John Swogger

John Swogger

While our social groups were temporarily suspended due to Covid-19, we’ve invited some of the scheduled guest speakers to tell us a bit about themselves and the incredible work they do…


My name is John Swogger, and I’m an archaeologist and an illustrator. Usually, my work involves producing technical drawings of artefacts, buildings and other evidence from ancient sites. These drawings are very useful for other archaeologists, but not quite so useful for non-archaeologists. So in recent years, I’ve started to use comics to help explain complex information about history, archaeology and heritage.

I got my degree in Archaeology from Liverpool University in 1992, and have enjoyed a good working relationship with the University ever since. For six years after I graduated I worked as a field archaeologist for the University, for Liverpool Museum, and for the Northwest Archaeological Trust. I also worked on the long-running excavation project at Bordesley Abbey, near Birmingham. In 1998 I got a job as the archaeological illustrator for the Catalhoyuk Research Project in Turkey: that’s pronounced CHAT-al-HOO-yook. That site was a 9,000 year old stone-age city – one of the first places in human history where people stopped living and hunters and gatherers, and began to live a settled life in one place.

It was while working for the Catalhoyuk project that I started to use comics to help explain archaeology, and since then I’ve travelled to sites in Serbia, the Caribbean and the islands of the Pacific ocean, making comics about ancient archaeological sites. I also make comics with Native American tribes in the USA, telling their archaeological and heritage stories. I was hoping to give you all some free comics about these sites at our meeting! Perhaps Bella can still arrange that, somehow?

I also make comics like these closer to home, too. Between 2016 and 2018 I produced a series of comic strips about the history and archaeology of Oswestry which ran for over a year in the Advertizer. This comic strip series “Oswestry Heritage”, has now been collected into a book which I was hoping to show you. However, you can order the book from Booka, if you’re interested – and Qube has some copies for sale as well.

This coming year I’m going to be working on comics about archaeology in Welshpool, as well as a new comic strip guide to Wat’s Dyke in Wrexham. When the world gets back to normal, I’ll be heading over to the USA to continue my work with Native American tribes in California and Michigan, as well as going back to the Pacific islands of Palau and Yap to continue my projects there.

I’m also working with the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital this year, doing comics to help explain surgical procedures to new patients – something slightly different from archaeology!

In the meantime, you can follow the story of Oswestry’s heritage in comic-strip form on Facebook via this link:

And you can download some of my other comics via these links:

Archaeology on Yap 2018:

Archaeology on Carriacou 2014:

Archaeometallurgy comic:

Radiocarbon dating comic: