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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Miss Rachel Chappell

(email at

Academic background

I was awarded my BA in History from Stetson University in 2012, focusing on the effect of the Roman military presence on tribal society in northern Britain. My MA in Archaeology from Durham University was completed in 2013, with a dissertation topic concerning water and ritual on Hadrian’s Wall.

Research topic

Water supplies and usage on Hadrian's Wall


Water supplies in Roman Britain have seen an increase in interest in recent years, but have not yet been subject to substantial investigation in most instances, especially in the area of Hadrian’s Wall. The primary purpose of this project is, therefore, to examine water supply and usage, and waste disposal, on Hadrian’s Wall and its outpost and hinterland forts. This includes identification of potential water sources for each site and locating evidence for water supply systems, as well as determining ways that the landscape was utilized in the use of various different supply techniques. The investigation of water usage is split into four main categories—consumption, bathing and sanitation, disposal, and ritual and spirituality—in order to identify patterns of use both of supply technologies and water types. The discussion of spirituality in particular is significant to an understanding of both pragmatic and ritual uses of water separately and as a single inseparable subject. Identifying water sources and supply systems—and the pragmatic and spiritual connections between them—is key to developing an understanding of the perceptions of water on the Wall, and perhaps Roman Britain as a whole.


2011: Stetson University Research Experience (SURE) grant

2008-2012: Stetson University’s Presidential Scholarship

Conference contributions

2014: ‘Water and Ritual on Hadrian’s Wall’ Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, 15 April, Stetson University

2012: ‘The Effect of the Roman Military Presence on Tribal Society in Northern Britain’ Phi Alpha Theta National Conference, Orlando, FL

Research Groups

  • North East Research Group