Department of Classics and Archaeology

Migration Narratives: an archaeological perspective

Project summary

‘Britain is a nation of migrants’ – this is an oft-heard saying, but to what extent is it correct? For some people it appears patently false, while to others it is a truism.

In this collaborative project, between Classics and Archaeology, English and the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, and funded by the British Identities Research Priority Area, Hannah O'Regan is part of a team examining the different strands of archaeological evidence for migration and considering how they complement each other.

Two female students sit in front of a large window looking at a lab sample that they hold between them


One example of these different strands is that isotope analysis can inform you about the movement of the individual that has been sampled, while ancient DNA analysis can tell you about their ancestry. Despite this, they have rarely been used together on the same individuals. Both techniques are expensive, so they tend to only be used on individuals that have already been identified as interesting – perhaps because they were buried with exciting grave goods or have been buried in an unusual way. There is also a lack of analyses that have looked at multiple time periods, or at several regions together.

In this project we are drawing together the evidence for isotope analysis from across Britain to identify where there are gaps in the geographic, temporal, or population records that can be targeted so that we can analyse a wider representation of people through time.

We are also examining how archaeological research is presented and published, through linguistic analysis of published papers, their press releases and the subsequent newspaper articles. This is revealing interesting patterns about the language used and how archaeologists (and others) present their work.  

Who's involved

Hannah O'Regan

Related research groups

  • British Identities


O'Regan, H.J, Bland, K., Evans, J., Holmes, M., McLeod, K., Philpott, R., Smith, I., Thorp, J., Wilkinson, D.M. (2020). Rural life, Roman ways? Examination of late Iron Age to late Romano-British burial practice and mobility at Dog Hole Cave, Cumbria. Britannia 51: 83-116.  


Department of Classics and Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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