Dr Tanja Romankiewicz (Dr.-Ing. (PhD), Dipl.-Ing. (FH), FSA Scot)
Chancellor's Fellow and Lecturer in Archaeology, EFI Research Affiliate; Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology
Director of Research (Archaeology)
I am an archaeologist interested in buildings, and an architect interested in the people of the past.
My first degrees from Cologne (Germany) are in architecture and architectural conservation. I gained my doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin (Germany) in collaboration with University of Edinburgh, undertaking an architectural analysis of prehistoric roundhouses in Scotland with focus on the stone-built brochs, the "towers" of the Scottish Iron Age. My post-doctoral research has investigates prehistoric houses more widely, from Britain and Ireland, Scandinavia and the European continent.
I am currently researching the use of earth and turf building materials in prehistoric and Roman times, in northwest Europe, and investigating the sustainability of turf buildings - then and now.
I have always been interested in interdisciplinary research between architecture and archaeology. During my architectural studies I worked on the presentation of a Roman municipium and garum manufactory in Andalusia, Spain, and studied Roman concrete in comparison with contemporary building techniques in northwest Europe.
Having joined the University of Edinburgh as a Career Development Fellow in 2013, and continued as a Research Assistant until April 2015, I then embarked on a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship on the Building (Ancient) Lives project, in collaboration with architects, artists, local authorities and community projects. Having worked as a Research Fellow on the Leverhulme Trust funded research project "Earthen Empire", I am now embarking on my Chancellor's Fellowship.
I have also worked as a commercial buildings archaeologist with Addyman Archaeology, a division of the conservation architects Simpson & Brown, with whom I am still affiliated as a Honorary Consultant.
Member Archaeology Committee, The Roman Society, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
Honorary Consultant, Simpson & Brown with Addyman Archaeology
Edinburgh Research Explorer:
- Archaeology 2A: Scotland before History (course organiser)
- Archaeology of Architecture (course organiser)
- Space, Place and Time (course organiser)
Open to PhD supervision enquiries?
Areas of interest for supervision
Areas accepting Research Students in:
I am very happy to supervise MScR and PhD students interested in topics on Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, in particular within a built environment, art and design context and a geographical scope ranging from Scotland across Europe and the North Atlantic.
My particular expertise is in the Later Prehistoric and Roman period, but I also welcome archaeological approaches related to the wider built environment, art theory, and material technologies -- past and present -- as well as on contemporary aspects where studying archaeology relates to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Britain & Ireland
- Near East
- Ancient Civilisations
- Landscapes & Monuments
- Material Culture
- Early Historic
As an archaeologist I am interested in the people of the past, their ideas, their relations, their interactions. As an architect I am interested in how people create, construct, use, and abandon their buildings. The relation between people and built space is displayed in their architecture, and most intimately played out in their houses - their homes. I am studying prehistoric and Roman architecture as material culture – not simply as pragmatic or stylistic buildings, but emotionally charged spaces, as mediums to reflect identities.
My interest during my studies and Masters research has been concerned with Roman architecture and Roman concrete in particular. My doctoral and initial post-doctoral work has been concentrating on Scottish later prehistory because of its wealth of architectural remains and modern high-quality excavation record. Stone-built houses in the Atlantic zone have been standing for more than 2000 years and survive up to 13m in height; 3000-years old building stances are still visible in open settlements or hilltop enclosures, or as cropmarks in the fields.
Most recently, I have worked on prehistoric and Roman architecture and art more widely with a focus on British, Irish, Danish, Dutch, French, and German archaeology to understand wider European patterns in order to compare and contrast:
- design, ideas, creativity
- traditional building methods and developments: prehistoric, Roman, early medieval, analogies with later vernacular
- building materials
- building in the landscape and landscape as a resource
- contacts, identities, influences, potential and ambition expressed through architecture
Current research activities
In my post-doctoral research, I completed an architectural analysis of prehistoric buildings in Scotland, Britain, and Ireland, as well as in Denmark, the Netherlands, and northern Germany as part of the Building (Ancient) Lives project, funded as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship: http://www.ed.ac.uk/history-classics-archaeology/research/research-projects/building-ancient-lives-new-perspectives-on-the-pas. Results showed the dynamics in the concepts, constructions, uses, and reuses of these buildings. My research had a strong focus on building materials, and especially those less well-preserved in the archaeological record: turf, rammed earth, and cob and organic material mixes.
I then expanded this research into a Roman context as a Research Fellow on the Leverhulme-funded project Earthen Empire, together with Dr Ben Russell (PI), Dr Chris Beckett (CI), and Dr James Riley Snyder (RA). The team, based in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and in the School of Engineering examines the archaeological remains of earth and turf buildings in the northwest provinces of the Roman Empire - at macro and micro level. We are interested in what these materials can tell us about a dimension of Roman architecture that remains understudied and underestimated, especially in the northern part of the Empire. We are not only interested in the material properties and constructions, but also the people behind these -- the persistence of pre-Roman building traditions as well as the movement and development of techniques following the Roman conquest:
The aim is to write a more complex, less selective, history of Roman architecture, one that listens to vernacular voices while contributing to debates about how sustainable building today can responsibly use soil-based materials. Since becoming a Chancellor's Fellow in Archaeology, I remain associated with the project as a Collaborating Researcher.
My new research focuses on turf as a prehistoric, Roman and later building material and I am seeking new applications of this ancient tradition in a modern context. This involves investigating the sustainability of turf building, its carbon footpring and potential to become a zero-carbon building material for the future. This work has been supported by an Edinburgh Futures Institute project grant.
Earthen Empire: Leverhulme Trust funded research project:
Building materials on the Roman Frontiers: XXIII. International Limes Congress
Building (Ancient) Lives - Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship http://www.ed.ac.uk/history-classics-archaeology/research/research-projects/building-ancient-lives-new-perspectives-on-the-pas
Old Kinord, Aberdeenshire: joint project director with Prof Richard Bradley and Associate Professor Amanda Clarke, University of Reading
Inverewe, Highland: roundhouse project ALIVE with the National Trust for Scotland http://www.nts.org.uk/Event/Inverewe/ALIVE-Archaeology-and-Landscape-at-Inverewe
Northeast Roundhouse Research Project (NERRP) with Aberdeenshire Council: North-East Scotland Regional Research Framework
South-East Scotland Roundhouse Characterisation (SESRC) with Scottish Borders Council: http://www.socantscot.org/research-project/building-ancient-lives-south-east-scotland-roundhouse-characterisation-project/
Knowledge Exchange and Impact
By gaining new insights into ancient constructions and materials, I have worked with various individuals, practitioners, and volunteer initiatives to inspire modern sustainable building and building materials.
I have recently been working with local communities and an eco-farm in Perthshire to promote modern turf building based on ancient practice. My work has attracted Knowledge Exchange and Impact grant funding from the University’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Research results are feeding into various outreach projects. For more details see:
The list below is a subset of the information held on the University of Edinburgh PURE system, and includes Books, Chapters, Articles and Conference contributions. For a full list, including details of other publication types (e.g. reviews), please see the Edinburgh Research Explorer page for Dr Tanja Romankiewicz.
Books - Authored
Addyman, T., Romankiewicz, T., Ross, A., Macfadyen, K. and Uglow, N. (2013) The Medieval Kirk, Cemetery and Hospice at Kirk Ness, North Berwick: The Scottish Seabird Centre Excavations 1999-2006. Oxford: Oxbow Books
Romankiewicz, T. (2011) The complex roundhouses of the Scottish Iron Age: An architectural analysis of complex Atlantic roundhouses (brochs and galleried duns), with reference to wheelhouses and timber roundhouses. Oxford: Archaeopress
Books - Edited
Cowley, D., Fernandez-Gotz, M., Romankiewicz, T. and Wendling, H. (eds.) (2019) Rural Settlement: Relating buildings, landscape and people in the European Iron Age. Leiden: Sidestone Press
Romankiewicz, T., Fernandez-Gotz, M., Lock, G. and Büchsenschütz , O. (eds.) (2019) Enclosing Space, Opening New Ground: Iron Age studies from Scotland to Mainland Europe. Oxford: Oxbow BooksDOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvjsf4df
Romankiewicz, T., Russell, B., Bailey, G., Gardner, T., Snyder, J. and Beckett, C. (2022) 'Another wall of turf': Geoarchaeological analysis of the Antonine Wall at 72 Grahamsdyke Street, Laurieston, Falkirk. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 151, pp. 103-141DOI: https://doi.org/10.9750/PSAS.151.1353
Romankiewicz, T., Bradley, R. and Clarke, A. (2020) Old Kinord, Aberdeenshire: Survey and excavation at an Iron Age settlement on Deeside. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 149, pp. 221-247DOI: https://doi.org/10.9750/PSAS.149.1293
Romankiewicz, T. (2016) “Building (Ancient) Lives": New perspectives on the past for a sustainable future. The European Archaeologist, Spring 2016, pp. 25-30
Romankiewicz, T. (2013) Brochs: Architecture of a 2,500-year-old phenomenon. Current Archaeology, 28 no.10
Romankiewicz, T. (2009) Simple stones but complex constructions: Analysis of architectural developments in the Scottish Iron Age. World Archaeology, 41(3), pp. 379-395DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00438240903112278
Russell, B., Beckett, C., Romankiewicz, T., Snyder, J. and Ferraby, R. (forthcoming) ‘…incorrupti imbribus, ventis, ignibus omnique caemento firmiores?' Earthen building materials in the Roman West. In: Mugnai, N. (ed.) Architectures of the Roman World: Models, Agency, Reception. Oxford: Oxbow Books
Russell, B., Beckett, C., Romankiewicz, T., Snyder, J. and Lin, B. (forthcoming) Turf structures in the Roman North and beyond. In: Bonetto, J. and Previato, C. (eds.) Terra, legno e materiali deperibili nell'architettura antica. Padua: Università degli Studi di Padova
Snyder, R., Russell, B., Romankiewicz, T. and Beckett, C. (2023) The Energetics of Earth and Turf Construction in the Roman World. In: Barker, S., Courault, C., Domingo, J. and Maschek, D. (eds.) From Concept to Monument: Time and Costs of Construction in the Ancient World: Papers in Honour of Janet DeLaine. Archaeopress
Romankiewicz, T. (2021) Petrification processes in Prehistoric architectures: A view from the north. In: Hüglin, S., Gramsch, A. and Seppänen, L. (eds.) Petrification Processes in Matter and Society. Springer, pp. 131-140DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-69388-6_11
Romankiewicz, T., Milek, K., Beckett, C., Russell, B. and Snyder, J. (2020) New perspectives on the structure of the Antonine Wall. In: Breeze, D. and Hanson, W. (eds.) The Antonine Wall: Papers in Honour of Professor Lawrence Keppie. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 121-141
Romankiewicz, T. (2019) Turf worlds: Towards understanding an understudied building material in rural Iron Age architecture – some thoughts in a Scottish context. In: Cowley, D., Fernandez-Gotz, M., Romankiewicz, T. and Wendling, H. (eds.) Rural Settlement: Relating Buildings, Landscape and People in the European Iron Age. Leiden: Sidestone Press
Romankiewicz, T., Fernandez-Gotz, M., Lock, G. and Buchsenschutz, O. (2019) Enclosing space and opening new ground in Iron Age studies: An introduction. In: Romankiewicz, T., Fernandez-Gotz, M., Lock, G. and Buchsenschutz, O. (eds.) Enclosing Space, Opening New Ground: Iron Age Studies from Scotland to Mainland Europe. Oxford: Oxbow Books, pp. 1-5DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvjsf4df.4
Cowley, D., Fernandez-Gotz, M., Romankiewicz, T. and Wendling, H. (2019) Exploring rural settlement in Iron Age Europe – an introduction. In: Cowley, D., Fernandez-Gotz, M., Romankiewicz, T. and Wendling, H. (eds.) Rural Settlement: Relating Buildings, Landscape, and People in the European Iron Age. Sidestone Press
Romankiewicz, T. (2018) Kühn im Konzept, phantasievoll mit Resourcen: Architektur-archäologische Analyse am Beispiel eisenzeitlicher Rundbauten in Schottland. In: Wefers, S., Balzer, I., Augstein, M., Fries-Knoblach, J., Later, C., Ludwig, K., Tappert, C., Trebsche, P. and Wiethold, J. (eds.) KunstHandWerk: Beitraege der 26. Tagung AG Eisenzeit gemeinsam mit der Keltenwelt am Glauberg und der hessenARCHAEOLOGIE im Landesamt fuer Denkmalpflege Hessen in Bad Salzhausen - 3.-6. Oktober 2013. Langenweissbach: Beier & Beran, Archäologische Fachliteratur, pp. 151-166
Romankiewicz, T. (2017) Turf. In: Harkness, R. (ed.) Knowing from the inside: An Unfinished Compendium of Materials.Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, pp. 196-201
Murdoch, K. and Romankiewicz, T. (2014) The Post-medieval Glass. In: Moore, H. and Wilson, G. (eds.) Ebbing Shores: Survey and Excavation of Coastal Archaeology in Shetland 1995-2008. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland
Addyman, T., Romankiewicz, T. and Ross, A. (2013) Kirk Ness in the early medieval period. In: Addyman, T., Romankiewicz, T., Ross, A., Macfadyen, K. and Uglow, N. (eds.) The Medieval Kirk, Cemetery and Hospice at Kirk Ness, North Berwick: The Scottish Seabird Centre Excavations 1999-2006. Oxford: Oxbow Books, pp. 23-50
Romankiewicz, T. and Addyman, T. (2013) The Iron Age. In: Addyman, T., Romankiewicz, T., Ross, A., Macfadyen, K. and Uglow, N. (eds.) The Medieval Kirk, Cemetery and Hospice at Kirk Ness, North Berwick: The Scottish Seabird Centre Excavations 1999-2006. Oxford: Oxbow Books, pp. 19-22
Romankiewicz, T. (2011) Schottland, Die komplexen Rundhäuser der Eisenzeit: Die Architektur der "complex Atlantic roundhouses", "wheelhouses" und "timber roundhouses". In: Sack, D. (ed.) Jahrbuch MSD 2009-11.Schöneiche, Berlin: Scrîpvaz-Verlag, pp. 19
Lin, B., Beckett, C., Romankiewicz, T., Snyder, J. and Russell, B. (2023) Unlocking the water retention behaviour of turf construction materials. In: E3S Web of Conferences Volume 382 (2023): 8th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils (UNSAT 2023). EDP SciencesDOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/202338217008
Romankiewicz, T. and Ralston, I. (2021) Revisiting Glenelg a century after Alexander O Curle: Reconstructing brochs in treeless landscapes. In: Gardening time: Monuments and landscape from Sardinia, Scotland and Central Europe in the very long Iron Age. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, pp. 65-74DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.81505
Romankiewicz, T. (2018) Pour une nouvelle conception de l’architecture domestique protohistorique métamorphosable dans le nord de la Grande Bretagne. In: Architectures de l'âge du Fer en Europe occidentale et centrale: Les actes de 40e colloque international de l'AFEAF. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, pp. 619-623
Romankiewicz, T. (2018) Baumaterialien als Mittel zum (konstruktiven) Zweck und Ausdruck?: Römischer Beton als Fallstudie. In: Limes XXIII: Proceedings of the 23rd International Limes Congress of Roman Frontier Studies Ingolstadt 2015. Nünnerich-Asmus Verlag, pp. 587-594
Romankiewicz, T. (2018) Rounding up the roundhouses: What can the remains of the Birnie roundhouses tell us after excavation. In: Forgotten, Hidden & Lost: unearthing Moray's archaeology: Proceedings of the Elgin Museum Archaeology Conference 2017. Elgin: Moray Society, pp. 74-79
Romankiewicz, T. (2009) Architectural analysis of monumental motives: Towards a methodological investigation into Iron Age drystone roundhouses in Scotland: An interim's statement from an architectural perspective. In: Archaeotecture: Second Floor: Papers from the Archaeology of Architecture sessions held at the EAA meeting in St Petersburg (2003) and Lyon (2004). Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 21-31