Barbican Research Associates

                    providing an integrated post-excavation service for the archaeological community



About - Hilary Cool


Research interests

My research has always been concerned with ways in which the material recovered from excavations can be used to illuminate and interpret the past.  I am primarily a Romanist but also work with earlier and later finds. Geographically my main area of study lies within Britain, but I do work with material from other countries occasionally. Increasingly the material culture of Campania is becoming a focus of interest.


One of my areas of specialisation is the study of archaeological glass and this has involved me in collaboration with archaeological scientists working in various institutions. The outcome of one project for which I obtained a grant from the British Academy, was published in Archaeometry in 2005.


The focus of my research over the past few years has been the comparison of artefacts from different types of sites and periods. The aim of the work is to refine methods of examining the intra- and inter-site comparisons that reveal the multi-faceted nature of communities in the past. This is work used to carry out with the late Mike Baxter. My book on Eating and Drinking in Roman Britain (2006) came about through a spare time interest in food, and provided an ideal vehicle to explore this very informative, but often neglected, area of assemblage comparison. It also demonstrated why specialist reports are important and how to use them. You can read reviews here, here and here (if you read German).


Since 2000 I have been working with the glass and small finds from the excavations in Insula VI.1 at Pompeii. This work has been supported by the Society of Antiquaries of London. In 2016 I finally brought this to a conclusion publishing the final report that consists of a book published by Archaeopress and the catalogues and much supporting data available via the Archaeological Data Service.  You can read more about this project here.




Between 1980 and 1982 I worked as a freelance finds specialist for the Scottish Development Department (now Historic Scotland). From 1983 to 1990 I was a Research Assistant and latterly Research Fellow working in the Romano-British Glass Project at the University of Leeds, funded by English Heritage. From 1990 to 1995 I was the Roman Artefact Researcher at the York Archaeological Trust.


Since 1995 I have been a self-employed archaeological consultant working for a large number of archaeological units in England, Wales and Scotland. I spend my time writing reports and overviews, and sometimes rescuing the results of old excavations which for various reasons have never previously been published. As sole or joint author I have published over 100 specialist reports, and have written a considerable number of similar reports that are yet to be published. Increasingly I am also approached to act as manager for other projects where I have no direct research input such as the Staffordshire Hoard project.




I have a BA in Archaeology from the Dept. of Archaeology, University College, Cardiff (1975), and was awarded a PhD from the same department in 1983.  The title of this was Roman personal ornaments made of metal, excluding brooches, from southern Britain, and it can be obtained from the EThOS depository.




I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and belong to a number of organisations serving on their committees and boards from time to time.  I was the secretary and Newsletter editor of the Roman Finds Group for a number of years.  I have served on the Council, Editorial Committee and Archaeology Committee of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. From 2001 to 2003 I was the General Secretary of the International Association for the History of Glass, during which time I helped organise the 16th Congress held in London in 2003, and subsequently edited of the proceedings published in 2005.



Selected Publications


See my page for more, many of which are available for download.


2018. 'Glass vessels and small finds', in Anderson, M.A. and Robinson, D. House of the Surgeon, Pompeii (Oxford), 435-50.


2016. The Small Finds and Vessel Glass from Insula VI.1 Pompeii. Excavations 1995-2006. Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 17 (Oxford).


2016 (with M.J. Baxter). 'Brooches and Britannia', Britannia 47,  71-98.


2016. 'Recreation or decoration: what were the glass counters from Pompeii used for?' Papers of the British School at Rome 84, 157-77.


2014. 'Which Romans; what home? The myth of the end of Roman Britain' in Haarer, F.K. (ed.) AD 410: The History and Archaeology of Late and Post-Roman Britain, (Soc. Promotion Roman Studies : London), 13-22.


2013 (with J.E. Richardson) 'Exploring ritual deposits in a well at Rothwell Haigh, Leeds', Britannia 44, 191-217.


2011. 'Funerary contexts', in Allason-Jones, L. (ed.) Artefacts in Roman Britain, (CUP : Cambridge), 293-312.


2010 (with H. Mason and P. MacDonald) 'Excavations on the defences of Caerleon Legionary Fortress in 1982', Archaeologia Cambrensis 158, 113-29.


2010. 'Finding the Foreigners', in Eckardt, H. (ed.) Roman Diasporas: archaeological approaches to mobility and diversity in the Roman Empire, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 78, 26-44.


2010. 'A different life', in Collins, R. and Allason-Jones, L. (eds.) Finds from the Frontier, CBARR 162 (York), 1-9


2010. 'Objects of glass, shale, bone and metal', in Booth, A. Simmonds, A., Boyle, A., Clough, S, Cool, H.E.M. and Poore, D. The Late Roman Cemetery at Lankhills, Winchester. Excavations 2000-2005, Oxford Archaeology Monograph 10 (Oxford), 266-309.


2008 (with D.J.P. Mason eds.) Roman Piercebridge: Excavations by D.W. Harding and Peter Scott 1969-1981, Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Research Report 7 (Durham).


2006. Eating and Drinking in Roman Britain, (CUP : Cambridge).


2005 (with M.J. Baxter and C.M. Jackson). 'Further studies in the compositional variability of colourless Romano-British vessel glass', Archaeometry 47, 47-68.


2004. 'Some notes on spoons and mortaria', in Croxford, B., Eckardt, H., Meake, J. and Weekes, J. (eds.) TRAC 2003 (Oxford), 28-35.


2004. The Roman Cemetery at Brougham, Cumbria: Excavations 1966 and 1967, Britannia Monograph 21 (London).


2002 (with M.J. Baxter)  'Exploring Romano-British finds assemblages', Oxford Journal of Archaeology 21.4, 365-80.


2002. 'An overview of the small finds from Catterick',  in Wilson, P.R. Cataractonium. Roman Catterick and its hinterland: Excavations and Research 1958-1997. Part II, CBARR 129 (York), 24-43.













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