Current Programme

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LSA CA Lecture Programme 2018


2017-18 Lectures


21st September 2017 – Dr Caroline Vout

Seeing the Gods of Greece and Rome

Dr Caroline Vout 21 Sept


Dr Vout is an inspiring classicist and art historian who is currently a Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge. She is on the academic advisory panel for the department of Greek and Roman antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, has written for The Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian, and appeared on the BBC Four documentary Fig Leaf: The Biggest Cover-Up In History and on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time.

Caroline recently curated the extremely successful Following Hercules The Story of Classical Art at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and it is this line of expertise that Dr Vout is going to share with us in her lecture entitled ‘Seeing the Gods of Greece and Rome’:

Why do Greek and Roman gods look the way they do? How like or unlike mortals are they? This lecture for the Association revisits some of the most famous sites, sculptures and mythological stories from Greece and Rome to explore the advantages and disadvantages of having gods take human form, and to re-experience how the ancients experienced the divine. Starting in the sixth century BCE and winding up in the Christian world, it uses visual images in particular to tap into theology, all enabling us to hopefully understand why we see the Gods of Greece and Rome in the way that we do. 

What an excellent and enlightening start to our new season of lectures. We hope you will join us on 21st September in welcoming Dr Vout to Lytham St Annes.


19th October 2017 – Dr Harry Sidebottom – Third Century Rome


Best-selling author and academic Dr Harry Sidebottom is Fellow and Director of Studies at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford and Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College. He has an international reputation as a scholar, having published widely on ancient warfare, classical art and the cultural history of the Roman Empire. His first book Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction received excellent reviews, with The Times Literary Supplement describing it as “jam-packed with ideas and insight … a radical and fresh reading of Greek and Roman warfare that is both surprising and stimulating.”

Outside of academia, Harry is best known as the author of the Warrior of Rome series of novels featuring the Anglo-Saxon nobleman turned Roman army officer Ballista which are set in the Roman Empire during the so-called `Great Crisis of the Third Century AD`. The series has been a great success, with Fire in the East alone selling over 100,000 copies and spending five weeks in the UK top 10 upon its release. Worldwide, the series has sold over half a million copies.

Harry has now written another series, Throne of the Caesars. The new series is set in third century Rome, and is, according to the author ‘a dramatic era of murder, coup, counter-rebellions and civil war, where in a single year six emperors will lay claim to the Throne of the Caesars…’

Harry has sent us the following information:

‘In all the books I make a great effort to be historically accurate. I hope that readers who come to them knowing little about the Roman world will finish them having learned a lot, and those who already know a lot will be provoked into questioning some of those things they’ve always taken for granted, both about the classical past and us.

In my talk for the LSA CA I will explore the issue of there being “Too many emperors in too few years”. The talk will explore the reasons for the political and military instability in the Roman empire in the third century AD, and will argue that in at least two ways it was an unintended consequence of initially successful Roman policies.’


9th November 2017 – Dr Margaret Mountford  

Riches from the Rubbish Dumps


Margaret Mountford Profile © Lauren Blue 2014

Dr Mountford is best known to most people outside the classical world as one of Lord Sugar’s advisers, alongside Nick Hewer, in The Apprentice. Before her TV career, Margaret took her first degree at Girton College, Cambridge, spent a number of years as a lawyer with Herbert Smith, as a very successful businesswoman and as non-executive director at Amstrad and Georgica.  

In 2009, she announced she was leaving the show saying: “I have really enjoyed making The Apprentice and it was a very hard decision to say goodbye. But I am working on a PhD in papyrology and I would like to concentrate on finishing this before I need a Zimmer frame to get on the platform to receive it.” Three years later and with no artificial aids in sight it was mission accomplished when she collected her doctorate in the study of ancient Egyptian manuscripts at the University of London with her thesis entitled Documentary papyri from Roman And Byzantine Oxyrhynchus.

Margaret chairs the Bright Ideas Trust which helps young people start their own businesses; she is also the Honorary Secretary of the Hellenic Society and Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society; and she presented the BBC documentary Pompeii: The Mystery of the People Frozen in Time. We are delighted she has made time in her very hectic life to come and talk to us about how papyri tell us so much about life in the ancient world.

Dr Mountford tells us that her lecture for the Association will look at the survival of different types of written material from the ancient world, and hopefully give a flavour of the range of material we have on papyrus, which is much wider than from other sources, and how we go about deciphering it. Party invitations, theatre programmes, magic spells, letters, accounts, all sorts of contracts and bureaucratic filings as well as of course copies of literary masterpieces, all help print a vivid picture of ancient life and society.

Much of this material was found in rubbish tips between 1897 and 1907, and was of no value then but of enormous value to us now. And very excitingly for anyone who wants to be an archaeologist or egyptologist, Dr Mountford tells us that papyri are still being found in digs in Egypt today.


11th January 2018 – Dr Michael Scott

Sicily – An Island for Everyone?


Dr Scott in Sicily


We are delighted that Dr Scott has confirmed he will be returning to the Association in January for his fourth Presidential Lecture. Dr Scott, Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick, recently made the three-part series of Invisible Cities for the BBC with Alexander Armstrong; has received excellent reviews for his latest book Ancient Worlds; and has enjoyed writing and presenting the two-part BBC series on the rich history and relevance of Sicily today, which he has chosen to talk to us about in ‘Sicily: An Island for Everyone?’

In his lecture, Michael examines the history of Sicily as a cultural melting pot from the Neolithic period to the modern day. From treading grapes in an ancient wine press, to reciting Shakespeare in an ancient Greek theatre, and from excavating child bones from a possible human sacrifice, to exploring the underground Arab aqueducts of Palermo, Michael travelled across the length and breadth of this extraordinary island. During his journey, he formulated two questions: what does it really mean to be Sicilian today; and what can we learn from Sicily in the 21st century?

Michael is looking forward to sharing his conclusions with all of us and hopes we too will be fascinated by Sicily’s cosmopolitan past as Sicily, more than any other part of Europe, has been subject to so many invasions and waves of migration over the centuries. From the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish, to finally becoming part of Italy with unification in 1860. Everywhere you turn in Sicily you see remnants of each of these different cultures – from the Greek temples and theatres across the island, to the Arab Balaro markets in Palermo to the Norman Palatine chapel, and the jail cells of the Spanish inquisition.

In his lecture to the Association, Michael will also be asking what can we learn from Sicily in the 21st century? Sicily is the island with the most experience of living with migration over the centuries, and is once again at the forefront of this current migration movement – with its coast guard operating daily to rescue migrants from the sea fleeing the coast of Libya. So what is Sicily’s answer, given its long experience? We hope you will join us in discovering the answer when our President returns to Lytham St Annes in January 2018.


22nd February 2018 – An Evening with Lindsey Davis 

Lindsey Davis author


We are really thrilled that best-selling author Lindsey Davis has agreed to come to the Association next February. Lindsey was born and brought up in Birmingham, read English at Oxford, and then joined the civil service, which she left in 1985 to become a full-time writer.

Lindsey started writing about the Romans with The Course of Honour, the remarkable true love story of the Emperor Vespasian and his mistress Antonia Caenis.  Her research into First Century Rome inspired The Silver Pigs, the first outing for her famous detective Falco, which was published in 1989. Starting as a spoof using a Roman ‘informer’ as a classic, metropolitan private eye, the series developed into a set of adventures in various styles which take place throughout the Roman world. BBC Radio 4 has produced successful drama serials of the early books, dramatised by Mary Cutler and starring Anton Lesser as Falco and Anna Madeley as Helena. Master and God, a standalone novel set in the reign of Domitian, was published in 2012 and led to her new series about Falco’s daughter, Flavia Albia, which is set in that troubled reign, and of which Lindsey is working on her 4th book at the moment.

Lindsey is one of the most lauded authors who has so far come to the Association. She has won the Crimewriters’ Association Dagger in the Library, and Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, while Falco has won the Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective. Lindsey has been Chair of the UK Crimewriters’ Association, Honorary President of the Classical Association and Chair of the Society of Authors. In 2011 she was awarded the Crimewriters’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement and in 2013 she was the inaugural winner of the Barcelona Historical Novel Prize.



1st March 2018 – Professor Joann Fletcher – Cleopatra the Great


Jo Fletcher Egypt 2

Professor Joann Fletcher was born in Barnsley and studied ancient history and Egyptology at University College London, specialising in the Ptolemaic dynasty and Cleopatra, and also in ancient Egyptian hair, wigs, and forms of adornment, the subject of her doctorate at Manchester University in 1996.

Professor Fletcher is honorary visiting professor in the department of archaeology at York University, and consultant Egyptologist for Harrogate Museums and Arts. She is also a best-selling author, a popular broadcaster both on TV and radio, and is perhaps best known as the presenter of the recent series Immortal Egypt on BBC2. 

She also contributed to the Egyptology galleries at the Great North Museum in Newcastle, in Ancient Egypt Daily Life galleries at the Burrell Collection in  Glasgow, in  mummification exhibitions at Bolton and Burnley, and designed the first UK GCSE equivalent qualification in Egyptology. She is co-founder of the York University Mummy Research Group, with whom she has studied human remains from South America, Yemen, Italy, Ireland, the Canary Islands and Egypt including the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings

She has undertaken extensive excavation work in Egypt, Yemen, and the UK, and has examined mummies both on-site and in collections around the world.  Professor Fletcher was lead investigator in the series Mummy Forensics and was recently involved with Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret, a Channel 4 and Discovery documentary that won the 2011 Royal Television Society Award for Science and Natural History, and the BAFTA for Specialist Factual programme.

Joann has sent us the following details on her March lecture, on one of the greatest female historical figures of all time and the subject of her outstanding biography – Cleopatra the Great:

“As the ultimate femme fatale created by Roman propaganda, Elizabethan drama and Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra is too often dismissed as the tragic queen of Egypt when she was in fact a pharaoh. As the last surviving successor of Alexander the Great, her drive to restore his empire successfully withstood Rome for twenty years, their hostile propaganda completely at odds with Egyptian references to Cleopatra as a great leader, devoted mother and ‘virtuous scholar’. With her life a series of colourful events, from her arrival before Caesar in a rolled-up carpet to her two year residency in Rome and dramatic snake-based suicide, the truth behind such tales is even more fascinating than the fictions created by her enemies, with her achievements clearly marking her out as Alexander’s true successor.”

We can’t wait to hear all about the amazing Cleopatra and meet the woman behind the books Cleopatra the Great,  The Search for Nefertiti and Immortal Egypt.


 12th April 2018 – Mary-Ann Ochota

                                         Rocks, Holes and Pots of Gold


Mary-Ann Ochota credit Joe Bass


Mary-Ann Ochota is an acclaimed broadcaster, author and anthropologist who gained her MA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Emmanuel College, Cambridge University in 2002 and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Her love for studying the peoples of the world stems from her own heritage and from watching a documentary on child sacrifice as a young girl! As she says:

“For me, it’s all about discovering and telling people’s stories in the most exciting and compelling way – on TV, radio, in print and in person. From the heart of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster zone, to conflict zones in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the slums of Dhaka, the backstreets of Swansea, and the high fells of Britain’s Lake District.”

Her first book, Britain’s Secret Treasures was published in 2013, and her second, Hidden Histories: A Spotter’s Guide to the British Landscape was published in October 2016. She is also a contributor to BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent, the Guardian’s Archaeology & Anthropology network, Sky News, BBC News and HuffPost as well as a reporter for ITN Industry News on themes as diverse as public health, technology, finance and criminal justice. She writes for the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, writes a monthly column for Trail Magazine, and regularly contributes to adventure and outdoors magazines including BBC MagazineGeographical, Summit and Countryfile Magazine.

She has also co-presented the popular documentary series Time Team and we can’t wait to meet Mary-Ann when she reveals some of the secrets of Britain’s hidden Roman and ancient treasures to the Association in our final lecture of the season!