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Latin Classes


Future Events

Illustrated Talks




School Author Visits






Other News


Contact Me





Gillian Hovell

is a member of

The Society of Authors

and The Association of Freelance Writers



‘Visiting the Past Tours’

is the trading name of

Hovell & Dent Limited

 Registered Address:

Rays Farm, Smelthouses, Harrogate HG3 4DJ,  

Company No: 08315220




‘The Muddy Archaeologist’

is an informal identity

for Gillian Hovell,

independent freelance

Writer & Speaker,

historian and archaeologist


Bookings are already being taken into 2014

so feel free to take the opportunity to book early

for your society or event.


Click here to see a full choice of talks


Some of the most popular talks are:

Pompeii - A Product of Its Time - A Fresh Look at Frescoes

A Muddy History of Britain - A Local View

Latin Yesterday, Today & Forever

Roman Britain: What did the Romans Ever do for Us?

Petra - The Highs and Lows of a Charity Trek


Scroll down for NEW Talks, future talks & examples of past talks


Coming later ‘The perception of beauty - then and now

And more...)


Click here to see a full choice of talks


Some of the most popular talks are:

A Muddy History of Britain - A Local View

Latin Yesterday, Today & Forever

Roman Britain: What did the Romans Ever do for Us?

Petra - The Highs and Lows of a Charity Trek


Scroll down for future talks & examples of past talks

Contact me here or phone me on 01423 771290 or 07860 637301

to book me for a lively, richly-illustrated talk

that will entertain, inform, and bring history to life

A few comments from recent reviews and appraisal forms ...

  ‘Excellent speaker. Very informative - learnt loads’                              ‘Absolutely excellent’

        ‘Very entertaining’          ‘Beautifully presented - history with humour - a delight’            ‘Thoroughly enjoyable’

               ‘Phenomenal’                  ‘Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!’                             ‘First class as usual from Gillian’

      ‘Enjoyable and interesting’                    ‘Gillian brings learning to life in a way that inspires future interest’  

Just some of my hosts in recent months  ...



A Selection of Recent Talks:

Talks - Walks (also displays, workshops, classes, charity work, Lent courses ...)

Latin - Rome - Roman Britain - Classical Gods - Archaeology - Petra - Trekking


Roman Britain: What the Romans did for Us  The ebb and flow of the history of the Roman Occupation: the events, the sites, the personalities, and what the Romans thought of the Britons and how they changed our landscape and lives for ever.   

(Previous hosts: Kirklees Culture Club, feva, Harrogate Library, Leathley Tea’n’Talk, Bilton Historical Society, Leathley 50 Club ...)


Pompeii - A Product of its Time   A Fresh Look at Frescoes   Get to know Pompeii and the lives of those who lived there before you visit the British Museum exhibition or join us on a Visiting the Past Tour there ...          

(Bloomsbury Hotel London, National Media Dinner, Mercer Art Gallery, North Stainley Village Hall)


Iron Age (Nidderdale) Project   The hugely successful community archaeology project in Nidderdale

(CBA Symposium, Ingleton, Yorkshire Archaeological Trust, Mens Forums, ...)


Dales Prehistory  A mini course on prehistory in the Dales - what happened when, and what we can still find out there today ...


Latin Yesterday, Today and Forever   A trip through the centuries finding out how Latin crept into our modern lives and how it surrounds us every day and can enrich our lives.

(Previous hosts: Classical Association, Wakeman Lectures, Washburn Heritage Centre, Riccall History Society, Knaresborough Men’s Forum ...)

Latin All Around Us - Why the Romans Still Matter Today  .Discover how to spot the Romans all around us - always tailored to be of interest and relevance to the specific audience.   

(Previous hosts: Naturalist Societies, Libraries, Schools)


The Virtue of Words - How the Victorians shaped the Words we use The Victorians reshaped our world, but they raided the Classical world to colour their world.   

(Previous hosts: Ripon Cathedral ...)


What’s in a Name?   Getting to grips with those Latin names and finding out there’s a whole world of colour, richness and fun out there!   

(Previous hosts: Wharfedale Naturalist Society ..)

The Words of God   Fresh meaning and power to the words we use on a daily and weekly basis in our churches, services, scriptures ...

For lay groups and clearly alike.

(Previous hosts: Ripon & Leeds Diocese CLAY series, Birstwith & Benefice  ...)

A Classical Gallery of Rogues - the Eternal Pantheon  Getting to know the Classical gods and their place in our lives today.  Gods posing divinely and gods behaving badly continue their immortal existence in modern art and media today.

(Previous hosts: U3A Thirsk; Leathley Tea’n’Talk ...)


A Muddy History of Britain - A Local View   We take a virtual tour through history from early prehistory to modern times, discovering that we’re surrounded by history every day. Learn to spot archaeology all around us: you’ll never look at an empty field the same way again ...

Previous hosts:

  After-dinner speeches  (Soroptomists, National Trust ...)

 Archaeology societies (YAT, CBA, Harrogate, Ingleborough, Nidderdale Society, Middleham ...)

 Churches (Addington, Ripon, Birstwith ...)

 Entertainment Venues (Galtres ...)

 History Festivals (Ripon, Washburn, Stanwick, North Yorkshire County Council ...)

 Libraries  (Skelmanthorpe, Ripon, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Starbeck, Kirklees, Boroughbridge ...)

 Lifelong Learning (U3A, CLAY, Wakeman Lectures, Classical Associations, Schools ...)

 Literary Festivals (Ilkley, Calderadle Readers’ and Writes’ Festival, feva ...)

 Literary Teas  (St.Aidan’s School, Leathley ...)

 Local History Groups  (Boroughbridge, Friends of Harrogate District Museum, East Keswick History Society)

 Local Societies  (Nidderdale Society, Men’s Forums, Ladies’ Association, Yorkshire Countrywomen’s Association)

 School Events   (St.Aidan’s School, Harrogate, Taunton, Rossett ...)

           To name just a few ...

Iron-Age (Nidderdale) Project  The amazing story unearthed by the Community Archaeology Project.  Walks recently given for the AONB, Ripon International Festival, Upper Wharfedale Field Society, Pateley Bridge Walking Festival ...


Prehistoric Nidderdale   A trip through the Prehistory in the region - a stunning story and surprising finds, all on our doorstep!  Walks recently given for the AONB, Pateley Bridge Walking Festival, talks to Middleham ...


Why Classics /Latin is the Ultimate  Degree   You’ll be multi-talented, well-read, lateral thinker and open minded ... there’s not an area of life that you won’t learn about!   Inspiring Exeter University students.


A Down-to-Earth History of Anglesey    This island is a treasure trove for archaeology!



and more ...


Next Talks:     


    Monday 1st July 2013  A Muddy History of Britain - A Local View

                            7.30 pm  York Coronary Support Group, The Folk Hall


     Monday 8th July 2013     Topic tbc

                   12.30pm  52 Club, Wike



Thursday 11th July 2013     Pompeii - A Product of its Time

                   12.30pm  Bedale Library



Sunday 28th - Monday 29th July 2013   

London - Life and Death in Pompeii & Herculaneum, British Museum

                   Only £159 staying at the 4* Guoman Tower Hotel.  Coach & B&B fare included



Tuesday 13th August 2013     A Gallery of Rogues - the Eternal Pantheon

                   7pm  Knaresborough Library



 Monday 19th August - Friday 23rd August   Hadrian’s Wall ‘Edge of Empire’ Tour

                   Only £497  Still places available - book now!

      Check out the Visiting the Past site



         Tuesday 3rd September   Title tbc

                   Whixley WI



Wednesday 19th September 2013  The Romans on Holiday    £18  1 day course

             9.15-2.30pm   Rossett School, Extended Learning.  Dayschool workshop

                     Phone Malcolm or Melissa 01423 563768 or contact me 01423 771290

   Thursday 26th September   Latin Yesterday, Today & For Ever

                  Bardon Castle U3A


Click on Events for more ...  

New Talks for 2013


Pompeii - A Product of its Time

(catch this before you head south to the British Museum’s summer exhibition on Pompeii, or before going on tour to Pompeii itself)



The Greeks on Holiday   and  The Romans on Holiday

(want to understand and get the most out of all those sites you’ll be looking at on holiday in the Mediterranean ...?

Then this is the exciting new talk for you and your society/group

Join the Greek one-day, and Roman one-day workshops on these at Rossett School this June ...



Classical Art

Join the two-day Roman Art Appreciation course at Rossett School this July ...


A growing portfolio of talks on how Roman Art still influences us today:


A Gallery of Rogues: the Eternal Pantheon Greek and Roman gods still surround us

A Fresh Look at Frescoes The wallpaper of the Romans

Made in the Image of Man (and Woman) Classical sculpture brought to life

The Roman Man and Woman in the Street’  Everyday life in Rome

The Iconic Roman Villa’  So much more than a pile of ruins

Why Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day‘ Where did Roman Architecture come from?

Transparent Rome - Gazing at Roman Glass A stunning Roman speciality

Making the Most of a Roman Museum visit - Opening our Eyes How to see beyond the glass case

And the ever-popular, 'A Gallery of Rogues: the Eternal Pantheon’ showing how Greek and Roman gods still surround us.

Are you an Art Society - why not pick several and enjoy a Summer School or Weekend Course?

 Or phone me to chat about which talk/series is best for you: 01423 771290

Digging Deep into History

to bring colour, depth and meaning to life today