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From lectures to tours and cruises and from study days to summer schools, my ratings are ‘excellent’ and ‘exceptional’.   Here are just a few comments from audiences, organisers and students …

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your talk at the Bloomsbury Hotel dinner last night.  You really brought Pompeii alive, and I was fascinated how similar our lives are now to then …  except that they were more sophisticated!!  …    You need to be a new TV star!    I think we need to get your ‘brand’ to a wider audience, and get more people interested in muddy fields and Latin!’

Sue Peart, Editor Mail on Sunday

Arts Society Lectures

Outstanding.  Lively and engrossing delivery.  The integration of slides of Pompeii with those from elsewhere in the Roman world to build up a full picture was brilliant.  Television producers, please note!

Outstanding. What a great lecture, and the slides were some of hte best we have ever seen.

Outstanding.  Her enthusiasm and personal anecdotes made her lectures so enjoyable.

Thought, no doubt like many others, that I was reasonably familiar with the history of Pompeii through its artefact and buildings but Gillian Hovell gave it all another dimension by bringing in so much more of the human element and the day-to-day minutiae of life.  A lecturer who clearly loves her subject and quite inspirational to listen to.  Thank you for a excellent day.

Excellent. A very well presented, informative day.  All very enjoyable and at times amusing.

Excellent images. Excellent rapport with audience and engaging talk with a logical format. Yes – to hear her again ( & go on a trip with her too!). Couldn’t fault it.

So entertaining!

Her friendly and professional demeanour made my job easier than it might have been.

The hour whizzed by.  Gillian was a very passionate speaker.

Very interesting and enjoyable lecture, extremely well presented.  Gillian was a delight to listen to.

Really enjoyed this speaker.  She gave a very interesting and informative lecture which, with her great sense of humour, I could easily have listened to for a further hour!

The presentation really ‘hung together’ and its ‘story’ could be followed very easily but not in a ‘talking down’ way.  She is a good lecturer and would be happy to hear her again. 

I very much enjoyed the lecture. I would rate it as excellent. I had had my doubts about signing up for it as the topic didn’t really interest me but Gillian’s enthusiastic presentation made it interesting for me. I would be happy to hear from her again on a different theme.

Outstanding Enthusiastic and knowledgeable – friendly and circulated among the members. Would like to hear again.

I would rate Gillian Hovell as outstanding, she covered such a wide range of civilizations and time periods, pointing out similarities and differences, definitely making me think more deeply about “the perception of beauty”.  She has a very friendly and approachable style and can make the ancient past come to life.  I would be very happy to have her back for more lectures or Special Interest Days.

The day was a real treat. The quality of the presentations was outstanding.  Her clarity, the choice of slides (and not too many) and the way in which she carried us with her over such a complex era of development was brilliant.   I would love to hear her again.   I am envious of the group she is leading in Albania!

I thought the lecturer was excellent and I would willingly hear her again either at a monthly meeting or another study day. She obvious knows her subject and puts it over with enthusiasm and just the right amount of humour. I learnt a great deal and it has given me much to think about.

Gillian’s engaging manner and profound knowledge of the subject she was sharing with us made it a fascinating and informative experience.  I know that next time I visit the British Museum I will look at the Greek, Roman and Etruscan sections with a new eye!  Like to hear her again.  Speaker was outstanding.

Excellent Speaker.  Her presentation was full of information delivered in her humorous style. I would like to hear her again.

I would say the talk was outstanding.   Not a subject I had thought about but everything Gillian said was bang on target.   Her talk was very friendly , amusing and kept me enthralled throughout.  I would certainly recommend her to any members of the Arts Society.   Another lecture would be very welcome and I would make any effort to attend.

Gillian was Outstanding in my view and yes I would come to another of her lectures. So knowledgeable and informed generally.

It was a hugely enjoyable day.  As for Gillian’s presentation, it was superb. She’s a very engaging speaker, not at all stuffy and she has a knack of making her talks accessible, even though the subject might be considered difficult or very specialist. She opens people’s eyes. And it was lovely the way she chatted to people during the breaks. So, I would rate the talks as excellent. The slides were magnificent, perfectly chosen to support her themes, giving us the ability to see developments within and between periods. I would definitely like to hear Gillian again – indeed I’d be delighted to hear yesterday’s lecture all over again!

She is such a good lecturer. She addressed the huge subject so expertly and I learnt a great deal

Excellent Lecturer. Easy to listen to, good visuals. Would love to hear her again, there is a great sounding Special Interest Day on her leaflet, called Ancient Roots, Classical Stories Growing in your Garden, which sounds fascinating!  History and Gardening – perfect! 

Thank you so much for our special interest day today. It was so interesting, educational and entertaining – we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

‘Another excellent speaker, she was so clear we could hear every word, she never looked down or faltered – a very experienced lecturer and she knew and loved her subject’

I very much enjoyed this afternoon’s lecture and thought Gillian handled the questions brilliantly.’

‘So much more than the history … the anecdotes were a wonderful treat . Gillian’s enthusiasm was bubbling over . Awesome (as the grandchildren would say)

What a lovely speaker she is in being so knowledgeable and well structured in her delivery. She is obviously passionate about her subject but I loved the way she used her sense of fun and humour to share her knowledge. Just wonderful!!!

‘What a way to end the year. A tour de force from a lecturer who could really communicate her passion for her subject and appreciation of the life of the Romans all those years ago.’

I just wanted to thank you for organising such a fascinating study on the Grand Tour. I haven’t heard Gillian lecture before but will be recommending her to our Society. She was excellent.

‘Loved her personal slant on the subject. Gave the subject much warmth and also fun.’

I thought the lecture was absolutely brilliant, and should welcome any opportunity to learn more from Gillian Hovell, as the Muddy Archaeologist too

‘Wonderful lecture from such an enthusiastic lecturer. I could have listened to her for a lot longer’

‘Absolutely brilliant, fact-filled, witty, inspirational, exciting’

‘One of the best lectures we have ever had.’

‘You had us in the palm of your hand!’

‘Learned more in one hour than I have understood in 20 years!’

‘Excellent, superb, first class , felt educated at the end rather than just entertained.   Clear and used plain English.’

‘An excellent lecture, a lot of information but well presented, I could imagine actually being in the various villas’

‘I thorough enjoyed everything, thank you.’


Thoroughly enjoyed this voyage through the Med and its ancient civilisations. It whetted you appetite for more research and further presentations by the Muddy Archaeologist.

A most engaging, fascinating and comprehensible talk which really placed the different civilisations and cultures into context, of time and place. Excellent explanatory slides of artefacts and maps, making meaningful connections. A really engaging speaker who made it so accessible and meaningful. Thank you

Great talk by Ms. Gillian. I love the flow and the energy of her presentation.

A wonderfully exuberant and colourful journey with a most knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide!

Thank you for a very interesting and well presented event. I learnt a lot in that hour and appreciated the illustrations throughout the talk .

Wonderful. Good illustrations and very interesting dialogue. I learnt a lot! Good to have some ‘joined up thinking’

An enjoyable talk and a name to be remembered. Thank you Gillian.

Excellent and fascinating talk. Would have scored it 6/5 if possible

Really interesting talk. Fascinating how she managed to seamlessly merge one culture into another.

What a lot of interesting facts she managed to cover in such a short time – hope she will be back with more talks.

Very,very interesting talk. I learned how various things fitted into place. Thank you.

This was extremely informative. The photos and descriptions were well presented. Gillian was excellent at keeping my interest with her knowledge and delivery. I learned many new things which is what we should all enjoy. I look forward to any other of her presentations.

I feel like I learned so much from An Ancient Mediterranean Tour: Getting to Grips with the Ancient Civilizations. Please bring back Gillian Howell, The Muddy Archeologist for more events. This was such a fascinating webinar.

Thoroughly enjoyed this voyage through the Med and its ancient civilisations.  It whetted your appetite for more research and further presentations by the Muddy Archaeologist.

Very interesting. A lovely snapshot of the past.

Gillian’s talk was fantastic!  I knew very little about the content of her talk beforehand and I can now appreciate this part of history far better. Many thanks.

Superb presentation and materials.  Very informative and educational.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.  Thank you.

Enthalling. Informative and fascinating.  Please may we have more?

Splendid.  Definitely more from this speaker.

A fascinating and well presented romp through so many cultures and political eras.  Thanks so much.

Really interesting and very well presented talk. Look forward to seeing more of Gillian.

Loved this!  Gillian is clearly an expert in her field and delivered  her information with clarity, passion and humour.  The talk was fascinating and there were lots of really interesting images.   More please!

A great talk, very well presented.  More please!

Absolutely spell binding.  A great presentation with lots of illustrations.   More please.

A superb presenter – she set all the civilisations in context with excellent slides and commentary – many thanks.

Marlborough Summer School  (Latin, Classical Literature, Archaeology, Ancient Civilizations)


‘One of the best courses I have attended over the last 30 years.’

‘Interactive, jam packed with facts. Lively narrative’

‘Absolutely superb.  I loved every minute of it and wished it could have gone on for longer.  Gillian was an excellent tutor and made it all incredibly interesting.  I knew a bit about prehistoric Britain but she has increased my knowledge by leaps and bounds.  I do hope she will be back next year to do another course.’

‘Excellent, enthusiastic tutor. One of the best courses I have done over many years of Summer School.’

‘Brilliant lecturer, most enjoyable and memorable course of many that I have attended.’

‘Gillian is extremely well informed and enthusiastic.  Very glad I attended!’

‘Thoroughly enjoyable, very immersive from start to finish’

‘Absolutely fascinating introduction – now want to learn more!

‘intense but marvellous’   ‘professional, knowledgeable’   ‘very clear and thorough’

‘Excellent handouts and materials provided’     ‘Just great’

 Previous years Marlborough Summer School

‘Thank you so much for the brilliant Latin course which I was so lucky to attend!  You made it so interesting and such fun and I am longing to tell our son (Head of Classics at a number of schools) about the course and about you!’

‘Outstanding performance by tutor  –  huge enthusiasm talks and depth to knowledge I would like to attend more.’

‘Gillian Hovell is brilliant –  I have previously been on a cruise where she lectured and that influenced my decision to do this course.’

‘Excellent and insightful presentations in all courses. Great rapport and engagement with class-great fun.’

‘Such an enjoyable, satisfying course, v.v. inspiring; have her again next year.’

‘It was extremely interesting and well researched. Gillian obviously knows her subject through and through. She was easy to listen to – no annoying mannerisms.  Her pictures were well chosen and they illustrated her words. I should like to attend another course with her.’

York University CLL Study Days

Fantastic tutor, her presentation style, outstanding materials, her humour and inclusivity. Excellent course.  I am looking forward to her next one.

Gillian engages all participants by bringing the subject matter to life with her extensive knowledge and
enthusiasm. She is simply brilliant.

‘Gillian’s illustrations and slides and maps were excellent, and the handouts she posted before the class will be helpful.  Her knowledge is astonishing, and her background details bring it all alive. The 2 classes have been hugely enjoyable, and now I know where to start to find out more. Thanks for a great introduction.’

‘I had no previous knowledge but this didn’t matter and I learned a lot. The tutor’s knowledge was extensive, she was interesting and enthusiastic, her slides were great, beautiful and relevant and made me want to visit the locations.’

‘Great tutor and fascinating content’

‘Particularly enjoyed: Quality of illustrations and depth of knowledge, plus fantastic information sheets accompanying the course.’

‘Gillian’s wonderful, lively and stimulating delivery of a subject she clearly loves.  Fantastically knowledgeable and able to project this onto her audience.  Thank you so much for a great day.’

‘I’ve done a lot of courses over the last 5-6 years and this was one of the best!   I had little previous knowledge of the topic but found this to be illuminating.  It was very clearly presented and the timeline stream of development was particularly well done.’

‘Gillian was so knowledgeable, enthusiastic and entertaining – excellent day!’

‘Pitched at a great level.  Brilliant!’

‘Absolutely excellent in content and presentation.’

What did you particularly enjoy about the course? ‘Every single minute of it.  Could not have been better in any way.  Thank you so much.’

‘It has made me want to learn more and study more.’

‘Very interesting and stimulating.  Relaxed and friendly atmosphere.’

‘Very enjoyable.  Enabled new ideas.  Thought provoking.’

‘You are a genius.  Your talks are so natural and easy to follow.’

‘A super day at the university!  Thank you very much indeed, Gillian.  I really enjoyed the talks and I am sure everybody else enjoyed them too!  You gave us plenty to consider and think about.’

‘Gillian’s infectious enthusiasm, impressive knowledge of the ancient world and ability to present her subject in a relatable way make learning thoroughly enjoyable.’

‘Very knowledgeable tutor made the course interesting. PowerPoints were excellent. I will be booking more of Gillian’s courses.’

Gillian is an excellent tutor, so engaging and knowledgeable.  Her handouts are very useful too.

Wealth of information.  Tutor was very engaging and proactively encouraged discussion from the group – this worked very well and I think is the key to teaching on Zoom.

The Tutor is A1 excellent. A role model.

Lively, enthusiastic presentation.

Gillian is very knowledgeable and engaging, covering a lot of ground and relating the subject to modern life.   The inclusion of some Latin text was also fascinating.

FORA (Friends of Roman Aldborough)

This talk was absolutely wonderful.   So informative…so well done….we were in Pompeii last year, but I learned so much from Gillian’s video. She made it so personal and I totally get her joy and appreciation of the lives and people of Pompeii….she made two thousand years ago seem like today.  The carpet of time rolled out and then immediately rolled back to this present time .

We enjoyed the talk immensely, despite the occasional hiccough on the sound. Gillian was an engaging speaker who really brought the subject to life and the quality of the slides on our own screens meant that we didn’t need to fight for the front seats in the village hall. Best of all, for us, we could attend the talk from 155 miles away. More please!

ADFAS Australia Lecture Tours 2018

‘Gillian had instant rapport with the audience. She gave an outstanding lecture and was deluged with questions, with which she coped enthusiastically and fully. Very impressive.’

‘A very good lecture. Gillian was engaging and exhibited an expert knowledge of her subject taking the audience on a romp through the mythical world of the gods and the effects on the lives of past civilisations. Her bubbly and warm personality endeared her to all who engaged with her throughout the evening.’

‘Gillian Hovell is the consummate professional. The AV issues during the morning lecture she overrode confidently and kept her audience entertained and informed. Gillian is a confident storyteller who I imagine would be able to keep her audience engaged in a blackout.* There was no diminishing of her spontaneity, humour and content when she repeated her lecture.’

*Actually, I have!  Harrogate Library lost all power: I lectured in semi-dark without equipment … a really great and atmospheric evening!

Members found the lecture fascinating and enjoyable … a very informative lecture, told with humour & compassion. 

ASA Tour: Orkney & Shetland 2023

What a marvellous tour.  We’ve enjoyed every enlightening minute.

The ASA trip was my/our first and not the last. ps. The Brochs rock!

I loved your enthusiasm for the eolithic Age.  Your patience and generosity in sharing your knowledge was invaluable to the trip.  A Big Thank You!

Thank you for a great 18 days.  I have learned so much in your enthusiastic, cheerful company.

What a great adventure we’ve had.  Thank you for all you did to bring it together and organise the special experiences.

A truly wonderful trip in every way.  Thanks for all the rocking around the broch!

What a wonderful adventure, almost beyond belief what our forefathers did so long ago!  It was a great trip of loads of highlights.

A magnificent trip, wonderfully conceived and led by you.  Thank you so much.

Hello Muddy Archaeologist: thank you for sharing your passion with us.

Thank you for being special you – and so joining all the information for me.  Travel safe and stay you.

Voyages to Antiquity Cruises

‘Lively and captivating.  A joy to experience.’

‘Gillian’s presentations are very clear + well-structured.  Humorous and entertaining.’

Smithsonian Journeys

‘Outstanding in all respects.  Her lectures were full of detail that brought the archeological visits to a level that brought the ruins to life.   Her availability was outstand at all times.  She was always with the group and always ready to answer questions.  As important, she was willing to listen to other ideas and have a real dialog with the tour participants.  She should be invited to be a guest lecturer at the Smithsonian.  I would come back to DC to hear her.  Keep her on these trips!’

‘Just wanted to thank you.  You really brought the stones to life, and  you were a great dinner companion to boot!’

Special Interest Archaeological Tours (Saga)

‘Gillian was very knowledgeable, articulate and good company.  Also, kind and helpful and her lectures were excellent. Highly recommend this host who made the holiday more enjoyable with her knowledge and personality.  Excellent manner, knowledge and attitude.  A gem.’

‘You were a Star!  Really successful tour and you brought the subject to life!’

‘Gillian brings learning to life in a way that inspires future interest’  

 ‘First class as usual from Gillian’    

 ‘Wonderful, wonderful,  wonderful!’


Ciceroni Travel Study Day & Lectures

‘My sincere thanks for a fascinating study day. Gillian’s lecture was the perfect briefing before seeing the exhibition. In fact, she gave us far greater insight and understanding into both the myth and the reality than the exhibition itself. What a brilliant lecturer she is!  Her two talks were well structured, had excellent illustrations, and every word she spoke was crystal-clear! And, most importantly, she explained a complicated subject in a clear way, and provided us with a helpful hand-out to take away.’

‘GIllian is a truly gifted lecturer and her talk contained much fascinating information.’

‘We just want to say how very much we have enjoyed the three marvellous lectures on Tutankhamen. It is such an amazing story and the discovery of the tomb has been brought to us so vividly by Gillian Hovell’s  expert and lively talks. Also, her slides were, as always, of wonderful quality.’

‘Thank you for a lot of enjoyment.’

‘Excellent and very educational’

‘I would like to express my grateful thanks for all the wonderful lectures I have enjoyed over the past few months. Particular thanks to Gillian Hovell, whom I met on a tour and cruise of the archaeology of ancient Greece in 2018, since when I have followed her avidly. I look forward to more lectures’

Please convey to Gillian my heartfelt thanks for a great webinar this morning. The hour flew by and I can’t wait for part two

Classical Association

‘Truly inspirational.  It reminds us what we’re here for.’



‘Help!  We have had an amazing response to your lecture.  We are sold out and the cut-off date is nowhere near.’

‘History with humour – a delight.’

‘Fabulous, a gifted speaker.’

‘Rather a nice follow-up from this morning; a series of emails have been flying round the committee about how well it all went and what a good response we’ve had.’

‘I so enjoyed your lecture and the opportunity to talk to you further over dinner.  I feel as though you’ve taken me on a Mediterranean cruise without leaving home. ‘

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the course over the last 3 days and it did “all it said on the packet”.  It was exactly what I expected and you were as informative, entertaining and enthusiastic as I had been led to believe.’

’Thank you for your EXCELLENT work that you did as lecturer, guide, and general nice-person-to-be-around!’

‘You added an infinite amount of content to the days, as well as friendliness and charm.’


About just some of the tours and the feedback that floods in …


I found the trip itself to be excellent in every way. Like most people and possibly even more so because I come from distant Canada, my expectations of a tour of Albania were vague at best.  However, I happy to report that you and Gillian revealed to me an Albania which I had no idea existed.  Not only were the hotels and food superb but your and Gillian’s lectures and interpretation at the various historical sites were informative and extremely engaging. I finished the trip with a deep appreciation of Albania and a profound respect for the struggles of the people as they attempt to come to terms with their sad history and as they work to move forward with their lives.

Smithsonian Journeys:

Outstanding in all respects. Her lectures were full of detail that brought the archeological visits to a level that brought the ruins to life. – Her availability was outstanding at all times. She was always with the group and always ready to answer questions. As important, she was willing to listen to other ideas and have a real dialog with the tour participants. – She should be invited to be a guest lecturer at the Smithsonian. I would come back to DC to hear her. – Keep her on these trips!

So well informed and interesting. She MADE the trip for us.

Thank you or bringing life to the stones we saw during the trip. But for your lectures, those sites would have made no impression at all.  The joy of digging and then the delight at finding meaning and connecting the dots and explaining what you had done, all brilliantly.  Bravo.

Thank you again for your contribution to the tour. You enhanced the experience and we learned so much!

Gillian’s expertise made so many of t he ancient sites we visited come to life.  She made it possible to truly step back in time and was always eager to join those of us opting to visit museums in our free time.

Gillian is a seasoned trooper. She  lights up any space that she enters.  Keep her!

Gillian is great!  Her lectures made you think.  Thoroughly enjoyed talking with her.

Voyages to Antiquity:

Passion for subject and excellent delivery; a pleasure to listen to.

She made history fun.

Lively, engaging and with an infectious enthusiasm for her subject material, which she knows thoroughly.

Kept us engaged and entertained whilst importing knowledge.

Most enjoyable. Very friendly and approachable.

Knowledge brought Greek archaeology and history into clear perspective and context.

Gillian’s presentations are very clear and well-structured.  Humorous and entertaining.

Lively and captivating.  A joy to experience.


She was very attentive to the needs of the party her lectures were informative and enjoyable She socialised with us during meal times and certainly went beyond her remit. Would travel with her again

Gillian was tremendous. I have limited sight and Gillian took special attention making sure that I had no mishap.

Gillian is an outstanding speaker and communicates her enthusiasm and knowledge. We found her an ideal tour leader.

Depth of knowledge combined with friendliness and approachability

Host was welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable and went out of her way to be helpful

Gillian was such a lovely, easy going individual. Her lectures were fascinating and although we had guides at each archaeological site, she was always on hand
afterwards for any questions we had. Her enthusiasm was infectious.

She had prepared well. She obviously enjoyed the tour. She mixed well with everyone.

Gave some interesting, informative and entertaining lectures, supported by excellent handouts. Very friendly and made sure she networked with all of the group and
discussed their interests. Appropriately in the background when local guides were leading but was still available for conversation if wanted. Took some good photos for us. It

Well pitched talks that were interesting as well as informative. Her passion and enthusiasm for her subject. Her willingness to answer questions and not talk down to interested amateurs such as myself.

Knowledgeable – enthusiastic and cheerful – approachable and always ready to discuss and answer any questions

Well prepared and made clear well illustrated talks.

Very good amusing but informative talks, Very responsive to all questions. Very friendly throughout holiday.

I could not fault her. She was very knowledgeable and everyone was put across in a clear and interesting way. She showed a personal interest in each guest and nothing was too much trouble for her.

What we liked:  Her enthusiasm for archaeology. Her lovely personality. Her eagerness to help and explain.

Clear explanation of where we were going and history of sites at each location. Freedom to ask questions any time

Gillian has been the best Archaeology Host out of the three holidays we have had with Saga and the other two were both very good indeed!

Gillian is an excellent communicator and very knowledgeable.  If she were used as a host on other holidays I would certainly attend.  Presentations and paperwork supplied was excellent.

Gillian was excellent.  Gillian showed excellent initiative when one of the guests had a serious fall.  She took charge and ensured he was properly cared for.

Muddy Archaeologist Private tours

We would like you to know how much we appreciated your hard work in making our recent tour of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius, etc, such an outstanding success for us.  We enjoyed it all.

The whole carefully considered physical and historical ‘journey’ was exciting and absorbing.  We’ve already begun to describe the experience to various friends and relatives and relish the knowledge that it was all rather superior to the tours others we know have been on.

An evening with Gillian Hovell could literally change the way you view the landscape for ever … Hovell proves that history is on your doorstep and that the journey into the past is only a few steps away.’               

 Ilkley Literature Festival