Department of Classics and Archaeology

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William Bowden

Professor of 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 interested in the use of new technologies (including Virtual and Augmented Reality) to present archaeological sites to the public.

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 have also worked with the Norfolk Archaeological Trust on interpretation schemes for the Roman town at Caistor St Edmund.

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
  • The use of digital technologies for heritage interpretation
  • Community archaeology

Current Projects

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. One of its key aims is to use ongoing research to encourage wider recognition and public enjoyment of this important Roman site and to involve the community in high quality archaeological research. To this end a community archaeology group (Caistor Roman Project) was established as a charity in 2009 and is now a thriving community group carrying out research in its own right. I continue to have an active role as research director and trustee. For further information see I have also been using the site to develop new immersive technologies for interpretation (supported by the AHRC and working in collaboration with UoN Computer Science). The research has been funded by the British Academy, AHRC and others, while the community project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Foyle Foundation and others.

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 and have authored and co-authored multiple publications on the site. My current role within the project is concerned with 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, as well as further research on the human skeletal remains from the Triconch Palace (a major late Roman domus).

Southwell Roman villa

I have been working with Southwell Archaeology (a community group) on the conservation and interpretation of Southwell Roman villa in Nottinghamshire since 2009 and also collaborating with them on devising wider landscapre research around Southwell. The villa is one of the largest in the East Midlands with its importance linked to its relationship with Southwell's late Saxon then Norman Minster that was later founded on the site.

Recent Publications

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. T

At undergraduate level I teach on the following modules:

CLAR1019 - Rome to Revolution: Introduction to Historical Archaeology (1st year). This module introduces students to the archaeology of Britain from the Roman conquest until the early modern period. It is a core module for first year Archaeology students and is also available as a subsidiary module.

CLAR1021 - Understanding the Past 1 (1st year) This module introduces students to the discipline of archaeology and the ways in which different types of archaeological evidence are recovered and analysed. It includes practical work in the department's laboratories.

CLAR1020 - Understanding the Past 2 (1st year) Building on the skills learned in Understanding the Past 1, this module introduces students to landscape and buildings archaeology and includes the creation of a portfolio based around fieldwork in the park landscape of Wollaton Hall, the spectacular Elizabethan house adjacent to the University Park campus.

CLAR3007 - Rome and the Mediterranean (2nd and 3rd 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.

CLAR3079 - Britain in the Later Roman Empire (c. 250-450) (2nd and 3rd year)This module, taught in collaboration with George Woudhuysen, studies the dramatic changes that occurred in the late Roman province of Britain. The module focuses particularly on the different narratives derived from textual and archaeological evidence and encourages students to fully engage with the challenges of interpreting different sources of evidence.

At Masters level I teach courses on the Archaeology of Late Antiquity, Rome and the Mediterranean and Roman Britain.

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 Margherita Riso (Churches in late antique and early medieval Sicily) and Sahal Abdi (Creating Rural Settlements: New Perspectives on Imperialism, Ontogenesis and Processualism) (both M4C in collaboration with the University of Leicester); Nigel Stanley (When did Germanic languages arrive in Britain?) (with UoN School of English). I have previously successfully supervised Dr Daryn Reyman (Architecture and identity in Gallia Narbonensis), Dr Natasha Harlow (Portable artefacts in the Civitas of the Iceni) (with University of Leicester), Dr Vassiliki Brouma (Death, ritual and identity in the south-eastern Aegean in the 3rd to 1st c. BC), Dr Philip Hughes (Curation, (re)use and memory of the Prehistoric Past in Roman Britain) (with University of Leicester), Dr Lauren Bellis (A Dog's life: an interdisciplinary study of changing human-animal relationships in Roman Britain)

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. I am also keen to work on further use of immersive technologies for heritage interpretation and to explore the challenges and tensions associated with such interpretations.

  • W. BOWDEN, ed., 2020. Butrint 5: the non-ceramic finds from the Triconch Palace Oxbow.
  • BOWDEN, W. and PERZHITA, L., 2020. The Diaporit villa in context. In: HERNANDEZ, D. and HODGES, R., eds., Butrint 7: Beyond Butrint Oxbow. 192-207
  • W. BOWDEN, 2019. The Early Christian Archaeology of the Balkans. In: W. CARAHER, T. DAVIS and D. PETTEGREW, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Archaeology Oxford University Press. 537-556
  • BOWDEN, W., 2019. Conflicting ideologies and the archaeology of Early Medieval Albania Archeologia Medievale. 46, 41-50
  • BOWDEN, W., 2018. The villas of the eastern Adriatic and Ionian coastlands. In: MÉTRAUX, G. and MARZANO, A., eds., Roman Villas in the Mediterranean Basin Cambridge University Press. 377-98
  • 2017. From villa to minster at Southwell. In: MITCHELL, J., MORELAND, J. and LEAL, B., eds., Encounters, Excavations and Argosies: Essays for Richard Hodges Archaeopress. 56-72
  • W. BOWDEN, 2016. A window on an uncertain world: Butrint and the fortified sites of Epirus in the 7th-9th centuries AD. In: N. CHRISTIE and H. HEROLD, eds., Fortified Settlements in Early Medieval Europe. Defended Communities of the 8th-10th Centuries Oxbow. 234-46
  • W. BOWDEN, 2015. Social anxiety and the re-emergence of furnished burial in post-Roman Albania. In: J. RASMUS BRANDT, M. PRUSAC and H. ROLAND, eds., Death and Changing Rituals: Function and Meaning in Ancient Funerary Practice Oxbow. 343-57
  • BOWDEN, W., 2013. The urban plan of Venta Icenorum and its relationship with the Boudican revolt Britannia: a Journal of Romano-British and Kindred Studies. 44, 145-169
  • D.J. BESCOBY and W. BOWDEN, 2013. The detection and mapping of Saxon sunken-featured buildings at Caistor St Edmund Archaeological Prospection.
  • W. BOWDEN, 2013. Townscape and identity at Caistor-by-Norwich. In: H. ECKARDT and S. RIPPON, eds., Living and Working in the Roman World.: Essays in Honour of Michael Fulford on his 65th Birthday Journal of Roman Archaeology. 47-62
  • W. BOWDEN and R. HODGES, 2012. An 'Ice Age settling on the Roman Empire': post-Roman Butrint between strategy and serendipity. In: N. CHRISTIE and A. AUGENTI, eds., Vrbes Extinctae: Archaeologies of Abandoned Classical Towns Ashgate Publishing Ltd. 207-241
  • BOWDEN, W., 2011. "Alien settlers consisting of Romans": identity and built environment in the Julio-Claudian foundations of Epirus in the century after Actium. In: SWEETMAN, R.J., ed., Roman colonies in the first century of their foundation Oxbow Books. 101-116
  • BOWDEN, W. and HODGES, R., 2011. Butrint 3: excavations at the Triconch Palace Oxbow Books for the Butrint Foundation.
  • BOWDEN, W., 2011. Architectural innovation in the land of the Iceni: a new complex near Venta Icenorum (Norfolk) Journal of Roman Archaeology. 24, 382-388
  • W. BOWDEN and R. HODGES, 2011. 'Një periudhe akullnajore mbi Perandorinë Romake. In: S. KAMANI, ed., Butrinti ne shekuj Albanian Heritage Foundation. 118-42
  • BOWDEN, W., 2010. Early Byzantine urban decline in the southern Balkans Acta Byzantina Fennica. 3, 67-80
  • BOWDEN, W., 2010. El siglo IV. In: BISPHAM, E., ed., Europa Romana Barcelona: Critica. 298-333
  • W. BOWDEN, 2010. IV Wiek. In: E. BISPHAM, ed., Europa Rzymska Swiat Ksiazki. 313-347
  • BESCOBY, D., BOWDEN, W. and CHROSTON, P. N., 2009. Magnetic survey at Venta Icenorum, Caistor St Edmund: Survey strategies and initial results Archaeological Prospection. VOL 16(NUMBER 4), 287-291
  • BOWDEN, W., 2009. Christian Archaeology and the Archaeology of Medieval Greece. In: BINTLIFF, J and STOGER, H., eds., Post-Medieval and Medieval Greece: The Corfu Papers Oxford: BAR. 93-100
  • B. BRENK, W. BOWDEN and S. MARTIN, 2009. New results from the Jarash cathedral excavation Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan. 10, 205-18
  • BOWDEN, W., 2008. Cristianizzazione e status sociale nell' Epirus Vetus tardoantico: le evidenze archeologiche Antichità Altoadriatiche. 66, 301-332
  • BOWDEN, W. and BESCOBY, D., 2008. The plan of Venta Icenorum (Caistor-by-Norwich): interpreting a new geophysical survey Journal of Roman Archaeology. 21(1), 325-334
  • BOWDEN, W., 2008. Thesprotia in the context of Roman and late antique Epirus. In: B. FORSEN, ed., Thesprotia Expedition I: Towards a Regional Survey Finnish School at Athens. 167-184
  • BOWDEN, W.A., 2008. The fourth century. In: BISPHAM, E., ed., Roman Europe Oxford : Oxford University Press. 265-298
  • BOWDEN, W., 2008. A new Roman site near Caistor St. Edmund The Bulletin of the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group. 17, 9-18
  • BOWDEN, W and GRUBER, S., 2007. The New Abbey: the early medieval borgo and the twelfth-century monastery. In: K. BOWES, K. FRANCIS AND R. HODGES, ed., Between Text and Territory: Survey and Excavations in the Terra of San Vincenzo al Volturno London: British School at Rome. 135-186
  • BOWDEN, W., 2007. Nicopolis: the ideology of the late antique city. In: ZACHOS, K., ed., Nicopolis II. Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Nicopolis Preveza: Actia Nicopolis Foundation. 135-149
  • BOWDEN, W., 2007. The Venafro aqueduct. In: K. BOWES, K. FRANCIS AND R. HODGES, ed., Between Text and Territory: Survey and Excavations in the Terra of San Vincenzo al Volturno London: British School at Rome. 313-319
  • BOWDEN W. ET AL., 2007. The Samnite cemetery and the origins of the Samnite vicus. In: K. BOWES, K. FRANCIS AND R. HODGES, ed., Between Text and Territory: Survey and Excavations in the Terra of San Vincenzo al Volturno London: British School at Rome. 49-92.
  • BOWDEN, W and MITCHELL J., 2007. The Triconch Palace at Butrint: the Life and Death of a Late Roman Domus. In: L. LAVAN, L. ÖZGENEL AND A. SARANTIS, ed., Housing in Late Antiquity From Palaces to Shops Leiden: Brill. 455-474
  • BOWDEN, W. GUTTERIDGE, A. MACHADO, C., ed., 2006. Social and Political Life in Late Antiquity Leiden ; Boston: Brill.
  • BOWDEN, W.A., 2006. Procopius' Buildings and the late antique fortifications of Albania. In: BEJKO, L. and HODGES, R., eds., New Directions in Albanian Archaeology: a Festschrift for Muzafer Korkuti Tiranë : International Center for Albanian Archaeology. 223-232
  • BOWDEN, W.A., 2006. Crete and Epirus: architectural interaction in late antiquity, in A. Di Vita (ed.) III/1. Athens, Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene: . In: Creta romana e protobizantina. 787-800
  • HODGES, R., BOWDEN, W.A. and LAKO, K., eds., 2005. Byzantine Butrint: excavations and surveys 1994-1999 Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • BOWDEN, W. and HODGES, R., 2005. Butrinto nell'Eta Tardo Antica. In: DELOGU, P. and BROGIOLO, G.P., eds., L'Adriatico dalla Tarda Antichità all'Età Carolingia. Atti del convegno Brescia 11-13 ottobre 2001. All'Insegna del Giglio. 7-47
  • BOWDEN, W.A., 2005. Review of C. Kosso É The Archaeology of Public Policy in Late Roman Greece Journal of Roman Studies. XCV, 328-329
  • BOWDEN, W.A. and PËRZHITA, L., 2004. Archaeology in the landscape of Roman Epirus: preliminary report on the Diaporit excavations, 2002-3 Journal of Roman Archaeology. 17(Fascicule 1), 413-433
  • BOWDEN, W.A., LAVAN, L. and MACHADO, C., eds., 2004. Recent Research on the Late Antique Countryside Leiden : Brill.
  • BOWDEN,W.A. and HODGES,R., 2004. Balkan Ghosts? Nationalism and the question of rural continuity in Albania. In: CHRISTIE, N., ed., Landscapes of Change: Rural evolutions in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages Aldershot : Ashgate. 195-222
  • BOWDEN, W.A., ANDREWS, R., GILKES, O. and MARTIN, S., 2004. The late antique and medieval fortifications of Butrint. In: BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R. and LAKO, K., eds., Byzantine Butrint: Excavations and Surveys 1994-99 Oxford : Oxbow Books. 126-50
  • BOWDEN, W.A., 2004. Trial excavations within the city. In: BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R. and LAKO, K., eds., Byzantine Butrint: Excavations and Surveys 1994-99 Oxford : Oxbow Books. 219-223
  • BOWDEN, W.A., 2004. The Christian topography of Butrint. In: BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R. and LAKO, K., eds., Byzantine Butrint: Excavations and Surveys 1994-99 Oxford : Oxbow Books. 104-25
  • BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R., GILKES, O. and LAKO, K., 2004. Introduction. In: BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R. and LAKO, K., eds., Byzantine Butrint: Excavations and Surveys 1994-99 Oxford : Oxbow Books. 1-19
  • BOWDEN, W.A. and PERZHITA, L., 2004. The Baptistery. In: BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R. and LAKO, K., eds., Byzantine Butrint: Excavations and Surveys 1994-99 Oxford : Oxbow Books. 176-201
  • BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R., GILKES, O., LAKO, K. and PERZHITA, L., 2004. Butrinto: l'archeologia di una citta marittima In: L'Archeologia dell'Adriatico dalla Preistoria al Medioevo. 583-98
  • BOWDEN, W.A. and LAVAN, L., 2004. The late antique countryside: an introduction In: Recent Research on the Late Antique Countryside. xvii-xxvi
  • BOWDEN, W.A., 2003. Epirus Vetus: the archaeology of a Late Antique Province London: Duckworth.
  • BOWDEN, W.A. and LAVAN, L., eds., 2003. Theory and practice in late antique archaeology Leiden: Brill.
  • BOWDEN, W.A., 2003. The construction of identities in post-Roman Albania In: Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology. 57-77
  • BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R. and LAKO, K., 2002. Roman and late antique Butrint: excavations and survey 2000-2001 Journal of Roman Archaeology. 15, 151-80
  • BOWDEN,W.A., 2001. A new urban elite? Church builders and church building in late-antique Epirus. In: Recent Research in Late-Antique Urbanism Rhode Island, Journal of Roman Archaeology. 61-72
  • BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R., GILKES, O., LAKO, K. and PERZHITA, L., 2001. The Butrint Project Antiquity. 75(287), 25-26
  • BOWDEN, W.A., HODGES, R., GILKES, O. and LAKO, K., 2000. Late Roman Butrint, Albania:survey and excavations 1994-98 Archeologia Medievale. XXVII, 241-257
  • BOWDEN,W.A. and HODGES,R., eds., 1998. The Sixth Century: Production, Distribution and Demand Brill Academic, Leiden.

Department of Classics and Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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