Dr Richard Nevell
Honorary Research Fellow
Richard Nevell is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter. His research focuses on medieval archaeology, specifically the destruction of castles in the Middle Ages. Richard completed a PhD at the University of Exeter in 2017 on the topic of castle slighting, and is developing the work into a book to be published with Liverpool University Press. He has also received funding from the Society for Medieval Archaeology to carry out fieldwork at Knepp Castle (West Sussex).
Richard also works at Wikimedia UK and is interested in the role of Wikipedia in sharing information. He regularly leads training workshops on how to engage with Wikipedia, and has published on the imperative for researchers to edit. In the capacity of working for Wikimedia UK, Richard supports the Wikimedia Visiting Fellow for Climate at the Global Systems Institute.
Richard Nevell researches and publishes in the following fields:
Castles, power, and authority
The main focus of Richard’s research is on castles in medieval society and their use to express elite identity and authority. After exploring this subject through studies of gatehouses and prisons, Richard’s research has dived into the topic of slighting: the deliberate destruction of high-status structures. His doctoral research at Exeter was the first comprehensive study of medieval slighting in England, Scotland, and Wales. Key results were published in “The archaeology of slighting: a methodological framework for interpreting castle destruction in the Middle Ages” (2009) in The Archaeological Journal.
He co-authored a monograph on the 2007–10 excavations at Buckton Castle in Greater Manchester: Buckton Castle: And the Castles of North West England (2012).
Richard worked for English Heritage as a Properties Historian been 2018 and 2019. This drove his interest in the role of museums and heritage organisations in shaping the public perception of the past. The topic was explored in “Breaking Down Barriers: The Role of Public Archaeology and Heritage Interpretation in Shaping Perceptions of the Past” (2020), a contribution to Public Archaeologies of Frontiers and Borderlands.
Richard’s approach to Wikipedia as a tool for education and information sharing is informed by more than a decade’s experience working at Wikimedia UK, a charity that supports the Wikimedia projects in the UK. This has included a study co-authored with Lori Jones of the role of Wikipedia in shaping public understanding of the Black Death published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, “Plagued by doubt and viral misinformation: the need for evidence-based use of historical disease images” (2016). Further, Richard co-authored with Lucy Moore a contribution to a special issue of Bulletin of the History of Archaeology on “Race, gender, and Wikipedia: how the global encyclopaedia deals with inequality” (2021).
A full list of publications can be found on Scholia.
Richard led the first modern archaeological investigation at the medieval Knepp Castle. With funding from the Society for Medieval Archaeology in 2021, Richard commissioned magnetometry and ground-penetrating radar surveys carried out by Scott Chaussée. The aim was to establish the extent of surviving buried remains at the castle and whether there was evidence of a documented instance of slighting in 1216.
Contribution to discipline
- 2015–present: Castle Studies Trust, Trustee
- 2019–present: Castle Studies Group, Membership Secretary
- 2022–present: Royal Archaeological Institute, Council Member
- 2020 – Interview about Rochester Castle for Unearthed, Discovery Science.
- 2019 – ‘From Queen to Captive – Witchcraft, Women and Power’, English Heritage Speaking with Shadows podcast
- 2019 – Interview for Orford Castle multimedia guide, English Heritage
- 2018 – Queen Elizabeth | Makeup Tutorial | History Inspired, English Heritage YouTube channel
Richard studied BA Archaeology and Ancient History (2007–10) and MA History (2010–11) at the University of Leicester, before starting a PhD in Archaeology at the University of Exeter. His PhD thesis, The Archaeology of Castle Slighting in the Middle Ages, was completed in 2017 under the supervision of Prof. Oliver Creighton and brought together the archaeological evidence for the deliberate destruction of castles in England, Scotland, and Wales in the medieval period for the first time, leading to unique analysis.
Alongside his PhD research, Richard began working at Wikimedia UK in 2012, managing partnership with universities and heritage organisations and advocating for the use of Wikimedia for education and communication.
In 2018 and 2019 Richard spent a sabbatical working for English Heritage as a Properties Historian. Embedded in the curatorial team, Richard led new interpretation projects at Orford Castle (Suffolk) and Pevensey Castle (Sussex) – a Roman fort later adapted into a medieval castle.