Archaeology of Prehistoric Britain

116 TUTOR: Gillian Hovell

This richly illustrated course will bring Britain's prehistory alive and provide you with a comprehensive view from the earliest Palaeolithic Age, through to the nomadic Mesolithic, the Neolithic first farmers, the innovative Bronze Age and the Iron Age. You will learn from an archaeologist who has excavated every Age and discover where to go and what to look for. In addition to how to recognise the sites and artefacts, you will discover what happened when and what life was like in each era. You will also explore some of the latest discoveries and discuss how understanding of the ancient past of our islands has transformed in recent years.

2 AM
AM course

Course Notes

(The following agenda is flexible and includes time for discussion and debate)


- Welcome and Introduction to course

- The Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) including Human evolution & human species

- Focus on Britain's Old Stone Age, including Neanderthals

- Palaeolithic Art

- Including: Sites - Evidence - Analysis - Discussion

- Special Sites include: various early homo species' discovery sites around the world; Happisburgh; Boxgrove; Kent's Cavern; Swanscombe; Cresswell Crags; Paviland 'Red Lady'; Flixton Lake


- The Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age): traditionally known as the 'Hunter-Gatherer- era

- Newly emerging ideas and evidence for settlement in the Mesolithic

- Discover: a changing landscape (climate change); early settlement sites; cave art; flint tools;

- Including: Sites - Evidence - Analysis - Discussion

- Special Sites include: Doggerland; Star Carr, Yorkshire; 'Cheddar Man'; Contemplating Gobekli Tepe.


- The Neolithic (New Stone Age): The First Farmers in Britain

- How mankind settles down in to societies larger than extended families in ceremonial landscapes, first in the Eastern Mediterranean/Near East and how this later appears in Britain.

- Pottery arrives; land clearance; flint tools; long barrows, stone circles & other ceremonial landscapes; Neolithic art.

- Including: Sites - Evidence - Analysis - Discussion

- Special sites include: Orkney islands tombs; Sweet Track; Stonehenge & its landscape; Silbury Hill (& Marlborough's Mound); Grimes Graves


- The Bronze Age - Innovation: New technology & new culture of 'Beaker People'

- The technology and impact of Bronze

- Burials; bronze; a wealth of gold; pottery; field system & settlements; climate change; stone circles; boats; burnt mounds;

- Bronze age Art

- Including: Sites - Evidence - Analysis - Discussion

- Including Stonehenge & Durrington Walls; Amesbury Archer; Great Orme Mines; Flag Fen; Must Farm


- The Iron Age & the Coming of the Romans: A time of hillforts, crannogs & round house settlements, iron tools and weapons; brochs; souterrains/earth houses

- The technology & impact of Iron

- Elite Iron Age & horses (including White Horses); chariot burials; carnyxes; heads

- Halstatt & La Tene cultures; trade

- The impact of the Romans

- Including: Sites - Evidence - Analysis - Discussion

- Including: Maiden Castle, Old Sarum & other forts; Waterloo helmet; Battersea Shield & others; Snettisham; Chrysauster; Dacre Top

Course Tutor

Gillian Hovell

Gillian Hovell

About Gillian


After graduating with 2-1 (Hons) in Latin and Ancient History from Exeter University, Gillian worked in BBC Television and went on to become an award-winning freelance writer, author and public speaker, specialising in archaeology, prehistory and in the Greek and Roman eras. She is a lecturer at York University and at the British Museum and presents in the media.

Having led and supported community archaeology projects in a hands-on way (hence 'The Muddy Archaeologist'), Gillian now actively digs at major sites in the UK and Europe (from Orkney's prehistoric Ness of Brodgar to Roman Pompeii and Vindolanda and sites and eras in between).

She also teaches courses and lectures in the UK and beyond for The Arts Society, summer schools (such as Marlborough), museums (including the British Museum and the Ashmolean in Oxford and, of course, local museums), schools and audiences ranging from the WI to the national media.

A month-long Arts Society lecture tour of Australia was so successful in 2018 that another was planned for 2021(Covid delay to 202/3)and one to New Zealand in 2022.

Gillian travels widely in her work and lectures and guides on tours and cruises around the UK and the Mediterranean for companies such as Andante, Voyages to Antiquity's cruises (including exclusive 'Muddy Archaeologist Groups'), Smithsonian Journeys, Ciceroni Travel, Academy Travel, ASA (Australians Studying Abroad) Tours, Paideia Institute and Saga specialist archaeology tours, and she used to run her own tour company,Visiting the Past Tours.Her lecture tours cover every era and destination from the Neolithic in Orkney & Roman Britain, to the Greeks and Romans and ancient civilisations throughout the Mediterranean.

Gillian shares her passion for ancient history in person, in books & freelance writing, in the field, in the media and on-line. She engages with folk in social and professional environments and inspires them to see that archaeological finds and sites are full of human life and passion. Gillian changes the way that people see their work and leisure, human nature and the world around them. Gardens, food, professions, art, architecture, even the words we speak, are given fresh new dimensions.

For history and archaeology are not just about the past, they're everywhere, and they add colour, depth and meaning to every aspect our lives today.

Even if you don't yet know that you're interested in ancient history, archaeology or Latin, Gillian can fire your imagination and inspire you to new visions.



Gift vouchers

Request a brochure

Summer School Entertainment 2022


Meet the Tutor: Dr Susan Brockman

This summer, Dr Susan Brockman will travel all the way from New York to join our...

More News

All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 11 Jul - 15 Jul

WK 2 18 Jul - 22 Jul

WK 3 25 Jul - 29 Jul

WK 4 1 Aug - 5 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM