Gillian Hovell

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Sports & Leisure
Job title: Presenter/lecturer in Ancient History/Archaeology
Subject of study: Latin & Ancient History
Year of graduation: 1983
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name


What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Temped for a while; BBC Television; PA (personal assistant) until took a career break to have a family; volunteered in Community Archaeology (became Project Leader); won writing award, published books while I began lecturing for the project; lectured freelance as ‘The Muddy Archaeologist’. Now lecture on tours, cruises, nationally & internationally, including for York University and the British Museum, and present on media, and have created my own branded Muddy Archaeologist online courses.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

The BBC imbued me with a love of providing a narrative / presenting (even though I worked behind the scenes). When we had to share our community archaeology project, I discovered that I loved providing that narrative and inspiring people who don’t yet know they are interested in archaeology and ancient history at the same time as sharing with experts. My passion is to open new doors of exploration for my audiences.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

OODS, Folk dance (on committee), Film Soc, the Chapel.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

Loved the range of the studies. Adored reading the Romans’ actual words and matching it to the ancient history. I still love the personal aspect of ancient history.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

Loved the campus and greenery and sense of community. Really enjoyed being able to wallow in studying something I loved. I was a quiet kid though; I have become capable of public speaking since – all thanks to feeling equipped with good academic background and a passion for my subject.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

It had the Course I wanted and I liked the atmosphere when I visited.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Keeping my study active, even in a hobby/volunteer way; when I managed to use it for my profession, I wasn’t rusty. Having someone push me to the front on stage to speak.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Don’t decline any opportunities, however frightening they are; accept and walk through those doors (you can always opt out if it doesn’t work out but it might be a surprise success!).

What are your plans for the future?

Keep sharing ancient history and archaeology (and Latin) through any media possible. It is not a get-rich-quick option, but I’m earning ‘more efficiently’ now that my fees are higher than they were. More media work would be a good expansion of my work. And publishing the next book when I can create the time (covid stole my public speaking – hence the online courses but they will be a great benefit as time goes by).


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