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Theodore Reeves

Archaeology, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Re-classifying Iron Age marsh-forts

The British Iron Age is known for its hillforts. Grouped within these is currently a relatively under researched sub-category known as ‘marsh-forts’, defined by their setting in wetland environments. This has derived from the descriptive way in which we distinguish other categories of hillfort, such as promontory or contour forts. My research focuses on moving from such descriptive definitions of marsh-forts to analytical categorisations based on the relationships between site and landscape architecture.

My GIS-based MA research focused on the analysis of seven marsh-fort sites, resulting in the hypothesis that there are two distinctive types of marsh-fort defined by relationships between constructed architecture and wetland context.

To test this hypothesis, I will be expanding my MA research to all identified examples, and undertaking targeted fieldwork of a selection. The data collection stage of my research can be split into two main phases:

  1. Critical analysis of all 34 sites in Britain currently defined as marsh-forts using GIS-based modelling (lidar, geology, archaeology) and site visits, resulting in the creation of detailed desk-based assessments (DBAs). This will result in an initial classification of different types of marsh-fort.
  2. A selection of sites with different architectural details will then be selected for borehole surveys with stratigraphic analysis of transects, targeted radiocarbon dating of basal deposits, and GIS-based modelling used to characterise wetland.
  3. (A third phase of fieldwork involving site visits to a representative sample of hillforts will also be carried out to establish a base model of hillforts for comparative analysis, feeding directly into the thesis discussion)

The data will then be used to determine and re-classify different types of ‘marsh-fort’ and assess how these relate to wider themes of Iron Age landscape architecture.

This project has potential to significantly impact on future study of hill-forts and the Iron Age. A more nuanced approach, built upon critical assessment, has the potential to redefine the classification of marsh-forts, exposing complexity and generating new avenues of research.

Research Area

  • Archaeology


  • Reeves, T. forthcoming 2024. 'A re-assessment of Island Covert, Worcestershire', Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society.
  • Reeves, T. forthcoming 2024. 'Peckforton Mere Enclosure: Rotate to Locate?', Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society 94.
Book Reviews
  • Reeves, T. 2022. 'Shelagh Norton. Assessing Iron Age Marsh-forts: With Reference to the Stratigraphy and Palaeoenvironment Surrounding The Berth, North Shropshire. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2021.’, Rosetta 27. 101-105. Available online at: http://www.rosetta.bham.ac.uk/issue27/Reeves.pdf
Magazine Articles


Past Conferences

  • 'Iron Age Marsh-forts as a distinct category of archaeological site' – Royal Archaeological Institute Lecture Series – 11 November 2020
  • [e-Poster] 'Using GIS to categorise archaeological sites (as part of Re-classifying Iron Age marsh-forts)' – M4C Research Festival – 7-10 June 2021
  • 'Descriptive vs Interpretative: a new model for categorising Iron Age marsh-forts' – UoB CAHA Colloquium – 18 May 2022
  • '“Low-fort” invisibility and expressions of Iron Age power and identity' – UoB SHaC PGR Conference – 5 May 2023
  • [Poster] 'Investigating Iron Age Marsh-forts' – M4C Research Festival – 4 October 2023
  • [Session] TAG44 Norwich: Session: 'On the Wetland’s Edge: Iron Age Settlements, Environments and Cultural Interactions' – Theoretical Archaeology Group 44 Conference, Climate archaeology: temporalities and ontologies – 18-20 December 2023
    • incl. paper: 'A Great British Marsh-fort Programme? How interpretive categorisations can benefit our understanding of Iron Age wetland enclosures' – 20 December 2023


  • 'Marsh-forts: a re-introduction' – Prehistoric Society Europa Conference – 15 June 2024

Public Engagement & Impact

Television/ Media

  • Time Team (Season 21, Dig 2 - Broughton Villa, Oxfordshire)

Other Public Engagement & Impact

Other Research Interests

British Prehistory; Applications of GIS and other digital technologies in Archaeology; Archaeological Methodology; UAVs (Drones);


Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (Practitioner)

Royal Archaeological Institute

The Prehistoric Society


I graduated in 2017 with a First in BA Ancient History and Archaeology (Hons) from the University of Birmingham. My research interests focused on Iron Age settlements and society, and their relationship with the expanding Roman world in the later Iron Age. This led to my undergraduate dissertation on the subject of oppida and urbanism, supervised by Dr. D. Maschek.

I completed my MA degree in Archaeology, also at the University of Birmingham, graduating with Distinction in 2018. My research led me to a more niche category of Iron Age site in Britain: 'marsh-forts', which culminated in my Master's thesis on the subject of these (supervised by Prof. H. Chapman), investigating their morphology, location and function to assess how distinct they are as a type of site. This subject is then the focus of my continued research.

Following a recent break from academic study, working as a Field Archaeologist for Headland Archaeology, I have now returned to the University of Birmingham to complete a PhD focused on Iron Age marshforts and site classification (supervised by Prof. H. Chapman and Dr. David Smith; funded by M4C).

Across my academic and professional career, I have taken part in several significant projects including the Stonehenge Landscape Project and the archaeological works for HS2. I also have had involvement with Time Team.

I am also a qualified UAV pilot, holding an A2 Certificate of Competency.

Scholarships, Awards and Funding

2023 - Midlands4Cities Research Development Fund: £937.00 for TAG Conference

2023 - Midlands4Cities Research Development Fund: £2518.30 for Phase 3 fieldwork

2023 - Midlands4Cities Research Development Fund: £3024.00 for Radiocarbon dating

2022 - Midlands4Cities Research Development Fund: £5,625.36 for Phase 2 fieldwork

2022 - Midlands4Cities Engagement Fund: £124.99 for Drone A2 CofC Course

2021 - Midlands4Cities Research Development Fund: £3,071.78 for Phase 1 fieldwork

2020 – Midlands4Cities AHRC Doctoral Studentship Award

2018 – Bladen Carter Award for Archaeology (University of Birmingham)

2017 – Edna Pearson Scholarship (University of Birmingham – MA Scholarship)

Other Activities

The Rosetta Journal - Articles and Archaeological Pieces Editor (2020-21);  General Editor (2021-22); Specialist Editor (2020-present)

The University of Birmingham Archaeology Society - President (2021-22); Postgrad Rep (2022-2023)

CAHA PG Forum - Vice President (2021-22); Committee Member (2022-2023)

Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society - Social Media Officer (2021-22)

Postgraduate Peer Mentor (2021-2023)

Teaching Experience

I have run a 'Beginner's Introduction to GIS' workshop, for the University of Birmingham Archaeology Society, teaching both ArcMap (ArcGIS) and QGIS, as well as informal 1-to-1 mentoring for postgraduates.

I have also helped run several seasons of the University of Birmingham's undergraduate archaeological fieldschool, training students in methods of excavation, recording and interpretation of archaeological deposits and material.

I also taught seminars accompanying an undergraduate module titled 'Roman World' in 2023.

I have received the HEFi (Higher Education Futures institute) Horizon Award for postgraduate teachers, having completed modules on: Introduction to learning and teaching in Higher Education, Small group teaching (Seminars), Principles of Assessment and Feedback, Inclusive Teaching, Large Group Teaching (Lectures), and Teaching Academic Writing.