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Christopher Booth

University of Nottingham - Department of Classics and Archaeology

Thesis Title: 

Distilling the Apothecary: the Archaeology of Early Modern Medical Practitioners in Britain and the Atlantic World

Thesis Description:

My project presents a new approach to the archaeology of medicine and pharmacy in the early modern period and will make a significant contribution to medical humanities scholarship by producing a synthesis of the archaeological and historical evidence to provide new insights into the medical practice, social role, and cultural importance of apothecaries in the British Colonial Atlantic region from c.1500 until 1815. Although so far under-studied, my project aims to assess the archaeological and material culture evidence for apothecaries in Britain, Ireland, and the British Colonial Atlantic. Analysing the material culture evidence alongside documentary sources related to both specific sites and the profession of the apothecary in general, my thesis will explore how the work and status of apothecaries was affected by being at the centre of new global networks of exchange, as well as being intimately involved in the rapid commercialisation of health-care in the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I will also use these data to examine how apothecaries used material culture to engender trust in their patients as medicine became more and more removed from home-produced traditional herbal remedies.

Supervisors and Institutions: 

Dr Christopher King - University of Nottingham -

Dr Alexandra Livarda - University of Nottingham -

Dr Kate Smith - University of Birmingham -




Public Talks:

  • Booth, C. (2018) ‘Garbage Archaeology: Reconstructing the Early Modern Apothecary from their Waste.’ Brown Bag Talk, presented at The Huntington Library, San Marino, California, 29th October.


Conference Papers:

  • Booth, C. (2018) Establishing Trust and Efficacy: The materiality of early modern pharmacy. Conference Paper, presented at the University of Nottingham Department of Classics and Archaeology Postgraduate Student Conference 2018, University of Nottingham, 22nd May.
  • Booth, C. (2018) Establishing Trust, Authenticity, and Effectiveness in Early Modern Pharmacy. Conference Paper, presented at the EMREM Annual Symposium 2018, University of Birmingham, 17th-18th May.
  • Booth, C. (2018) Physician, Apothecary, or Surgeon? The medieval roots of professional boundaries in later medical practice. Conference Paper, presented at the Medieval Midlands Postgraduate Conference 2018: Boundaries and Frontiers in the Middle Ages, University of Nottingham, UK, 4th-5th May.
  • Booth, C. (2016) The stalled development of the still: material evidence for changes in distilling practice in Britain. Conference Paper, presented at the First Annual Post-Medieval Archaeology Congress, organised by the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, University of Sheffield, 1st-3rd April.
  • Booth, C. (2015) Holy alchemists, metallurgists and pharmacists: The material evidence for British monastic alchemy and chemistry. Conference Paper, presented at the Fourth Annual Leeds Postgraduate Monasticism Conference, University of Leeds, UK, 8th-9th May.


Conference Posters:

  • Booth, C. (2018) ‘Distilling the Apothecary: The Archaeology of Early Modern Medical Practitioners in Britain and the Atlantic World.’ Poster, presented at Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership Research Festival 2018, Birmingham, UK, 24th May.


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

  • AHRC-Huntington Research Fellow at The Huntington Library, San Marino, California, USA: August - November 2018
    • Three-month fellowship funded by the AHRC International Placement Scheme. Relating to my PhD research entitled: Distilling the Apothecary: The Archaeology of Early Modern Medical Practitioners in Britain and the Atlantic World.
  • Editor for Midlands Historical Review: January - December 2018
    • As Editor I am spearheading the next phase of development of Midlands Historical Review as it moves into its second year of publication. Our hope is to develop a clear and simple workflow to ensure that the journal, despite its rolling publication, can fit alongside the important academic work of the editorial board. To do this I have created several new positions at the journal and I am working to set up additional editorial teams at other M3C universities so that the journal has access to an even greater variety of the best student led research in the country, research that deserves the audience we hope to provide.
  • Writer for Arch365 Podcast: December 2017 - February 2018
    • Arch365 (/arch365) is a daily five to ten minute podcast produced by The Archaeology Podcast Network ( designed to bring a little history, heritage and archaeology into your daily life. It is aimed at a general audience and makes archaeological sites, concepts, and artefacts accessible and interesting for heritage professional and interested amateur alike. As of December 2017 the show had almost 4,500 subscribers on its dedicated feed. 
  • Assistant Editor (Research Articles) (Archaeology) for Midlands Historical Review: October 2017 - January 2018
    • Midlands Historical Review ( is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, student-led journal which showcases the best student research in the Arts and Humanities. We accept submissions from students at any stage of their university career, including exceptional undergraduate and post-graduate dissertations, Masters level research papers, conference papers, book reviews and any other innovative research format. Students in the Arts and Humanities produce valuable contributions to knowledge which, once a degree has been awarded, are often forgotten. High quality research deserves an audience no-matter the level of education it was produced for. The research published by MHR encourages and enables later cohorts of students to build upon previous students’ work. Midlands Historical Review, as an online, open-access publication, is at the cutting edge of the emerging landscape of modern scholarly publishing and makes a contribution to the important task of establishing the reliability and integrity of scholarship online.


Professional Memberships:

Other Research Interests:

  • Archaeology and Art History relating to the History of Medicine, Science and Technology
    • Apothecaries, Chemists, & Druggists
    • Alchemy
    • Chemistry
  • Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology
  • Archaeology of Colonialism and Colonial Contact
  • Art and Antiquities Crime
  • Public Engagement with, and Presentation of, Heritage and Archaeology
  • Monastic (Especially Dissolution) Archaeology
  • Museum Archaeology
  • Changing Models of Scholarship in the Digital Age
  • Digital Humanities
  • Medical Humanities