Just a minute with… Dr James Gerrard

Dr James Gerrard is a lecturer in Roman archaeology here at Newcastle, he studied at Sheffield for his BA in Archaeology and Prehistory, before completing his MA (in Archaeological Research) and PhD (Pottery and the end of Roman Britain: the view from south-western Britain) at York. Check out his project blog: https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/luftonarchaeology/

After a busy couple of weeks of student inductions, he answered a few questions for us:

1. How did you come to be interested in your current area of research? 

As a child, I was inspired to study the Romans and the end of the Roman period by the novels of Rosemary Sutcliff (Eagle of the Ninth; The Lantern Bearers). I was also lucky enough to grow up in Somerset surrounded by Roman and early medieval sites.

2. What book are you currently reading? 

101 Dalmatians. Seriously. My daughter was reading it and I thought I’d regress to childhood. It’s a great story, charming, serious and in places downright ironic.

3. If you were a biscuit, what sort would you be?

A garibaldi (squashed fly) biscuit, or perhaps a ginger nut.

4. What has been the highlight of your week?

Meeting all the new students!

5. What is the most important life skill you learnt whilst being a PGR student?

That life is hard but you can survive its ups and downs.

6. What do you enjoy the most about being part of the history, classics and archaeology department at Newcastle?

It’s a great, friendly place with brilliant colleagues and excellent students.

7. What did you want to be as a child? 

An archaeologist

8. Can you describe your research in three words? 

No. Perhaps: End, Roman, Britain

9. What would your perfect day away from work be?

Somewhere wildish – the countryside or coast. It’d need to have no mobile signal and perhaps a nice pub for some food and drink.

10. What is your favourite movie quote?

‘Remember, short controlled bursts’ (Corporal Hicks in Aliens)

Thanks James! 

Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium – confirmed speakers

We have now confirmed our list of speakers for the 2nd NEBARSS conference, to be held here at Newcastle University in November in the historic Armstrong Building. The full list can be seen below, or can be downloaded in PDF form here.

Dr Chris Fowler will give a keynote lecture on Friday 20th of November, his paper is titled:

‘The powers that be’? Powerful events in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain

This keynote will be followed by a wine reception, nibbles, and a lively discussion. Saturday 21st is devoted to current research students, with postgraduate researchers from across Britain and Ireland presenting their work. There will also be a poster display highlighting new and exciting research projects.

Registration is now, and all those who wish to attend are required to register online here. http://webstore.ncl.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=53&prodid=414

Registration is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students, postgraduate and early career researchers, lecturers and independent archaeologists, and members of the public who have an interest in prehistoric archaeology.

The registration fee includes the conference pack, tea/coffee throughout, lunch, the wine reception and associated nibbles! There is information on accommodation, travel, and things to do in Newcastle as well as instructions and how to find the Armstrong Building on our website here. (link) https://nebarss.wordpress.com/conference-archive/newcastle-2015/2015-conference-pack/ Please get in touch if you have any questions or queries.

We hope to see you in November for what promises to be an exciting and engaging symposium!

Welcome (and welcome back)

The new academic year is about to start. For some of us, this means coming back to work after a bit of time off; for some of us, this means coming to a new start at a new university (and for some of us, this means no change, if, like me, you have just been working through your summer).

This also means a new PGF committee. Some roles have been filled, but there are still opportunities open and available. This is also going to be a good opportunity for current and new students to meet and mix, so whether you are arriving or returning, get yourself down to the Percy Building, room G13, this Monday at 4pm to find out what you can do for the PGF, but also what the PGF can do for you!

12th Edition of our E-Journal – Call for Papers!

Call for Papers

12th Edition of the Postgraduate Forum E-Journal

School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University


The theme of this year’s issue of the PGF E-Journal seeks to reflect on the way in which “disruptions” have shaped historical disciplines and processes.

Studies of history are littered with the disruptions of peoples and places, politics and religion, memory and belief, but the term itself is rarely used. Does the concept of disruption offer any new perspective, and how do we recognise and define these disruptions? Does the term disruption have any genuine utility?  Can we look at disruptions on a macro and micro scale?  How do we deal with disruptions to scholarly narratives when new theories, interpretations, and material are discovered?

We are seeking abstracts for papers of 4000 words. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Historiographical Disruptions
  • Material Disruptions
  • Disruptions of Landscape
  • Political Disruptions
  • Social Disruptions
  • Economic Disruptions
  • Ideological/Philosophical Disruptions
  • Religious Disruptions
  • Medical Disruptions
  • Urban or Rural Disruptions
  • Disruption of Memory
  • Natural or Environmental Disruption
  • Textual Disruptions
  • Narrative Disruptions

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words along with a CV to Amy Shields (amy.shields@ncl.ac.uk) by 28th August. If your paper is selected, the deadline for the final paper will the 2nd October.

NEBARSS 2015 – Call for Papers!

2nd Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium

November 2015

We are holding a postgraduate research student conference here at Newcastle University focusing on the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age archaeology of Britain and Ireland. The conference will be preceded by a keynote speaker (tbc.) and a wine reception, which will provide delegates with a relaxed and friendly environment to discuss their research interests with other PG students and Newcastle staff members, as well as external archaeologists and interested parties.

The conference does not have a theme in order to allow researchers to present aspects of their research projects as they so wish. We are now accepting abstracts for both papers and posters from postgraduate researchers, early careers researchers or independent archaeologists. Click here to download our abstract submission form.

We would also encourage poster abstracts from Masters students who wish to present the results of their dissertations, or new PhD students wanting to present their key research interests and research questions.

If you are interested in attending but not giving a paper or creating a poster we will be opening registration in July , so keep an eye out for further information or email us to be put on our email list.

email: l.b.cummings@ncl.ac.uk or nebarss2015@gmail.com

View our Call for Papers poster for more information.

We hope to hear from you soon!

“Disrupting the Notion”: A Postgraduate Conference

Last Friday (22nd May 2015) saw Newcastle University’s 12th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference go off with a bang. A really fantastic range of papers and posters were presented from Newcastle and beyond, displaying some really varied research.

The theme of the conference was “Disruptions”, which had taken root from marketing and commercial theory, as chair Amy Shields explained in her introduction. I think it is fair to say that each paper developed and worked with this theme in really varied and fruitful directions.

The first panel comprised of Skylar Arbuthnot, Samuel Pearson and Victoria Hughes. Arbuthnot gave us some interesting food for thought in local archaeology by suggesting that the understood disruption of Roman settlement could be rethought if we looked for forts in different places. Pearson followed this with an interesting discussion of Lollards and Lollardy heretics in Elizabethan England, and the evidence for and against familial conversion. Finally Hughes looked at some of the Christian responses to a Pagan emperor in the Roman world, and the disruption they felt it caused to their religion.

This was followed by a quick break and a discussion from our keynote speaker, Harry Dickinson (Edinburgh University) who showed a fantastic range of caricature imagery from Britain during the French Revolution and the comedic responses that disruption caused in this country. He almost caused a disruption of his own when he revealed in a denouement that he is, although local, a Sunderland supporter!

After that was a very posh spread for lunch!

Our second panel was Stephanie Moat, Andrew Marriot and myself, Chris Mowat. Moat took the idea of non-classical art styles being regarded as “inferior” in classical archaeologist scholarship and disrupted it herself with the theory of mimetic practice. Marriott then took us to one of the world’s biggest disruptions, the First World War, and looked at how trench art can actually provide new ways of thinking about the historical, military and social developments and outcomes of the war. Thirdly my own paper looked at dreams in the Roman Republic as not simply a disruption of sleep but also a message of potential disruption to the future, and how gender reinforced structures of importance, even in sleep.

The third panel had John Burke and Anthony Stewart. Burke provided stimulating discussion regarding the ongoing disruption of the island of Cyprus by looking at the ‘ghost-town’ of Famagusta, and Stewart took us into Haiti with a look at the local religion of Vodou and the island’s cultural understanding and treatment of mental illnesses.

The poster session showed off, in particular, some of the varied work being done by Masters students.

The final panel of the day was Steven Server and Ben Morton. Server took us through the political climate of the US in the ‘6os and ‘70s through the lens of risk theory, and the disruptions to society and politics during the period. Finally, Morton brought us back to thinking about the theme as a whole and the way we as historians, classicists and archaeologists look at static movement and disruption.

At the wine reception, the Keith Wrightson and Norman McCall prizes were presented. The runner up prize was presented to Andrew Moat, and the winner for the best paper was Stephanie Moat; for posters, Victoria Bell won the runner up prize, with Stacey Astill being the winner.

I, on behalf of the PGF, would like to give a big thank you to Keith Wrightson and Norman McCall for, as always, supporting our event and taking a keen interest in our postgraduate research community – Thank You.

As well, we would like to thank the speakers and audience through the day for the stimulating presentations and fascinating discussion. The whole day was a great success and a lot of good fun. We would all also like to thank Shields for organising and chairing a fantastic conference – thank you!

See you all next year!

Chris Mowat

PGF Committee Member

E-Journal: A quick update!

We have now finished uploading the back issues of our Historical Studies Postgraduate E-Journal. You can find them listed under the ‘E-Journal’ tab (hover over the tab to reveal the list. Please Note: this may not work if you are using Internet Explorer), or use the menu on the right hand side of the page.

If you come across any broken, incorrect, or missing links, please let me know! You can do so via email (l.emslie@ncl.ac.uk).  Thank you.

Lauren (IT Officer)


Updated conference programme. We look forward to seeing you all on Friday!


12th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference 2015
22nd May 2015
 Research Beehive, Old Library Building

9.00 Tea/Coffee Reception

9.20 Introduction

Panel 1 – Chair: Sam Petty

9.30 Skylar Arbuthnot (Newcastle, PhD) The End of Extramural Settlements in the Hadrian’s Wall Frontier Zone

10.00 Samuel Pearson (Durham, MA) Hereditary Heretics: The Experience of Conversion in Lollard Communities, c​. 1500-1550               

10.30 Victoria Hughes (Newcastle, PhD) “What an evil the Roman world is breeding!” Responses to the Emperor Julian’s Reign


11.15 Keynote Speaker – Harry Dickinson (Edinburgh) British Caricatures and the French Revolution.


Panel 2 – Chair: Lauren Emslie

1.00 Stephanie Moat (Newcastle, PhD) Mimetic Practice in Religious Iconography: A Case Study of Roman Britain

1.30 Andrew Marriot (Newcastle, PhD) Disruptive Influences and a Lack of Discipline? World War 1 Trench Art 

2.00 Chris Mowat (Newcastle PhD) Calpurnia and the Disruption of the Roman State


Panel 3 – Chair: Amy Shields

2.45 John Burke (Newcastle, PhD) A Lost City in the Sand: The Memorial Legacy of Conflict through the Greek Cypriot ‘ghost-town’ of Famagusta

3.15 Antony Stewart (Newcastle, PhD) The Disruption of Leonce Joachim, 1934: How the anthropologist’s informant became the subject of an international debate on Haitian psychology, Vodou and mental health             

Break and Poster Session

 Panel 4 – Chair: David Lowther

4.30 Steven Server (Oxford, MSc) Extralaw and Disorder: Disruptions in Political Culture Surrounding State Risk Management, 1964-1976

5.00 Ben Morton (Newcastle, PhD) Disruptions, Scales and the Medieval Village: Questioning the Nucleated-Dispersed Paradigm

5.30 – Conclusion and Thanks

6.00 – Wine Reception – Student Common Room

“Joan was Quizzical…”

Our first charity fundraising event was a success!  On Wednesday (11th March) we held a Pub Quiz in aid of Comic Relief at the Hancock Pub near campus.  There were raffle prizes up for grabs including chocolates, cinema tickets and a night ‘at the dogs’, which was donated to the cause and for which we are exceptionally grateful!

PGF Comic Quiz 2
Some of the raffle prize winners! Photo Credits: Amy Shields & Sam Petty

Our own Chris Mowat took off his Seminar Co-ordinator hat and become Quizmaster for the night – we should have picked someone who would have created an easier quiz!  Chris came up with a spectacular five rounds with a variety of great questions (including The Beatles song our title came from!) and everyone had great fun.

We had a fantastic turnout and everyone had a great night. 

Our sincere thanks tPGF Comic Quiz 1o
everyone who come along and joined in – we raised £111.50 altogether, which was beyond our expectations.  Thank you! 

A big shout out to our Losing Team, ‘Table 19’, who won the (literal) wooden spoon prize.

And Well Done to our Winners, the ‘The Quiz-tine Chapel’.



Jack & Michael

Call for Papers (Deadline 27th March)

12th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference 2015

School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, Newcastle University

22nd May 2015


This interdisciplinary one-day conference seeks to bring together students from across the country to reflect on the continuous ‘disruption’ within historical disciplines.

How do we recognise and define these disruptions? Does the term ‘disruption’ have any genuine utility?  How did people respond to disruption? How did they cope when disruptions affected their personal life? Can we look at disruptions on a macro and micro scale?  How do we deal with disruptions to scholarly narratives when new theories, interpretations, and material are discovered?

We are seeking proposals for individual twenty-minute papers from historians, archaeologists, classicists, and ancient historians. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Historiographical Disruptions
  • Material Disruptions
  • Disruptions of Landscape
  • Political Disruptions
  • Social Disruptions
  • Economic Disruptions
  • Ideological/Philosophical Disruptions
  • Religious Disruptions
  • Medical Disruptions
  • Urban or Rural Disruptions
  • Disruption of Memory
  • Natural or Environmental Disruption
  • Textual Disruptions
  • Narrative Disruptions

We also invite poster submissions from postgraduate students. The posters do not necessarily need to be on the conference theme, but rather are a way to begin to present your work in the earlier stages of your research.

Keynote Speaker to be confirmed.

Please send abstracts of 300-500 words for papers, and 150-200 words for posters, along with a title to Amy Shields (amy.shields@ncl.ac.uk) by 27th March 2015.