Dankirke, Sønderjylland 3 - Copy
Me in Denmark, 2010

Welcome to the blog of a thinker, doer, consumer of popcorn and archaeologist, Howard Williams. This is a new blog about archaeology and the world as experienced through the eyes, nose, ears and sometimes other orifices of a man who spends much of his waking hours pondering complex issues relating to human mortality, material culture and mortuary practices. I also try to eat three meals a day and sleep when it is at all possible.

It seems appropriate to start by introducing myself to all those people in blog land.

Rock-cut early medieval graves, Heysham, Lancs.

I hold down a day-job as Professor of Archaeology in the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Chester. I teach archaeology to undergraduate archaeology students, masters (PGT) archaeology students on two programmes: MA Archaeology and Heritage Practice and MA Archaeology of Death and Memory, as well as the MRes Archaeology and I supervise a number of MPhil/Phd students. The job also involves administration and lots of research into all manner of fun topics.

As the name suggests, this institution of higher education is situated in the beautiful English border city of Chester. Chester is in England but only just; its south-westerly suburbs are in Wales. On future blogs, I will explore the wonderful world of archaeology at the University, in the city and in the regions that surround it.

Backs of Gravestones in Wrexham

Researching Death and Memory

I also hope to write in this blog about my research into various aspects of mortuary archaeology and archaeologies of memory in the medieval and modern worlds, exploring graves, tombs, cemeteries and other monuments and memorials. I also have an interests in the history of archaeology, community archaeology and landscape archaeology. I hope you enjoy browsing through the things I write about these topics.

If you want to find out more about me and my work, I have a University of Chester staff pageI have also posted some of my research onto two websites: my SelectedWorks site and my Academia.edu page.

Excavations at the Pillar of Eliseg, Valle Crucis, Llangollen

Archaeology is a way of exploring the past, it isn’t just about digging. Still, I do a range of fieldwork, including graveyards surveys in Devon and occasional digs in Sweden and the UK. One of the latter is a collaborative project investigating a prehistoric and early medieval site of national and international importance: the Pillar of Eliseg. Project Eliseg is a collaboration with Dai Morgan Evans,  Nancy Edwards and Gary Robinson as well as close dialogue with Llangollen Museum.

The Archaeological Journal

Occasionally, I will blog about my other role. Currently, I am the Honorary Editor for the Royal Archaeological Institute, editing the publication: the Archaeological Journal. I am currently completing the editing of vol. 169 of the Journal and I am preparing two subsequent volumes: 170 and 171.

Ruthwell cross
Me at the Ruthwell Cross, Dumfrieshire

I also wish this blog to be a platform to report in a popular, but perhaps also an informed, way, about the various sites, monuments and landscapes of archaeological significance that I encounter on my travels.


So far this introduction has focused on my archaeological research and what I hope this blog will do. Is it obligatory that I say something about my private life? If so, a few brief words.

I have to now admit to being middle-aged, I wear spectacles and have done since I was an undergraduate. I frown too much and talk too much. I happen to be the husband of a beautiful and hard-working woman – Libby. I am proud father to five beautiful and interesting children: Jemimah, Adah, Tobias and twins Talitha and Rhoda, all of whom, in various combinations, explore the landscape of Wales and England with me. I also have one brother and two parents. I don’t have any pets, instead I have allergies.

I live in Wales, the most splendid of countries, unquestionably the land with the best flag in the world, if not the best weather. Living in N-E Wales, I am proud to live close to the wonderful town of Wrexham, known for its multicultural population and rich industrial heritage.

I don’t have time for ‘hobbies’ because my interest and job in archaeology are my hobby. Still, I do enjoy watching the occasional popular film, reading the occasional book and visiting beautiful places.

I really enjoy cycling, but have neither the money or time to be ‘serious’ enough about it purchase tight lycra shorts; instead I cycle in ‘normal clothes’. I have a Dahon fold-up bike but one day I might get a Brompton.

Life is full of disappointments. Most pressing of these is knowing that I know I will never play the Dane and I will never grow a beard as magnificent as Ken Stott’s Balin.

That’s it for now. I hope to find time to write more on this site as I outline above. How regularly I will add posts? We shall see…