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The University of Southampton
Archaeology Part of Humanities

Professor Roger H Leech

Visiting Professor of Archaeology

Professor Roger H Leech's photo

Professor Roger H Leech is a Visiting Professor in Archaeology at the University of Southampton.

I am Visiting Professor in the department, was earlier Visiting Professor at Reading University, and was formerly Head of Archaeology in the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, now part of English Heritage.  Whilst in that post I was responsible for the national programmes of archaeological survey and air photography, also for the national collections of archaeological archives that now form part of the English Heritage Archives. As Head of Archaeology I represented the United Kingdom from 1991 to 1995 on archaeological matters for the Council of Europe, where I also provided assistance to the Secretariat of the Council of Europe on the formulation and editing of a Code for Good Practice in Urban Archaeology in Europe and on the preparation of a Core data standard for archaeological sites and monuments .  As chair of a documentation standards committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) I was able to facilitate the adoption of the European standards by ICOM as the International Core Data Standard for Archaeological Sites and Monuments .

I joined the Royal Commission in 1984, to be Head of its new Southampton office for the National Archaeological Record, formed out of the old Archaeology Division of the Ordnance Survey.  My first tasks there were to continue the input of archaeological data to all Ordnance Survey maps and to organise the computerisation of the Ordnance Survey card index to all archaeological sites in England – now available online as Pastscape . My contact with the University of Southampton Archaeology Department commenced there with visits of students each year from the Department accompanied by Professor Tim Champion.

Before 1984, I was Director of the Cumbria and Lancashire Archaeological Unit at Lancaster University, now reconstituted as Oxford Archaeology North – responsible for rescue archaeology throughout northwest England.  Earlier I was Assistant Director of the Western Archaeological Trust in Bristol, concerned with rescue archaeology projects in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset. My PhD dissertation at Bristol University drew on some of this research and was on 'Romano-British Rural Settlement in South Somerset and North Dorset'. In recent years my interests have moved also to the archaeology of the recent past and at Southampton I have lectured in earlier years on the historical archaeology of Britain and North America, 1500 to the present, a unit named ‘The Familiar Past’, offered to 3rd year students, but following financial cuts not now delivered.

I am a Council member and former President of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, was in 2002 co-organiser of the Society's conference at Southampton University on Cities in the world 1500-2000 and was in 2005 co-organiser of the Society's conference on The Colonial landscape of the Caribbean, held on the island of Nevis in the Leeward Islands. I am also a former President of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.  I have in the past been a council member of the Royal Archaeological Institute, and a member of the National Trust’s advisory committee for London and SE England.

Through my consultancy, Cultural Heritage Services, I provide specialist advice and recording on archaeology and historic buildings in Bristol, London and Hampshire. In the last twelve years some 120 projects have included the completion of archaeological and architectural surveys of the Redcliff Way corridor, the 1740s Corn Exchange, the Old Council House, O and M Sheds, Prince’s Wharf (the new M Shed Museum), St Nicholas Markets and the Assize Courts or Guildhall, all for the City of Bristol, surveys of a number of smaller historic buildings for various clients including the government of Barbados, and archaeological desktop studies, environmental impact assessments and other research and reports for UNESCO and ICOMOS (Paris), King Sturge and Co., Lambert, Smith Hampton Property Solutions, London and Paris Estates, Oxford Architects, the PG group, Royal Sun Alliance Property Investments, Umberslade Developments, the University of Bristol, the parish of St Mary Redcliffe, White Young Green Consulting Engineers, the Romsey Buildings Preservation Trust, Oxford Archaeology, Cotswold Archaeology, Pre-Construct Archaeology, Bristol and Region Archaeological Services and a number of private developers.


As a visitor I work largely from home +44 (0) 1794 518185 (my home office number), and am best contacted by email .

Research interests

My interest in Roman Britain has continued in recent years with the support of research grants from the Society for Roman Studies Roman Research Trust and the Somerset Heritage Grants Scheme to complete a published report on the 1946-8 excavations of the Roman villa at Low Ham in Somerset, famous for the discovery there of a mosaic pavement depicting scenes from Virgil’s Aenied.  Following a geophysical survey in the summer of 2018, linked to both the forthcoming publication and the Historic England Monuments at Risk Programme, this project was in November 2018 linked to a Historic England field investigation directed by Dr David Roberts to characterise the many additional enclosures and buildings thereby revealed.

In 2014 I completed a long term project looking at urban housing in Bristol, England’s second city for much of the medieval and early modern periods.  Funded initially by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and subsequently by English Heritage, this was published in 2014.  This archaeological and architectural study has been underpinned with a historical study of property holdings in the city, providing vital documentary context for the builders, owners and occupiers of houses, the results of this being separately published by the Bristol Record Society in a series of volumes on the topography of medieval and early modern Bristol.

My third research interest in recent years has been in furthering our understanding of the historical archaeology of the English Caribbean islands.  My work on Nevis has formed part of the Archaeology Department’s Nevis Heritage Project I have also been studying plantation life on the islands of St Kitts and Barbados.

This research has contributed to papers delivered to recent conferences, ‘Slavery and the Country House’ held in London in 2010 in association with English Heritage and the National Trust and its proceedings published in 2013, and the conference of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, held in Jamaica in 2011.   The research on Nevis, a project looking at the colonial landscape of the eastern Caribbean, has been funded to date by the British Academy and the Society of Antiquaries, and is being carried out in partnership with colleagues from National Museums Liverpool and Bristol City Museum in England and Mercer University, Mary Washington College and the University of Virginia (including the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery project ) in the United States. This project forms part of Archaeology's Nevis Heritage Project, in which up to ten students from Archaeology have participated in each year that funding has been available.

Not teaching in 2019-20

Professor Roger H Leech
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton
Avenue Campus, Highfield
SO17 1BF
United Kingdom

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