Research interests

Neil Res 2 My principal research interests have focussed on the history and archaeology of Italy and the Western Mediterranean between c. AD 300-1000, examining in particular the transition period from Roman to medieval and the evolution of settlement patterns. Central to this was my in-depth analysis of the Lombard tribe, whilst a major survey of the period (From Constantine to Charlemagne: An Archaeology of Italy, AD 300-850) was published in 2006. Core themes in this research include the evolution of towns and the role of defence (For a related blog, see An additional research field relates to castle origins and growth, with Italy again the main zone of interest.

Towns and urbanism and change across the late Roman to medieval periods are a second core area of research, with a variety of edited and co-edited volumes. Key to flag is the recent Vrbes Extinctae volume, looking at archaeological approaches to and interpretations of 'lost' classical towns.  More broadly i have recently published a re-assessment of the last centuries of the Roman West, exploring especially the related archaeological evidence (see Publications listing).

Archaeological fieldwork forms an important component in my research profile. I directed the Cicolano Castles Project in central Italy (1991-94) centring on excavation and survey work on medieval castles and villages in the high Appennines. I co-directed the Sangro Valley Research Project (1995-2000), assessing evolving settlement patterns in eastern central Italy and excavating a medieval watchtower site. I also co-directed a project in eastern Spain (1994-96), examining post-medieval and early modern upland rural exploitation. I have maintained fieldwork in Italy in the last few years with excavations at Classe (San Severo church and monastery), Ravenna, Cesenatico, and on the hilltop site of San Martino, Tenno (Trentino province).

A very recent project has been centred on the study of the town and setting of Wallingford in south Oxfordshire and its transition from Saxon burh to Norman town. This major archaeological investigation included geophysical and topographic survey, targeted excavations and re-evaluations of previous watching briefs and unpublished excavations to build an image of urban emergence and development from c. AD 800-1400. ahrcAHRC funding enabled a three-year project (organised with Exeter and Oxford Universities) from 2008-10, with continued excavation and test-pitting work in 2011. The major monograph resulting from the AHRC project was published by the Society for Medieval Archaeology in 2013.


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