Tina Paphitis

The Folklore of Archaeology: Public Perceptions, Identity and Engagement with ‘Arthurian’ Sites

My research considers the role of folklore in public perceptions of, and identification with, British archaeological sites and landscapes with connections to tales of the folk figure Arthur, from the medieval period to the present day. It intends to examine how Arthur was, and is, used as an agent responsible for archaeological landscape features, and how these folk tales have influenced public perception, use and treatment of such sites, with respect to their historical and socio-political contexts. The study will consider how ‘Arthur’ sites and their folklore have affected, created or contributed to local and national identities and, further, how the collection and analysis of folklore in archaeological investigations might aid in understanding the interpretations of sites in various historical contexts, and can also be employed as a form of ‘public archaeology’.

This research aims to make original contributions to a number of fields within archaeology, including interpretive, landscape, public and medieval and historical archaeology, attempting to refresh and add to more recent studies by not only employing folklore methods in archaeological research but by reflexively examining and presenting the potential for folklore to contribute to archaeological debates and approaches. This research aims to be useful beyond academia, developing strategies to engage with the public on a practical level.

Funding organisation

  • AHRC


 Educational background

  • BA(Hons) Egyptian Archaeology, UCL, 2007
  • MA Archaeology, UCL, 2009


Paphitis, T. 2012. Review: ‘The Ancient Symbolic Landscape of Wessex’. By David Ride. Stroud: Amberley Press, 2010. Wiltshire Archaeology and Natural History Magazine 105

Paphitis, T. 2011. Review: ‘Revealing King Arthur: Swords, Stones and Digging for Camelot’. By Christopher Gidlow. Stroud: The History Press, 2010. Medieval Archaeology 55:346-347

Conference Presentations

 ‘The Folklore of Archaeology: What can it tell us?’ Paper presented at the Institute of Archaeology Graduate Student Conference, 16 February 2011

‘Introduction: Folklore & Archaeology.’ Paper presented at the ‘Popular Antiquities: Folklore & Archaeology’ Conference, Institute of Archaeology UCL, 22 October 2011

‘Archaeological Sites and the Folklore of Arthur: A Case in South Wales.’ Paper presented at the Institute of Archaeology Graduate Student Conference, 13 February 2012

‘Wights and Ancestors: A Comparative Archaeology of the Barrow-Downs and Pallinghurst Barrow.’ Paper presented at the Folklore & Fantasy Conference, University of Chichester, 13-15 April 2012

Conference Organiser

 ‘Popular Antiquities: Folklore & Archaeology’ Conference (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/calendar/articles/20111022), Institute of Archaeology UCL, 22 October 2011

Institute of Archaeology Graduate Student Conference (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/calendar/articles/20120213), 13 February 2012

‘Popular Antiquities: Folklore & Archaeology’ Conference (/archaeology/calendar/articles/20121013), Institute of Archaeology UCL, 13-14 October 2012

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