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Name: Phil Hughes

PhD: Roman Archaeology

Thesis Title:I Forgot to Remember to Forget: Curation, Reuse and Memory of the Prehistoric Past in Roman Britain


Thesis Description:

This project will investigate the (re)use of prehistoric artefacts and landscapes in Roman Britain (AD 43-410 CE). There is a growing body of evidence indicating that ancient places and objects were cosmologically significant to later societies, yet such manifestations are largely neglected by orthodox models of cultural change examining Roman imperialism. The past 25 years have seen the emergence of a consensus abandoning the linear, top-down imposition of Roman culture onto the people of the provinces, instead emphasising a much more varied picture of local acceptance, resistance and reworking of extant and incoming norms. There is a need to integrate reuse of prehistoric material into these theoretical models. To achieve this, the project will analyse sites demonstrating evidence for deliberate reuse in the Romano-British period such as Palaeolithic cave systems, Neolithic long barrows, henge and stone circle complexes and Iron-Age hillforts, together with assemblages of ancient portable objects which show evidence for ‘structured deposition’ in Roman contexts. Temporal and geographical trends shall be considered to account for variations in practices, which tell us how the people of the Roman period interpreted and used/constructed the past. It is proposed that systematic analysis will allow for an understanding of the complex relationships between communities, objects and landscapes during a period when belief systems and cultural traditions saw radical negotiations. Further, it provides an arena where ideas of continuity and change, which pervade discussion of Roman imperialism, can be critiqued to integrate notions of memory into existing frameworks.


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Professor David Mattingly - University of Leicester

Associate Professor William Bowden - University of Nottingham

Professor Colin Haselgrove - University of Leicester 


Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

  • Hughes, P. 2013. 'Dishonour, Degradation and Display: Crucifixion in the Roman World'. HARTS & Minds: The Journal of Humanities and Arts 1 (3) 1:23.


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

Paper Given: June 2014. The Celtic Conference in Classics. University of Edinburgh - Dishonour, Degradation and Display: Crucifixion in the Roman World

Paper Given: February 2013. Scottish Postgraduate Classics Conference. University of Glasgow - Resistance and Romano-Celtic Religion: an analysis of the veneration of the cult of Sulis Minerva at Bath. 

Conference attended: May 2016. 9th Iron Age Research Student Symposium. University of Leicester

Conference attended: April 2015. 25th Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference. University of Leicester

Conference attended: April 2013. 23rd Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference. Kings College, London. 


Other Research Interests:

  • Memory Studies
  • Symbolic and Structural Violence
  • Imperialism
  • Postcolonialism




University email address: 




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