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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Mr Antony Lee, BA (Hons), MA, AMA, ACIfA

(email at


I am a full time PhD student, coming back into study after working for the past 15 years as the curator of the large and significant archaeological collections of Lincolnshire County Council, including management of the excavation archives from the Roman Colonia at Lincoln. During this time, I also spent a year as the Regional Collections Development Officer for Renaissance East Midlands, based at Derby Museum and Art Gallery. I have been heavily involved in both preserving and promoting Lincolnshire’s archaeology, and served as the chair of the Archaeology Committee of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology for 6 years.

I am a Visiting Tutor at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, devising and teaching an undergraduate module on the Archaeology of Roman Britain. My research interests include religion and religious identity in Roman Britain, public engagement with museum interpretation, and the management of archaeological collections in museums.

I gained my BA (Hons) in Heritage Management at the University of Hull, my MA in Archaeology at the University of Leicester, and have a Post Graduate Certificate in Museum Collections Management from Nottingham Trent University. I am an Associate of the Museums Association, an Associate of the Chartered Institute for Archaeology, and a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society.

Research topic

Gods behind glass: Exploring approaches to Romano-British religious experiences in museums

Research abstract

The archaeology of Roman Britain is a common aspect of British museum displays, with evidence of religious beliefs and practices featuring prominently. The way that religion in Roman Britain is viewed, however, is changing. Post-Colonial archaeologies are re-examining cultural interaction, the creation of hybrid communities both real and imagined, and the integration of ritual activity into daily life. Meanwhile, contemporary concepts of vernacular religion are being increasingly applied to ancient practices, making us think differently about the complex ways individuals interact with and express their beliefs, and how religious activities are inextricably entwined with wider social, political and economic processes.

This study investigates how museums are engaging with these changing and increasingly personal perceptions of religion. Are displays moving beyond binary distinctions of ‘Romans’ and ‘natives’ and of the worship of harmonious ‘melting pots’ of named gods and goddesses at formal temple sites to consider the lived experiences of religious worshippers? Are museums exploring religious beliefs and practices as the diverse tangible and affective experiences of individuals rather than merely a category of archaeological typology?

Through analyses of a representative selection of museum displays, interviews with museum curators, and wider sector surveying, my research combines strands of various emerging and complementary theoretical approaches to archaeology, religion and museum communication. I aim to challenge normative archaeological museum display practices founded on aesthetic, typological and material juxtapositions of objects. I reject ‘religion’ as a discrete display category and promote consideration of the materiality and multisensory properties of objects and embodied responses to them. I advocate for the creation of more engaging and emotive interpretation strategies, challenging visitors’ preconceptions of Roman Britain and uncritical applications of anachronistic terminology such as ‘religion’, ‘ritual’ and ‘gods’ to the ancient world. Beyond viewing religious displays as collections of epigraphy and iconography used to illustrate the existence of various named deities, I view religious activity as a dynamic process, inextricably entangled with social, political and economic structures and communal religious practices as the result of individual creativity and power negotiations, placing multi-sensory embodied human interactions with material culture at the heart of religious experiences.

Professional memberships

Associate of the Chartered Institute for Archaeology

Associate of the Museums Association

Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society

Other memberships

Society for the Promotion for Roman Studies

Society for Museum Archaeology

CIfA Archaeological Archives Group

Council for British Archaeology

Roman Finds Group

Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology

Association for Roman Archaeology

Research group

Material and Visual Culture Research Group

Grants and awards

Funding grants:

2020: Grant to chair session at the Roman Archaeology Conference / Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Split, Croatia (RAC Bursary, £190)

2019: Grant to attend Open University Material Religion Networking Day (Grey College Trust, £50)

2019: Grant to speak at the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Canterbury (Rosemary Cramp Fund, £250)


2019: Grey College Masters Award for best presentation (£50)



2016. Treasures of Roman Lincolnshire. Stroud: Amberley


2017. Pursuing the Pomerium: the ritual and reality of the sacred boundary of Roman Lincoln. Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, Vol 42. Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology

2015. 'Of considerable distinction and elegance': A newly discovered antiquarian illustration of a Roman tessellated pavement at Scampton villa. Lincolnshire Past and Present, Vol 100. Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology

2008. The Collection: Bringing History back to Lincolnshire. The Museum Archaeologist, Vol 31. Society for Museum Archaeology



2019: 'Experiencing the Gods: Lived Ancient Religion and the interpretation of Romano-British religion in museums'. Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference; UCL, London; 16-18th December 2019

2019: 'Experiencing the Gods: Displaying and interpreting Romano-British religion in museums'. Society for Museum Archaeology Conference; Grosvenor Museum, Chester; 7-8th November 2019

2019: 'Dead Gods for modern audiences: Romano-British religion, museums and their visitors'. Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference; University of Kent, Canterbury; 11th-14th April 2019

2019: 'Gods behind glass: Romano-British religion and museums'. Lincolnshire Archaeology Festival Conference; The Collection, Lincoln; 29th May 2019 

2013: ‘The boar in Iron Age Lincolnshire’. Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Conference; Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln; 21st September 2013

2006: ‘The Collection: Bringing History back to Lincolnshire’. Society of Museum Archaeologists Conference; The Collection, Lincoln;

Organised sessions:

2019: Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference - ‘Whose history is this? Multivocal narratives of Roman archaeology’ (with Karl Goodwin, University of Kent)


Tutor - 'Archaeology in Britain'

Visiting Tutor in Archaeology, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. 36 hour annual module on the Archaeology of Roman Britain

Research Groups

Teaching Areas

  • ‘The Archaeology of Roman Britain’ at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln (36 hours/year.)

Is supervised by