Julian Bowsher on The Rose: Archaeology, History, Drama

The discovery of the Rose in 1989 fundamentally altered our knowledge of 16th century playhouses. It was the first such playhouse to be scientifically excavated and more recent excavations of other playhouses have broadened our knowledge. Due to the unique survival of Henslowe’s papers, we were able to link the documentary sources to the archaeology. Only recently, however, new material has refined the date of its enlargement. The excavation was accompanied by an intense “drama” at the time, extensively covered in the press. The furore eventually led to legal changes in the protection of archaeological sites and monuments. Apart from the physical remains, we know a lot of the people involved at the Rose — entrepreneurs, playwrights and actors.

Julian Bowsher studied Roman archaeology at London University and one of his earliest projects was the excavation and publication of a Roman theatre in the Near East. He still identifies and catalogues Roman coins, but since joining MOLA in the mid-1980s he has focused on the archaeology and history of the Tudor and Stuart period. The discovery and excavation of the Rose theatre in 1989 was a milestone in ‘Shakespearean archaeology’ and Julian has pioneered its study, bringing together archaeologists, scholars and actors. He has written a number of books (two of which have won awards) and articles on the phenomenon of Shakespeare’s theatre. Julian has lectured extensively both here and abroad as well as in the media, promoting the subject. He also plays an active part in several archaeological and historical societies.


Tickets are £12.  Click here to book.

The Rose is an indoor archaeological site; it is advisable to dress warmly because there is no heating. There are no toilets, so please use those at Shakespeare’s Globe, which is 200 metres away.

Booking Information

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