Photo of Dr Claire Holleran

Dr Claire Holleran

Senior Lecturer


01392 724211

My research interests lie in Roman social and economic history, particularly urban economies, the experience of living in the ancient city, and Roman demography.  I am especially interested in Rome itself, and have published work on the city's retail trade, demography, and street life, as well as editing a forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the City of Rome with Amanda Claridge. For the academic year 2016-17 I will hold a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to enable the completion of a project entitled Mapping Migration in Roman Iberia. I am also working on a new monograph project, Earning a Living: the Organisation of Labour in Ancient Rome, exploring the ways in which the inhabitants of Rome earned their livelihoods, and the structure and organisation of the labour market in the city. 

I would be delighted to supervise postgraduate research students interested in different aspects of Roman social and economic history, including (but not restricted to) the retail trade, demography, social structure, ancient economies, urbanism, work and labour in the Roman world, and the city of Rome.

Research interests

My research interests are in the area of Roman social and economic history, with a particular focus on the structure and organisation of urban economies and the experience of living in Roman cities. I am especially interested in the history and development of the city of Rome itself. My first book, Shopping in Ancient Rome: the Retail Trade in the Late Republic and the Principate (Oxford University Press, 2012), was a study of the Roman retail trade.  Drawing upon a broad range of literary, legal, and epigraphic evidence, together with archaeological data, material culture, and comparative material, it explored the diverse means by which goods were distributed in Rome.  These ranged from fixed shops and workshops based in tabernae, to permanent and periodic markets, fairs, auction sales, street sellers, and ambulant vendors.  A series of papers linked to this project include studies of street life and street trade, food hawkers, women and retail, the archaeological identification of commercial space, and an entry on ancient shops and shopping in the new digital edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary. I have also published an edited collection on demography with Dr April Pudsey, Demography and the Graeco-Roman World (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and am currently editing a Companion to the City of Rome with Professor Amanda Claridge (Royal Holloway) and a volume on diet and nutrition in the Roman world with Professor Paul Erdkamp (VUB).

I am currently working on two main research projects, a Leverhulme-funded project, Mapping Migration in Roman Iberia, and a new monograph, Earning a Living: the Organisation of Labour in Ancient Rome.

Mapping Migration in Roman Iberia

Despite current political debates about population movement to and within Europe, historians typically now regard migration as a normal and structural element of human societies.  This project, for which I currently hold a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2016-17), considers whether the new paradigm holds for the Roman world, using Iberia as a case study. It draws on the rich body of epigraphic data testifying to population movement in the region, which is digitally catalogued on the Hispania Epigraphica website.  These inscriptions will be mapped for the first time and linked to a searchable database, which will be made available online, enabling a fuller exploration of the dynamics of Roman regional population movement.  This project arose in part out of a paper on labour mobility to mining regions in Spain, which was published in early 2016 in Migration and Mobility in the Early Roman Empire, edited by DeLigt and Tacoma. 

Earning a Living: the Organisation of Labour in Ancient Rome

This new monograph project focuses on work in the Roman world, exploring the ways in which the inhabitants of Rome in particular earned their livelihoods.  It will consider the structure and organisation of the labour market within the wider context of the demographic, social, and institutional infrastructure of the city, considering issues such as the impact of migration and slavery on the economic opportunities available to the freeborn, access to training, apprenticeships, and capital, and the potential roles of clientilism and collegia. Other publications linked to this project include a preliminary study of the ways in which the inhabitants of Rome might have found work, published in Work, Labour, and Professions in the Roman World, edited by Verboven, Laes, and van Nuffelen.


For full details of all publications, please see publications page. 

External impact and engagement

I am committed to the wider dissemination of my research and regularly give talks in schools and to local branches of the Classical Association, and have recently presented a series of videos for the Cambridge School Classics Project.  I have also published articles on Roman shopping in the Christmas 2012 edition of the BBC History magazine, together with an accompanying podcast, and in Pegasus, the Exeter departmental journal. 

Contribution to discipline

Elected Member of the Council of the Roman Society (2010-13)


Originally from Lancashire, I studied for my BA, MA, and PhD at the University of Manchester (1997-2005), before taking up a fixed-term lectureship at King’s College London (2005-2008).  Following a Rome Award at the British School of Rome, I returned to the North West where I held a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Liverpool (2009-2012), interspersed with a Tytus summer residency at the University of Cincinnati and a research scholarship at the Fondation Hardt in Geneva, before coming to Exeter in 2012.