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Gillian Hovell


'The Muddy Archaeologist'

Unique ID: muddy-archaeologist

Keywords: Ancient Historian, Archaeologist, Latin expert

Industry sector: Arts & Heritage, Education

Location: United Kingdom

In person, in the media, in the written word, on-line and in the field, Gillian Hovell, ‘The Muddy Archaeologist’ adds colour, depth and context to our diverse modern lives today by digging deep in to the past.

Expertise & Speciality

Adventure,  After Dinner Speaker,  Ancient Civilisations,  Arts and Heritage,  Arts and Music,  Business and Finance,  Christian Spirituality,  Creativity,  Education,  Environment and Nature,  Events,  Food, Drink and Events,  Gardening,  General Healthcare,  Historians,  History and Culture,  Home,  Home, Gardens and DIY,  Hosts and Auctioneers,  Industry Sector,  Influencers,  Inspirational Speakers,  Leisure,  Motivation / Inspiration,  Motivation / Inspiration,  Mythology and Mysteries,  Mythology
,  Nature,  Presentation Skills,  Presenters,  Religion and Cultural Beliefs,  Science,  Spoken Word,  Travel,  Travel,  Travel, Leisure and Adventurers,  TV and Radio Presenters,  TV, Film and Celebrity

Industry Sector

Arts & Heritage,  Education

Passions & Purpose

I’m a professional and award-winning writer, public speaker & tour/cruise guide, specialising in adding entertainment, colour and depth to our modern lives by passionately sharing how the Ancients shaped our modern world, including our homes (full of fashion thanks to the Romans); cookery (the Roman chefs were the biggest show-offs of all time); medicine & science. Because we’re all human and our past is nearer than you think. Current work demystifies ancient Mediterranean and Latin’s past and present impact and popularity, while digging deep into archaeology in UK and the glorious Mediterranean.

As an ancient historian who turned archaeologist, I reveal the Big Picture, connecting ancient history and the evidence in the sites, great and small, to our daily lives.  It’s all so much more than a load of old stones … it’s life itself, speaking loudly to us of our diverse humanity and connecting us together in wondrous ways.


Recent gigs & credits

Radio experience (Local and Radio 4 ‘Broadcasting House’ and BBC York)

Excavated at Neolithic Ness of Brodgar, Orkney; Mesolithic Star Carr; Roman Pompeii’s Oplontis & Vindolanda & others.  Led Community Archaeology Project 2004-2014.

Smithsonian Cruise and Tour lecturer since 2014  (Prehistoric Orkney to Sicily and S.Italy and the Aegean).  Also for Voyages to Antiquity (best enrichment cruises 2016) in Aegean, Adriatic, Mediterranean), Saga Holidays (Malta, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Hadrian’s Wall, Wessex …), Visiting the Past Tours (Pompeii, Hadran’s Wall).    Recently described by a veteran Saga cruiser as ‘by far the best lecturer I’ve EVER seen on board’.

National & International Public speaker – NADFAS accredited (Australia lecture tour 2018) & speaking to diverse groups: National media to Classical Associations, schools, museums, WI, Churches …  Frequent testimonials declaring ‘passionate’, ‘brilliant’, ‘engaging’, knowledgeable’ and ‘charming’ and ‘learnt more in one hour than I’ve understood in 20 years’

Lecturing multitude of independent courses and classes: mythology, Cicero, classical literature, ancient philosophy, archaeology from Prehistory to Medieval …

Regular contributor for Aquila magazine, freelance to diverse magazines including cover article BBC History Magazine.

Long Biography

After graduating from Exeter (BA Hons Latin & Ancient History), I worked in production areas of BBC TV.

After raising a family, I returned to my passion for history by leading a multi-era Community Archaeology Project (HLF funded) in North Yorkshire.   Freelance work grew, including video work, local history App, and local lecturing to National accreditation (NADFAS) and this led to lecturing on cruises and tours for multiple companies.

Author of ‘Visiting the Past: finding and understanding Britain’s archaeology’ was followed by ‘Roman Britain’ (Crimson Publishing).  A work on the diverse ancient cultures of the Mediterranean is in the pipeline, together with a popular work on Latin for everyone.

When suddenly divorced, I had to abandon my plans for a PhD and focus on earning enough for myself and children: media work, writing, teaching courses independently, events in museums and schools, lecturing nationally and internationally, raising social media profile …  despite hardship I would not abandon my expertise and passion for sharing ancient history and making it relevant and exciting even to those who had little interest to begin with.

Now looking for a media career aspect to complement my sharing of the colour and depth that ancient history gives to every aspect of our modern lives today.  There is no topic that doesn’t benefit from an exploration into its ancient origins and development.

Qualifications & Training

BA (Hons) Latin & Ancient History, Exeter University

Archaeology training courses (various)

Narrowly missed winning a place on 2013 BBC Academy Training Day; applied for 2017 BBC Academy Training Day on 31 March 2017.


Awards & Achievements

Winner of British Library & RHS Annual international writing competition ‘The Writer in the Garden’.

Commended by AONB for Iron Age Nidderdale Community Archaeology Project



Radio 4 Broadcasting House on Richard III link here

BBC Radio York

Local Radios (Stray FM, Two Lochs …)


Upcoming Events

Speaking on Cicero at the Ashmolean Museum (29 June 2017)

Multiple NADFAS talks (inc. Lincoln 13 March 2017), Kendal (4 April 2017)

Regular classes in North Yorkshire (Ripon, Harrogate, North Stainley)

Interests and Hobbies

Travelling to new destinations:  I have walked a Charity Trek to Petra; ridden elephants, swum in the River Kwai and slept in the jungle in Thailand; trekked for a month in Nepal (and survived altitude sickness); wild camped in Scotland; explored archaeology and history in the UK, Europe, Asia and US.

Walking my cairn terrier, Hamish.

Church/Faith  activities

Miscellaneous Information

Adding value to our lives today – whatever topics we explore and whatever circles we move in – is my passion.  Every aspect of our modern life has ancient roots (challenge me!), whether it be science, health, philosophy, social, art and the arts, media, politics,  history, technology, engineering, language, education, religion, food and drink, homes and gardens, professions, even sport.

Now moving back into media after my early BBC days – but this time to present my passion to a wider audience and complement my lecturing and research work.


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