in late antiquity
  • The construction of identities in the Roman and post-Roman periods
  • The use of the past in the construction of modern identities

Current Projects

The Butrint Project (Albania) This is an interdisciplinary research project focused on the ancient and medieval town of Butrint on the coast of southern Albania. I have been involved with the project since its inception in 1994. My current role within the project is concerned with the publication of the 1994-2003 excavations of the Triconch Palace (a major late Roman town-house) and the publication of the excavations of a Roman villa and early Christian church at the site of Diaporit, where I directed excavations from 2000-2004. For further information on the project see The Butrint Foundation.

Caistor St Edmund Roman Town The Caistor Roman Town project is a new research initiative focused on the Roman town of Venta Icenorum, which was established in the territory of the Iceni in the aftermath of the Boudican revolt of AD 60-61. The research is intended to chart the effects of the town's foundation on its surrounding area and to examine the development and eventual decline of the settlement. The project is being developed in collaboration with South Norfolk Council and the Norfolk Archaeological Trust and one of its key aims is to use ongoing research to encourage wider recognition and public enjoyment of this important Roman site. For further information see

I teach in the areas of Roman and late antique archaeology at UG and PG level. I also run active field projects in which students are involved and am interested in the development of on-line learning resources. This includes the use of audio and video recordings of lectures for students to use as revision aids.

At undergraduate level I teach the following modules:

V61132 - Introduction to the Archaeology of the Roman Empire (1st year). This module introduces students to the evidence for life in the Roman Empire encountered by archaeologists, covering subjects including the Roman army, housing, aqueducts, gladiators and the end of the Roman Empire. It is a core module for first year Archaeology students and is also available as a subsidiary module.

V63210 - Rome and the Mediterranean (third year). This module looks in detail at the archaeology of the Roman Mediterranean from c. 300 BC - AD 550, in the context of wider historical and archaeological approaches to the Mediterranean. It is aimed at developing students' understanding of the archaeological evidence and the ways that archaeologists have investigated the Roman Mediterranean, looking at the scientific and ideological motivations behind particular archaeological approaches. The course uses a mixture of lectures and seminars based around detailed examination of sites and case studies.

At Masters level I teach courses on the Archaeology of Late Antiquity: the Mediterranean and Beyond and an Introduction to the Archaeology of the City of Rome.

I am interested in supervising PhD students in the following areas:

The archaeology of Roman and late antique towns

Late Roman Christian and domestic building

The construction of identities in the Roman and late Roman periods

Roman Britain

Roman Greece and the Balkans

I am currently supervising Sera Baker (the Tabernae of Pompeii) and Natasha Harlow (Portable Artefacts and Identity in the Civitas of the Iceni). I am also joint supervisor for Vasiliki Brouma (Burial Ritual and Identity in the south-eastern Aegean in the Hellenistic Period). I have previously successfully supervised Dr Daryn Reyman (Architecture and identity in Gallia Narbonensis).

Past Research

Previous research includes work on the Samnite cemetery and 12th century abbey at San Vincenzo al Volturno (Italy), survey of the Basilica of the Forty Martyrs (Albania), and survey of the cathedral complex at Jerash (Jordan) (in collaboration with Prof. Beat Brenk (University of Rome, La Sapienza)). I have also worked extensively on the use of the past in constructing present identities in Greece and Albania.

Future Research

I am interested in developing research regarding the relationship between academia, government agencies responsible for archaeological heritage, and the different elements of the wider public who engage with archaeology. The latter include those who are involved with archaeology both willingly (for example as volunteers, visitors to sites, or viewers of television programmes), or unwillingly (for example as landowners or developers). I am also interested in exploring the inherent tensions between the protection and presentation of archaeological remains and the need to engage with different sectors of the public (such as metal detectorists and landowners) who have a direct impact on the archaeological record.

Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Contact details