Department of Classics and Archaeology

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Natasha Harlow

Honorary Research Fellow,



I have recently finished my doctoral research at the University of Nottingham, funded by the AHRC and the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. I previously attained a BA (Hons) in Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History and an MA in Cultural Heritage at the University of East Anglia. I am currently employed as a Research Fellow on the AHRC/EPSRC funded Caistor Immersive Experience project, developing an Augmented Reality app for the Roman town. I have recently completed the Associate Teacher Programme to become an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and work as a Teaching Affiliate at the University of Nottingham. I am also a Reviews co-editor for the Britannia archaeology journal. My professional career, including a strong museums background and work with Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) data, has given me an understanding of the theoretical and practical issues surrounding the collection and interpretation of small finds. Working with local archaeological groups has provided me with an excellent knowledge of regional material culture. I have also volunteered with the PASt Explorers and Nottingham Young Archaeologists' Club, as well as running schools' outreach in Norfolk and Nottinghamshire. I have taken an active role in fieldwalking, excavation and finds processing at the civitas capital of Venta Icenorum (Caistor St Edmund) with the Caistor Roman Project (CRP) over the past twelve years. Since 2010, I have been investigating the 1929-35 excavations of Donald Atkinson at Caistor, in partnership with Norfolk Museums Service (NMS) and CRP. Oral history interviews are another project which I have been carrying out over the past several years with key figures in the archaeology of Norfolk. I have extended this to explore the personal stories, opinions and behaviour of metal-detectorists, who play an important role in recovering many of the objects in my study.

Teaching Summary

Current modules:

V61BRI The Archaeology of Britain

V61LAD The Living and the Dead

Previous modules:

V62PRO Archaeology and Society: Heritage and Professional Skills

Research Summary

Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, Archaeology. Developing Immersive Experience at Caistor Roman Town (AHRC/EPSRC project).

I am currently employed as a Research Fellow on the Virtual Venta Immersive Experience project, and as a Teaching Affiliate at the University of Nottingham.

About Virtual Venta

Virtual Venta has been developed by the University of Nottingham, Jam Creative Studios, and the Norfolk Archaeological Trust as a pilot project for the Arts and Humanities Research Council's (AHRC) Next Generation of Immersive Experiences scheme.

The project uses data from the University of Nottingham's research project at Venta Icenorum to create a visitor experience that draws directly on the archaeological evidence for the buildings and the people of Roman Venta. Although reconstructions always involve use of the imagination, every aspect of the reconstruction and characters is based on material found at Venta itself or at similar sites. The Latin language spoken by the characters draws on the work of the European Research Council's Latin Now project (charting the spread of Latin across the Roman Empire) and is an attempt to recreate the Latin that might have been spoken in Roman Britain.

The reconstruction depicts the forum in around AD 275. Like many fora in this period it was becoming increasingly decrepit. We have shown activities that we know were present at Venta, although not necessarily in the forum. We have also populated it with characters, some of which are based directly on the skeletal evidence from the site. We know that some of the people were not born locally and it is likely that in common with many towns in Roman Britain, some of Venta's inhabitants came from across the Roman Empire.

The project was designed to investigate some of the technical challenges of delivering an immersive VR experience via mobile devices and to evaluate audience responses to this approach to presenting the site (Project summary, Will Bowden Oct 2018).

Past Research

PhD thesis (University of Nottingham 2018) Belonging and Belongings in the Civitas of the Iceni.

The Late Iron Age in northern East Anglia ends with the Boudican revolt in 60/61 CE, after which, the people known as the Iceni were subsumed by the Roman empire. This thesis tests the archaeological evidence for the Iceni as a defined group, demonstrated by the distinctive character material culture in the region. It investigates the theory that they were slow to adopt Roman imports and luxury goods, either as a form of deliberate resistance or due to cultural retardation following the Boudican revolt. It also questions the interpretive narrative of the Iceni as 'Other', in both Classical and modern sources.

My research expands upon previous studies, which have often been restricted to a single county, time period, or class of artefact. It includes a broad study of the three counties most closely associated with the Iceni: Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The chronological range (circa 100 BCE-200 CE) incorporates the Claudian invasion, Boudican rebellion and several generations either side. A large dataset of over 14,000 object records has been examined, drawn from county Historic Environment Records (HERs) and the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). This project reassesses many of the long-held stereotypes about the Iceni in the light of the dramatic increases in metal-detector finds over the past 20 years.

My thesis demonstrates that: • A single unified social entity ('the Iceni') is not archaeologically visible across the study area, although there is intra-regional patterning. • Iron Age modes of expressing status and identity persisted under Roman rule, through the manufacture, use and display of objects. • Evidence is lacking for regional impoverishment and depopulation in the aftermath of the Boudican revolt. • Metal-detected surface finds have significant research potential when viewed across a wide area and in conjunction with stratified sites.

Department of Classics and Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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