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David Roberts   MCIfA, FHEA, FSA

Dr David Roberts


Senior Lecturer in Roman Archaeology and History

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 29225 11828
John Percival Building, Room 5.49a, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


My research focuses on understanding how people in the Roman and later prehistoric periods interacted with and understood the landscape around them, and how researching and understanding this can benefit our society today. My main areas of interest are:

  • Human-landscape-animal interactions in prehistory and the Roman period.
  • Development of innovative approaches to archaeological fieldwork and research, particularly holistic landscape approaches which include GIS, survey and excavation.
  • Promoting the impact and value of archaeological research in contemporary society through teaching, interdisciplinary research and public engagement.

I am a specialist in Roman and prehistoric landscape archaeology and excavation, with significant experience of project management - particularly of excavation and landscape research projects, and fieldwork training - in professional archaeology.

I teach on a range of modules relating to Roman archaeology and archaeological skills, and supervise research in later prehistory and Roman archaeology.









Book sections



I am working on a wide range of research - some key projects are listed below:

Low Ham Roman villa (2018 – present)

This major Historic England project aims to improve understanding of the character of Low Ham Roman villa and the surrounding later prehistoric and Roman landscape. I designed the project, which builds on a Heritage at Risk geophysical survey by HE to assess badger damage and the true extent of the villa complex, which was the site of Britain's first example of narrative art, the Dido and Aeneas mosaic. Excavation by a large team - including delivering fieldwork training - in autumn-winter 2018 revealed important new information about the villa and its environs. Utilising best practice in digital excavation recording, finds and environmental analysis and scientific dating, our results – currently at analysis stage – are likely to provide important new evidence of the late 4th and 5th century reuse of a major villa for industrial activity on a large scale. The project will be written up in partnership with Prof. Roger Leech's (University of Southampton) work on bringing the 1946-8 excavations of the villa to their first publication in a major monograph.

Stonehenge Southern World Heritage Site Survey (2015 – present)

I planned and led the excavation and analysis elements of this large and multidisciplinary Historic England research project, which aimed to better understand the archaeological resource of the Stonehenge WHS south of the A303 road. Our research has produced internationally significant results, discovering a Middle Neolithic pit group and burial dating from the centuries immediately preceding the first activity at Stonehenge, and providing new interpretations of the origin of the monumental landscape. The assemblages of Middle Neolithic pottery and flint from these pits are the largest and most significant from the WHS. Lipid analysis, ceramic petrography, radiocarbon modelling, human and faunal isotopic analysis, proteomics and dental calculus analysis are all contributing to understanding lifeways at the site. This fieldwork also identified the earliest field systems in the Stonehenge WHS, several Middle Bronze Age inhumations, and proved the existence of a large long barrow ploughed out in later prehistory. An extensive programme of publication is nearing completion, and our final publication is in review. See  for synthesis of key results and references to other project publications.

PASt Landscapes (2013 – present)

I co-direct this project with Richard Henry (former Finds Liaison Officer for Wiltshire) and Steve Roskams (University of York). Between 2010 and 2014 metal-detectorists have reported 25% of all finds ever made in Wiltshire from a small area of the south-west of the county (c.3% of Wiltshire), almost all of Bronze Age to Roman date including over 20 hoards. Our project seeks to contextualise these finds, using a suite of landscape techniques to investigate a large study area, and survey and excavation to understand case study sites. In conjunction with colleagues from the British Museum and the universities of York, Oxford, and Reading, the project has investigated several hoard sites, with a focus on understanding one main case study site.  Metal detecting, geophysical survey and excavation have revealed an extraordinarily rich and complex site, with multiple foci of activity including a late Roman temple, a Roman settlement and major ironworking site, and a large Iron Age settlement. Finds from the temple include the largest assemblage of iron votive miniatures from the north-west Roman Empire, several curse tablets, several unique objects and over three thousand small finds. Our holistic approach has enabled us to draw close links between the domestic, industrial and religious landscapes, developing close understandings of practice in the landscape. The project's lead funder is the Society of Antiquaries of London, alongside many other organisations, including the Discworld Foundation. Our first major publication is published in The Antiquaries Journal, with full monograph to follow.

Teffont Archaeology Project (2008 – present)

I have directed the Teffont Archaeology Project since 2008, developing it from a small-scale undergraduate project into a major landscape research project based around a initially annual (2010-15), now biannual summer field school with 75+ students, volunteers and staff. The project has used a suite of archaeological techniques to investigate the historic landscapes of Teffont in partnership with the local community, focusing on the landscape of a nationally significant Roman shrine and its environs. The project has won academic grant funding from a range of organisations, including the NLHF, Royal Archaeological Institute and Roman Research Trust, together with very substantial funding from private donations. We work closely with the local community and regularly undertake talks, walks and exhibitions in Teffont.


I convene the 'Archaeology of Mediterranean Societies', 'Roman Britain' and 'Death and burial in the Roman world' modules.

I contribute teaching to the following undergraduate modules: Discovering Archaeology, The Archaeology of Britain, Investigating the Ancient World, The Ancient World in 20 Objects, Iron Age Britain, Archaeology: It Matters, A World Full of Gods, Projecting the Past, and a wide range of Independent Project and Dissertation supervision across Ancient History and Archaeology.

I contribute teaching to the following postgraduate modules: Special Topic: The Ancient World; Skills and Methods in Postgraduate Study; Postgraduate Skills in Archaeology and Conservation; Death and Commemoration; MA Archaeology dissertation supervision.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.



Archaeologist, Historic England (formerly English Heritage) November 2013 – October 2021.

McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge – Field Archaeologist in Residence. Oct - Dec 2016.


PhD (University of York, AHRC funded) Roman attitudes towards the natural world; a comparison of Wessex and Provence. October 2010 – September 2014. Supervised by Steve Roskams and Dr Kevin Walsh. Viva November 2014.

MA in Landscape Archaeology (Distinction, departmental fee waiver), University of York 2009-2010.

BA in Archaeology (1st class honours), University of York 2006-2009.

Career overview:

My PhD at York focused on how people in southern Britannia and Gallia Narbonensis interacted with the world around them under the Roman empire. I continued to pursue research into landscape relations in the later prehistoric and Roman periods in my job as an Archaeologist in the English Heritage and later Historic England (HE) Archaeological Projects Team. I managed a range of excavation and landscape research projects, predominantly focused on Wessex. During this time I also continued to run the Teffont Archaeology and PASt Landscapes research projects as field schools, working with the universities of York and Oxford, and the British Museum, Salisbury Museum and a range of other partners.

In 2015 I led survey and excavation into the newly discovered Deverill villa (now scheduled) for HE, and then co-directed the Vale of Pewsey field school in collaboration with the University of Reading. Later that year I was asked by HE to manage the excavation elements of the Stonehenge Southern WHS Survey project, investigating the WHS landscape south of the A303. This major project provided an opportunity to conduct research on the periods immediately before and after the key monumental phases of Stonehenge, in parts of the WHS where little research had previously been undertaken. Following the assessment phase of this project I took up a short term fellowship at Field Archaeologist in Residence at the McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge, where I undertook wider research on Neolithic pits in Wessex, now published.

As the publication phase of the Stonehenge WHS project neared completion I designed and led a major research project for HE in autumn-winter 2018 on Low Ham Roman villa and its landscape, to mitigate the villa's heritage at risk status and provide a wider context to the Dido and Aeneas mosaic, Britain's first narrative art. These major excavations - which also included a significant training element, including Positive Action Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic placements, a Headley Trust intern, volunteers and students from several universities - have now reached analysis phase, and will be published in collaboration with Prof. R Leech of the University of Southampton, who is writing up the mid-20th century excavations of the site.

In November 2019 I accepted a post as Lecturer in Roman Archaeology at Cardiff on sabbatical from HE, and taught a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, and supervised dissertations and independent projects on later prehistoric and Roman topics. In January 2021 I returned to HE to develop a national archaeological fieldwork training programme, and then accepted a permanent post at Cardiff in October 2021. My research continues at Teffont and elsewhere, and in the publication phases of the Stonehenge, PASt Landscapes and Low Ham projects.

Honours and awards

Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL) – Fellow (2019)

Humanities Research Centre Doctoral Fellow (2013)

Professional memberships

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists – Member (2017)

Higher Education Academy – Associate Fellow (2013)

University of York – Research Associate (2015)

Landscape Survey Group – Member (2012)

Academic positions

2013-2021 - Archaeologist, Historic England

2016 - Field Archaeologist in Residence, McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Roman landscape archaeology / Roman Britain
  • Excavation and archaeological practice
  • Prehistoric landscape archaeology
  • Archaeological theory, especially landscape / post-human theory.
  • The archaeology of Wessex

Current supervision

Jeremy Foot

Jeremy Foot

Research student

Eddie Taylor

Eddie Taylor

Research student

Molly Johnson

Molly Johnson

Research student

Research themes


  • Roman Britain
  • Landscape Archaeology
  • Field Archaeology
  • Later Prehistoric Britain
  • Roman north-west provinces