Animal Sacrifice in the Classroom

At the Classical Association conference this weekend I gave a paper on a lesson I’ve taught a few times with the Brilliant Club, in which I guide the students through a reconstruction of a Roman animal sacrifice. As I explained in my presentation, I do this to get the students thinking about the lived experience of Roman religion, and to overcome the sometimes sterile textual or artistic ancient sources.

The paper went really well, and a few people said they might try it out with their own students, both in secondary schools and universities.

For those who were not at the paper, or were there but did not get a handout, I thought it would be a good idea to upload it here. If anyone has any questions or wants clarification on how things work then do please get in touch. Also, if you do take these resources and run an animal sacrifice in your own classroom please let me know! It would be great to see how it works in other contexts!

Click the link below to download the handout:

Animal sacrifice HO

Alongside the texts and image on the handout you will need:

  • A toy sheep (a pig or a cow would work too!)
  • A toy knife and a hammer
  • An altar – I use a metal bowl supported by a tripod of bamboo canes.
  • Barley
  • Incense – I use dried lavender, but anything fragrant could work.

Good luck!



Cursing in context

This is just a super quick post to point out that I’ve uploaded the presentation I gave to the Classical Studies Work in Progress seminar onto my page. The link is here if you are interested! It was a 20 minute paper entitled “Cursing in Context: the Case of Bath” and was a quick run-down of some of my initial thoughts about the experience of making a curse tablet at the site, and how the architecture of the temple space contributed to the ritual actions.

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions about what you read, get in touch!


Roman Bath

Making myself presentable

One of the most important things I always knew I’d be developing while doing my PhD was my ability to speak in public. It has been clear to me from the outset that if I can’t communicate my research then there’s no point in doing it, especially as one of my main reasons for choosing to research curse tablets was to raise their profile in the study of Roman history.

Over the past couple of months I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice talking to a range of different people about what I’m doing, thankfully with generally positive results! I’ve also been experimenting with different presentation styles to try to find out what I’m most comfortable with.

In May I gave a 20 minute paper to the OU Classical Studies department at their work in progress seminar, which I scripted beforehand. That’s also how I planned the 1 hour talk I did at Corinium Museum in June. The Corinium talk was much more nerve-wracking, as it was the first time I’d spoken for that long, and also the first time I’d talked to an audience of paying customers! Both went really well, and there were some great discussions afterwards with people who seemed to be genuinely interested in what I had to say. At both I focused on the curses from Roman Britain, which is the material I know best at the moment, and so is what I feel most confident in talking about.

Me at CoriniumIn June I also spoke at the Arts Faculty postgraduate research student conference at the OU – once about my curse tablet database, and once about my work with the Brilliant Club. I didn’t script either of these short talks and I felt more comfortable delivering them because of it. My natural style of presenting is quite animated and familiar, which I feel I lose when I’m reading from a script.

The problem I have with talking from notes, rather than a script, is that I tend to go off on tangents and not stick to time. My enthusiasm gets the better of me, and I keep remembering more and more things I want to talk about. It might be a bit of a hangover from when I was a museum tour guide, when I remembered my tour by associating all the information with the objects in the collection and my route through the space. Just seeing things and their relationships to other objects would act as a trigger for the information I needed to remember. When this is translated to a formal presentation setting I think it can come across as chaotic or amateurish so even though the delivery might be less natural and comfortable, I think scripting my talks in future is the way forward.

I’m going to upload the work in progress and Corinium talks to my page at, so if you missed them you can still find out what I said!

If you have any presentation tips for me, or want any advice, leave a comment below 🙂