The Archaeology of Roman Britain: Biography and Identity 2014022737, 9781138796744, 9781315757667

Within the colonial history of the British Empire there are difficulties in reconstructing the lives of people that came

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The Archaeology of Roman Britain: Biography and Identity
 2014022737, 9781138796744, 9781315757667

Table of contents :
List of Figures
1 Introduction: Roman Britain, Biographies and Identities
2 Biographies of Knowledge
3 People in Roman Britain
4 Buildings, Settlements, Landscapes and Critical Identities
5 The Lives of Objects and Materials
6 Conclusion: Critical Biographies and Roman Britain

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The Archaeology of Roman Britain

Within the colonial history of the British Empire there are difficulties in reconstructing the lives of people that came from very different traditions of experience. The Archaeology of Roman Britain argues that a similar critical approach to the lives of people in Roman Britain needs to be developed, not only for the study of the local population but also for those coming into Britain from elsewhere in the Empire who developed distinctive colonial lives. This critical, biographical approach can be extended and applied to places, structures and things which developed in these provincial contexts as they were used and experienced over time. This book uniquely combines the study of all of these elements to access the character of Roman Britain and the lives, experiences and identities of people living there through four centuries of occupation. Drawing on the concept of the biography and using it as an analytical tool, author Adam Rogers situates the archaeological material of Roman Britain within the political, geographical and temporal context of the Roman Empire. This study will be of interest to scholars of Roman archaeology, as well as to those working in biographical themes, issues of colonialism, identity, ancient history and classics. Adam Rogers is a Research Associate in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, UK. He is author of Late Roman Towns in Britain (2011) and Water and Roman Urbanism (2013).

Routledge Studies in Archaeology

1 An Archaeology of Materials Substantial Transformations in Early Prehistoric Europe Chantal Conneller

7 Materiality and Consumption in the Bronze Age Mediterranean Louise Steel

2 Roman Urban Street Networks Streets and the Organization of Space in Four Cities Alan Kaiser

8 Archaeology in Environment and Technology Intersections and Transformations Edited by David Frankel, Jennifer M. Webb and Susan Lawrence

3 Tracing Prehistoric Social Networks through Technology A Diachronic Perspective on the Aegean Edited by Ann Brysbaert

9 An Archaeology of Land Ownership Edited by Maria Relaki and Despina Catapoti

4 Hadrian’s Wall and the End of Empire The Roman Frontier in the 4th and 5th Centuries Rob Collins

10 From Prehistoric Villages to Cities Settlement Aggregation and Community Transformation Edited by Jennifer Birch

5 U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Archaeology Soft Power, Hard Heritage Christina Luke and Morag M. Kersel

11 Space and Time in Mediterranean Prehistory Edited by Stella Souvatzi and Athena Hadji

6 The Prehistory of Iberia Debating Early Social Stratification and the State Edited by Maria Cruz Berrocal, Leonardo García Sanjuán, and Antonio Gilman

12 Open-Air Rock-Art Conservation and Management State of the Art and Future Perspectives Edited by Timothy Darvill and António Pedro Batarda Fernandes

13 Knowledge Networks and Craft Traditions in the Ancient World Material Crossovers Edited by Katharina RebaySalisbury, Ann Brysbaert and Lin Foxhall 14 Sharing Archaeology Academe, Practice, and the Public Edited by Peter G Stone and Zhao Hui

15 The Archaeology of Roman Britain Biography and Identity Adam Rogers

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The Archaeology of Roman Britain Biography and Identity Adam Rogers

First published 2015 by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2015 Taylor & Francis The right of Adam Rogers to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Rogers, Adam, 1981– The archaeology of Roman Britain : biography and identity / Adam Rogers. pages cm — (Routledge studies in archaeology ; 15) 1. Great Britain—History—Roman period, 55 B.C.–449 A.D. 2. Great Britain—Antiquities, Roman. 3. Romans—Great Britain. I. Title. DA145.R7326 2014 936.2—dc23 2014022737 ISBN: 978-1-138-79674-4 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-75766-7 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by Apex CoVantage, LLC


List of Figures Acknowledgements 1 Introduction: Roman Britain, Biographies and Identities

ix xi 1

2 Biographies of Knowledge


3 People in Roman Britain


4 Buildings, Settlements, Landscapes and Critical Identities


5 The Lives of Objects and Materials


6 Conclusion: Critical Biographies and Roman Britain


References Index

199 225

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2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5

3.6 3.7 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4


Photographing archaeological remains: creating the static and isolating image. Map of the supposed invasion route of the Roman forces into Britain in AD 43. Plan of the possible pre-Claudian features excavated at Fishbourne. Map of the locations of the main towns of Roman Britain. Map of the conventional interpretation of tribal boundaries of late Iron Age Britain. Photograph of the tombstone of Regina, Arbeia Museum. Photograph of the remains of the fort at Vindolanda with reconstructions of a timber-phase and stone-phase gateway. Plans of the 1–7 Thomas Street site in Southwark, London: (a) northwestern part; (b) southeastern part. Photograph of the Neolithic henge monument of Maumbury Rings in Dorset outside the Roman town at Dorchester (Durnovaria) which became the site of the amphitheatre. Plan of the Moor House site in London. Plan of the excavated areas of the Hambleden villa, Buckinghamshire. Plan of one of the longhouses analysed in Fokke Gerritsen’s volume Local Identities. Plan of the villa at Lullingstone, Kent. Plan of the villa at Holme House/Piercebridge, County Durham. Plans of the excavated areas of the Pegswood Moor settlement, Northumberland: (a) later Iron Age; (b) first to second century AD. Plan of Middle Gunnar Peak, Northumberland, excavated by George Jobey (1981).

32 41 43 52 65 77 83 85

89 95 97 102 105 112

116 118

x Figures 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 4.10 4.11 4.12

4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 5.1 5.2 5.3


Plan of one of the Roman period roundhouses excavated at the Snettisham Bypass site, Snettisham, Norfolk. Simplified plan of the site of Trethurgy Round, St Austell, Cornwall, incorporating different phases. Diagram of one of the fragments of window glass discovered in the excavations at Trethurgy Round, St Austell, Cornwall. The location of Shiptonthorpe, East Yorkshire, on the main Roman road network. Plan of the remains of the rectangular timber building excavated at Shiptonthorpe, East Yorkshire. Plan of the areas of activity associated with the oppidum at St Albans (Verulamium/Verlamion). Plan of the features associated with the oppidum at Colchester around the Roman town of Camulodunum, dating from the first century BC to the first century AD. Photograph of the standing Roman period remains of the Newport Arch, Lincoln, Lincolnshire. Plan of the waterscape at Lincoln as it was at the time of the foundation of the Roman town. Reconstruction of the timber box quay discovered at St Magnus House, New Fresh Wharf, London. Photograph of a section of the remains of Hadrian’s Wall between the forts of Housesteads and Great Chesters. Photograph of the remains of Hadrian’s Wall Milecastle 37 with gateway. Diagrammatic section of the Vallum at Hadrian’s Wall. Plan of the Carrawburgh Mithraeum on Hadrian’s Wall. Plan of the prehistoric monuments of the Avebury landscape, Wiltshire. Plan of the Roman settlement at the foot of Silbury Hill identified through excavation and geophysical survey. Plan of the Wroxeter forum drain excavation showing the locations of the nests of samian vessels. Plan of the known Roman period shrines in the Fenland, many of which appear to focus around its edge. A simplified and revised version of a diagram depicting ‘The interactions of artefacts, people and places in later Neolithic Britain’. Plan of the Silchester basilica in the fourth and possibly fifth centuries showing traces of timber structures, metalworking and a possible tiled shrine.

121 124 126 129 131 136

137 138 139 143 146 148 149 152 153 156 167 170




I would like to thank the continued support of colleagues at the University of Leicester and the facilities that enabled me to write this book. I would also like to thank Professor Richard Hingley, University of Durham, for his comments on a draft of the text and Ms Louisa Gidney, also University of Durham, for her comments on, and edits of, the text. I am also grateful to the many useful suggestions made by the two anonymous referees.

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Introduction Roman Britain, Biographies and Identities

The province of Britannia in the Roman Empire was, of course, a political and historical entity. But it can also be considered in terms of the way in which it was constituted of identities not only of people but also settlements, landscapes, places and things. These identities in turn were also constructed of human actions, experiences and meanings interpreted through social context and subject to varying combinations and degrees of continuity and change. This book sets out to examine and challenge, through the archaeological evidence, the way in which we re-create Roman Britain in the present. It draws on a theoretical framework of the critical biography—a form of biographical analysis that is also critical of its own form. The biography places an emphasis on interpreting material through identity and experience, but this does not simply mean examining people but also examining how they were interrelated with buildings, landscapes, places and objects which also had identities which can be analysed in a critical fashion through the archaeological material available to us. This approach also allows us to discuss an archaeology of Roman Britain in a way that does not take the narrative historical approach for granted and deal with a number of issues relating to the province, centred on the complex social issue of culture continuity and change. This issue relates to a number of aspects including the social significance of space, the meanings associated with settlement and landscape, social life and behaviour, ritual and religion. The book, then, takes what I have derived and termed a critical biographical approach which draws on the concept of the biographical framework but allows us to move beyond normative assumptions in our dealings with material, challenge interpretations and combine methodologies of deconstruction with those of reconstruction so that we can move further on in our understanding of the province. As is argued in this book, this is because whilst being an influential framework of analysis in archaeology, the biography itself can be treated critically by moving beyond the assumptions we make when documenting identity, and the progress of the life course, not only of people but also objects, landscapes and buildings. This critical approach allows us to emphasise interpretation and analysis of archaeological material in order to develop additional understandings and become more reflexive in

2 Introduction our interpretations. It also acknowledges that central to our understanding of Roman Britain must be its position contextualised as a province within the Roman Empire. The critical biography allows us to theorise this context, and the nature of Roman imperialism, and discuss its implications for addressing the identities and experiences of the people in Roman Britain. It also allows us to think critically about the sources we have to study Roman Britain and contextualise the history of how they have been studied which has a significant impact on the way in which we think about Roman Britain today. There has now been a long line of highly influential and indispensable books documenting the archaeology and history of Roman Britain from Francis Haverfield’s The Romanization of Roman Britain (1912) to Ian Richmond’s Roman Britain (1947), A.L.F. Rivet’s Town and Country in Roman Britain (1958), Sheppard Frere’s Britannia: a History of Roman Britain (1967), Martin Millett’s The Romanization of Britain: An Essay in Archaeological Interpretation (1990) and David Mattingly’s An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire (2006). This book, however, building on the critical approaches taken by Martin Millett, David Mattingly and others, in their works attempts to provide a reading of archaeological material and historical events that moves us beyond normative assumptions and narratives that we tend to take for granted not only in Romano-British studies but in studies of material across the Roman Empire. There continue to be many valuable works on the archaeology of Roman Britain, which must be encouraged, but within these works there still tends to be only limited engagement with theoretical perspectives and frameworks which differs widely from the huge range of literature now coming from prehistoric studies and now medieval archaeology. Whilst there is now much important interpretative debate in Roman archaeology, and Romano-British archaeology in particular, as seen in Mattingly’s (2006) and other’s work addressing the nature of imperialism and identity, there remains a less critical approach to the archaeological material itself which tends to take its interpretation for granted. The crucial aspect of the critical biography is that it allows us to engage with alternative perspectives in documenting lives, living in settlements and landscapes and identities. It is possible to consider alternative pasts in the construction of identity; indeed, the people living at the time need not even have considered their lives in the same temporal and progressive frameworks as we take for granted today. Through this critical biographical framework, in this book, the huge potential there is in Roman studies for archaeological interpretation to engage in theoretical debates in Roman archaeology is demonstrated. The framework in turn also helps us to examine key themes that have been central to Roman archaeology, including the nature of Roman imperialism and the concept of Romanisation. There have been some immensely important debates on these topics, and some useful alternatives to Romanisation have been suggested (e.g. Mattingly 2006; Revell 2009; Webster 2001). What these studies tend to have in common, however, is that the interpretations are based on

Introduction 3 normative assumptions and images reconstructing the archaeological material and its context in the past. Normative relates to the assumptions that we make in archaeological interpretation about life and experiences in the past through the projection of today’s attitudes and expectations onto that period. Normative assumes that artefacts are expressions of cultural norms, ideas in people’s heads, and that those norms define what ‘culture’ is (Johnson 2010a). Combined with this in Roman archaeology is also the standard and uncritical notions we have about being Roman and living like a Roman which influence the way in which we interpret archaeological material in provincial contexts. Whilst there have been attempts to examine the alternative readings of archaeological material through discrepant experience the difficulty here is that it still assumes that there is a normative Roman experience and behaviour from which to deviate. This denies the complexity of the nature of Roman identity and of how it itself could differ between different types of people and situations. These normative interpretations and reconstructions of the archaeology and context also influence the way in which the nature and impact of Roman imperialism on the conquered provinces is interpreted. With a more critical archaeology, the impact of Roman imperialism on the nature of the archaeological remains, and lives they represent, must also be more critical. This book allows us to reframe how we interpret the archaeological remains within the context of the Roman Empire and think especially about issues relating to identity and experience in the provincial setting. The biography forms an important part of historical studies documenting the lives of individuals and the wider contexts in which they lived, often through a rich array of archival material including diaries, letters, official records and other forms of documents. As a result there has also been much critical reflection of biographies, the processes of construction and the rationale behind the subjects chosen for analysis. Within archaeology, the concept of the biography has also been widely used and emphasised (e.g. Hodder and Hutson 2003), but there has been less critical reflection of its use as a framework for interpreting archaeological material and analysing lifeways. The biography has mainly been a way of considering human life courses, the chronological use of archaeological sites and the relationship between people and things. It could be argued, however, that the biography forms a central part of the way in which we think about our lives and the places we live today. It has been an immensely influential framework for allowing us to think about ourselves and how we live our lives and the history of our own settlements. Being more critical of the biography, especially thinking about the social and political context in which the life course of a person, building, settlement, landscape or object enfolded, allows us to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the archaeological material available to us and in turn people’s lives in the past. Studies of Roman Britain predominantly write about the province in terms of an historical narrative but it is possible to be critical about the

4 Introduction way in which the linear accounts are constructed which prioritise particular perspectives of writing history and ordering events (cf. Mattingly 2006). In archaeology, the biography can document individual lives but also communities, settlements, landscapes, places and other aspects and elements of Roman Britain. The historical biographer has at times been described like an archaeologist through their investigations of the material (e.g. Hamilton 2007: 11), but what also of the archaeologist as biographer? It could be argued that by utilising the biography and the biographical debate, the archaeologist can become more critical of the way in which the past is reconstructed. A critical approach helps us to ensure that our interpretations are not taken for granted and that we can develop a more sophisticated understanding of its contextual meaning and significance. In a sense it could be argued that we need to ‘defamiliarise’ ourselves from the assumptions that we often make in our interpretations of the Roman material in order to allow us to recognise different perspectives relating to settlement, buildings, people, things, events and experiences. At the same time it is also important to contextualise the meaning and significance of the constructed biographies within the period of study. David Mattingly (2006) has also argued for the need to contextualise people’s lives within the imperial context of the Roman Empire. Especially important is to acknowledge the complex relationship between continuity and change in lives as a result of Britain’s position within the Empire. The Roman presence did disrupt landscapes, settlements and people but this disruption can also be considered in terms of forming an integral element of the identities of these landscapes which combined with existing identities and their histories. ROMAN BRITAIN Biographies are about lives but this can apply as much to the material and natural world as it can to the people living in the world. Through challenging biographical assumptions it is possible to readdress key themes that are central to the way in which we examine Roman Britain and indeed life in the Roman period across the Empire. These themes include people, space, landscape, settlement and experience and bringing all these together is identity. With the critical biography it is possible to address the multifaceted nature of identity and the human character as well as cultural impacts on identity. We can develop more critical readings of the archaeological evidence, and this is helped by the significant increase in the amount of material available to us over the past few decades. It is this increase in material, however, that means that it is also necessary to develop more sophisticated methods to analyse and negotiate its complexity. We need to think again about how we can analyse the increasing amounts of material available to us so that its potential is utilised fully and the same interpretations are not repeated without critical analysis of how they have been created in the past. This

Introduction 5 does not mean that there has not always been nuance and complexity in the archaeological record, and it is not the increase in material itself, with more to work with, that demonstrates wider variety and difference in the remains. Rather, it could be argued that it is the frameworks of interpretation and possibilities within the discipline that have developed in a way that can now allow us to explore more of the potential of the material. One of the key aspects that has influenced the interpretation of the archaeology of Roman Britain, and Roman studies more generally, is the approach towards the nature of Roman imperialism and the way in which people experienced their lives within the Empire (cf. Gosden 2004; Mattingly 1997 ed.; 2006; 2011; Revell 2009). It might be possible to reframe our approach by avoiding normative assumptions to identity in the past through taking a more critical approach and holistic methodologies by thinking about people along with the identities of landscapes, settlements and objects. As we have seen with the heterography which attempts to replace biography in the cultural context of British colonialism, there are alternatives to the biographical framework. The difficulty with most studies of identity in the Roman world is that they take the nature of identity construction and the life course for granted before analysing it through theoretical frameworks such as structure and agency (e.g. Gardner 2007; Revell 2009). This is problematic, however, because the very nature of identity and the life course, as we shall see through this book, would have been conceptualised differently from that which we take for granted today; with the impact of Empire, moreover, the nature of many identities would also have been in a state of flux as a result of different influences on identity converging. This critical reflection on identity in the past applies not only to people but also to spaces, settlements, landscapes and things, the nature and identity of which should also not be tackled by projecting modern assumptions and the modern mindset onto the past. Critical approaches to the biographical construction allow us to be more imaginative in the way in which we study and interpret archaeological material, including buildings and objects, and think about its meaning within these provincial contexts. A reflexive approach also allows us to consider the way in which the provinces of the Empire also had an impact on life in Rome and the centre of the Empire, in a reversal approach, which would also have been changing over time within this imperial context. One of the most influential frameworks that has been used to study the impact of Roman imperialism on identity and culture change is Romanisation, and this has long formed a central part of the way in which scholars have interpreted the archaeology of Roman Britain (cf. Hingley 2000). Critical responses to Romanisation, largely through its Romanocentric emphasis, however, have also contributed to alternative models to explain cultural developments in the Roman period such as creolisation (Webster 2001) and discrepant experience (Mattingly 2006). As well as these discussions, there are other perspectives influencing the nature of identity that have not often received as much contribution to these debates in Roman archaeology,

6 Introduction including the relationship between people and their world, as well as the nature and role of the human senses (e.g. for an important study of a nonRoman example of the senses in archaeology, Skeates 2010) and emotions (e.g. Tarlow 2012—whilst not aimed specifically on the Roman world, this study provides an important discussion on emotion in archaeology; see also Harris 2010). Debating the nature of developments in the Roman period can be advanced further through critical approaches, as alternatives to the biographical framework such as the heterography used in historical studies have indicated, which provides different perspectives for thinking about how lives and identities were reconstructed in the past. Importantly, the concept of the heterography has grown out of attempts within postcolonial theory to rethink the way in which people would have constructed their lives and conceptualised their identities within the social changes of an Imperial context. Although the nature of British imperialism, and that of other contemporary Imperial powers, in the early modern era would have differed from Roman imperialism (cf. Gosden 2004; Mattingly 2011), the states of flux and uncertainties in ways of thinking about identity through the impact of Empire on people’s lives within imperial contexts can be compared. The critical biography, then, allows us to move beyond normative assumptions in our construction of the past and to place more emphasis on the specifics of local contextual experiences and notions of being. Equal attention, too, can be placed on both macro and micro levels of analysis by examining not only the lives and perspectives of individuals and groups but also the landscapes, settlements, buildings and objects which can also be studied biographically. Also connected to imperialism and life within an Empire are issues relating to the economy and manufacture, status, urbanism, the use of landscape and the natural resources. All of these issues formed a significant part of the realities of Roman provincial life, but their interpretation in archaeological studies has tended to be influenced by normative assumptions drawing on today’s experiences and notions relating to the nature of everyday life (e.g. de la Bédoyère 2006; Millett 1995). Despite works describing the nature of the Roman economy, manufacture in the Roman period, urban life and so on, they tend to tackle them through today’s themes, expectations and preoccupations. What is so important about the critical biography is that it allows us to emphasise local contextual meanings and experiences. In current Roman archaeology, reactions to frameworks such as Romanisation in Roman studies, have now usefully resulted in a number of influential deconstruction studies examining the history of Roman archaeology and the social contexts of its development (e.g. Freeman 2007; Hingley 2000; 2001; 2008). Whilst no archaeology, of course, can take place outside the cultural influences of the day, this important deconstruction work now demands that we once again move towards new interpretations of the vast wealth of material available to us that incorporates both historiography and reconstruction through theoretical frameworks (cf. Rogers 2011a); and there are now beginning to be some more critical studies (e.g. Gardner

Introduction 7 2013). This will allow us to address all the key themes of Roman provincial life from a range of perspectives. Frameworks of analysis form important ways in which we can utilise and try to make sense of this material; new syntheses and frameworks reforming understanding are required alongside the excavation of new material, a perspective that has long been argued by some archaeologists (e.g. Tilley 1989). The Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conferences (TRAC) have been an especially important arena within Roman studies in which to debate interpretative approaches to Roman archaeology, and within this arena much of the debate relating to Romanisation and its alternatives has taken place. Analyses of the current state of TRAC, however, have not been entirely positive. Although TRAC has played an instrumental role in bringing new theoretical approaches to Roman archaeology, and opening it to the wider archaeological discipline in which theory was already having a considerable impact on archaeological writing and methodologies, it has been argued by some at least that TRAC has now lost some of the theoretical rigour, dynamism, edginess and daring that it was intended to have. It instead has perhaps fallen into a sense of complacency and has been addressing more comfortable and familiar themes under the pretext of theory. It has also been argued that TRAC has increasingly become an arena principally for postgraduate students rather than for the whole discipline to debate these issues (Gardner 2006; Laurence 2006). These criticisms of TRAC are perhaps valid to some extent, but equally, TRAC still has considerable potential to offer, and it could be argued that this potential has hardly begun. One way of doing this is to encourage more engagement with theoretical issues that cross the whole of the archaeological discipline rather than treating Roman archaeology as a separate discipline. Multidisciplinary approaches are needed, as well as the active involvement of academics and students at all levels as well as commercial archaeologists and the public. Importantly, TRAC has much potential to transform the wider popular opinion of Roman archaeology and put Roman archaeology back as a central part of the discipline and archaeological teaching. This is especially valuable because many of the general works on theory in archaeology do not tend to address the Roman period much, if at all, as is noticeable in Matthew Johnson’s (2010a) revised introduction to archaeological theory. Especially useful would be more dialogue between specialists of Mediterranean Roman archaeology and Roman provincial archaeology with both having much to offer in terms of method and theory. With its huge and rich resource of archaeological material, archaeologists working in the Mediterranean have perhaps not tended to engage in as much explicit theoretical discussion (with exceptions, including Shanks [1996]) even though all interpretation is by its nature theoretical (e.g. Horden and Purcell 2000). The analytical perspective of this book is designed to take this debate forward by challenging the way in which we tend to make assumptions in archaeological interpretation and to some extent also to break down the divisions

8 Introduction in archaeological theory that have traditionally existed between prehistoric, Roman and medieval studies. Through this, an attempt to construct Roman Britain through case studies of analysis is made. Roman Britain needs little in the way of introduction for many, but it is worth briefly thinking about what we mean by Roman Britain not only as an ancient phenomenon but also as a modern construct (see also Chapter 2 for a discussion of the nature of the archaeological evidence). Roman Britain as a province in the Roman Empire was known as Britannia, but this did not, of course, consist of the whole island of Britain. Whilst the incomers to Britain referred to the indigenous peoples as Britons, it seems unlikely that this would actually have had meaning for the local populations. The northernmost part of the island was never permanently conquered and incorporated into the province, although there were a number of campaigns in the north going into the third century. Scotland often forms part of discussions of Roman Britain because of the way in which it interacted with the province. With the construction of Hadrian’s Wall in the AD 120s there was a significant physical presence in the frontier zone, but there have been debates about the purpose of the Wall and whether it was meant to create a fixed and impermeable frontier (see chapter 4). There also continued to be campaigns further north after its construction, most notably leading to the construction of the briefly used Antonine Wall in the AD 140s which ran from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde. The conquest of the area that was to be Britannia was also, of course, not an immediate occurrence, it instead taking several decades after the invasion in AD 43 with, in effect, a series of frontier lines as this took place. This does not mean, however, that the Empire did not have an impact on these areas before conquest and an important part of how we understand Roman Britain is also the effects of contact with the Empire before the AD 43 invasion (e.g. Creighton 2006; Haselgrove 1999; Pitts 2005). The province of Britannia, along with the other provinces of the Empire, was also subject to reorganisation several times during the Roman period as a result of political decisions in Rome. It was split up into two provinces in the Severan period, Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior and then in the early fourth century it became at least four provinces Maxima Caesariensis, Flavia Caesariensis, Britannia Prima and Britannia Secunda (S. Johnson 1980; White 2007), although our knowledge of their exact locations and how they functioned remains limited predominantly to what is recorded in the late fourth or early fifth century document the Notitia Dignitatum.1 This is one of a few documents that exist that contain any information relating to Roman Britain, and these are discussed further in Chapter 2. Roman Britain, then, was never a static entity and as an integral component of the Roman Empire it was subject to continued changes and developments. What Roman Britain was as a province must also be connected with the experiences and identities of its inhabitants, both those living throughout Britain at the time of the conquest and also the incomers. But Roman Britain is also as much about how it is constructed in the present through academic

Introduction 9 study and its popular image; Roman Britain is a historical and archaeological entity that people study and construct in the present (cf. Hingley 2000; 2008; 2011). The history of the idea of Roman Britain is just as significant as the ancient entity itself because it has a major impact on the way in which we study and interpret the archaeological material and think about life in the Roman period. It is possible, however, to construct alternative perspectives and emphasise contextualised meanings and experiences. In this way it can contribute towards key debates in Roman archaeology, the nature of Roman imperialism and life across the Empire. Frameworks such as heterography have shown that it is possible to think about alternative ways in which identities were constructed and this can be applied as much to buildings, settlements, landscapes and things as to people. BIOGRAPHIES IN HISTORY, THE SOCIAL SCIENCES AND ARCHAEOLOGY: PROVIDING A FRAMEWORK FOR CRITICAL ANALYSIS This book is not about the written biography but critically developing the biographical framework as a tool for the interpretation of archaeological material and, particularly, material within the context of Empire. To develop this critical approach, however, it is important to analyse briefly the biography and the practice of biographical research. This biographical research has long formed part of a number of disciplines including history, English studies, sociology and ancient history. The biographical form has become a central way in which we think about our lives today and this biography has been applied to the interpretation of archaeological material such as the lives of objects and settlements and their relationship with the lives of people. The concept of the biography, however, tends to be taken for granted and applied uncritically to the past whilst critical analysis has much potential to develop contextualised understandings and meanings associated with the material. Despite the importance of the biography across a number of disciplines, it has not always tended to be treated as seriously as other areas of academic research and writing. Attitudes are now changing, however, as it is being given more prominence in a number of disciplines (e.g. Caine 2010; Gillies 2009; Lee 2009). Critical studies of the biographical approach and its construction can encourage more challenging approaches to the use of archaeological material and interpretations of the remains. The biography is not only a framework but an analytical guide for helping us to reflect on the way in which we use the archaeological material available to us to reconstruct the past. The word ‘biography’ is derived from ‘bio’ meaning life or living organism which assumes a singular whole or individual identity (Scully 2010: 32), but as is demonstrated in this section, this notion is increasingly being recognised as problematic in historical studies and these critical arguments are also of considerable importance for archaeology.

10 Introduction The writing of biographies of individual lives has a long history stretching back to ancient writers and can be seen in the writing of ancient Greece, including Homer, and the writings of others such as Xenophon (c. 430–354 BC) who wrote a number of works on people’s lives including Socrates (Xen. Ap.), the Spartan King Agesilaus (Ages.) and the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great (Cyr.; Hägg 2012: 10). It is very likely that interest in people’s characters and lives would also have been important before that time if not necessarily written down in the same way (Hägg 2012: 10). In prehistoric periods mythical stories of people that never existed at all would also have been important and would not necessarily have been regarded any differently than the stories relating to real people. It could be argued that modern ideas about biography, and styles of writing biography, have been influenced very much by the style of Classical biography and the reception of these early texts as they were rediscovered and restudied in the early modern world. This understanding of Classical biography has also influenced how archaeologists have studied the lives of people across the Roman provinces including Roman Britain and also the lives of people in prehistory. This is despite the likelihood that there would have been very different ways of thinking about the life course of the living in these periods. People that were no longer living could also have formed part of the society in ways that are not easy to recognise today. This would have included not only real people that had existed but also mythological figures which may well not have been distinguished from the real in the same way as they are today. There would also have been differing notions of time and progression within past social contexts (cf. Gardner 2012; Lucas 2005) which would have been key to the way in which these people thought about their lives and life courses. Archaeological studies emphasise that biographies were not just attached to people but also settlements, buildings, objects and landscapes which are just as important for understanding life in the past but must also be contextualised in the specific social period. Indeed the way in which we tend to separate living people from inert things, materials, structures and landscapes in modern life need not even be appropriate for prehistory and this situation can also be argued for Roman Britain. Whilst it could be said that the Classical idea of the biography has been influential in modern biographies, it could also be seen to have been influential in current archaeological approaches which place an emphasis on narrative and progression affecting the way in which buildings, objects and landscapes are studied. In most archaeological accounts of European history the emphasis has been on progression through time with the post-medieval period emphasised as a time of improvement (e.g. Tarlow 2007). History and archaeology has been able to give voices to the lives of people that thought and acted differently and had different notions of progression and success. The concept of the biography has been influential in the way in which the history of Roman Britain has been written with the progression from AD 43 to the decline and end in AD 410. This is not least because one of the major

Introduction 11 sources of historical accounts comes from a biography written by Tacitus on Agricola (Tacitus’s uncle) who served as governor of Roman Britain from AD 77 through 84. Anthony Birley’s (2005) comprehensive work collecting together all the sources of the lives of the governors and procurators, and other officials, of Roman Britain recounts their lives and actions in the same bibliographic fashion placing the events and people in chronological order. It is interesting to note, however, that many of the present editions, such as by Loeb, of not only ancient biographies but also historical works organise them through imposing a chronological structure, with dates in margins, which would not have been there in the originals. The later reception of many of these works imposed an historical structure which was not always emphasised in the same way when originally composed. In places where there was no tradition of writing biographies or histories, such as prehistoric Britain, there may have been a very different way of organising, remembering and thinking about past events and peoples, combined also with buildings and things. This is not the place to go into detail on the tradition of the Classical biography, and there are many publications on the subject which has recently been admirably strengthened by Hägg (2012; also 2001; Hägg and Philip 2000). Other important earlier works include Leo (1901), Stuart (1928), Dihle (1954), Geiger (1985), Momigliano (1993) and Sonnabend (2002). Ancient biographies, or collections of biographies, include those by Plutarch and Suetonius, writing in the first and early second centuries AD, and, in late antiquity, the anonymous author or authors of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae and Jerome’s (ca. AD 347–420) writings on Christian figures (De vir. ill.; cf. Williams 2008). Plutarch’s Vitae Parallelae paired and contrasted Greek and Roman rulers, military leaders and philosophers and was less a history, in the modern sense of the word, of these characters as moral and philosophical reflections of them and their actions. His coverage of these lives, then, although also now considered to be an important source of information, is highly selective and anecdotal (Caine 2010: 8; cf. Hägg 2012). Suetonius’s work on the lives of twelve emperors, although he apparently used material from the imperial archives, has also been criticised for its selective nature and for relying on gossip and secondary information from historians rather than the detailed and comprehensive study of primary material (Hägg 2012). His work was influential on later bibliographic authors including the work of the third-century Marius Maximus, which is now lost, and the author of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae, which appears to have drawn heavily on Maximus’s work and his anecdotal approach, which he had taken from Suetonius (ibid.). It is immensely important that we do not today cast judgement on the quality and value of these works written in a different social context, but the early reception of them from the seventeenth centuries onwards, as they began to be read again, contributed towards a perception that they were inferior to the other historical works; this idea has continued to persist in

12 Introduction attitudes to biographical studies today. The Victorian period saw a huge resurgence in the popularity of the biography, but for many at the time, and later, this represented all that was problematic with the biography as a form of writing as it was then. Thomas Carlyle (1832) wrote, for instance, that history was “the essence of innumerable biographies” and that the history of the world was “the biography of great men”. The era saw the publication of a large number of biographies, memoirs and other works as well as the appearance of the first edition of the Dictionary of National Biography in 1885 (edited by Leslie Stephen, father of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, and others). Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918) represented a continuation of the popularity of biography, but it was also a turning point and critical reaction to the Victorian style of biography with its verbose hagiography (Caine 2010; Gillies 2009; Lambert and Lester 2006: 18). Instead, Strachey attempted more succinct and factual accounts of lives, although the lives he chose to describe had all been regarded as heroes or heroines in their day which formed a significant part of the criticism of the biographical form in the second half of the twentieth century. A number of scholars have written about attitudes towards the biography in academic study and the way in which biographies have been regarded as a lesser form of historical investigation. Lambert and Lester (2006: 18) have written about the suspicion that academics have often attached to life writing in the past which contributed to the idea of the death of the subject, especially because of the lack of engagement by practitioners with social historiography and critical theory. Banner (2009: 580) has also noted that biography has been regarded as inferior because it has been seen as part of the belles-lettres tradition rather than a scientific or sociological one; they are not analytically sophisticated as other forms of history (Nasaw 2009: 573). Biography has often been categorised closely with fiction in library shelves, and this is also how it has often been regarded by the general reader (Kessler-Harris 2009: 625). Prestwich (2010: 326), the notable historian of medieval England, has described how biography is often avoided in historical study because it is felt that history is about much more than the lives of individuals; it is about the study of political, social, economic and intellectual movements that are much more than the sum of those involved in them. Elton (1967) described biography as “a poor way of writing history” and that in writing a biography, the historian should not suppose that he or she is writing history. No individual was important enough for the history of an age to be written around him or her and the chronological limits of a life rarely define a historical period (ibid.). Biographies are often regarded as unsophisticated narratives unsuitable for untwining and analysing the interweaving complexities of people’s lives and events (Scully 2010: 29). These criticisms of the biography have left many historians, sociologists and others working in the social sciences sceptical of using the concept but it has also contributed to considerable debate over the nature of biographical analysis and the development of new alternative terms such as ‘new

Introduction 13 biography’ and ‘life writing’. This has also contributed to the returning popularity of the biography not only in history but across the humanities and social sciences as well and has led to what has been described as the ‘biographical turn’ in the social sciences and humanities. With the biographical turn there is a new emphasis on lives and stories as a way of understanding the contemporary society and the process of social and historical change (Caine 2010: 1). The term biographical turn emphasises the scope and influence of a shift in thinking that is currently shaping the research agenda (Wengraf et al. 2002: 245). The impact of the biographical turn can be seen in recent modern history studies such as Judith Brown’s (2009a; 2009b) work on lives in South Asia. In her studies she has examined the way in which how life histories can be used to illuminate key analytical themes in the wider history of modern South Asia. Through studies of families as group biographies over time, she has been able to demonstrate the way in which society responded to changing political and social conditions. Within the social sciences and humanities there has long been a realisation that “the longue durées of positivism, determinism and social constructionism, has become detached from lived realities” (Wengraf et al. 2002: 245) and the framework of the biography has been seen as something that can help in accessing these lived realities. The ‘new biography’ emphasises the need to explore the different dimensions of lived totality together with “the vitality” and “bedrock reality” of everyday lives (ibid.: 246). The biography allows the combination of both macro and micro levels of analysis for understanding lives and their relationship with wider social changes. The practitioners of ‘new biography’ have been especially influenced by postmodernist, feminist, race and other theorists. They emphasise diversity and complexity as opposed to essentialism, and they focus on the shifting and multifaceted nature of individual personality (Banner 2009: 580). The ‘new biography’ is much more critical of how the biography is constructed and of how they are influenced by the authors themselves and by their perspectives. It embodies a critical approach to thinking about and constructing biographies by challenging assumptions we have with using sources of evidence. This is also important in archaeology which must also form a significant part of the changing approaches to research methodologies in the social sciences and humanities. An important aspect of the ‘new biography’ is the analytical element attached to the process of biographical research itself. Most biographical research involves access to and analysis of archival material, and it can involve interviews and other sources of evidence. Archaeological investigation can involve archive work, excavation and other forms of fieldwork. All of these demand a critical approach to the techniques used and the results that are produced (cf. Farid 2000; Hodder 2000; Shanks 1996). Regarding historical biographies, there has been much consideration of the way in which the research is undertaken and the biographies are constructed. Trouillot’s (1995: 26) postcolonial analysis of history states that there are

14 Introduction four significant moments in which silences enter history: in the making of sources, in the making of archives, in the making of narratives and in the making of history. The historian’s engagement with the archives is a significant way in which biases are created. Stanley (1992), for her feminist perspective, reminds us that it is impossible to separate the biographers from the biographies that they write, that individual lives can never be wholly represented and that there are always multiple ways of reading and presenting them; any biographer’s view is socially located and necessarily partial. There are also choices made in the construction of biographies with the choice of subject often being related to political and social contexts (ibid.). Wolpert (2010: 409) has emphasised the need for biographers to question their own biases when selecting a subject; then they must continue to challenge their prejudices at every stage of their research and writing. It is especially important as much as possible to relate the figures to their own temporal and spatial context and consider the differing perspectives of women, children, rich and poor, amongst others (Prestwich 2010: 331, 343; Ware 2010). As well as ‘new biography’ some historians have been advocating the concept of life writing or life history, which is regarded as being less centred on individual lives but brings the social background to the fore as much as possible (Clifford 1978). For Brown (2009a: 587) the life history approach allows for an end of the grand narrative of history to a “more nuanced methodology that allows the historian to shift gaze from the general theme and theory to the particular and precise experience of people and groups, moving from one to the other as each type of focus checks and illuminates the other”. For some historians, however, this new approach to biographies is not sufficiently critical and does not cater for all the difficulties associated with them. Crais and Scully (2009) for example have developed the term heterography to represent a new type of biographical research which is especially of value for studying the lives of people within colonial contexts. They developed this term for their investigation into the nineteenth-century life of Sara Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus. They argued that the conventional notions behind the biography were unsuitable for dealing with the people who had different conceptions of being and who inhabited contingent, provisional worlds undergoing rapid historical change. The word heterography is conventionally used in linguistics and refers to the study of the different meanings of different sounds for the same syllable (Scully 2010: 32). The hetero itself stands for other or different, and Scully (ibid.) explains that the term heterography not only assumes difference but also assumes the possibility of multiplicity of meaning. Heterographic writing also involves giving up a search for the ‘whole subject’ and instead emphasises the importance of nuance and different facets of understanding: “planes of meaning intersect but do not, even when looked at in totality, render an illusion of having captured the entire subject”. For Crais and Scully it is important not to assume a self that makes biography possible. When writing of a person who crossed cultures and

Introduction 15 geographies, as in the case of Sara Baartman from South Africa, the notion of a unitary subject passing through history requires criticism (2009). The autobiography of the Lesotho woman Mpho ‘M’atsepo Nthunya Singing Away the Hunger: Stories of a Life in Lesotho (Nthunya 1997) for example has become important for challenging conventional Western ideas of the self as well as divisions between the living and the dead. Ancestors, dead family members, played an important role in her life, helping her to make decisions in a way that would be very difficult to study and analyse in a conventional biography. Scully notes (2010: 34) that the Gonaqua, Sara Baartman’s society in South Africa, did not have a word for I, differing considerably from the preoccupation with the self in modern Western society, and it was considered that people and animals coexisted and could move between forms, from human to animal, in different contexts. Indigenous views of past and present can also challenge ideas of temporal chronologies which are often taken for granted in biographies (ibid.: 33). Sara Baartman was born on the colonial frontier of South Africa and was taken to London to form part of an ethnographic freak show, where she became known as the Hottentot Venus. Her life intersected many transitions at a time when the West itself was changing, making it difficult to pinpoint her identity and notion of self at any one time. From history, moreover, most is known primarily about her public life—her own experiences and perceptions of her life are even more obscure and difficult to access. Baartman moved between geographies, cultures and ideas of being which makes the biography an impossible concept. Heterography emphasises how fragmentary archives can be and how knowledge that is believed to be real and incontrovertible can actually be challenged and deconstructed (ibid. 38). Crais and Scully describe how Baartman was triply disenfranchised from history by her birth into a natal culture which was dismissed by European cultures as inferior, by her gender in a patriarchal world that trivialised and brutalised women and by the racial, working-class and female status in the Western cities of London, Paris and Cape Town which saw her as irrelevant except for the fact that her body was on display. Any attempt at archival study of Baartman is made vastly more complicated by this historical context and makes the notion of biography itself unsuitable for thinking about her life. Heterography, however, acknowledges the difficulties relating to archival research and emphasises differences in perceptions of the self, time and culture that move away from Western biases and preoccupations. Heterography explicitly places the notion of subjectivities, rather than one individual subject, at the forefront and this allows the study of people that leave few or none of their own records (Scully 2010: 32). This is especially important in consideration of Roman Britain, where there are generally very few textual records relating to the people living here and where the archaeological material needs a similar level of critical analysis. The problematic nature of biography, however, does not only apply to the examination of the non-elite. For example Lambert and Lester (2006: 1)

16 Introduction emphasise the transitional nature of the lives of the colonial British themselves as they moved to new locations and developed what could be referred to as ‘imperial careers’. Within each of the colonies these people inhabited they insinuated themselves into new personal, business, official, religious and friendship networks and came to know the local peoples which would have created new notions of self identity. Archaeology, of course, is rarely about dealing with documentary records as history is, and the importance of archaeology is often emphasised in that it can help us to study the lives of past peoples that are not represented in historical records; it could be argued that it can often be more democratic and balanced than historical studies. This does not mean, however, that the archaeological record should not be interpreted with as much critical analysis as textual sources. What I want to argue is that the biography can be debated to think about the identities and experiences of people in Roman Britain and their relationship with the world around them which can be studied archaeologically. Whilst biography emphasises ‘bio’, that is living, I would argue that we cannot necessarily equate similar thinking with the past where there would have been very different ways of thinking about, categorising and valuing materials, things, places and landscapes. In the same way, whilst heterography might be considered more appropriate than biography for documenting inanimate ‘lives’ it also derives, as we have seen, from the rethinking of lives of people and again can combine both the animate and the inanimate in ways not often considered in archaeology because the traditions of categorisation of today’s world. Heterography can provide a more critical way of thinking about biographical identity in the social and political context of Roman Britain but heterography and biography can both be considered for examining the relationship among the identities of people, places, landscapes, settlements and objects. The biography has been used in a variety of ways for analysis in archaeology not only connected with documenting people’s lives but also in applying biographical ideas to objects, settlements and landscapes to think about their use lives and the interactive relationship between them and people. The biography in archaeology examined through the course of the chapters of the book explore settlements, landscapes and objects as way of addressing identity and experience in a critical way. Key to this critical approach is that the biographical form itself, as discussed earlier with the example of the heterography resulting from colonial studies, can also be challenged. It is a valuable perspective to think about the way in which lives could have been constructed through alternative frameworks to those that we tend to assume today. This helps us emphasise the way in which the past differed from today that we conventionally project into the past. A critical approach, as we shall examine, allows us not to take normative assumptions for granted in our interpretations of archaeological material. It allows for a more sophisticated approach to the issue of identity and experience in the Roman Empire.

Introduction 17 What would also be a worthwhile use of this rich source of material would be to develop more theoretically advanced frameworks of analysis which could help with its analysis and explore themes such as identity and experience in a more critical way. There is now a vast amount of material available to us to study Roman Britain. It is essential, then, to utilise theoretical frameworks that can allow us to bring the range of details together and to interpret the material critically and imaginatively. This book demonstrates how we can approach the material of Roman Britain to create alternative perspectives beyond the narrative. As well as the biographical approach in landscape archaeology, the biography has been important in a range of other perspectives most notably in examining the use and histories of objects and buildings, drawing especially from anthropological research (e.g. DeMarrais et al. 2004; Gerritsen 2003; Meskell 2004; Miller 2009; Parker Pearson and Richards 1994; Shanks and Tilley 1987). Hodder and Hutson (2003: 212) and Hodder (2012) have emphasised the interwoven nature of the lives of humans and things; the biographies of things and people are affected by each other. A more critical approach to thinking about these biographical forms in archaeology can also help us to develop more sophisticated approaches for interpreting the material and its meaning, as well as the integral relationship between people’s lives and the lives of these buildings and objects. Importantly, it is necessary to avoid normative assumptions in thinking about how we reconstruct our understanding of settlements, buildings and objects from the archaeological record. It emphasises the need to contextualise meaning and to avoid normative convenience when we label settlements and objects and interpret their use and use histories. As we can reinterpret the biographical framework in people, moreover, we can also consider how the identities of buildings and objects can be changeable over time and in different contexts. The interpretations that we project into the past can be challenged through critical perspectives such as rethinking the biography. As discussed, integral to this approach are the lives, identities and bodies of people which can be analysed no less critically (Bori and Robb eds. 2008). In an important recent book on medieval life in Europe, Gilchrist (2012) attempts to analyse the life courses of past peoples through archaeological material by focusing especially on the relationship between people and things. The life course forms an important backbone to shaping the biography, but the biography also includes personal characteristics and pulls in many other things as it develops and changes through time including experiences and cultural influences. For Gilchrist, the biography is this relationship between people and their material world. This can be taken further, however, by using critical biographical frameworks in order to rethink how we deal with archaeological material and challenge how we consider life courses were shaped. The human life course has become an important area of analysis in history, ancient history and archaeology (e.g. Harlow and Laurence 2002; Whittle 2003). An important part of life course analysis must

18 Introduction be to critically assess the form in which these biographies were constructed as we have seen in historical studies. It is possible to challenge assumptions relating to the idea of the person itself and the way in which identities of people and things interacted. Another important aspect of archaeological research that could be considered biographical in nature is historiography which critically analyses the history of disciplines and the interpretative approaches that have been taken within them as a result of the contexts in which they developed. This was touched on briefly in the discussion of Darvill’s (2006) book on Stonehenge, which examined the history of its study and interpretation, but this area of study has been especially productive in Roman archaeology including the work of Richard Hingley. Hingley (e.g. 2000; 2005; 2008) has published a number of important accounts of the history of study of Roman Britain. These works are significant in the way in which they demonstrate what has influenced our current thoughts relating to these archaeological sites or figures of the past. We also need now to use this biographical understanding of our knowledge of Roman Britain to reconstruct new interpretations of the archaeological material and tackle more challenging issues with the data. THE CHAPTERS OF THE BOOK Whilst the biography is an important framework, not only for documenting people’s lives but also organising material and sources and thinking about longer-term issues relating to social continuity and change, a critical approach also allows us to think about alternatives to modern biographical conventions and assumptions and instead to contextualise understanding within the specific social and temporal setting. Within archaeology, the biography has been adopted as a way of documenting the use of buildings, settlements and objects over time, but there has often been little debate about the use of the biographical framework, its potential and how it can be utilised more critically and contextually. The lively debates within history about how to write a biography of a person within a past social, political and economic context are equally applicable to the construction of archaeological biographies of landscapes, structures and things. But the analytical awareness through the critical biography can provide us with a much more sophisticated and engaging way of studying and interpreting the archaeological remains and understanding them within the provincial context. It allows us to move beyond the conventional narratives of Roman Britain and instead to adopt a more critical perspective, avoiding normative assumptions about how the past is interpreted. Then an analysis of archaeological approaches to Roman Britain is provided through a holistic framework that brings people, places and objects together. It demonstrates the need to move towards a more challenging way of interpreting the material and demonstrates how this can be of use for studies across the Roman Empire and even for studies of other periods in archaeology.

Introduction 19 First, however, as in any biographical study, the sources have to be identified and analysed an aspect that is discussed further in Chapter 2. Roman Britain is one of the more intensely studied areas of the Roman Empire with a long history of research and publication of material which continues to have an impact on research agenda and interpretative frameworks today. In particular there is a strong history of study of particular types of material, such as pottery studies, which have their own established conventions of analysis and provide invaluable resources through catalogues and databases. Often as well, however, these traditions of study and choice of finds for specialist attention often tend to be dominated by elitist and Romanocentric material, such as statuary, epigraphic evidence and samian ware, and the studies reproduce specific cultural attitudes to the Roman period. Chapter 3 is an examination of the biography of human lives in Roman Britain exploring ways of approaching the lives of the range of people in Britain and the impact of the Empire not only on the lives of the local population but also those coming into the province. Chapter 4 is an examination of archaeological approaches to examining the lives of buildings, settlements and landscapes in Roman Britain and takes critical perspectives of analysis. Chapter 5 then is an investigation into objects and things and emphasises that just as people’s identities are fluid and changeable, so, too, are the identities of things. The concluding chapter explores the potential of the analyses presented here work on Roman Britain for studying other parts of the Empire. NOTE 1. A possible fifth province, Valentia, is attested in the Notitia Dignitatum, but its identity remains enigmatic. Is it possible, instead, that it is a renaming of one of the other existing four provinces. Ammianus Marcellinus (XXVIII.3) records that a province was reclaimed by Count Theodosius in AD 368 after the Barbarian Conspiracy and renamed Valentia.


Biographies of Knowledge

Any archaeological study of Roman Britain relies on evidence and sources of material, but it is important that these sources not be taken for granted. An important part of establishing a critical approach to studying Roman period Britain, deconstructing the established narrative through a more critical framework, it is important to think critically about the sources that we have and use to construct Roman Britain and life within the province. A critical awareness of the nature of these sources, and how to approach them, allows us to appreciate how our knowledge of Britain in the Roman period can change and develop over time in a way that gives more flexibility and fluidity to the concept of Roman Britain itself. Books concerned with the province and its archaeology more generally can have the tendency to produce static narrative accounts through the way in which they utilise the historical sources and accompanying archaeological evidence that we have. They also have a tendency to prioritise single accounts of the past rather than allowing for a range of perspectives. This can be seen even in David Mattingly’s (2006) masterly book An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire which despite emphasising the need to tackle discrepant experience, which is undertaken through much important analysis, interprets this experience very much from the perspective of the Roman incomers. Considering what could be described of as a ‘biography of knowledge’ allows us to contextualise the sources available and think about how they have been used to reconstruct Roman Britain. For someone coming new to Romano-British studies, or to Roman archaeology more generally, the way in which we access the sources and we think we know about the history and nature of Roman Britain may seem a little bewildering, and it is not a very straightforward issue. This complexity comes not only from the nature of the sources themselves but also from the long history of study of this material, the social context of this study and the traditions of investigation and perspectives that have arisen through these centuries of interest. It could even be argued that this long history of contextualised investigation has in effect created our own Roman Britain rather than the one that existed in the first centuries AD. In this chapter, some types of sources that have conventionally formed key components of our reconstruction of Roman Britain

Biographies of Knowledge 21 and the often lengthy traditions of how they have been studied and used as resources are discussed. These conventions and traditions continue to influence how we study Roman Britain today but can be considered to be just one approach to the way in which Roman Britain can be investigated and reconstructed. HISTORIOGRAPHY AND GENEALOGY A major area of investigation in its own right now is that of historiography which deals with issues relating to the history of study of a discipline and this has proved particularly productive and valuable in archaeology because of the way that traditions of study can really influence perspectives of interpreting the past (e.g. Díaz-Andreu 2007; Dyson 2006; Gerrard 2003; Rowley-Conwy 2007). Within Classics and ancient history there has long been an important area of research in reception studies examining especially the history through which ancient texts have come to be studied in the present and the social context in which they have been studied. As with archaeological material, this social context can have a significant impact on the way in which the sources are interpreted and trends of study can change over time. Reception studies also examines the way in which the ancient sources and finds themselves can have an impact on modern cultures and remain influential today (e.g. Hardwick 2003; Wyke and Biddiss 1999). Classics as a subject of study, both at school and at university, was especially important in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the cultural context of this study in an age of colonialism and imperialism, and how this influenced approaches to the ancient languages, texts and culture, has been the subject of much useful debate (e.g. Bradley 2010; Goff 2005). These historiographical studies also emphasise the theme of power as scholars attempt to impose their traditions, perspectives and knowledge onto the material whether consciously or not. By documenting the traditions of study it becomes possible to start thinking about alternative perspectives that can provide additional voices and ideas relating to the material. Relating to the archaeological study of Roman Britain, Richard Hingley has published a number of useful accounts of the history of studying Roman archaeology, examining especially the character and cultural context of early publications dealing with archaeological material and how these pioneering works have continued to influence our understanding of the Roman period, and directed themes of study, today. His book Roman Officers and English Gentlemen: The Imperial Origins of Roman Archaeology (2000) examined the way in which Britain’s imperial past influenced the focus of investigation in the Roman archaeology in Britain and the way in which the material was interpreted including the development of the framework of Romanisation. His book The Recovery of Roman Britain 1586–1906: A Colony so Fertile took a longer perspective in examining ideas relating to Roman material

22 Biographies of Knowledge and, in a sense, produced a biography of Roman studies and the history of how the archaeology has been interpreted. Two of his works that are even more obviously biographical in nature are Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen (2005, written with Christina Unwin) and Hadrian’s Wall: A Life (2012). The book on Boudica examined the way in which our knowledge and understanding of this character has changed over time and remains a culturally important and influential figure in modern society; her story and image often are manipulated to meet the aims of those using her image. Hadrian’s Wall: A Life examined the history of study and interpretation of Hadrian’s Wall and its cultural significance today and in the past. These works are important in the way in which they discuss factors that have influenced our current thoughts relating to archaeological sites and historical events and figures. Such studies remind us that all investigations of the past relate as much to issues in the present as they are about telling stories about the past. Historiography also demonstrates that alternative interpretations of the material are possible beyond that which has perhaps become the convention and emphasises the normative. The risk, however, with these studies is that their full potential is not achieved if there is too much focus on deconstruction. A key implication of historiography, however, should be the way in which it helps us use the archaeological material in more imaginative ways and construct additional perspectives on the past. This is something that has been attempted in late Roman studies of Western Europe where there has long been a debate on the way in which the period should be interpreted in terms of decline and fall (e.g. Cameron 1993; 2003; Liebeschuetz 2000; Rogers 2011a; Ward-Perkins 2005). One attempt to move the debate forward in archaeological studies was to consider ‘decline’ as an interpretative framework itself and one that could be debated alongside other frameworks of interpretation which are influenced by the social attitudes and preoccupations of the time. This has led to a number of studies examining the social context around the construction of Edward Gibbon’s (1737–94) famous six-volume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88) and its later reception particularly in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century educated and elite British society (e.g. Rogers and Hingley 2010). By demonstrating this context is it possible to discuss additional perspectives to interpreting the later Roman material which allow other voices and experiences to emerge (see Chapter 5; e.g. Rogers 2011a). This work on Gibbon investigated not only the later reception of his work but also how his own life, perspectives and opportunities would have had an impact on his writing. This included his educational background, wealth, the time he spent in Italy, much of which was recounted in his own autobiography (Gibbon 1966) and the books that he acquired for his library (Keynes 1950). Gibbon’s life and work have been the subject of much debate (e.g. McKitterick and Quinault 1997; Momigliano 1966; Pocock 1999a; 1999b; 2003; 2005; Porter 1988; Womersley 1997; 2002) demonstrating that even with just one publication (although

Biographies of Knowledge 23 published in a series of volumes) there is a huge amount to be discussed in terms of the social context of, and influences on, writings about the past. Shanks and Witmore (2010: 276–82) have written about their preference of referring to archaeology as genealogy in order to move away from the way in which archaeology often centres on attempts to produce historical narratives and analytical models. They argue that the value of genealogy as a term is that it recognises that “we would not be here but for the past, but also that there is no necessary coherent narrative that leads from past to present, or a neat unitary model to which the past may be fitted (ibid.: 276). Genealogy allows for both affiliations and discontinuities and the rejection of grand stories relating to the history of humankind; the influence of this approach can be seen in some recent studies including Hingley’s (2012) work on Hadrian’s Wall. Especially significant is their rejection of the modernist preoccupation with progress and even the idea that people’s lives and wellbeing were better today than in the past. For Shanks and Witmore “archaeology and genealogy highlights distribution and complexity—topologies and folding, flows and eddies” (2010: 276) rather than narrative, progress and development. It could be argued that history is more fluid than conventional narratives often allow, which has considerable consequences for how we think about and construct the history of Roman Britain. It also allows us to rethink key issues and frameworks that have dominated approaches to the interpretation of Roman archaeology more generally such as Romanisation and decline and fall. It is possible to see genealogical perspectives in archaeology as forming a component of critical biographies which allow us to incorporate together deconstruction and different facets of reconstruction, knowledge and understanding from the sources available to us. It is important to place an emphasis on contextualised experience, knowledge and identity in the past and the way in which archaeologists can develop more critical ways of studying the archaeological material itself in attempts to access this. SOURCES In this section some of the sources of evidence that have long formed such a significant part of our understanding of Roman Britain are examined and reviewed. Each of these sources themselves, and the individual components of each, has a history that can be described biographically and has an impact on the way in which we construct our knowledge of Roman Britain.

Epigraphic Sources There is a strong and early tradition of studying and cataloguing the Roman period epigraphic material from Britain with each programme of study having its own complex history and conventions. Epigraphic evidence has

24 Biographies of Knowledge always formed a major component of the material that archaeologists have used to reconstruct Roman Britain, but its study and prominence in investigations must also be seen in the social and political context in which the programmes of research were initiated. In the case of epigraphic evidence especially, the traditional focus of study on this type of material in provincial contexts could perhaps be seen in terms of scholarly biases prioritising and promoting Roman civilisation. This approach long formed a major part of studies of the archaeology of the Roman provinces, as can be seen in early pioneering works that covered Roman material in Britain by antiquaries especially William Camden’s (1551–1623) Britannia (1610 English edition (first published in Latin in 1586)) and John Horsley’s (1685–1732) Britannia Romana (1733; published posthumously). These texts continued to be influential into later centuries and were reprinted (Hingley 2012). A project of massive scale, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (hereafter, C.I.L.) was devised in Berlin in 1847 under the direction of Theodor Mommsen, and the first volume appeared in 1853 in an attempt to bring all the known Latin inscriptions from across the Empire together in one source and organise them geographically. The C.I.L. volumes continue to be revised and republished to this day, and the 150th anniversary of its foundation saw the production of a volume titled Reflections of Roman Life and Living (Schmidt 2003). This anniversary volume studying Roman provincial life continued to promote many of the issues concerning the bias towards Roman elite culture that so much other work in Roman archaeology has now attempted to move beyond. Many of the influential scholars of the day were involved in the production of the corpus volumes, most notably Theodor Mommsen (1817–1903), who, it could be argued, was a central figure in promoting the importance of Roman provincial studies rather than focusing solely on Rome and Italy. Today the C.I.L. consists of seventeen volumes subdivided into about seventy parts, with supplementary volumes as new discoveries are made and revisions take place; it contains about 180,000 inscriptions and is updated and reprinted by the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Volume VII, edited by Aemilius Hübner, contains the British material and was first published in 1873. His knowledge of Roman Britain, unfortunately, was comparatively limited and it contained a number of errors especially in relation to the location of discovery of the pieces (Rivet 1964: 23). Although the C.I.L. was, and remains, an immensely valuable resource, it is possible also to see political undertones in the origins of the project with the growing European power of Germany, and its attempt to adopt images of the Roman Empire to promote its own power (cf. Struck 2001). Taking overall control of the study could, in this way, perhaps even be analysed today in terms of another indication of Germany’s imperialistic attitudes at the time as well as attempting to associate itself with ancient Rome and its empire. A number of the early additions and corrections to the volume of the British material were published in the Ephemeris Epigraphica, some of which

Biographies of Knowledge 25 were undertaken by Francis Haverfield (1860–1919) who was, by the end of the nineteenth century, becoming one of the key figures in Romano-British archaeology. Haverfield (1913; 1914) continued to publish new findings in the British Academy Supplemental Papers Roman Britain in 1913 and Roman Britain in 1914. From 1921, annual summaries of new discoveries appeared in the Journal of Roman Studies and then Britannia: A Journal of Romano-British and Kindred Studies after its foundation in 1970; Sir George Macdonald also published a British Academy Supplemental Paper (VI) titled Roman Britain 1914–1928 (1931) which was intended to be more discursive than comprehensive in nature and had previously appeared in German in the nineteenth edition of Bericht published by the Römisch-Germanische Kommission. To cope with the difficulties of local knowledge in the C.I.L. programme and to make the inscriptions more accessible to researchers in Britain through providing English translations (the C.I.L. published solely in Latin), a comprehensive and corrected publication of all the inscriptions found in Britain, including those published in the various journals and supplements since 1873 was planned and initiated originally by Haverfield from his notebooks and titled The Roman Inscriptions of Britain: Inscriptions on Stone (hereafter, R.I.B.). Haverfield died in 1919, but his pupil R.G. Collingwood was involved in much of the editing of the work until his own death in 1943. It eventually appeared in 1965 edited by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright and published in Oxford (Collingwood and Wright 1965). This was a monumental publication and remains a major resource for scholars to this day. In 2009 an additional volume was published to supplement the original volume titled The Roman inscriptions of Britain: Vol.3, Inscriptions on stone found or notified between 1 January 1955 and 31 December 2006 (edited by R.S.O. Tomlin, the late R.P. Wright and M.W.C. Hassall). Volume 2 consists of nine fascicules published in the 1990s under the title Instrumentum domesticum, and they consist of inscriptions found on all other objects and materials other than stone. These include pottery and metal vessels, jewellery, wooden objects, tiles and other finds. Many of the inscriptions in the R.I.B. relate to tombstones left especially by the military, though also some civilians, and from these inscriptions it has been possible to reconstruct information about their lives that would not otherwise be known. This includes details relating to the legions and auxiliaries in Britain, their movements and actions and aspects of the lives of the individuals themselves including their origins, elements of their career history and details of their ties that set up the stones. There have been a number of useful published analyses of collections of this type of material (e.g. Birley 1979; Carroll 2006), but in Chapter 3, some alternative methods of analysis for addressing identity are also explored. There have also been a number of works on Roman Britain that draw on this material in broader and more imaginative terms, not least are studies by Millett (1990) and Mattingly (2006).

26 Biographies of Knowledge Another project which has worked along similar lines to the C.I.L. is the C.S.I.R., the Corpus signorum imperii Romani (Corpus of Sculpture of the Roman World). This project was initiated in 1963 and drew on the model of the C.I.L. to collate, study and publish all the known Roman sculpture, including statues and reliefs, held in museums and those found on archaeological sites. It was intended to be a joint project between institutions across Europe, including the British Academy, the Römisch-Germanische Kommission of the Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts (DAI) and the RömischGermanische Zentralmuseum Mainz (RGZM) in Germany, the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Austria, the Römermuseum Augst in Switzerland and the Polska Akademia Nauk (PAN) in Poland. The project is currently directed under the auspices of the Association Internationale d’Archéologie Classique. There are also conventions in studying and interpreting epigraphic material which provide a very specific way of viewing and interpreting the past. In particular one emphasis of study focuses on the dates marked on the inscriptions, or interpreted from their style, to provide chronological information which can be linked into a narrative history of events and activities. Historians impose chronological frameworks onto the material which suit their own traditions of historical analysis but this denies the fact that there may have been alternative purposes and readings of the material in the Roman period. For instance, Barrett (1993), drawing on his experience of prehistoric archaeology and exploring the alternative ways in which time and memory could have been interpreted, has argued that the epigraphic pieces concern two different forms of chronological order, neither of which relate to the sequential narratives that are imposed onto them in contemporary study. Barratt argues that whilst commemorative inscriptions mark events, it cannot be assumed that such events were perceived as marking out blocks of sequential time. Dedicatory inscriptives can be interpreted in terms of acts of allegiance orientated towards a long-term project or ideal (ibid.: 236). The same inscription can be read from both perspectives because the significance of an inscription is only achieved when it addresses the expectations of the reader. As a result Barrett argues that there were was no single chronological narrative of the Empire but alternative experiences occurred alongside the sequential developments. Instead, the Empire was a product of different traditions and ways of experiencing and interpreting the epigraphic material. Reflecting the long and interwoven history of the movement, collection, reception and study of Roman sculpture around Europe from the Renaissance onwards, a huge number and complex array of volumes have been published under the C.S.I.R. There are currently three volumes for the material from Britain, each consisting of nine, two and ten fascicules, respectively. Volume 1 is perhaps of most value for those studying the archaeology of Roman Britain because each of these nine fascicules contains an important regional catalogue and study of all the known pieces of sculpture from that

Biographies of Knowledge 27 area and were produced by experts of that material. These fascicules began with Corbridge, Hadrian’s Wall east of the North Tyne (Phillips 1977), and the latest is Roman Sculpture from the North West Midlands (Henig 2004). Volume 2 currently consists of two fascicules cataloguing material held in the British Museum: Roman sculpture from Cyrenaica in the British Museum (Huskinson 1975) and Catalogue of Roman sarcophagi in the British Museum (Walker 1990). Volume 3 reflects more than any other the complex histories of many pieces of Roman sculpture in modern Europe by documenting the material held in the collections in country houses and museums across Britain, and many of these fascicules have actually been prepared by German scholars and published in German, such as fascicule 7 Die antiken Skulpturen in Farnborough Hall, sowie in Althorp House, Blenheim Palace, Lyme Park und Penrice Castle (Scholl 1995), and fascicule 8 Die antiken Skulpturen in Chatsworth, sowie in Dunham Massey und Withington Hall (Boschung et al. 1997). Other parts of Europe have an equally complex array of volumes, some of which were even produced as doctoral theses and then subsequently published under the C.S.I.R., such as Los sarcófagos romanos de Cataluña (España Volume 1, Fascicule 1; Claveria Nadal 2001). Projects such as these, and the catalogues they produce, are a hugely valuable resource for researchers, but it could perhaps be argued that they also act to emphasise and reinforce the focus on Roman elite culture and the dominance of Rome over local culture. Whilst the regional volumes on Britain contain the full range of material, whether locally produced or imported, there is little debate about issues connected with the relationship between art and ‘Romanisation’ that has now been so valuable in other studies and publications (e.g. Scott 2006; Scott and Webster 2003). It could also be argued that even to use and understand these volumes, especially those published solely in Latin, requires a degree of specialist education and knowledge unavailable to many and this perhaps serves to promote the elitist nature of Classical studies and Classical Archaeology. Whilst all subjects require specialist knowledge, the material itself is not always as inaccessible as it can be in archaeology and classical studies. Practices in Roman archaeology have always had a strong emphasis on cataloguing and publishing categories of objects or materials in order to organise material and provide a resource for researchers. Such other catalogues include the Roman Imperial Coinage (R.I.C.) consisting of ten volumes published between 1923 and 1994 with Harold Mattingly and E. A. Sydenham as the original editors, the Tabulae Vindolandenses (Volumes I–III) on the Vindolanda Tablets and the Roman Mosaics of Britain, now consisting of four regional survey volumes published between 2002 and 2010 by David Neal and Stephen Cosh (2002; 2010). All of these collections form invaluable resources for the researcher. A large body of archaeological material, including sculptures, inscriptions, small finds and archaeological structures which have been a major

28 Biographies of Knowledge focus of collective investigation forming its own traditions, conventions and specialists is the material from Hadrian’s Wall as well as the remains of the Wall itself, its landscape setting and outlying forts and settlements. Scholars have attempted to produce definitive interpretative guides to the rich material remains found here, and their perspectives and interpretations have been hugely influential in the way in which the Wall is perceived and understood today. Most notably is John Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook to the Roman Wall first published in 1863 (first titled The Wallet-Book of the Roman Wall), appearing after some earlier works on the Wall including The Roman Wall: A Historical Topographical and Descriptive Account of the Barrier of the Lower Isthmus, Extending from the Tyne to the Solway (Bruce 1851). The most current edition (the fourteenth) of the Handbook to the Roman Wall was fully revised and rewritten by David Breeze and published in 2006. The Handbook provides a comprehensive description of all the main features of the Wall working along the monument from east to west. The introductory chapter contains a detailed summary of many of the earlier publications on the Wall and a history of its study and interpretation through the individuals involved in its study. Although being an immensely important resource for both researchers and those who have a general interest in the Wall, it could be argued (perhaps largely because of the format and traditions of the work itself) that it continues to promote a Romanocentric and normative approach to understanding the Wall without acknowledging any developments in archaeological theory in Roman studies. This is a shame because the volume could have been a useful way of introducing such themes to a general reader; Chapter 4 provides a section on the way in which we might be able to take a different perspective on Hadrian’s Wall, although in no means dismissing its important functionalistic analyses. Hingley’s (2012) book Hadrian’s Wall: A Life also contains important discussion and analysis of the history of study of the Wall. It provides an example of how we might think about the history of study of other areas in Romano-British studies as well. Despite predominantly emphasising elite Roman culture, the programmes and the volumes outlined so far have played an important role in making this material more accessible for researchers when otherwise it is generally split up across museums, archives and private collections. The published book form itself, however, is being increasingly regarded as elitist and inaccessible. This is perhaps largely because of their expense which means that they are often confined solely to university and society libraries. Material is now increasingly being made available on the Internet with web pages such as Vindolanda Tablets Online but these tasks are often made difficult because of the complexities of catalogue histories and the sources of the material. The C.I.L. is beginning to be computerised with an online database of the Spanish material, C.I.L. Volume II: Inscriptiones Hispaniae Latinae, held by the Universidad de Alcalá, Madrid. So far the database only consists of the material from certain areas of Spain, but the advantage of the computerised

Biographies of Knowledge 29 version is that it can include photographs of as many pieces as possible whereas the published versions could only include a small selection of plates because of the cost of production. The Berlin-Brandenberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities has also constructed a searchable database for the C.I.L. material and will gradually become more comprehensive. It would also be useful to have the R.I.B. and C.S.I.R. material available through an online database, and this is something to look forward to. Online databases, however, are very well suited to County and Unitary Authority Sites and Monuments Records (often now Historic Environment Records) and archaeological services in the UK. Examples of these include the Norfolk Historic Environment Record database titled Norfolk Heritage Explorer, which includes more than 60,000 records of the archaeological sites and finds across the country and other information such as digital maps. The Portable Antiquities Scheme’s online database contributes further to the local Historic Environment Offices records by recording the coins and other artefacts found and reported by the public. Some museum databases are also useful, especially the Museum of London and the Corinium Museum. The Museum of London Archaeology website also has an online database recording every archaeological site investigated in the Greater London area. Each record includes information relating to where information has been published and the finds recorded at the sites. These records potentially allow anyone to access these vast sources of information in order to undertake their own investigations, studies or simply satisfy their curiosity. Most recently an app for mobile devices has been devised which guides uses around the archaeological remains of London. What these county and city records also do, however, is make accessible the full range of data relating to the Roman period, ranging from finds from the smallest rural settlement to the largest villa or town. Analysing the material from different records allows for regional differences and patterns to emerge reflecting all the site types. Of course, the records still depend on the sites that have been discovered or excavated, which can relate to traditions in scholarly interest but increasingly, especially because of developer-funded work and changing priorities in Roman archaeology, other types of rural sites are being documented and studied. These changing priorities, and the potential recognised in this data, are reflected especially well in Jeremy Taylor’s An Atlas of Roman Rural Settlement in England (2007), which was the result of a major English Heritage and Leverhulme Trust–funded project to characterise, map and assess the evidence of late Iron Age and Roman period rural settlement across England from the data held in the Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs), including excavation, survey and aerial photographic data. Whilst drawing attention to the varying level of information available in SMRs, the study also produced a highly valuable survey of rural settlement and demonstrated the extent to which the villa was only a minority settlement type. Studies such as these, utilising these accessible databases, were able to provide a more balanced view of Roman Britain rather than one dominated

30 Biographies of Knowledge by the Roman or Romano-British elite. Of course, much has also been written about how archaeological conventions, methodologies and publications can seem elitist to the uninitiated, but volumes such as the C.I.L. could be thought of especially as culprits of this. The history, nature and politics of archives is becoming an increasingly important area of study in the humanities and social sciences (e.g. de Vivo 2010; Skeates 2000). Shanks and Whitmore (2010: 278–9) have argued that we are now moving into a new phase in the history of archives and they categorise the history of archives into a number of periods. Archive 1.0 relates to bureaucracy in the early state such as the temple and palace archives and storerooms known not only in ancient Mesopotamia and elsewhere but also in more modern times. Then with Archive 2.0 comes the mechanisation and digitisation of archival databases with the aim of ensuring fast, easy and open access based on how the material is labelled and organised. This relates especially to the nineteenth-century obsession with archives and statistics. They then refer to Archive 3.0, which has arisen in the last ten to twenty years which sees archives as active engagements with the past and archives in museums, libraries, galleries and so on are opened to personalised use where individuals can engage with cultural memory. They also put an emphasis on digitisation and electronic processing which allows all forms of data to be brought together including images, text, music and virtual reconstructions, and they can be organised in any way that suits the user. This effectively allows anyone to examine material and author his or her views and findings, and there is an emphasis on sharing of archival resources in a way that was not possible before. Some might see this as the democratisation of information, others might consider it a threat to ownership and control with more and more people able to contribute their own materials and stories to the whole. Whilst work on archaeological material can be highly politically motivated, in other cases this democratisation of data can also allow us to re-create different pasts with the data and to engage with varied viewpoints and possibilities in a more sophisticated way. This leads into archaeological study through fieldwork including excavation and survey. Undeniably, this work has necessarily produced the vast majority of the information that we know about Roman Britain especially because there are so few textual sources relating to the province. Although crucial to us, the problematic nature of interpreting archaeological evidence means that there are many subjectivities relating to our knowledge through this material. In particular in Chapter 3, how the interpretation of excavation data can present itself with difficulties at both practical and theoretical levels is explored. This is also linked into traditions of archaeological interpretation which can be analysed biographically. Of significance is the way in which excavation, archiving and publication traditions have on occasion been criticised for projecting modernist perspectives onto the past. Some archaeologists, such as Ian Hodder and his team at Çatalhöyük in Turkey, have called for a more reflexive archaeological process (Hodder 2000) that

Biographies of Knowledge 31 draws on a variety of interpretative perspectives that do not just rely on the scientifically based archaeological one. Combined with the more conventional methods of archaeological recording through planning and section drawing, for example the team also incorporated other traditions of drawing with the idea that this might record alternative ways of ‘seeing’ the site. Shanks, with others, has argued that archaeology can be considered in terms of craft and design (Shanks 1992; Shanks and McGuire 1996; Shanks and Whitmore 2010: 285–6). Archaeology as craft “implies embodied knowledges applied with an intense awareness acquired through iterative engagement with materials and making” (Shanks and Whitmore 2010: 285). It also emphasises the need to recognise that unavoidably in the archaeological practice, modern attitudes towards materials, labour and artefacts are projected onto the past. Archaeology is a construction process and, like other types of creative activities, the outcome is shaped by those undertaking this construction work. The traditions and the methods of landscape archaeology have now seen some criticism for the way in which they place particular emphasis on attempting to produce all-seeing images of the past which would not have been the way in which the people at that time thought about or experienced their world (e.g. Thomas 1993). In particular, aerial photography provides a highly specific way of seeing and thinking about the landscape (cf. Johnson 2007: 85–95). Hauser (2007: 58) has argued that the value of photography in archaeology is limited because it can only capture one particular second in time (see Figure 2.1). It also produces an image that conforms to the modernist preoccupation and need for set images of things that need not have been applicable in the past (cf. Koerner 2010: 405). In Roman studies we often see set images of villa remains or towns through aerial photographs and archaeological plans of sites, and these create a fixed and established view of how we think about Roman Britain. The difficulty is that the way in which these settlements and places would have been thought of and experienced also have been bound up with time and action. Human experience and time would have formed integral components of sites which photography and maps cannot display adequately. For example as we shall see in the next chapter, a villa complex was often constantly changing structurally but could also be rooted within pre-existing uses of landscape. A similar argument could also be made for the tradition of archaeological drawing, especially artefacts, and Moser (2012) has examined the social context of the development of early artefact illustration how this resulted in the birth of the archaeological image. Moser has argued that early images produced of objects were a critical factor in the creation of modern archaeology because although illustrations were initially produced in order to provide a visual record of types of objects, they soon took on a critical role in the interpretation of objects: “illustrations provided an intellectual framework to made sense of artefacts” (ibid.: 316). The process of drawing or visualisation is also theoretically laden because of the act of conversion transforming material to

32 Biographies of Knowledge

Figure 2.1 Photographing archaeological remains: creating the static and isolating image. Photograph of the excavated Lullingstone villa, Kent, protected by a structure. Source: Photograph by A.C. Rogers.

archaeological meaningful objects (ibid.: 317). On a larger scale, the same could also be argued for archaeological sites, including buildings and settlements, which are drawn and require interpretation in this documentation and depiction process. This process of recording creates the archaeological site which is then used to reconstruct it and compare it with other sites. Photographs and maps are also fully grounded within the modern landscape rather than the landscape in which the monuments, settlements or other sites were originally constructed. There is now a huge amount of literature addressing the cultural and political history of maps and the difficulty with using this medium of data representation for displaying periods in the past in archaeological study (e.g. Edny 1990; Johnson 2007; Mundy 1996; Talbert 2012; Thomas 1993). One issue concerning maps is the way in which they provide an overhead view of all features of a particular period when the people living in that landscape would not necessarily have seen or had access to all those elements. Another aspect is that maps tend to prioritise or de-emphasise particular periods. It is very difficult to represent on a map those earlier features that remained culturally significant in later periods and perhaps those that did not. For the modern maps and atlases of Roman Britain, and indeed of the Roman world, such as the Ordinance

Biographies of Knowledge 33 Survey map Roman Britain Historical Map and Guide and the Barrington Atlas, there tends to be an emphasis on sites that are definitely of Roman date and of Roman character despite many prehistoric sites continuing to be prominent in the landscape throughout the Roman period and often remaining in use. Reviews of these publications have argued that they focus on features of governance, dominance and elite society (Alcock et al. 2001; Mattingly 2002; cf. Hingley 2006). This reflects a projection of both Roman and modern biases towards Rome onto the past landscape, a situation that is also bound up with the political relationship between the ancient Roman Empire and the British, French and other imperialisms of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which were producing maps of their own imperial gains. Despite these numerous criticisms and difficulties, it is unavoidable that the map will remain an immensely useful tool in archaeology. Lucas (2000), for instance, has argued that archaeologists should not reject the map because they have such value for displaying and manipulating often large quantities of data, but at the same time their caveats should be recognised and considered in research projects.

Textual Sources: Interpreting Roman Britain through Events Literary evidence forms an important resource for studying Roman Britain, but it could be argued that it can be overused and relied on without sufficient critical assessment given to aspects of its reliability and also its implications for archaeological interpretation. Two main categories of ancient texts exist for studying Roman Britain, and these are historical works (including early forms of biographies) and what could be described more as geographical works. It is immediately important to note, and integral to Roman studies, that each of these texts, including both their content and interpretation and their physical form as surviving texts, has its own biography and reception history as it has come down to us today. The original composition of the texts is often no less complex in terms of analysis and often involved purposes, motives and agenda that are not easy to access or comprehend today. These works are predominantly works by individuals, but in some cases the individuals were also drawing on existing texts (often now lost) or writing to set conventions; and in some cases, which can be especially problematic, these individuals were writing about things that they had no first-hand experience. The notion of writing ‘history’ itself was very different from that which we think about today. What is important to recognise is that to study the Roman period, and Roman Britain especially, it is necessary not to rely only on the concept of the historical narrative. With some texts available that describe historical events it is tempting to rely on these to help us to interpret the archaeological evidence. Whilst we of course need the historical context, archaeological methods and theories are increasingly breaking down the unquestioned value of these narratives. Many of the more conventional books on Roman Britain

34 Biographies of Knowledge have tended to rely substantially on historical narratives (e.g. Frere 1967; also see the more recent texts such as Millett 1990; Mattingly 2006), but the use of these texts to construct the past is just as subjective as the interpretation of archaeological material. Stewart (1995) also cautioned against the use of textual sources as a way of providing historical frameworks for Roman Britain, instead emphasising how the texts demonstrate Britain’s position as a symbol in Roman culture. The descriptions, moreover, contained often topoi from poetical and geographical traditions which, as such, cannot be treated as factual information but form part of the tradition of how provinces should be treated and described. Braund’s critical analysis of the sources relating to early Roman Britain, and the late Iron Age, also demonstrates the way in which these bodies of material are less useful for reconstructing historical events but are important in that they emphasise Roman perspectives of empire and provincial contexts. Three texts surviving could be described as geographical sources but are presented in the form of written lists of information. One of the difficulties with all these documents, however, is the date they were created in relation to the known history of Roman Britain and the uncertainties surrounding their origins, production and reproduction. One of these texts is the Antonine Itinerary, which was probably constructed in the early third century AD and is a collection of itineraries containing lists of places encountered along the main roads and the distances between them in Roman miles (Mattingly 2006: 32). The Antonine Itinerary contains fifteen itineraries or routes in Britain with more than 100 place names mentioned; across the Empire as a whole 225 major roads are listed. Whilst such itineraries are often seen primarily as having a practical purpose to aid the cursus publicus (public post) system for official travellers, and also to aid movement around the provinces for the military and others, it seems unavoidable that they would not also have been imbued with other political motives because these itineraries only display those places considered important for the government and dominance of the provinces rather than the places that need necessarily have been the most culturally important from local perspectives. They were documents of control through representation and provided useful demonstrations of power for people back in Rome. From an archaeological perspective, the list of place names is particularly valuable, but some care is also needed here because some of the names listed have yet to be satisfactorily identified in the ground. For example Iter V lists the name Villa Faustini as situated thirtyfive Roman miles from Colchester. There have been attempts made to try to find this site, and the closest attempt has been the Roman remains at Scole House, Scole, Norfolk (ibid.: 384). These remains, however, do not appear to conform to conventional images of a villa but seem to represent a larger settlement. It could be, then, that either this was not the Villa Faustini site or that our understanding of the use of the term Villa still does not correlate with the full range of meanings or possible usage in the Roman period—this usage could also have evolved over the centuries; another possibility for the

Biographies of Knowledge 35 site is Stoke Ash in Suffolk. Although the date of the original document, moreover, is conventionally assigned to the early third century, this cannot as yet be treated with certainty and the earliest existing copy appears to date from the reign on Diocletian (ad 284–306), who carried out a number of reforms across the Empire in an attempt to reinforce Imperial control. Another document is the Notitia Dignitatum of late Roman date (probably first compiled in the AD 390s but with revisions into the 420s). It documents the administrative organisation of the Empire with listings of government officials, late Roman army units and other information divided by province. The main modern edited version of the text is still that by Seeck (1876), which was published entirely in Latin as was often the convention at that time. Mann’s (1976) analysis of the how the material has come down to us demonstrates the complex history of the surviving textual sources and the fragility of use of the material. Mann argues that the version we have is a copy of the material rather crudely collated for a focus on military material. What is especially useful about the document is that it is one of the few sources referring to the late Roman administrative changes made to the provinces in the early fourth century by subdividing them into small areas: Britannia Prima, Britannia Secunda, Flavia Caesariensis, Maxima Caesariensis and possibly also Valentia (however, it is possible that this was a later subdivision or a renaming of an existing province). The document is also important in outlining the organisation and deployment of the army, and it is one of the main documents referring to the forts of the Saxon Shore (Litus Saxonicum; Pearson 2002). One of the difficulties with the version of the text that is surviving is that sections of it may be missing. For example there is no mention of forts in Wales, and a number are also missing from those known in northern Britain that continued in use (Mattingly 2006: 240). Britain also appears to lack any fabricae (state-run factories of the later Roman period) involved in metalworking, although they are listed for other provinces. It does mention a gynaeceum (cloth factory) at a place called Venta (procurator gynaecii [in Britannis] Ventensis; Seeck 1876: 151) which has been interpreted as Winchester (Biddle 1975: 299) but there is no positive evidence to support this. James (1988: 259) has suggested that the order of the information in the document indicates that the details on Britain may have come at the end of the document which might be considered the part most vulnerable to damage and loss of information. It could simply be, however, that Britain did not have any fabricae of this sort. The document exists today for modern scholarship only through fifteenth- and sixteenthcentury copies, all of which were derived from earlier copies which are now lost. This alone indicates the likelihood of the loss of information such as through errors in the copying process. There are also other textual sources consisting of lists and place-names including Ptolemy’s Geographia, probably written in the AD 140s, consists of a list of names and other geographical features from across the Empire which had probably been drawn from a number of sources from different periods

36 Biographies of Knowledge (cf. Strang 1997). Another important source is the Ravenna Cosmography, so named after its composition by a monk from Ravenna probably around AD 700. The document appears to derive from copied itinerary data and contains place names across the Roman world and beyond as far as India in the east and Ireland in the west. The document includes about 300 names from Roman Britain, but they do not appear to have been organised in much of an obvious order. There also appear to be numerous errors in the names listed which were created either at the time the document was made or in the making of later copies. There are also a number of place names which remain uncertain and as yet unsupported from archaeological evidence or other documents. Whether these places existed or the names were wrong or perhaps relate to another province is uncertain. Perhaps the document has been of most importance, however, in its use in creating what remains the most prominent interpretation of local governmental and tribal divisions in Roman Britain. Francis Haverfield really first used the names of towns listed in the Ravenna Cosmography to divide Roman Britain into civitates with civitas-capitals as their administrative centres. Haverfield noted, for instance, that the town of Caerwent (Venta), in southern Wales, was listed as Ventasilurum (i.e. Venta of the Silures) and so he established the notion that Caerwent was the civitas-capital of the Silures (Haverfield 1924: 192–3). This form of geographical organisation of Britain has remained central to most understandings of Roman Britain to this day despite all the difficulties with the Ravenna Cosmography, its date of composition and the (perhaps unconscious) agenda in Haverfield’s work emphasising Roman dominance and control. Laurence (2001: 89) has also been critical of the way in which the Ravenna Cosmography has been used to re-create geography and peoples of Britain despite the fact peoples are lists as place names and that there are also a number of places with the same name. In Chapter 3, difficulties with making assumptions about tribal organisations and identities in the immediate pre-Roman and early Roman periods are also discussed. What is clear about all of these documents is that they have been fundamental in our understanding of Roman Britain—often providing information that could never be gained from archaeology alone—but they all have their own difficulties and must not be used uncritically. The history of the documents themselves is as complex as the information they contain and this history, as well as their later reception, forms a significant part of the biography of knowledge of Roman Britain. They emphasise the fact that our knowledge of Roman Britain is far from problem free and is based as much on the chance survival of texts and modern influences on their interpretation, such as social interests, attitudes and political contexts, as on solid facts. The ancient historical and biographical works used to create narratives of conquest and occupation of Britain also have problematic elements to them. There are a number of key ancient historical texts for studying Roman Britain, but they are all not without their difficulties, especially because the majority are not contemporary accounts of events, but could

Biographies of Knowledge 37 be written decades or centuries later, and it is sometimes uncertain what sources they were drawing on. In some cases they were written by people that are unlikely ever to have been in Britain, let alone witnessed the events, and the texts, like most writings, would have been biased by the perspectives and motives of the authors. One of the only contemporary accounts, and written by an author actually involved in the recorded events, is Julius Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum. Books IV.20–8 and V.8–23 provide accounts of Caesar’s two expeditions to Britain in 55 and 54 BC. These are useful accounts, but it must also be borne in mind that because they are supposedly written by Caesar, or at least under his direction, the records of events would have been from his perspective and viewpoint; the texts do mention that many of Caesar’s ships were lost in bad weather, so they do also include events that do not go so well. Another important writing for information on Roman Britain is Tacitus (ca. AD 56–117), who wrote a number of history works with three being of direct relevance to Britain: Historiae, Annales and Agricola. The Historiae was written before the Annales, although it actually documents later events. The Annales covered the history of Rome during the period between AD 14 and 68, which is likely to have contained an immensely useful account of the invasion of Roman Britain. Unfortunately much of this text is missing but it does contain an account of the Boudican revolt of AD 60–1 (Ann. XIV; see the following discussion) as well as campaigns undertaken against the Druids on Anglesey between AD 58 and 60. The Historiae survives in an even more fragmentary state really only covering the late AD 60s and early AD 70s; only Books I–IV and twenty-six chapters of Book V survive. Perhaps of most value for studies of Roman Britain is his work Agricola, which is a biographical account of his father-in-law and governor of Britain (AD 77–84) Gnaeus Julius Agricola probably written around AD 98. This work is especially useful because it contains a summary history of Roman Britain up to that date as well as aspects of the geography and ethnography. The work emphasises the achievements of Agricola in the late AD 70s and early 80s such as the completion of conquests in Wales and Anglesey, the battle of Mons Graupius (AD 83) and the supposed complete incorporation of the area of modern Scotland into the Empire as well as the circumnavigation of the Britain by Agricola’s fleet (Agr. XVIII– XXXVIII). This text is immensely informative, but it is also perhaps one of his most problematic because of its style and agenda. Agricola is portrayed in a much more positive light than the emperor Domitian, and the text is used to emphasise the increasing vices and evils of the Empire. It is also written in a mix of styles with part biography, history and ethnography (Birley 1999). It is important, then, to see this work as the product of an individual rather than an objective factual account of events. The reception of the work on later periods is also no less significant in the way in which the text has been used and treated in studies of Roman Britain. One of the texts that we do have relating to the AD 43 invasion of Britain, as well as selected later events up to the early third century, is the history

38 Biographies of Knowledge written in Greek by the Roman consul and historian Cassius Dio (ca. AD 150–235). His work is really an account of the history of Rome and its Empire and was produced in eighty books, with many surviving in their entirety or in fragments. The early books deal more in summaries and include legendary events such as Aeneas’s arrival in Italy and the mythical events surrounding the foundation of Rome in the 750s BC. This combination of myth and history reminds us that this is not a work of history in the modern sense of the word which must be taken into account in how it is used to reconstruct events concerning Roman Britain. The later periods contain more detail and it could be argued that the accounts of the latest events are benefitted by his own knowledge and experiences of events which was not possible with the earlier books. Book LX contains the later events of Claudius’s reign, including the AD 43 invasion and the events in Rome in its aftermath. As a prominent political figure, especially during the reigns of the emperors Commodus through to Severus Alexander, Cassius Dio’s account of events from the 180s to 220s are especially detailed and contain a number of references to Britain which weaves its history into the events of the Empire as a whole. It also demonstrates well how the events of the governing elites took place largely on a different level or plane to those of the majority of the people living in the provinces and how there remained little interest and understanding of, and interaction with, these people by the elites, or indeed the historians who were also from privileged backgrounds. These events include the civil war which resulted from the death of Commodus and the assassination of his successor Pertinax, who had been governor of Britain (Cass. Dio LXXIII); the division of Britain into two provinces by Septimius Severus, possibly to avoid the provincial governor gaining control of too large an army (LXXV); the campaigns in Scotland led by Severus (LXXVI), his death in York in AD 211; and the succession of his two sons Caracalla and Geta (LXXVII). The problem with the accounts of events after Book LX, however, is that the books only survive in fragments and information mainly comes from an Epitome of Dio of the later books prepared by the monk Xiphilinus in the eleventh century for the Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Doukas. The nature of the text suggests that he altered some of the original writing, reorganised it, omitted some details and was sometimes working from damaged originals. Other histories of the Empire with reference to Britain include that by Herodian who lived in the later second and earlier third century AD. His history in eight books covers the period of from about AD 180 to 238, the reigns of Marcus Aurelius to Gordian III. The work refers to a few of the events also recorded by Cassius Dio, including the campaign of Septimius Severus in Scotland (III.14–15), whose reign was covered in Book III. Although little is known about the life, occupation or status of Herodian, it seems that his position did give him a different viewpoint to that of Cassius Dio on some of the events. Another history of Rome from its foundation to the fourth century, ending with the reign of Valens (AD 364–78), was written by the

Biographies of Knowledge 39 fourth-century historian Eutropius. Although a brief history, it does contain an account of the usurpation of Carausius in Britain in the 280s (IX.21) and the death of Constantius in York in 306 (IX.22). Many of these events are also recorded in the short history by the fourth-century historian and politician Aurelius Victor titled Caesares. For these works, the authors are likely to have drawn on a number of works that no longer exist, and there is much debate about this, and the value of the resultant works, amongst ancient historians. Amongst the later works is the history written by fourth-century historian Ammianus Marcellinus which originally consisted of history from the first century AD onwards, but only the fourth-century sections remain, which have also been corrupted by manuscript transmission. Regarding Britain the text refers to a number of events relating to attacks by Picts, Scots and Barbarians including the so-called Barbarian Conspiracy, during which Count Theodosius was sent to Britain to restore order (XXVI.4; XXVII.8; XXVIII.3). Perhaps one of the most referenced works is that known as the Historia Nova by the Byzantine historian Zosimus probably written around AD 500 (Mitchell 2007: 24). It draws on earlier works to provide a brief account of the Empire but is most detailed for the later Roman period. For Britain, he refers to the usurpers Marcus, Gratian and Constantine III in AD 406–7; attacks by the Saxons in AD 408–9; and then a reply from the Emperor Honorius in AD 410 to an appeal from Britain telling them to look to their own defence (VI.10.2). There has been much debate about whether this letter really refers to Britain at all, but AD 410 has become fixed in much of the literature relating to the end of Roman Britain. Some scholars prefer the place name to be read as Bruttium in Italy, arguing that the letter had been copied wrongly and that a reference to Britain at that point in Zosimus’s narrative would have been out of place (Bartholomew 1982: 262). Earlier sentences in that chapter refer to the campaign undertaken by Alaric in central and northern Italy, and immediately before the reference to Britain is a sentence on Alaric’s subjugation of Liguria. Others have continued to refute this and argue for its authenticity in referring to Britain (Thompson 1982; 1983). This debate indicates the problems faced regarding the end date of Roman Britain, making it unwise to rely on any single dating source to structure the archaeological evidence. Archaeological evidence is indeed providing alternative views of late Roman Britain which do not put so much emphasis on decline, as Zosimus does, and where the AD 410 event need not have been so important for the lives of the majority of the population in Britain even if it is historically accurate. It is also important to mention another type of textual source here and that is, in part already discussed in Chapter 1, the biography. The emphasis here is that all ancient texts have biographies, but a number of documents exist that provide information on Roman Britain written by what could be described as biographer historians, most notably Suetonius writing in the later first and earlier second centuries AD. Although Suetonius

40 Biographies of Knowledge wrote a number of works including the lives of poets, rhetoricians, and others, it is his lives of the twelve emperors up to Domitian that represent much of what survives of his work. The lives of Claudius, Vespasian and Nero record some useful information relating to events in Britain (Claud. 17; Vesp. 4; Ner. 18), but most significantly this information can be used to support the information recorded by Tacitus. Of much later date, is the anonymously written collection of biographies of later emperors known as the Scriptores Historiae Augustae. The circumstances around the production of the work and sources of information have attracted much debate. It is possible that it represents the work of a number of authors, or it could be a single writer probably working sometime in the later fourth century. It appears to have been written as a continuation to Suetonius’s work and a number of the entries are believed to have been based on a lost earlier work by Marius Maximus (Birley 1997). The work has not always been treated very seriously by scholars because of its apparent frivolous and exaggerated style and often probable fictional content (cf. Birley 1997; Cameron 2011; Syme 1968; 1971). Perhaps one of the most significant contents of this work, however, is the only reference describing the reasons for the construction of Hadrian’s Wall. The account refers to the Wall having been built to separate the Romans from the barbarians (SHA Hadr. 5.11). Given the difficult circumstances surrounding the text it might seem somewhat surprising that this source has been so influential in the understanding of the Wall up to the present day, though there have also been alternative suggestions (see Chapter 4; e.g. Breeze and Dobson 2000; Hingley 2012). The document also contains an account of the life of Pertinax as governor of Britain because he later briefly became emperor (SHA Pert.; see Chapter 3). What is clear from this outline of the textual sources relating to Roman Britain is that they are all partial in nature, written by people often far removed from the events and places involved, usually written for particular motives, drawing from equally problematic lost sources, and also come down to us from problematic copies. This complex biographical life of each text means that care is needed in any attempt to write an historical narrative of Roman Britain and really demands that archaeological material is utilised to the full through theoretical frameworks. One particular debate that has long been a central part of Roman studies in Britain, and school teaching, is that surrounding the nature and events of the AD 43 invasion (see Figure 2.2). The only two sources that provide details of the AD 43 invasion are Cassius Dio (LX.19–23) and Suetonius (Claud. 17), but with the limited information contained in these texts, substantial narratives are often written on this event which are perhaps not always easy to justify. These sources, however, do not refer to where the landing actually took place, although the most standard interpretation is that it was at Richborough in Kent before moving up to Colchester by crossing the Thames. The narratives state that there were two major

Biographies of Knowledge 41

Figure 2.2 Map of the supposed invasion route of the Roman forces into Britain in AD 43. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers.

confrontations at river crossings, one of which was probably the Thames. The invasion party then awaited the arrival of Claudius himself and they continued up to Colchester in what seems to have been more a propaganda event than a major confrontation. An inscription from Rome (C.I.L. 5.920) had been set up on a commemorative arch referring to at least eleven British leaders surrendering to Claudius, and this may have been organised as part of the spectacle. This was clearly set up to inform the people of Rome of the conquest, and its accuracy is not something that can be completely relied on. The short time Claudius actually spent in Britain might suggest that much of this had been previously arranged, reducing the significance of the actual AD 43 invasion date—something that is returned to later. Other scholars, however, have debated that the invasion force actually landed initially in the Solent close to where the palace at Fishbourne was later built; this is where it has been argued that there were more pro-Roman leaders

42 Biographies of Knowledge (Creighton 2006). John Manley (2002) has written in detail in an attempt to destruct the assumption that the invasion force landed in Richborough, suggesting the Solent instead, but even he can only admit that it is, as yet, only another suggestion. What is clear from Richborough itself is that there is not really a great deal of archaeological evidence for any significant Claudian period activity, although there are some ditches conventionally attributed to Claudius (Millett and Wilmott 2003). Presumably, however, any military base here would only have been temporary and may lie anywhere, perhaps under the fairly large settlement that developed here as a result of being an important port into Britain and a supply base. A marbleclad monumental archway was set up here, but it was not of Claudian date but probably later first century and so perhaps set up around the time of the emperor Domitian (Strong 1968). This archway has been seen as a ceremonial gateway into Britain, or perhaps into the rest of the Empire, but its construction at this location need not necessarily support that this was definitely the spot of the invasion force landing. Another supply base is known at Fishbourne in West Sussex predating the construction of the so-called palace complex for which this site is famous. The presence of rectangular store buildings and metalled roads led to the assumption that it post-dated AD 43 which can be seen in most of the literature (Cunliffe 1971). There is, however, very little dating evidence associated with the structures, and more recent discoveries in the immediate vicinity have found ditch features which appear to be of a pre-AD 43 date (Manley and Rudkin 2003; 2005). Creighton (2006) has been keen to invert assumptions relating to the interpretation of archaeological evidence to avoid the risk that it becomes accepted and used without critical awareness. He has argued that the Fishbourne supply base evidence could in fact predate AD 43 and relate either to an earlier Roman military presence or even to a local attempt to organise their activities in a more Roman way (see Figure 2.3). Creighton also draws attention to the Roman fort at Gosbecks just outside Colchester and part of the oppidum of Camulodunum. Although there is a lack of positive excavation evidence here the position of the fort earthworks seem also to suggest that it dated to before AD 43, which would really challenge the conventional narrative of the AD 43 invasion provided only by the two historians, one writing much later than the event itself. It does seem that by the time Cassius Dio was writing, the precise nature and detail of the events are unlikely to have been important to him. It could be that there was already a Roman military presence here or that the local people had reorganised themselves into a Roman-style military force (Creighton 2006: 61–4). Creighton has also argued that there was more interaction between Britain and the Empire between Caesar and Claudius than has survived in any historical documents. It could be especially that there was more to the actions of Caligula (AD 37–41) than has survived in the historical accounts which only mention a failed supposed invasion attempt in AD 40 (Suet. Calig. 45–7).

Biographies of Knowledge 43

Figure 2.3

Plan of the possible pre-Claudian features excavated at Fishbourne.

Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from figures in Cunliffe (1971) and Manley and Rudkin (2003; 2005).

This one case study relating to the invasion of Britain indicates the problematic nature of the historical sources as a narrative framework. The invasion and first century AD is also one of the periods when there is the most textual evidence available. Except for occasional military and political events, the surviving sources are largely quiet on Britain. This demands that much more focus is placed on the archaeological material and sophisticated frameworks of analysis for the archaeological evidence. It is also important not to use the textual sources to write a historical narrative in the style of modern history books. The authors of countless books on Roman Britain seemingly write narratives as if they are projecting modernist notions of historical writing onto the past. In fact they are writing about a period when such narrative concepts need not necessarily have been how local peoples constructed their lives, their landscapes and places and imagined their position in the world. The writing of these narratives could in a way be seen

44 Biographies of Knowledge as projecting imperial imposition onto these peoples. We have no (at least surviving) histories written by local peoples, although we know that at least some of them could read or write Latin and that this number is likely to have increased through the second and third centuries. It seems likely that they would not have had the same notion of thinking about and organising these events in space and time. The Roman period does suggest social and political upheaval, and to think about the history of Roman Britain in such a narrative and biographical way need not be a suitable way to represent these changes and events. Creating a history of Roman Britain is effectively writing a biography of Britain, but this may not adequately reflect the sequence of events. The concept of the heterography of Britain rather than biography allows us to move away from our over-reliance on contemporary concepts of historical narratives with their assumptions relating to sequential developments over time. Heterography breaks down these narratives and allows us to focus not only on meaning and experience but also within the framework of Empire which had an influencing factor on the way in which identities, experiences and memories were formed. Heterography emphasises the colonial context in which identities and changing identities were formed in a way that biography does not. The history of Roman Britain is something generally considered, in its outline form at least, to be well known and is often taught in schools, museums and other contexts. Early-twentieth-century schoolbooks presented a particular narrative of Roman Britain and the Roman conquest that drew not only on the textual sources but also on interpretative frameworks that were influenced by British imperialism and that prioritised Roman elite culture over that of local peoples (cf. Hingley 2000). Although academic study of Roman Britain is now considerably more sophisticated, there has still been a tendency to treat the historical background of the conquest and occupation as a relatively unproblematic narrative. Whilst the historical events cannot be separated from the rest of Empire, and we do know that certain events happened, the way in which we write about the history of Roman Britain can be developed further not least because all the textual sources were written by the elites of society predominantly in Rome. But there are other reasons why it might be preferable to rethink how we approach the historical narrative of Roman Britain. There have always been some difficulties with many of the published accounts of the history of Roman Britain, not least because of the scale of extrapolation that usually takes place from the limited sources we have relating to the period. But perhaps of equal difficulty is the way in which we tend to impose an historical framework onto Roman Britain in a form that may well not be entirely appropriate for a period when Britain, and its inhabitants, had far greater links with its prehistoric past than with the writing and organising traditions of the Mediterranean. Whilst it could be argued that modern history writing stems to some extent from Classical traditions, the majority of the people living in Britain immediately after the

Biographies of Knowledge 45 conquest would predominantly have been drawing on prehistoric traditions of history/storytelling when it came to thinking about and retelling the past. This may well have involved very different ways of organising and remembering events, thinking about time (cf. Gardner 2012) and incorporating geography, landscape and movement into the telling of these events. Modern accounts of the narrative of Roman Britain tend also to project modern knowledge and ways of thinking about British geography onto the past when again events, such as the landing of the army in the south-east or the movement of troops north and west, need not have been interpreted in the same way in terms of their relationship with the landscape. Bearing all these factors in mind it becomes possible to think about the history of events relating to Roman Britain in rather different terms to those that could be considered more Romano-centric. In this way, we can incorporate our narratives of the history of Roman Britain into the more general move to an approach to Romano-British studies that is not influenced so much by Roman and Imperialist British perspectives and normative assumptions. Of course by the late Iron Age, and certainly after the AD 43 invasion, some people in Britain at least may well have been influenced by new ways of perceiving geography and action in the landscape. It is also important to recognise the probability, however, that combined with this would have been a continuation of pre-existing traditions that would even have remained more significant; in other parts of Britain these traditions could have been even more important. As with other constituents of identity, there is the likelihood that pre-Roman forms of history making and storytelling would have related to different traditions compared with Classical or today’s concepts, which need to be taken into account when reconstructing historical events relating to provinces and interpreting the archaeological material. The lack of textual evidence relating to Iron Age concepts of history/storytelling, of course, means that it can be difficult to be certain that discussions and analyses about them are accurate, but the very fact that there are no textual sources supports the suggestion that different concepts likely existed in prehistory. There could well have been very different ways of arranging and conceptualising events and actions in the Iron Age which would have been integrated with the construction of identity, and these local traditions would also have continued to be important in the Roman period, along with the new traditions brought into the province. This has considerable implications for the way in which the history of settlement sites, objects and landscapes are interpreted since they need not have taken the same form as we tend to take for granted today. Without textual sources it might be that there were other forms of recording events such as in construction of sites and the bringing of specific types of materials, such as clays, from far away because they had meanings attached to them and could form part of the story of the site. Traditions of sensory experiences and experiences of space would also have formed important elements of the history of sites and stories associated with them were constructed and understood. As with earlier prehistoric archaeology (e.g.

46 Biographies of Knowledge Bradley 2002; Jones 2007; Sharples 2010), then, the Iron Age and Roman periods rely on sophisticated analyses of archaeological material framed around what we think we know about sequential events, to reconstruct past concepts of action, history and geography. One of the most well-known events in Britain after the AD 43 invasion is what is generally known as the Boudican revolt which occurred between AD 60 and 61. There are two accounts known of this event recorded in the classical texts although neither of these were eye witness accounts; they also differ in the details they record and neither are free from political bias. These texts are Tacitus’s Annales (XIV) and Agricola (XVI), written about twenty years earlier, and the history by Cassius Dio. There has been a huge amount of modern literature written on Boudica, and she remains a popular topic and figure to study both in academia (e.g. Aldhouse-Green 2006; Davies 2009; Hingley and Unwin 2005; Sealey 2004; Waite 2007; Webster 1978) and in popular culture—indeed, there are too many novels and children’s books on Boudica to count. Hingley and Unwin (2005) have researched the way in which perceptions of Boudica have been used and adapted in modern culture and how this has influenced our understanding of the historical figure and historical events. Many accounts of Boudica adopt a biographical approach, thus projecting modern historical frameworks onto her character and identity. The known events of the revolt are also predominantly written today in terms of a modern historical account through recounting actions, consequences, times, dates and places. Braund (1996) has undertaken an immensely useful contextual analysis of the different perspectives of Boudica and the story of the Boudican revolt presented by Tacitus and Dio, both writing some years after the events, which emphasises the role of the historian/writer in creating the narratives that we have and utilise. The portrayals of Boudica and associated events were a product of their world views rather than simple factual accounts. The considerable differences not only between the accounts of the two authors but also between the two accounts by Tacitus emphasise the dangers in relying on these texts at their face value and suggest that the descriptions play a wider purpose than simply attempting to recount past events. Instead, they tell us more about the authors’ own attitudes towards women in power and the position of Britain in the Empire (Braund 1996: 145). Their depictions of Boudica, her associates and their actions relate more to their attitudes towards Roman society and politics in the centre than to anything connected with life in Britain at the time (ibid.: 145–6); events are chosen and arranged or invented to create the story that the writers want to tell. In order to redress this imbalance in perspective, then, it is necessary to engage in more contextualised analyses of the evidence relating to Boudica and how theoretical frameworks such as the heterography can help us to consider the way in which the Empire had a transformative impact on local identities and experiences. The Boudican revolt concerned the client kingdom of the Iceni which was, according to Tactitus, under the leadership of Prasutagus. On his death

Biographies of Knowledge 47 he supposedly made the Emperor Nero the co-heir to the kingdom with his two daughters. Boudica was recorded as the widow of Prasutagus and the mother of the two daughters. Tacitus records that after Prasutagus’s death, the status of the client kingdom was not very well respected, and attempts were made to annexe the kingdom and incorporate it into the province (Ann. XVI.31). Many people were mistreated, including Boudica, who was flogged and her daughters raped. Many people also lost their land rights, and some were treated as slaves. The governor at that time, Paullinus, was away on campaigns in Anglesey, and the fiscal procurator Decianus Catus did not handle the situation well. Whilst Tacitus humanises Boudica more through the narrative of Prasutagus and his daughters, Dio makes no mention of them at all and Boudica is presented more centrally as a ruling queen who was angry with Rome and willing to engage against the occupation. He records that a neighbouring group, the Trinovantes, were also angered because of the fact that money lent to the elites was now being ordered to be repaid (LXII.2–6). According to textual accounts, the Iceni led by Boudica rose in revolt and were joined by the Trinovantes. Together they sacked Colchester, including destroying the Temple of Claudius, where many of the town residents had apparently gone for safety, and then moved on to London and St Albans, which were also sacked. Paulinus who had returned from Wales was unable to prevent the attacks in the time available to him. Whilst very little is really known about the events there does seem to be archaeological evidence supporting them. At all three towns, excavations have produced a thick layer of burnt deposits dating to around this time. At Colchester these burnt deposits have preserved many organic items such as dates, timber walls and the frame of a timber bed (Crummy 1997: 79–81). At London there is less in the way of material within the deposits suggesting that the town’s residents had sufficient warning of the attack so they could remove their goods (see Hingley and Unwin’s [2005: 63–110] discussion of the archaeological evidence of the Boudican revolt). What is lacking from many of the modern historical accounts of these events is any debate on the character of Boudica herself, her identity and the nature, identities and traditions of the groups involved in the events. We only know of Boudica through the Classical sources, and whilst she need not exactly have been made up, there is no guarantee how factual the accounts of her life and actions actually are. Through these accounts, and modern writings, Boudica’s life and biography, moreover, are framed very much in terms of the Roman elite, and in turn modern, mind-set of writing about identity and the life course. Boudica is described as the wife of Prasutagus, but even this could be applying modern (or at least Classical elite) understandings of the term to the Iron Age, as is the case with the term queen which is often used for her. If we can think of tribal identities as being more fluid at this time, with allegiances and identities changing, it is possible that the Iceni and Trinovantes were less well-fixed entities than the Classical texts

48 Biographies of Knowledge and modern writers assumed. The notion of the Iceni itself may have been the result of the work of Prasutagus, and then Boudica, wishing to gain and maintain power for themselves through harnessing voluntary, and perhaps also forced, support of local peoples. There is also relatively limited information that these events were actually associated with the Iceni at all; this could be the result of another attempt to create convenient stories of the past (cf. Hingley and Unwin 2005). The Iceni as a tribal entity itself is problematic and, if they existed at all in any form that we tend to assume today, could have been formed (perhaps forcibly) as a result of personal negotiations between Prasutagus and Rome once he had managed to gain this power. The revolt, therefore, could have been as much a result of Boudica’s own personal misgivings that Rome was beginning to take over the power she had held than from anything to do with loyalty to a tribal identity that need not have been long in existence. The colonial context of these events, then, was transforming the identities of people and ideas of belonging. Boudica herself could have won her way to the top of power and influence and could have associated herself with Prasutagus for her own benefit; she was simply an individual with the quest for power and seized opportunities that presented themselves. This period of social flux would have had an impact on Boudica’s own identity as she transformed herself through the political and social context of the period. There also, of course, remains the possibility that Boudica did not exist as a person. It could have been a name that became associated with a person, or there may not have been an individual at all but simply a mythical figure that became incorporated into the story. The known events of the Boudican revolt themselves also need to be understood within the context of premodern notions of geography, landscape, time and action. The burning of the Temple of Claudius can be seen to have been a deliberate act of destruction of a form of religious structure and god that was thought not to belong in that place. In a world where the religious and rational were not separate in the same way as they often tend to be today, and where the pre-existing oppida at Colchester may have been as much a ritual site as a place of residence, the construction of the Temple of Claudius could have produced a major grievance through its disruption of the religious geography. Brooks (2006) has also argued that there are possibly traces of an Iron Age ritual site beneath the fortress, but this can only remain supposition until excavation evidence is able to prove otherwise. His argument is based on the number of Iron Age coins and potsherds found within this area, but the difficulty with this interpretation is always whether the material got incorporated into layers connected with the fortress during its construction. The actions of the rebellious group across the landscape to London and St Albans from Colchester may have been connected as much with the religious significance attached to landscape and geography than simply wishing to attack major Roman towns. The Roman town of Verulamium at St Albans was also located at what has been described as an Iron Age oppidum. It

Biographies of Knowledge 49 is also important that in addressing the existing significance and meaning attached to a locality that there is not simply a focus on structural evidence and activity because unaltered places and areas with little evident activity could also have been highly meaningful with equally significant long biographies (cf. Insoll 2007). This could indeed be the way in which the locality of London might be interpreted where there was some limited evidence of prehistoric activity, but much of it seems to have been of a ritual nature and may well suggest that this place was highly meaningful before the construction of the town (cf. Rogers 2008; 2013). Routes through the landscape, and the act of moving through the landscape itself, may have been imbued with more meaning than we often consider in historical narratives because of the long histories of use and action in these landscapes. The integral relationship between human action and landscape is something that would have formed a significant part of these events in ways that is perhaps not easy to acknowledge today. Geography itself is a modernist notion and an academic subject. Events across the landscape such as the Boudican revolt, then, need to be fully situated within contemporary understandings of landscape and cosmology. Acknowledging this, however, does help us to move beyond the simplistic narratives that we often find associated with this and other historical events in Roman Britain and other areas of the Roman Empire. The conquest of Britain itself, as demonstrated earlier, is an event that is being increasingly debated and deconstructed. Whilst the Classical sources emphasise the AD 43 invasion whereby Claudius was rewarded with the title Britannicus, triumphal arches were constructed in Rome and Gaul, and an annual celebration was declared (Cass. Dio LX.22.1), archaeology is increasingly emphasising the impact and influence of Rome on late Iron Age society before AD 43, especially in the south and east of Britain (e.g. Creighton 2006). Across Britain the conquest was also a long, drawn-out process continuing for much of the first century AD and beyond. Creighton’s emphasis on late Iron Age Britain suggests that we can break down conventional historical narratives and ways of organising events. Late Iron Age society would have had different concepts of history and narrative, and this has been emphasised in a study of late Roman urbanism in Britain, projecting understanding of place and experience back to the Iron Age rather than relying of Classical and Roman narratives of decline (Rogers 2011a). After the creation of the province of Britannia, there was what could be argued to have been a near-constant preoccupation with the conquest of Scotland. It seems to have been on the minds of many of the emperors, and they carried out campaigns here. It is almost as if Scotland took on a symbolic significance where campaigns could take place. Whilst they may not have been too concerned about actually completing the conquest, it is important to show that they were engaged in activities there. There was in effect a continuous campaign of invasion in Scotland led from Britannia, although there were also long periods when no major events took place. The people living in this area of Britain, then, would have had a completely

50 Biographies of Knowledge different experience of Rome and conquest, which would also have been embedded in their own traditions of narrative, memory and geography. These people wold have been very different from those in the south and east of Britain, and histories of Roman Britain should acknowledge the complexities of narrative as a result. Tacitus recounts that Agricola led campaigns in Scotland in the early AD 80s (Tac. Agr. XVIII–XXXVIII). He garrisoned the area up to the ForthClyde isthmus and in AD 83 Tacitus writes of a battle at Mons Graupius (an uncertain location) in north-east Scotland which supposedly marked the completion of the campaigns and the conquest of the whole of the mainland. It seems that this is likely to have been more concerned with propaganda than necessity because even if the whole area was conquered it certainly did not last for very long at all. At this time attention was directed to other parts of the Empire too, and many troops were withdrawn from Scotland. Although very little is really known about the battle of Mons Graupius, it most likely remained a significant part of local memory and history and formed a part of local narrative traditions and forming part of the biography of landscape. Added to this would have been the later campaigns including the dramatic event of the construction of the Antonine Wall in the AD 140s, the occupation of which only appeared to have lasted about twenty years and then continued activity perhaps coming to a more definite end with the Severus’s campaigns from AD 208 to 211. Severus died in York in AD 211, and his sons terminated the campaign and returned to Rome (Cass. Dio LXXVI–LXXVII). All these events formed part of the biography of the area and contributed towards its history and identity. The creation of this identity was a result of the Roman presence to the south, so the Empire, too, had a major impact on the area despite it never really ever becoming a formal part of the Empire. Its changing nature and identity over time, and the fluctuating Roman presence, means that heterography rather than biography would be a preferable way of understanding the history and identity of the area. Ideas of landscape and the self would have been changing as a result of the Roman presence to the self, but at the same time it is inappropriate to impose Classical historical frameworks and narratives onto the area to understand its history and experiences; interwoven with this would also have been pre-Roman stories and monuments, as well as notions of landscape, place and time, which would have continued to have importance in the Roman period. Beyond the events recorded in the classical texts, we generally know very little about the everyday history of Roman Britain even relating to the lives of the governing elite. Rare finds such as the Vindolanda writing tablets can reveal to us some aspects of the everyday lives of certain types of people in particular contexts (in this case, a military base on the northern frontier), but archaeological material can be especially valuable in providing further details especially through theoretical frameworks. When thinking about the history of Roman Britain it is important to consider events and identities in

Biographies of Knowledge 51 more fluid terms which then emphasises variety and differences in perspective and occurrence.

Excavations and Reconstructions Another source of material relating to Roman Britain is, of course, the excavated material and other fieldwork data, which forms the main focus of the investigation in this book and so is only be mentioned briefly here. It is the way in which the data are used to reconstruct the past that must form an important focus for analysis. There is a strong tendency within Roman archaeology for interpretations to follow established narratives with little in the form of criticism except to query specific details. With continuingly increasing amounts of material available for investigation, however, there are important opportunities to lead the interpretations in new directions. Whilst not necessarily rejecting the established stories, which can remain important, there can be new levels and nuances of interpretation as well as also additional narratives. There are now a huge number of useful publications documenting the archaeology of Roman Britain (e.g. James and Millett 2001; Jones and Mattingly 1990; Mattingly 2006; Millett 1990; Todd 2004). One issue that has received much useful debate concerns the way in which the archaeological remains of settlements in Roman Britain have generally categorised; this is so significant because this categorisation then influences our understanding of the nature and function of the settlements (cf. Millett 2001). This can be seen especially in the distinctions made between settlements with labels such as ‘small towns’, ‘villages’, ‘roadside settlements’ and so on. Despite having these categories of site, the identities and nature of the settlements continue to be problematic to us and Chapter 4 discusses alternative perspectives for interpreting settlement remains that can allow us, in a way, to move beyond the labels and emphasise instead biographical meaning and experience. The labels used can be difficult because they often incorporate an apparently wide range of different settlements that remain fairly poorly understood. Also many of the labels used, such as ‘small town’ (Burnham and Wacher 1990) or ‘village’ (Hanley 1987) are not terms that would have been used in the Roman period and relate more to later concepts that are unsuitable for Roman times. The labels attached to the ‘large towns’ in Roman Britain, such as civitascapital (see Figure 2.4), have also been subject to debate and has increasingly been recognised that reconstructions of these settlements and their relationship which each other, and other settlement forms, should also not be taken for granted. Haverfield (1912) did not use civitas-capital but instead used tribal or cantonal capitals and, sometimes, provincial towns. Collingwood and Richmond (1969) and Rivet (1958) also used the term cantonal capital whilst Richmond (1963) wrote of ‘tribal capitals’. The use of civitas-capital appears to have been something that was debated and decided during a

52 Biographies of Knowledge

Figure 2.4

Map of the locations of the main towns of Roman Britain.

Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers.

1960s’ conference on Roman towns in Britain which produced a proceedings volume The Civitas Capitals of Roman Britain (Wacher 1966). The term then became a fixture in the literature from that time. The term is largely, then, an invention of academic scholarship and perhaps instead emphasis needs to be placed on the way in which the inhabitants would have thought about and experienced the settlements in which they lived. Each settlement would have had its own identity, history and meaning beyond any archaeological categorisation. It is the value of each site, and how it was experienced by the inhabitants, that forms an important role in the way in which the settlements should be analysed. A biographical approach allows us to critically analyse how we approach these urban settlements, their meanings, and how they were experienced, from a social perspective. This then permits us to avoid making assumptions about how we understand the settlements

Biographies of Knowledge 53 through the site categorisations that we make. The civitas-capitals are the largest group of towns and are conventionally regarded as the centres of the civitates: the means by which the land of the provinces were divided up for administration. Although lower in status, the constitution, like the other towns, was also ultimately modelled on Rome with laws, annual magistracies and a town council. Another form of urban category is the colonia which was a chartered town generally founded for the settlement of discharged veterans, and it had a constitution modelled on Rome and adopted Roman law. In Britain, three colonia conventionally form a major part of the story of the military conquest and consolidation of Roman Britain. These are Colchester (Camulodunum), Gloucester (Glevum) and Lincoln (Lindum) which were founded on the sites of legionary fortresses (e.g. Frere 1967; Wacher 1975). Legio XX is conventionally assigned to the fortress at Colchester, founded around AD 43–4 and replaced by the colonia from around AD 49. In the AD 60s Legio IX Hispania was assigned to Lincoln (used later by Legio II Adjutrix) and another as yet undetermined legion to Gloucester, although Legio II Augusta is thought to have occupied the fortress at some stage (Wacher 1995: 150); the coloniae here were founded in the AD 80s and 80s/90s, respectively. Below the colonia in the urban hierarchy was the municipium, which was also a chartered town and adopted Roman law but far fewer inhabitants automatically received citizenship with only the ex-magistrates usually having the right to acquire citizen status. Verulamium was described by Tacitus (Ann. XIV.33) as a municipium, but exactly when and even if the town actually acquired this status, and the reasons behind it, are uncertain; it has been argued that this was an upgrade from civitas-capital made in the AD 70s (Niblett 2001: 66). York (Eboracum) was described by the fourth century writer Aurelius Victor as a municipium at the time of Septimius Severus’s visit in the early third century (Aur. Vict. Caes. XX; Ottaway 2004: 83). It is not entirely clear how much value can be placed on the terms used in these accounts because they may simply have been used for convenience or individual preference. An inscription dating to AD 237, however, indicates that by this date at least York had become a colonia (Ottaway 2004: 83). The so-called small towns often include settlements that scholars have given urban identities although many of them remain enigmatic. Many of them are seen to have been bound up with the countryside (e.g. Millett 1990), but the way in which they operated and their relationship with larger towns are still not entirely clear. Some also had a concentration of industrial or religious activity and need not fit into the way in which the majority functioned; there were also ‘roadside settlements’, but there remains a blurring of categories between these and the small towns, and debate continues about how they should be defined (e.g. Brown 1995; Millett 2001). Within the countryside, of course, there was also a huge range of different settlements which have also attracted many attempts at categorisation including broad terms such as villa, non-villa settlement and native settlement (e.g. Hingley

54 Biographies of Knowledge 1989). A central part of Mattingly’s (2006) book on Roman Britain was to emphasise the importance of regionality in settlement development and the non-conformity of settlement patterns across the province. This is important because it allows us to attach significance to local situations, peoples and experiences but it could be argued that Mattingly’s model still tended to be written from a Romano-centric perspective rather than attaching meaning to each local situation. As will be seen during the course of this book, a critical biographical approach can be used to provide a more nuanced voice to each settlement and its development over time. The range of local settlements and organisation of landscapes across Britain demands an approach that places emphasis on local meaning and experience. This approach can also help us to break down conventional categories such as the villa in order to examine the individual differences and circumstances of each settlement (cf. Taylor 2011). Equally significant is the relationship between settlements in the landscape which also show regional and local differences which are also not adequately explained. For example there are the linear systems of rectilinear field enclosures (‘Brickwork Plan’ field system) seen in parts of the East Midlands along which were also small farmsteads in enclosures as excavated at Dunston’s Clump in north Nottinghamshire (Garton 1997). As Mattingly emphasises, each region with its range of settlements demands lengthy specialist studies, but the purpose of this book is to provide new perspectives with which to tackle and analyse this huge wealth of material. The province of Roman Britain, of course, did not incorporate the entire island of Britain, as the military fortifications in Scotland indicate, and there was also a range of settlement types in Scotland including Brochs, wheelhouses and crannogs which often show continuity from the Iron Age into the Roman period (e.g. Armit 2003; Dixon 2004; Hingley 1992; MacKie 2002; 2007; Sharples and Parker Pearson 1997). ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOURCES AND CONCLUSIONS This chapter has critically assessed a range of sources, each of which have their own histories, that we have for studying Britain in the Roman period. This form of study allows us to consider the significance of the sources of information and of how the history of their investigation has influenced the nature of the resource that is now available to us. A huge number of factors that have affected our knowledge of the material remains of Roman Britain including developments in archaeological methods and theories, changing trends and social influences and different types and levels of funding available. The history of the reception of Roman material in later society has its own biography that can be analysed (e.g. Hingley 2008), and this work provides an important source of information for assessing the biases and prejudices that might exist in the material available to us today. Any biographer must be critically aware of the sources and their own prejudices and

Biographies of Knowledge 55 motives in how they are used and this allows for a much more sophisticated analysis of the material. Critical biographies can provide not only a much more nuanced understanding of people but also the structural, artefactual and landscape lives in the context of the Roman Empire. The following chapters focus on the archaeological material and assess these elements whilst also emphasising the need to consider them together as a whole because the way in which human, landscape, structural and object lives were regarded and distinguished need not necessarily have been the same as they are today. In analysing archaeological material such as that relating to settlements and landscapes it is also important to recognise that the issue of geography and time, as mentioned, is also not as straightforward because it is often perceived to be in studies of Roman Britain. Most studies tend to project modern understandings of the geography of Britain onto the Roman period, but it must be acknowledged that there would have been very different ways of thinking about the land that was inhabited and the organisation of space and time (e.g. Fitzpatrick 1997; Sharples 2010). Moving away from modern assumptions relating to landscape can allow us to consider alternative meanings that would have been attached to landscapes in the past including places that appear to have few describable characteristics but were associated with meaning and history in the past. What has often not been recognised in the past in Roman studies and landscape archaeology is the way in which the local meanings and values associated with these landscapes and places would have continued to be significant into the Roman period (cf. Hingley 2006; Rogers 2008). This would have meant a complex negotiation between new perceptions of the landscape by incomers and existing traditions. In describing the geography of Roman Britain, then, there were the physical features of the landscape but also cultural meanings which cannot be separated from them in a way that they tend to be today in modern geography and landscape studies. Cultural traditions and assumptions play a significant role in how the landscape is interpreted both today and in the past.


People in Roman Britain

To think about Roman Britain critically and biographically as being constituted of people, actions, experiences and their relationship with settlements, places and landscapes, it is necessary to be critical about the way in which we construct people’s lives and people’s relationships with other people and things. The biography is, as discussed, in many areas of academic study, including history, English literature and sociology, most often associated primarily with the lives of people and especially the examination of individuals through writing about their lives and investigating the cultural impacts on their identity. The difficulty with writing biographies as has long been recognised, as discussed in Chapter 1, and is in danger of making assumptions regarding the way of thinking about identity and selfhood in the past which inevitably draws on the writer’s own experiences and cultural background (cf. Lee 2009: 14). This can be especially hard when writing about people that lived long ago, but more recent lives can be equally difficult. Modernday literary writers of biographies acknowledge that it is necessary to think about the relationship between nature and nurture in the formation of a self, and this can form extremely challenging writing even in cases in which the individual who is the focus of the biography is still alive. In historical studies the difficulty is comprehending the experiences, and influences on the formation of identity, of a person that lived a long time ago and in a completely different social, economic and political context to that of the writer. On top of these influences there is also the unique character of the individual, combining with inherited characteristics, which would have played a role in the construction of their own identity, behaviour and outlook on life. The difficulties faced by biographers are in many ways similar to the central problems recognised in archaeology concerning placing oneself in the minds of people that lived centuries or millennia ago and attempting to avoid projecting modern norms and assumptions onto the past. The difficulties attached to using many sources of evidence were discussed in the previous chapter, and one of the central issues with archaeology has always been how sources of evidence are documented and interpreted. There is also the question of whether we can really write satisfactorily of the people of Roman Britain at all. Anthony Birley’s 1979 book The People

People in Roman Britain 57 of Roman Britain focuses very much on the lives of the elite through its concentration on epigraphic evidence, which as we have seen has formed a traditional focus within Roman studies (see Chapter 2), whilst much of the efforts in Roman archaeology since then has been to document in more detail the lives of the ‘ordinary’ people, especially the indigenous population whose lives are not often documented in epigraphic or textual material. It could be asked, however, to what extent it is possible to write a People of Roman Britain because of the fluidity of identities and the importance attached to regionality and localisms. It is also important to avoid projecting modern assumptions relating to the construction of lives and identities onto the past which draws on ideas of the person, self and biography that need not be appropriate for considering lives in the Iron Age and Roman periods; instead the construction of life paths and identities may have taken different forms. A further complexity to this is the division between living things, including humans, animals and plants, and nonliving components of the lived world, such as rocks and other materials, places, landscapes and rivers. All of these elements also have life courses, and in some cases they could also have deaths, as discussed in Chapter 5 on objects, but these elements could also apply to buildings and settlements. Roman Britain, and its settlements and landscapes, was constituted of the people living there and their actions and experiences. In this chapter the focus is on the theme of people that formed the province by reviewing aspects of our knowledge of the range of people that lived in Britain in the Roman period and how that range and interaction developed and changed over time. To do this it will be necessary to place our understanding of identity and experience within the social and political context of the late Iron Age to Roman transition in Britain and the impact of the Roman occupation. Ways of thinking about identities and life courses in colonial contexts are explored, and the complex ways in which the identities of people would have interacted and developed in these contexts are examined. There are, of course, many facets to people’s identity including not only ethnicity (if this is relevant at all for early periods such as Iron Age and Roman Britain) but also gender, age and occupation amongst other aspects (e.g. Díaz-Andreu et al. 2005; Jones 1997) and these elements can also change over time. There have now been a number of useful studies tackling the issue of identity in the Roman provinces which predominantly focus on the nature and workings of Roman imperialism and critical perspectives on Romanisation (e.g. Gardner 2007; Mattingly 2006; Revell 2009). In this chapter people and their relationship with the wider world are considered. An important contributor to studying people and how they constructed their identities is also considering how they experienced their world and how they sensed it. The heterography is an example of the way in which critical approaches to identity can break down the conventional and assumed biographical framework, and it allows us to consider alternative ways in which identity and the life course could be formed in these contexts. A critical approach allows

58 People in Roman Britain us to engage in more debate and theoretical possibilities for approaching people’s lives in the past. DEBATING ROMANISATION, IDENTITY AND EXPERIENCE One of the key areas of debate in Roman archaeology concerns the issue of culture continuity and change and traditionally studies have focused on the framework of Romanisation for analysing this. In critical response to Romanisation, a number of other frameworks have been suggested as alternatives because of its perceived difficulties; these alternatives include creolisation (Webster 2001) and discrepant experience (Mattingly 2004; 2006). This debate on Romanisation itself has a history, and there has now been much written about contextualising the development of the concept of Romanisation (e.g. Hingley 2000). Romanisation has long formed a major framework for studying social life and culture change in the Roman period, especially since the publication of the highly influential and agenda-setting book by Francis Haverfield, The Romanization of Roman Britain (first published as an essay in 1906 and then published in expanded book form in 1912). This work was really the first book examining the Roman period archaeology of Britain from a more sophisticated and academic approach. Much of Haverfield’s analysis of the material still remains an important backbone of our understanding of Roman Britain today. Haverfield in turn was influenced by the German historian Theodor Mommsen who could be described as pioneering in Roman provincial studies and his most influential publications are perhaps the three-volume History of Rome (Römische Geschichte) covering the Republic, published between 1854 and 1856, and then The Provinces of the Roman Empire from Caesar to Diocletian (Die Provinzen von Caesar bis Diocletian) which appeared in 1885. Hingley’s (2008: 56–7) discussion of the historical and social context of the development of the term Romanisation has shown its origins to be the later nineteenth century, in relation especially to ideas of imperialism and progress, although terms such as ‘Romanized’ and ‘Romanizing’ had been in use since the seventeenth century. Hingley argued that in the nineteenth century, with the development of Romanisation, textual and artefactual material was being analysed in an entirely new historical context influenced by new patterns of thought (ibid.). The concept of Romanisation has had a remarkably long history of use and it still remains a central framework for many analyses of Roman Britain, and indeed studies across Europe, today (e.g. Blagg and Millett 1990; Frere 1967; Keay and Terranato 2001; Mladenovi 2012; Oltean 2007; Revell 2009; Roth 2007; Roth and Keller 2007). This does not mean, however, that scholars have not become more critical of the term in their analyses over the decades. Martin Millett’s (1990) The Romanization of Britain was one of the first major works to argue for a more critical use of Romanisation,

People in Roman Britain 59 moving away from Haverfield’s model of the imposition of culture and civilisation to one that gave the indigenous population of Britain more voice and active involvement in the processes of change. Representing the huge growth in knowledge and understanding of Iron Age material since Haverfield’s work decades earlier, this book was also able to place the developments much more within the context of the late Iron Age and was able to show that there were significant developments taking place at this time before the AD 43 invasion. Whilst Millett’s book made a hugely important and pioneering contribution to Romano-British studies through its analysis of archaeological material, it has also seen some criticism for its continued emphasis on Romanisation with its general suggestion that Roman culture and ‘Romanness’ were actively adopted by the majority of the population when possible because of the benefits it brought them. Through postcolonial influences on Roman studies (e.g. Webster and Cooper 1996), and the analysis of the context of the development of Romanisation (e.g. Hingley 2000; 2008), there has since been a range of other interpretative frameworks that have attempted to move beyond Romanisation and the cultural connotations associated with it. Peter Wells’s (1999) book The Barbarians Speak: How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe for example avoids using the term Romanisation altogether and looks more at interactions between cultures and evidence of continuities of pre-existing practices. Another interpretative approach, developing out of the postcolonial theoretical response to Romanisation, is that of creolisation. Using the concept of creolisation in Roman archaeology for considering the developments in human behaviour that took place in the provinces was first suggested by Jane Webster (2001). Webster argued that Romanisation focused too much on the elite as they adopted the symbols of Rome but that it is far less helpful for considering the impact of Roman occupation on the lives of the majority of the population. The idea of creolisation has been used in Caribbean and American historical archaeology and was developed from the linguistics term used in the area to consider the merging of two languages into a single dialect. The term emphasised the processes of multicultural adjustment through which societies were created in the New World. Webster sought to explore the potential of concept for understanding developments in material culture in the Roman provinces and examined evidence of Romano-Celtic religious material as a case study for exploring the relationship between Roman and indigenous influences. The notion of discrepant identity or experience has been developed by David Mattingly (2004; 2006) in his attempt to explain the developments that took place in terms of identity in the provinces. The concept of discrepant experience is useful because it allows us to consider the impact of Roman occupation on the lives of individuals and places an emphasis on choice and daily existence, and it recognises differences of experience in terms of gender, age, occupation and so on. It is a concept that was taken and developed from the social sciences, where it had developed as a way of exploring the

60 People in Roman Britain experiences of different types of people which have had a tendency to be marginalised or their experiences not fully documented. Judith Butler’s work in the 1990s (e.g. 1990), for instance, examined the experience of women and deconstructed the way in which their lives have been documented. There was an increasing emphasis on documenting alternative expressions of identity which differed from the dominant voices that were conventionally heard. Mattingly (2006) argues that some individuals would have benefitted from the Roman occupation and taken advantage of it, whilst others would have suffered and others still would have continued their lives with only the minimum of contact and change as a result of the Roman presence. The framework of discrepant identity also recognises that not all aspects of an individual’s life would necessarily have changed despite adopting some new elements. Where it could perhaps be considered problematic is its emphasis on economic interpretations of continuity and change whereby individuals take advantage of, or suffer under, the Roman presence through the way in which they make or lose wealth and are able to live the ‘Roman’ lifestyle. This economic determinism draws on modern perspectives and does little in helping us to understand how individuals actually physically experienced the Roman conquest and occupation and the impact that these experiences had on people’s identity in the Roman period. The term discrepant, moreover, suggests that there also existed a standard normative Roman identity which does not coincide with most current understandings of the Roman Empire which are more critical in attempting to understand what it meant to be Roman (cf. Jones 1997). Whilst the theme of Romanisation has been the subject of much debate in Britain and America especially, it has received less criticism amongst scholars in mainland Europe which has tended to take a different scholarly trajectory in the development of theoretical perspectives. Romanisation remains a strong interpretative framework across much of Europe, and there is considerable opportunity for debating its use and for discussing possible alternative frameworks. To access more localised meanings and experiences, and to address the role that these had on the formation of identity, it is necessary to consider how it might be possible to be more nuanced in the analyses undertaken. One possibility is by considering the role of the senses in shaping experiences and identities and how these experiences would have changed because of the new context of Britain in the Roman Empire. This shaping of identity and experience through the senses as a process that emphasises the importance of localised reactions to the Roman occupation in terms of experiences relating to the daily reality of occupation. Central to analysing experience through the senses, however, must be to think about how the senses would have been utilised and how sensing the world would have constituted the way in which people’s identities would have been constructed and reconstructed on a daily basis. This means that it is important to reflect on the way in which the use of the senses would have differed in the past in different cultural contexts compared with the modern West.

People in Roman Britain 61 There have now been a number of useful studies examining the senses in archaeology in an attempt to regain these perspectives, taking a more holistic approach to past experiences, when studying the past (e.g. Scarre and Lawson 2006; Skeates 2010). This work on the senses in archaeology acknowledges the need to consider how experiences can be contextualised by thinking about how the senses would have been utilised and how experiences take place through different senses. Anthropological work, for instance, has demonstrated that amongst some groups of people today are alternatives to the way in which sight is prioritised over other senses, and indeed, in some cases other senses can be more important in the way in which their world is experienced (e.g. Bull and Back 2005; Classen ed. 2005; Drobnick 2006; Howes 2005; 2009; Korsmeyer 2005).Whilst this is important for understanding experience in the past, this can be taken further in considering the impact of the senses, experiences of the world, on the formation of people’s identities. This means that the role of the senses could play a major part in considering the impact on identity of the incorporation of Britain into the Roman Empire. Favro’s (1996) study of Augustan Rome has demonstrated the importance of considering the way in which urban spaces were experienced as way of exploring the meaning and significance of the developments. In provincial contexts these experiences would have been especially significant and nuanced. Whilst there would have been new things, building materials, structural forms and so on in the Roman period in Britain, for instance, the way in which they were actually experienced would have been drawing more on existing traditions than new ways of experiencing also accompanying the material. Local traditions of experience would have been important, as well as new things to experience, which means that there is likely to have been a much more complex and locally specific combination of continuity and change in people’s sense of identity and self being than can usually be acknowledged through other frameworks of analysis. An emphasis on sensory experience can help us to shape the negotiations between landscapes, buildings and things and the way in which they would have had an impact on people’s identities as well as traditions of experience also playing a significant role. Whilst Romanisation tends to work on the assumption of normative behaviour and experience in the past, sensory experiences need not have taken the same form as they do today and this difference allows us to move beyond the normative assumptions that we have relating to archaeological interpretation. In emphasising the experiences of new building styles, materials and things it is also important to think about the processes of knowledge transfer that would have taken place during at least the first couple of centuries of Britain in the Roman Empire. Frameworks such as Romanisation and discrepant experience assume that people would have actively wished to adopt new styles of building, new building materials and use new styles of material culture, but the process by which they would have gained this knowledge to do so has never adequately been addressed. Local traditions would have

62 People in Roman Britain continued to form an important part of the way in which identities were constructed in Roman Britain. It may also have been that local traditions of knowledge transfer, by movement through the landscape and specific local power structures, would have continued to be important, adding an extra dimension to the influence of new styles on the way in which local peoples thought about themselves. Despite learning and adopting new building styles it might be that local ways of behaving remained more influential in the formation of identities and people’s understanding of their position in the world. The adoption of new ways of building and living, then, was not just related to issues connected with wealth, opportunity, desirability or contact with incomers but also to local traditions of knowledge transfer and local power structures which would have been embedded with much more meaning than simply that relating to economics (cf. Taylor 2011). Identity needs to be considered through the way in which individuals experienced the world and were formed through localised traditions of experience. This helps us develop a more critical approach to the formation of people’s biographies and to how these biographies would evolved through changing social contexts. THE PEOPLE OF ROMAN BRITAIN Unlike many periods in prehistoric archaeology we actually have some written evidence relating to people that lived in Roman Britain. This does not mean that our approach to their identity can be any less challenging, as studies of changing and plural identities in periods such as post-medieval archaeology have shown (e.g. Casella and Fowler 2005), but what is so useful about Romano-British archaeology, and Roman archaeology more generally, is that we have much more material and supporting evidence to work with than prehistoric archaeology. This means that theories in Roman archaeology could in fact be used as comparative models for studying people’s lives in prehistoric archaeology in ways that have not generally been considered worthwhile or possible. As seen in Chapter 2 on the sources of evidence, the study of epigraphic material has long formed a major part of our attempt to understand the composition of people of Roman Britain and predominantly those coming into Roman Britain whether military, traders or government workers. Some of these sources, as examined in the following, also show how these people interacted with the local population such as in marriage, taking slaves or even both. Whilst epigraphic material has long formed an important source of evidence, and will continue to do so, modern scientific techniques are also increasingly making it possible to analyse the remains of people themselves in archaeological contexts in order to identify their place of origin. This can mean, however, that there is no supporting evidence informing us of the name of individuals, their family members and so on but it might be possible to determine a better idea of the range of

People in Roman Britain 63 people coming into Britain. The aim of examining the origins of people coming into Britain in the Roman period in more sophisticated ways was one of the main reasons for the development of the stable isotope analysis project established by Hella Eckardt and colleagues (Eckardt et al. 2010) which examined Roman period skeletons from urban cemetery contexts in Britain. Places of origin play a major role in the formation of identity working at both the very local level of settlement and place and also the wider regional level. These influences may only form one part of identity, and identities can develop over time, but they are hugely significant in the establishment of traditions of experience, attitudes and outlook. What provincial studies have tended to neglect is the way in which local traditions of experience would have continued during the provincial period and people coming into the provinces would have brought their own traditions; and there would also have been further developments and interactions between the two. Place of origin, then, forms a major component of identity and this is why the significance and meaning of place itself (cf. Casey 1993; 1996; Cresswell 2004), and how place was experienced, should form a major element of the study of identity. The urban focus of Eckardt’s project was partly because the urban cemeteries provided the suitable source of skeletal material for the analysis. It could be argued, however, that to some extent we already know that towns would have had mixed populations with people coming in from outside Britain. Whilst the burial evidence might not be so easily available, it could be argued that more study is needed of rural contexts and small towns than the large urban centres. It is generally assumed that these contexts would have been occupied predominantly by local peoples, but if there were also people from outside Britain mixing with the populations here, then this would have important social implications and allow us to reconsider the processes by which people interacted.

The Indigenous Peoples of Roman Britain In contrast with the focus of many earlier instances of work, the 1980s and 1990s saw a rise in the number of archaeological studies documenting the lives of the indigenous or local peoples of Roman Britain and also more sophisticated ways of recognising and investigating the archaeology that represented their lives; this also coincided with developments in government legislation which required developers to fund archaeological investigations prior to construction work (Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning 1990).1 Whilst there was of course an interest in existing local populations from the start, the focus of archaeological investigation tended to promote a rather more unbalanced view of Roman Britain partly through the deliberate choice of excavating military sites and villas. Partly in response to the existing overly generalised narratives of Roman Britain, a number of more analytical studies of rural settlement in the 1980s included

64 People in Roman Britain documenting local and regional developments in the Roman period in more detail as well as social approaches to settlement studies (see Chapter 4; e.g. Hingley 1989; Miles 1982; Millett 1990). Linked to this, as we have seen, was an increasing debate surrounding an uneasiness with earlier interpretations of the term Romanisation because it was felt that it did not sufficiently represent the lives and identities of both the indigenous peoples but also those that moved around the Empire. There have also increasingly been studies providing challenging new approaches to considering identity across the archaeological discipline including issues such as ethnicity and gender (e.g. Revell 2009; Scott 1991) drawing on interpretations also from other disciplines including anthropology and sociology (e.g. Díaz-Andreu et al. 2005; Gero and Conkey 1991; Gilchrist 1994; 1999; Joyce 2001; Sørensen 2000). This wealth of publications has encouraged much debate that remains important across archaeology (e.g. Pope and Ralston [2011] on the Iron Age). These debates have been immensely important in helping us to consider the lives and identities of the local peoples and interpret the archaeology in more sophisticated ways, and this has been especially so in studies of material culture (see Chapter 5; e.g. Allason-Jones 1995; 2001; Allison et al. 2005; Gardner 2007). Especially useful in this work is the move away from an overemphasis on economic interpretations of people’s actions and behaviours. In terms of the Iron Age/Roman transition in Britain one of the important issues has been to document the nature of the Iron Age population at the time of the conquest. It seems to me that this is an essential issue to address before the impact of the Roman conquest on people’s lives and identities can be assessed. It is important to contextualise the impact of the Roman conquest on the lives and perspectives of the peoples living there at the time. One of the problems has been that many early studies of Roman Britain were conducted by Romanists with little in the way of specialist knowledge of the Iron Age or advances in Iron Age studies. They tended to project modern assumptions relating to identity onto the past and especially emphasised the notion of the barbaric nature of the Iron Age peoples who would be civilised by the Roman conquest. Millett’s book The Romanization of Britain (1990) was perhaps one of the first books focusing on Roman Britain to contain a detailed analysis of late Iron Age societies. But Iron Age studies have also been changing in recent years and studies of Roman Britain need to embrace these developments in order to be able to reflect on their implications for considering the nature of culture change after the conquest and on how people constructed their identities and life courses. This debate has included discussions relating to the extent to which the indigenous peoples thought of themselves as having tribal identities in the late Iron Age and whether this form of identity could be considered in terms of ethnicity (cf. Jones 1997; Moore 2011). Whilst tribal groupings could have been important in the Iron Age, as ancient textual sources that refer to tribes by name might suggest, these need

People in Roman Britain 65 not necessarily equate with (often modernist influenced) notions of ethnicity. But there is also increasing scepticism relating to the information given in the textual sources, which were written from an external perspective, as well as recognition of the role that the impact of Rome had on the formation of local identities and groupings. Moore (2011) has argued, for instance, that the impact of Rome would have created new forms of groupings as people came together in the turmoil of political, economic and social change. These groupings may then have become more fixed as the reorganisation of the provinces into civitates took place after the conquest (see Figure 3.1). In so doing, large numbers of smaller groupings would have been subsumed and lost to the historical records; however, they would have remained important to many of the individuals involved. Alternatively, and a more extreme scenario, it could have been entirely down to the conquest and Roman action

Figure 3.1 Map of the conventional interpretation of tribal boundaries of late Iron Age Britain. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Millett (1990: 67, fig. 16).

66 People in Roman Britain that organised and formed the tribal groupings that we see recorded in the later textual sources (as we saw in the discussion of the distribution of civitas-capitals; Chapter 2). Either way, it is also being increasingly argued that in the Late Iron Age the concept of group identity and belonging could have been more fluid and changeable with no fixed notion of tribal identity. It is important that these notions of identity remained important to people, with local and even household affiliations being more significant. Tom Moore (2011), Niall Sharples (2010) and J.D. Hill (2006: 177–8; 2007: 31), amongst others, have argued that within late Iron Age society there were a number of individuals vying for power and building powerbases through the ability to control individuals and win their allegiance; this allegiance, however, could change as rapidly as it was gained, creating a much more fluid and changeable situation than academics have tended to assume by relying on concepts of fixed tribal identities. Sharples (2010: 120–3) has explained that hill forts and late Iron Age oppida, rather than being tribal capitals as we might understand today, were perhaps tools of social control bringing people together for their construction, which possibly also involved celebrations, feasts, rituals and other activities. The names that we see on Late Iron Age coinage and in textual sources such as in Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum may relate to the individuals that were able to promote themselves and gain followings as in the case of Prasutagus and Boudica, some of them perhaps drawing on contacts with the Roman Empire and using imports of wine and other goods to gain support (cf. Creighton 2000; 2006; Sharples 2010). The way in which people constructed their identities and how their life courses were formed are also likely to have varied amongst different peoples and traditions in the Iron Age and Roman periods compared with what we tend to take for granted today. That this was even the case in relation to the lives of peoples brought into the British Empire through British expansion in the eighteenth and nineteenth century strongly suggests that today’s assumptions relating to the concept of identity are inadequate for interpreting the archaeological material and its relationship with people’s identities in the past. Amongst Sara Baartman’s society in South Africa for example they did not have the concept of ‘I’, and they also considered that people and animals coexisted and could move between forms (Scully 2010: 33). They also considered that the dead could continue to play a role within society indicating a considerable difference from the modern assumptions that tend to be projected into the past. We know from Classical texts that there seem to have been various categories of people in Iron Age societies. As a consequence, there has been much written about how Iron Age societies were organised and functioned with an emphasis on hierarchies and statuses (e.g. Collis 1994; 2011; Hill 2006; 2011; Millett 1990). Roman studies, however, have been slower to draw on this work for considering the implications of the Roman conquest on these societies and the extent of continuity from the Iron Age to the Roman periods. It was perhaps Millett’s (1990) study of Roman Britain that introduced the first

People in Roman Britain 67 rigorous and imaginative examination of Iron Age society in the context of the Roman period that followed, and he interpreted that Iron Age peoples could be divided into a “series of comparatively small-scale units, each with its own leader, and aristocratic elite” (ibid.: 20). These small groups then came together into larger groups under a single leader at times of stress. This work has been built on and taken further as can be seen in Mattingly’s (2006) discussion of Iron Age Britain, but even in this work there continues to be a focus on conventional ways of interpreting tribal groups and identities. Increasingly in Iron Age studies, however, it is being recognised that it is important to be more critical in how we tackle social structures and allegiances in the past in an attempt to avoid the colonial perspective (e.g. Moore 2011; Pauketat 2007). These debates are immensely valuable in helping us to assess the nature of social continuity and change that came with the Roman conquest. J.D. Hill (2011) has been an especially strong advocate of breaking down the ‘social triangle’ model for reconstructing Iron Age societies which assumes that the societies were constituted of a large proportion of people at the bottom of the hierarchy and then a very small number of elites at the top. Hill (ibid.: 247) has questioned the way in which we identify elites in the archaeological record and tend to use terms such as elite and hierarchy, the meaning of which can be just as contextually specific as any other social constructs. Instead, he suggests that there may have been other ways in which peoples distinguished themselves from one another such as in terms of the household where there was not such a dramatic difference between wealth and power between households. This would create a shallower ‘social triangle’ shape, where much of the apex of the triangle has been removed, or there was an alternative model of society altogether. This also assumes that status was always measured in terms of wealth and possessions which, of course, need not have been the case at all. A hierarchy could have existed through means other than wealth which demands more consideration. Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum is important because it mentions for the first time individually named people living in Britain. To have been considered worth mentioning, it seems likely that the individuals were in positions of power or at least were ambitious individuals who were able to promote themselves and be noticed. The account of his expeditions to Britain refers to a number of people who seem to have been of different ranks, although we cannot be certain to what extent these ranks were what were interpreted by Caesar rather than actually being those recognised by the individuals involved. It is also uncertain whether these ranks were part of one social hierarchy recognised by all—it could alternatively be that different groups adopted different forms of hierarchies and terms to describe themselves and distinguish each other. Caesar, for instance, refers to there being four ruling kings in Kent: Cingetorix, Carvilius, Taximagulus and Segonax (B Gall. V.22), but what the term king meant here is uncertain and it indeed it could be that all or any of these men really were kings in terms of what

68 People in Roman Britain we associate with the word today. He also refers to a “distinguished leader named Lugotorix (nobili duce Lugotorige)” (ibid.), who appears to have been of a different status, and there is the account of Mandubracius, who was the leader of a group known as the Trinovantes, who had travelled to Gaul to meet Caesar after his father Imanuentius had been killed by a person called Cassivellaunus (B Gall. V.20). Caesar then supposedly commanded that Cassivellaunus not wage war against Mandubracius or the Trinovantes (B Gall. V.22). Cassivellaunus had supposedly gathered considerable support amongst various groups as a united opposition against Caesar (B Gall. V.11). This is a familiar story to many, but it really tells us very little about Iron Age society and tribal groupings. In fact, it seems to support a more fluid situation with individuals such as Cassivellaunus able to gather support and others such as Mandubracius feeling threatened by this. Mandubracius’s trip to Gaul could have been a completely selfish act of ingratiation to gain more power for himself. The mention of his father as previous leader of the Trinovantes indicates an established line of inheritance of leadership, but there is no reason that this man need necessarily have been his natural father. It could simply have been a term used to describe relationships between people as power was lost and gained by individuals. The story of his father need not even necessarily have been true at all—it being either an elaboration or an invention by Mandubracius or Caesar himself as a reason for going back to Britain. We also know about slaves that were exported from Britain (Strabo VI.5) and of the Druids (Tac. Ann. XIV.30) but our knowledge of both of these groups of people remains partial. Caesar writes about Druids but only those in Gaul (e.g. B Gall. VI.13). The exact nature and role that Druids played in society is not entirely clear, but it seems that they had both religious and political power (Ross 1995: 426–8) and may have operated between groups rather than forming part of the hierarchy of individual groups. They may well have been influential in seeing who became leaders and who did not. Creighton (2006), of course, has done much work in reassessing the impact of the Roman conquest on the people of Britain by placing more emphasis on the changes that had already begun taking place before the conquest, including the possibility of the development of Roman styles of living amongst some people especially in the south of Britain. He examines sites such as Fishbourne, Silchester and Colchester. Whilst this approach is very useful in highlighting the much greater complexity in the situation at the time of the Roman conquest it is also important not to make assumptions about the nature of identity and perception of the self which could have continued to draw on Iron Age perspectives even if people were also pro-Roman and adopting some Roman ways. Whilst these debates will undoubtedly continue, what this tells us is that in considering the identities of people in Roman Britain it is important to acknowledge the range of levels in which identity was expressed and not to think solely in terms of tribal identities which would have been much

People in Roman Britain 69 less significant to people beyond Roman bureaucracy and record keeping (see the later discussion of Regina’s tombstone). The biographies of people’s lives may largely have ignored these tribal designations as a representation of their identity if they were used much at all in the Roman period. Despite the natural course of life being the same, the cultural ‘life course’ may well have differed in the Iron Age and included regional and local differences. This is connected with differing concepts of identity, individuality, cultural processes and even distinctions between culture and nature in the way in human life was understood. The life course need not have been considered in its same linear form as it is now and there may well have been different priorities given to its stages and events. What is clear also is that the Roman period would have had an impact on people’s lives and on how they formed their identities and thought about themselves; they were now living their lives within a colonial context whether they liked it or not. New laws, material culture, foodstuffs, building materials, organisations of the landscape and methods of movement through the landscape all would have had an impact on people’s identities. The biographies of their lives have to be understood through the interaction between continuity and change at a vast range of levels. This requires a more sophisticated interpretative framework possibly through critical biographies such as the heterography. The individual had agency and their identity was constructed at least in part through the practice of their daily life. In effect, this might allow for the possibility of multiple identity affiliations where the individual household and local community played an important role in the creation of ‘ethnicity’ beyond or, as well as, tribal identity. Examining differing perceptions of identity and the life course in prehistory, and indeed Roman Britain, is difficult without any accompanying textual sources, but archaeological evidence can be useful to help to approach these themes in ways that may not necessarily have been considered otherwise. An example in which it might be possible to identify differing concepts of identity in the Iron Age which also continued into the Roman period is with the evidence from roundhouses and the continuation of the use of roundhouse structures in the province, a fact that has perhaps not yet received as much investigation as it should because of earlier perceptions that they represented the lives of failures and uncivilised people (cf. Hingley 2000: 151). Roundhouse structures might be seen as representing deliberate opposition to Romanisation, or as representing regional identities; indeed, there are certainly areas of Britain that continued to have their own traditions of roundhouse-type building throughout the Roman period, as we shall see, such as in the north-east (see Chapter 4; e.g. Jobey 1977; 1978; 1982) and southwest (Quinnell 2004). But each roundhouse can also be considered in terms of the way it represented the local identities of its inhabitants. Through careful excavation and recording of the remains of roundhouse structures, and the finds of the Iron Age, it has been suggested that the structure’s spaces were ordered through left/right distinctions and cosmological

70 People in Roman Britain considerations (Fitzpatrick 1994; Oswald 1997); identity was constructed through daily practice. The Roman period site of Birdlip Quarry (Gloucestershire; Mudd 1999) is especially important because it was excavated and recorded with many of these social issues in mind, which contrasts with many excavations especially of earlier periods. This site revealed a small group of roundhouses first built around AD 160–180 (Mudd 1999: 244). The structures faced south-east and Mudd’s thorough analysis of the bestpreserved example, Structure 1463, has shown a finds distribution possibly reflecting both a left/right and a front/back organisation (ibid.: 247). It could be suggested, then, that an important component of the world view of the inhabitants would have been constructed here and it is possible that what could be considered in a way almost ethnic identity was formed here that did not go beyond the settlement. Ethnic identity, then, would have been a very different concept to that which we assume today. This type of analysis and reconstruction could also prove hugely valuable in future excavations as a way of providing support to move beyond the conventional ways in which tribal divisions tend to be described in archaeology. In this more critical perspective, it is also important to place the idea of the individual itself into historical context since although we might take the concept of the individual for granted today, its significance need not have manifested itself in the same way in the more distant past, as in Roman Britain and in prehistory. There has been useful work documenting the concept of the rise of the idea of the self in medieval and post-medieval archaeology and its relationship with capitalism (e.g. Johnson 1995; Tarlow 2007). Johnson (1993; 1995; 2010b) for example has examined changing house plans and styles, diets and eating utensils that took place in Europe in the medieval and post-medieval periods as ways of demonstrating changing ideas of the self at this time and people’s relationships with each other. In prehistoric studies, burial remains have formed an important area of analysis for thinking about notions of individual and group identity through changing attitudes to the body (e.g. Borić and Robb 2008; Hamilakis et al. 2002; Rebay-Salisbury et al. 2010). The implications of all this valuable work are that it suggests there could well have been many different ways of thinking about the self in the past and this becomes even more complicated when placing this within an imperial context such as the Roman Empire. It could be argued, then, that although there has always been such an important focus on the concept of identity in Romano-British studies, and across the Roman Empire more generally, what is needed too is a critical reflection of what identity means in these contexts and of how people formed an understanding of themselves. When writing about past life courses it is easy to apply assumptions from today’s perspectives, but archaeological evidence is increasingly allowing us to identify what are likely to represent different priorities and perceptions in the past. Whether it is even appropriate to piece lives together as a life course is debatable. Such evidence includes, as discussed earlier, the organisation of spaces and their impact on experiences and identities. Other evidence relates

People in Roman Britain 71 to the role of children and education; how children and infants as well as adults were treated at death; the interaction of culture and nature in how landscapes were perceived, used and experienced; and how people acquired knowledge, skills and perhaps became specialist experts in certain tasks and activities. A section later on in the chapter discusses the social significance behind the impact of “jobs” on people’s identities and of how the conception of these activities would have differed. The example discussed is that of specialist metalworkers, a skill that would also have been needed in the Roman period and may represent a continuation of traditions from the Iron Age and the way in which these activities had an impact on identity.

Imperial Lives: Biographies and Heterographies As well as critically analysing the lives of the local peoples living in Britain at the time of the Roman conquest and occupation, it is also important to think about the lives and identities of the people that came into Britain, how they interacted with each other and how they interacted with the local people that they encountered. This includes the governing elite but also the people that came into Britain from elsewhere in the Empire as merchants, surveyors, builders, slaves and others, as well as, of course, the military and its retinue. What is often neglected is that the Empire and the imperial system also had a major impact on all of these people’s lives whether they were at the top of the elite or were more humble merchants (cf. Mattingly 2006). It should be recognised that as well as bringing new customs, attitudes and behaviours to Britain, these people would also have unavoidably needed to adapt to local conditions, situations, peoples and traditions. Whilst the framework of Romanisation tends to emphasise what these incoming people brought to conquered provinces, it is also important to acknowledge that the local places would also have had an impact on their identities. Anthropological and historical studies have suggested that it is inevitable that people adapt to aspects of local behaviours and traditions, even if they also bring their own which combine with it (e.g. Lambert and Lester 2006). It could be argued, then, that the attempt to construct any of these lives through the framework of the biography does not fully engage with the way in which people’s identities developed as they lived their lives within the Roman Empire. The incomers’ lives and experiences, though they would have been greatly outnumbered by the local inhabitants, also formed a component of, and shaped, Roman Britain. Many of these people then left Britain but in so doing they would also have taken this part of their life experience with them as they had done with the other places they had worked— the identity and ‘biographical’ construction of Roman Britain, then, consists also of the impact of these lives and experiences on the places of the Empire that they moved to next. Over the course of the Roman period, however, other people would also have been staying permanently in Roman Britain, having families and perhaps becoming integral parts of local communities.

72 People in Roman Britain In the earliest years, the colonies were established for retired legionaries. Many of the military on active service would have had unofficial wives and families, or at least temporary relationships, drawn from local peoples; some of these men would also have retired and stayed in Britain. This practice may well have increased in the later Roman period as the military became more settled in Britain and the soldiers were permitted to marry. Traders and other incomers would also have settled in Britain and all of their lives would have contributed to, and constituted, part of Roman Britain. The career structure (cursus honorum) for senators and equestrians was highly structured and established and, like being in the military, would have had a major impact on shaping the identities of those within it and working through this career path. This will not be outlined in detail here because there are many important studies of this (e.g. Birley 1981; 2005; Talbert 1984), but instead, it is also important to emphasise the way in which people’s lives and identities would have been shaped by each place and posting and also the way in which the career path affected people’s lives, behaviours and outlooks. Every place in which they lived and worked or visited, each with their local characteristics, peoples, customs, landscapes and things to sense would have had an impact on them. The imperial system and career structure formed an elite identity across the Empire. Textual sources and epigraphic evidence appear to suggest that the elite had very little interest in the lives of the indigenous peoples of provinces such as Britain though the extent to which they actually interacted on a daily basis is unclear. Whilst ordinary people could rise up into the elite ranks through their own considerable efforts, skills and determination, if this is what they wanted, the elite circles themselves probably engaged only minimally with the ordinary people. This created imperial networks across the Empire functioning on a different plain to those networks existing amongst the indigenous peoples even if they had systems of elites themselves. In the Roman Empire for the elite, and those with ambitions, it was really only getting into the imperial system that mattered. Within studies of the history of the British Empire there has also now been a return of interest of the British people whose lives and identities were shaped through their jobs and movements around the Empire. For a time at least in historical studies, the study of their lives was considered unfashionable because of the negative connotations of the colonial oppressive elite, and important new work was focusing on the lives of the indigenous peoples instead. There has now, however, been more study of the way in which the British Empire also informed, changed and shaped their lives (see e.g. Lambert and Lester 2006). There were imperial networks of people, travel and communication, but within these, each person also had his or her own unique life trajectories formed through his or her accumulated experiences in different parts of the Empire. Lambert and Lester (2006: 1) distinguish the people from Britain who emigrated to parts of the Empire and those who developed ‘imperial careers’ in the Empire. The people who emigrated

People in Roman Britain 73 at first reinvented themselves as colonial Britons, but often their descendants formed new identities as belonging to these new places and became Australians, South Africans, Canadians, New Zealanders and so on. A different type of British person, often part of or associated with elite or governing circles initially, were people that dwelt for extended periods in one colony before then moving on to another colony, and in so doing they built up ‘imperial careers’; each of these positions both shaped their life and knowledge of how to deal with their situation in their next posting. Their extended period of occupation in these places, moreover, meant that they had the opportunity to “transcend their initial impressions, to insinuate themselves into personal, business, official, religious and friendship networks. They came to ‘know’ the local ‘native’ peoples and to articulate more considered and comparative reflections on the colonial societies in which they had dwelt” (ibid.). In their ‘imperial careers’ they were operating both through empire-wide imperial networks and through established in more local networks, which also shaped their identities. Lambert and Lester argue for the idea of imperial spatiality that can be constructed through the networks that come together to form the narrative of each life, and “if we only think about imperial networks that were constructed and maintained by colonial interests, it is also easy to overlook the fact that colonised subjects themselves could and did forge new networks which similarly spanned imperial space, some of which were assimilationist and others more directly anti-colonial in their effects” (ibid.: 12). There is also increasing attention in studies of the British Empire on the affect of the Empire on the British that had the lowest status in society such as those deported to far-flung parts of the Empire (e.g. Anderson 2012), and such work has implications for thinking about the lives of traders, merchants and others in the Roman Empire. The purpose of this discussion is not to argue that we can apply the model of the British Empire onto the Roman one, just that it is also important that we think archaeologically about how the Empire also affected the lives of the elite, and those who got into the elite circles, and the non-elites who were not part of the local conquered indigenous peoples. Roman Britain is as much about their lives and identities as it is about the indigenous peoples. There is a strong tradition in Romano-British studies of investigating the lives of the governing elite partly because of the survival of sources that represent their lives (see Chapter 2) but also because of preferable treatment on the rulers rather than the local peoples (Birley 1979; 2005). This provides, however, a rich source of material with which to study elite career pathways and the formation of biographies of these people. The biographical form for understanding these lives, however, could also be challenged because of the evolving nature of their lives within these colonial contexts. This is explored further through an examination of examples of some well-known and documented lives. The life of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, who was governor of Britain between AD 77 and 84, is particularly well documented because of the biography

74 People in Roman Britain written of him by his nephew Tacitus (Agr.); he is also the first governor to be attested epigraphically in Britain. The stages of his life and the places where he lived would all have contributed to the identity that he brought with him to Britain. Adding further complexity to this formation of identity, however, is that within these local circumstances there would also have been different concepts and traditions of identity, time and experience. Agricola’s governorship of seven years was unusually long compared with most governorships in Britain and elsewhere (Birley 2005: 71). The fact that governorships were so short emphasises how little time these people often really spent, and got to know, the provinces (with Agricola as an exception for Britain); they could also build up notable Imperial careers through this system bringing different aspects of their experience with them. The biography records that Agricola’s family were nobles and based in the Caesarian colony of Forum Julii (Fréjus) in Gallia Narbonensis (Agr. IV.1); his father was a senator and rose to praetorship and he may have been born in Rome or nearby. He was educated in Forum Julii and Massilia (Marseilles) (Agr. IV.2–3). He then served in a legion, possibly II Augusta, although this is uncertain, in Britain and was there at the time of the Boudican revolt. He then returned to Rome from Britain to enter the career of office and was elected to the quaestorship (Agr. VI.1). He was then appointed to the province of Asia under the proconsul Otho Titianus and his daughter was born there (Agr. VI.2). After some years of uncertain activity and his involvement in the civil war of AD 69 he was made legate of the XX Legion by Licinius Mucianus, also stationed in Britain. He was back in Rome in AD 73 when he was appointed governor of the province of Aquitania by Vespasian (Agr. IX.1). It was after a brief gap that he then became governor of Britain in AD 77. He was then recalled to Rome in AD 84 and handed the province over to an unnamed successor (although Birley [2005: 94] believes it was Sallustius Lucullus), and he then retired in private life. There were a few attempts to call for his skills again, but these appear not to have come to anything, and he died in AD 93 (Agr. XLIV.1). Agricola’s life was unusual in that he had so much experience with one province, in this case Britain, but it does demonstrate even here the connections with people and places that were built, and all would have had an impact on his experiences which contributed towards his evolving identity as the identities of the places where he was stationed. We know that he spent much of his early life in Fréjus and Marseilles, and so these settlements and regions would have had an impact on his childhood and formation of character and life course. There is now an increasing amount of the archaeological remains of the settlements at Fréjus and Marseilles that are known. Whilst it is still not possible to know where Agricola would have lived and the nature of his activities, it might be possible to reconstruct more general points about the way in which the settlements might have had an impact on his experiences, life and character. In particular there are the excavated remains of the port installations at both Fréjus and Marseilles which would

People in Roman Britain 75 have formed prominent structural and cultural components of the settlements. Fréjus was a major military harbour for Rome and a commercial harbour as a result of its wide and sheltered bay and good terrestrial routes (Gébara and Morhange 2010). It is referred to by Strabo as a naval station 600 stades from Massilia (IV.1.9). Its major military character would have had a significant impact on life within the settlement and the population, but there would have been a range of many other people associated with the commercial activities, as would also have been the case at Marseilles. Although Roman Fréjus was founded in the later first century BC, it seems that there was also Iron Age activity here, which may also have had an impact on the settlement, and Marseilles certainly had a very long history of settlement as a prehistoric site and as a colony founded by the Phocaeans, from the west coast of Turkey, in the 600s BC (Dietler 2010; Hodge 1998). Whilst not simple to evaluate, it might be that the biographical histories of these settlements also had an impact on the lives of the inhabitants. The life of another later governor of Britain, Pertinax, although perhaps extreme in that it ended with a three-month period as emperor before then being assassinated, also demonstrates well how the nature of the imperial system could shape and transform biographical identities of individuals through their career paths—and how places and people could be shaped and influenced in some respects by these individuals. Because Pertinax became an emperor, moreover, his life is recorded in some detail as a biography in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae (SHA; Pert.) and in Cassius Dio (LXXII.9.2). The use of this information must come with the usual caution of relying on the problematic source of the SHA, although it has been argued by some that some of its entries are more useful than others (see Chapter 1). Birley (2005: 172–4) provides an excellent description of his life and it is only necessary to summarise it here to make the point. Having been born in AD 126 in the town of Alba Pompeia in Liguria, northern Italy, to a freedman and citizen father and a mother who owned the villa where he was born, for his first job, he was a schoolteacher. His personal ambitions and talents appear to have been key factors here, however, because he found the job insufficiently lucrative and applied for a centurion’s commission. But this was unsuccessful, and he then became an equestrian officer (Cass. Dio LXXIII.3.1; SHA Pert. I.6). He commanded the cohors VII Gallorum equitata in Syria and distinguished himself in the Parthian war. He was then promoted to a tribunate in the British legion VI Victrix. Birley (2005: 172) suggests that this promotion may have been on the recommendation of Julius Verus, who had been governor of Britain but was now governor of Syria. Pertinax then had another post in the militia secunda in Britain and then moved to the Danube to command an ala in Moesia (Pert. II.1–2). Following this, he began a procuratorial career, became prefect of the classis Germanica and then was promoted to a procuratorship in Dacia. He was then involved in assisting Pompeianus—son-in-law of Marcus Aurelius—to clear German invaders out of Italy. His distinction in this earnt

76 People in Roman Britain him senatorial rank and then promotion to ex-praetor and the command of the First Legion (Adiutrix; Pert. II.5–6). He then accompanied Marcus Aurelius to the east as comes Augusti in 175–6 and then took a number of governor positions of Lower Moesia, Upper Moesia, and the III Daciae and then Syria. In AD 185 the SHA states that the Emperor Commodus asked him to take the role of governor of Britain because the army was mutinous there (Pert. III.5). He apparently restored order but asked to be replaced as governor because he was unpopular with the military as a result. After a year as proconsul of Africa he returned to Rome and advanced in power as the prefecture of Rome; he was given a second consulship, as ordinarius for the year 192. It then appears that his rise to power affected him too greatly, and he became involved in a conspiracy plot which led to the murder of Commodus and the proclamation of Pertinax as his successor, only to be assassinated three months later. This imperial career path from relative obscurity through to a brief time as Emperor may be unusual but it does demonstrate well a number of points. It places an emphasis on the commitment and skills of the individuals wishing to rise up the ranks. It also demonstrates the vast number of imperial networks that people could become involved in through their various postings across the Empire and connections with other people. These people created a web of contacts connecting elite lives across the Empire. The life of Pertinax also serves as a reminder that the people at the top appear to have had very little interest in the indigenous peoples—those that did not have citizenship (peregrini)—of the provinces. What is especially significant, however, is that the lives of these people at the top were also changeable and their identities would to some extent have been moulded by the situations they found themselves in. Their lives were also a product of the Empire and the imperial system. When it comes to the non-elite, the majority of which being non-citizens up to the early third century before the Emperor Caracalla granted universal citizenship, it is equally clear that people’s identities and biographies were shaped by the Empire and how many of these people’s lives were interwoven with it. One of the most studied and cited examples of evidence relating to civilians coming into Britain and their interaction with indigenous British comes from a second century tombstone (R.I.B. 1065) found in 1878 south of the fort at South Shields (Arbeia; see Figure 3.2). Whilst it has been subject to much discussion and debate, it remains an important case study to consider further and through alternative methodologies and perspectives; alternative readings are possible in these situations. This tombstone depicts a woman called Regina sitting in a wicker chair wearing a long-sleeved robe over her tunic, which reaches to her feet. She is also shown with distaff and spindle, workbasket with wool balls and in her right hand she holds open her unlocked jewellery box. The Latin inscription on the tombstone translates as “To the spirits of the departed (and to Regina), his freedwoman and wife, a Catuvellaunian by tribe, aged

Figure 3.2 Photograph of the tombstone of Regina, Arbeia Museum. Source: Used with permission of Tyne and Wear Museums (catalogue number TW 475778).

78 People in Roman Britain 30, Barates of Palmyra (set this up)”. But underneath the Latin is a briefer passage in Palmyrene script “Regina, the freedwoman of Barate, alas”. This tombstone has often been linked with a second tombstone found in 1911 at Corbridge which had been reused as a paving-stone. It reads “To the spirits of the departed: [. . .] rathes, of Palmyra, a flag-bearer/flag-maker, lived 68 years”. The flag-bearer/flag-maker interpretation of the word vexillarius has received much discussion. Some have argued that the word could mean flag maker, this was unsupported in the R.I.B. translation which emphasised the ‘flag-bearer’ interpretation and hence a military identity for the individual. The name of the Corbridge Palmyrene has also seen some debate. The name Barathes is fairly common, and it could well be that more than one man named Barathes from Syria could be found along Hadrian’s Wall. If he was indeed a flag maker then he is likely to have been a civilian merchant of some kind supplying the army with the goods that they needed. This might suggest that there were a relatively large number of people from across the Roman Empire up at Hadrian’s Wall at this time. Whether or not the Corbridge Barathes can be linked with that at South Shields (the slight spelling difference could be an indication that they were two different people or it could relate to the production of the inscriptions), the latter man may also have been a merchant, although he could conceivably have been a retired soldier who had been freed and married a younger woman. The complexity of possibilities relating to how these tombstones are interpreted is connected not only with the small amount of information available but is also likely to reflect the complex situations and interactions that did indeed exist at this time in Roman Britain, and across the Empire, interconnecting the lives of the people and moulding facets of their identities. It is also important to think about the life of the woman Regina depicted on the South Shields tombstone which states that she was a freedwoman and Catuvellaunian. Much is often made of the fact that she was continuing to emphasise her Catuvellaunian identity through the inscription, but this should not be taken simply at its face value. For one, the tombstone was erected by her husband, who was perhaps ascribing to a Roman-influenced or a constructed tribal identity onto his wife, with which she need never have been very familiar or comfortable. He was still alive at the time of her death in the frontier zone and perhaps felt compelled to use this label; it is interesting that the Palmyrene script does not mention it also. Second, as a freedwoman, she may have been born into slavery as part of the local hierarchy run by the native elite. Whilst these elite perhaps used or adopted the term Catuvellaunian, the slaves could have come from a range of groups with distinct identities or for which their identities took different forms. Being a slave might have suppressed these original identities, but this does not mean that they would not have continued to be important to the individuals and expressed in a variety of ways. Her name is a Latin name, indicating Roman influences; however, whether this was her original name or adopted at a later stage is unclear. The construction of the tombstone and the depiction of her

People in Roman Britain 79 with her jewellery box suggests that she ended her life in relative wealth. As discussed with Sara Baartman in the eighteenth-century British colonial context (see Chapter 1; Crais and Scully 2009), then, it might be inadequate and overly simplistic to attempt to reconstruct a ‘biography’ in the modern sense of the word of this woman’s life. In effect, the biographical framework imposes an identity construct and life sequence onto this person in a manner that is in itself imperialistic. The way in which this woman thought about her own identity and how this shifted and evolved over time could have been very different to the way in which a biography imposes ethnicity and sequential time onto someone. The origins of the woman, her life as a slave, her being freed and her marrying Barathes would all have been influential in shaping her identity. And, of course, Barathes’s life path is likely to have been equally complex drawing on local traditions from a range of places including Palmyra, southern Britain and anywhere else he also lived or worked. Another important aspect relating to the complexity of identity in the Roman Empire is connected with the people that left Britain to travel, live or work at another place either temporarily or permanently. In the Late Iron Age we know that people left Britain as slaves (Strabo IV.5.2) or hostages (e.g. B Gall. IV.38), and some elites travelled to Rome and elsewhere (Creighton 2006: 14–45). Some evidence for this is suggested by cases of burial monuments found dating to around the early first century AD. For example the Lexden Tumulus at Colchester was excavated in 1924, and it was found to contain a large range of objects including chain mail and a leather jerkin suggestive of knowledge of the Roman army (Crummy 1997: 22). Creighton (2006: 41) has suggested that the burial was of an elite individual that had travelled to Rome or even served in the Roman army and then returned to Britain as a hero. Another object in the mound was a silver medallion made by cutting out the head of Augustus from a cast copy of a Roman coin (Crummy 1997: 23). The coin was struck between 18 and 16 BC, meaning that the grave could not predate that (it probably dated to around 15–10 BC), and the effigy also suggests some kind of knowledge of or contact with Augustus or at least Roman officials. At Verulamium (St Albans) there is a rectangular burial enclosure at Folly Lane, containing one cremation, covering around 2 hectares in area and is also rich in pyre goods (Niblett 2001: 46). This burial probably dated to around the AD 50s, suggested by samian ware found there, but the burial also included chain mail of the type used by first-century cavalry units in the Roman army, suggesting that the grave was of someone who had served in the army or who had at least travelled to Europe and learnt about Roman military organisation and was commemorated back home. The grave suggests that the individual has become almost of mythical significance for the local people, and indeed, Creighton (2006: 124–30) has argued that the burial formed part of the origin cult behind the development of the town here—it gave the place meaning. In the Roman period local people may have left Britain and travelled in the Empire, but the extent to which this occurred is unclear. One circumstance

80 People in Roman Britain in which we know that this did happen was with the formation of auxiliary units from the indigenous peoples of Britain in the later first and early second centuries AD. Fourteen units were raised, totalling, initially, about 9,500 men, and they were sent to a range of places in the Empire including Germania Inferior, Raetia, Pannonia, Moesia and especially Dacia. All these units were named after the province rather than using any tribe names or other forms of identity. Becoming an auxiliary soldier was obviously accompanied by many risks, but after twenty-five years of service it was possible to retire and become a citizen. Whilst some would have returned to Britain, the majority probably stayed elsewhere in the Empire knowing there was perhaps little to return to in terms of family or property. The use of the term Brittonum or Britannorum for the name of the units, however, may have more significance than simply relating to Roman practice at this time. Millett (1990: 59) simply remarks that it is a shame that the tribal names are not recorded in the unit titles, but the tribal names need not have been straightforward. As discussed, indigenous peoples may not have had much local tribal loyalties or the concept of the fixed tribal identity at all. The civitas system was still being created at this time, which artificially shaped the formation of tribal identities. The majority of the auxiliaries are also thought to have come mainly from the north of Britain, where the transformative influences on the south would not have taken such a stronghold. The lives of these people as they spread out across the Empire also formed an important part of the biography of Roman Britain, but whether we can treat their lives biographically in this way itself demands attention. Ivleva (2011) has taken the debate a bit further in her study of evidence of people from Britain in other parts of the Empire by examining not only epigraphic evidence of auxiliaries outside Britain but also a data set of 241 brooches that originated in Britain but were found in other provinces. In doing this, Ivleva is careful to acknowledge that brooch design or origin need not indicate ethnicity and the possibility that the brooches may have been taken out of Britain by non-indigenous peoples travelling home or going elsewhere in the Empire. What is useful here, however, is that the brooches may be evidence of a greater scale of movement of peoples. It may also be that they were only worn by auxiliaries but could have belonged to civilians leaving Britain, either male or female. Whilst Ivleva acknowledges that women may well have followed the soldiers out of Britain, and is indeed attested by two inscriptions (C.I.L. VI 3594 and C.I.L. VIII 2877), it may also be possible that civilians, including men and women, left Britain as well.

The Military, the Batavians and the Vindolanda Tablets The survival of inscriptions on legionary tombstones can sometimes give some indication of the origins of the legionaries (e.g. Mann 1973; also Birley 1979). Whilst originally the legions were recruited predominantly from Italy, as can be seen from studies of inscriptions left by the legions stationed

People in Roman Britain 81 at Mainz from the late first century BC to AD 70s (Carroll 2006: 211–14; Hope 2001), it is clear that the people in the legions of Roman Britain could come from a range of places, all of which would have had an impact on their life experiences, outlook and nature of the legion as a whole. For example at Chester there is a sizeable collection of epitaph inscriptions known relating to the two legions II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis and XX Valeria Victrix (cf. Carroll 2006: 215–6). The II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis was probably formed in the AD 60s as Tacitus (Hist. IV.68.16), writing of the year AD 69, states that it had been recently raised. The legion had been at Lincoln probably from the early AD 70s as indicated by a tombstone of T. Valerius Pudens (R.I.B. 258). The whole legion need not necessarily have then moved to Chester, but tombstones indicate some members here by the late AD 70s to AD 80s. One of the inscriptions indicates a recruit from Augusta Praetoria, which is in northern Italy, (R.I.B. 482), but four others are from Aprus in Thrace (R.I.B. 475, 476, 477 and 484). Another is from Celeia in Noricum (R.I.B. 479), Savaria in Pannonia (R.I.B. 480) and Aequum in Dalmatia (R.I.B. 486). Mann’s studies have shown that there were patterns of recruitment into legions, but recruitments were not necessarily all contemporary and so came from different places, because people were replaced when they died or retired. The other legion attested at Chester is XX Valeria Victrix. The exact movements of this legion before the late first century AD, when it seems to have been based at Chester, are unclear, but sections of it appear to have been involved in various incidents in Britain perhaps from at least the late AD 40s and is mentioned by Tacitus in taking part in the AD 60 campaign in Anglesey and against Boudica (Tac. Ann. XIV.34). During the time the legion was at Chester there were men from not only northern Italy, including Cremona and Brixia, (R.I.B. 508, 503), but also Lugdunum in Gaul (R.I.B. 493), Emerita Augusta (Mérida) in Spain (R.I.B. 492, 501, 502), Celeia in Noricum (R.I.B. 498, 504, 511), Osroene in Syria (R.I.B. 490) and Oea in North Africa (R.I.B. 512). The difficulty with these inscriptions is dating them but the large range of origins of the people here probably reflects the long history of the legion and is a good example of the way in which the army was ever changing and never static in its composition. It was constituted of people’s lives, and these people were bringing life stories, experiences and career histories with them, all of which were formed through the political and social realities of a Europe within an imperial system. Little information is known about the people who put up the tombstones, which is disappointing because these people are as equally interesting as those that were being commemorated. Some stones do indicate freed slaves (e.g. R.I.B. 509); some, presumably later ones, were set up by their wives, as in the case of the centurion Marcus Aurelius Nepos who lived to fifty years of age (R.I.B. 491), and of Titinius Felix, who was beneficiarius of the legate of XX Valeria Victrix (R.I.B. 505). A large number of the inscriptions mention that an heir set it up, but they are not more specific than this (e.g. R.I.B. 483, 488, 490). These heirs, whether freedmen or

82 People in Roman Britain women, wives or even descendants, however, indicate the webs of connections and ties people had both at the time when they came into Britain and then established further during the lives there. These connections and experiences would all have had an impact on each other’s evolving identities as they lived out their lives in Britain or elsewhere. Their identities and understanding of themselves would have been constantly changing over time as different social situations and contexts presented themselves, especially as they moved to different postings; even within Britain a move to a new location would not have been insignificant at a time when each locality would have had its own peoples, traditions and meanings. Saller and Shaw’s (1984) study of tombstone dedications demonstrated a contrast between those left by civilians and those left by the military. Whilst civilian tombstones tended to be dedicated by nuclear family relations, this was not generally possible for the military, and here dedications tend to have been made by unrelated heirs and friends who were mainly fellow soldiers as well as master–slave and patron–freed relationships. Although the soldiers were away from family, then, they were able to develop close friendships which may have been substitutes for families and which give good insight into the way in which soldiers were able to interact with one another and develop friendships. The biographies of soldiers were also changeable because of the contexts in which they were placed. They would not only have brought in new attitudes and forms of behaviour but also would have been influenced by what was already there. The individuals from auxiliaries also had complex histories. That auxiliary names, as noted earlier, do not reflect the complexity of people’s origins and identities is also indicated by those who came into Britain. There were a large number of auxiliary units in Britain during the Roman period from different areas. The Batavians contributed a high number of these auxiliary units to Britain and elsewhere, and they served in non-Batavian units and formed a prominent part of the Emperor’s horse guards (Speidel 1994). The identities of these people formed a significant component of Roman Britain, but like other people, their identities, including martial characteristics, were not straightforward (Derks 2009; Roymans 2004; 2011; van Driel-Murray 2003). Although they were famed for their martial abilities in the Empire, which shaped their identity and ethos, this emphasis, as James (2011: 146) has argued, can to some extent be seen as an imperial creation to turn potential troublemakers into mutually beneficial assets. The Romans were drawing on and manipulating their martial nature in order to create something that was useful to them. Although the units were called Batavian, moreover, it seems likely that they would have included a range of people with more local forms of identity. Whilst their martial character was reinforced, it seems that they were not very enthusiastic with the other aspects of Roman culture such as villas and towns. Instead, they created a new military-based Roman culture on the frontier, and this may have been transferred to northern Britain, where many of the auxiliary units were stationed.

People in Roman Britain 83 The late-first-century-AD writing tablets from Vindolanda on the Stanegate, near to where Hadrian’s Wall was to be built, reveal many aspects of the lives of cohors IX Batavorum including that of the equestrian commander Flavius Cerialis and his family (see Figure 3.3; see Birley 2002). Little is known about Cerialis himself, or his origins, but from the writing tablets it seems clear that the officers and soldiers had very little interest or regard for the indigenous peoples of northern Britain; this is despite the Batavians themselves also being, in effect, conquered non-citizens. One of the well-known texts for example refers to a trader complaining that he had been beaten with rods, even though he was innocent and a man from overseas rather than a local man (Bowman 1994: 138–9). The military identity, then, or community of soldiers would have formed a significant identity which could have replaced the notion of ethnic identity (James 2001; Mattingly 2004: 16). It is significant too that many of the historical events in Britain recorded in texts that survive refer not to trouble caused by indigenous peoples but rather to the stirrings and dissatisfaction of the military stationed there, which had to be sorted out through strong leadership.

Figure 3.3 Photograph of the remains of the fort at Vindolanda with reconstructions of a timber-phase and stone-phase gateway. Source: Photograph by A.C. Rogers.

84 People in Roman Britain

Occupation and Landscape Recent sociological studies of modern Western society have been emphasising the central role that work and occupation can play in the formation of personal identity. It can shape one’s character, everyday life, behaviour, selfesteem and, of course, the amount of money that one had, which also influences your lifestyle. This is perhaps especially true of the more traditional labour-intensive occupations and current sociological studies have been charting the impact of the decline or changing nature of these types of jobs, such as railway workers, miners and so on, on people’s outlook, behaviour and identity (e.g. Strangleman 2012)—the impact can often be especially significant where generations of the same families entered into the same job and these options are no longer available. Whilst the same social situation cannot be applied to the Roman period, the identities gained through occupations and daily tasks would also have been important. Skilled crafts or specialised professions, of course, would have been deeply embedded in a person’s and family’s identity, and hence, these skills were often passed on to the next generation, whether it was as a baker, a blacksmith, a woodworker, a farmer and so on, but all types of jobs would have had a social significance beyond everyday duties, and they were also bound up with the landscape in which they were undertaken, combining biographies of people and place. For the prehistoric period there has now been much written about the role of specialist metalworkers and their position within society (e.g. Aldhouse-Green 2002; Fitzpatrick 1984; Giles 2007; Hingley 1997). The significance of this activity and association with identity, however, means that traditions are likely to have continued in the Roman period. What is especially significant about specialist metalworking is that the activities would also have had symbolic connotations and ritualised aspects and meanings associated with the processes. Metalworkers would have been regarded as possessing sacred skills linked to secret processes (Henderson 1991: 119), and many of these traditions would have continued into the Roman period, perhaps even in military contexts which would also have relied on local skills and production. These metalworkers may have taken economic advantage of the new political situation, and moved their skills to military and urban contexts (cf. Mattingly 2006: 491–528), but this need not mean that beliefs and traditions did not survive. It is important that an emphasis on economic opportunity does not neglect the deeper values that could be attached to the crafts and their relationship with people’s identity. This can be illustrated usefully by an early-second-century iron-smithing site excavated at 1–7 Thomas Street in Southwark in London (see Figure 3.4; Dennis 1978; Drummond-Murray and Thompson 2002: 97). This site lies along the main road through Roman period Southwark which led on to London Bridge and across the Thames. This is exactly where one might expect an ironsmith to establish the trade to get business from a busy road and settlement, and it is possible that the smith settled in Southwark, coming

People in Roman Britain 85 in from the local area and then continuing the practicing tradition from the Iron Age. The supply of iron blooms probably arrived in Southwark from the Weald in Kent. What is especially interesting about this smithing site, however, is that associated with it is a large amount of material that could be considered to represent ritual activity connected with the metalworking. A well close to the site produced a ‘smith urn’, a ritual vessel associated with the Celtic smith god and decorated with a hammer, pincers and an anvil. The remains of twenty dogs were also found in the well and two adjacent pits. Dogs seem to have been sacred in the Iron Age, often being used for ritual deposits, and associated with the ‘mallet’ or ‘striker’ god Sucellos (Drummond-Murray and Thompson 2002: 97; Smith 2006). These pits were timber lined and divided into compartments and fragments of ironsmithing slag were also found in pits. The smith, then, took advantage of the Southwark location, but the craft activities also retained their meaning from the Iron Age. This is also located on a former island in the Thames, which I have previously demonstrated is likely to have been imbued with meaning in prehistory (Rogers 2013). That the iron blooms probably came from the Weald associated this industrial activity with the wider landscape in a way that combined people and land biographies and their evolving meanings. Much is often made of the exploitation of natural resources in Britain as a reason for and/or a

Figure 3.4 Plans of the 1–7 Thomas Street site in Southwark, London: (a) northwestern part; (b) southeastern part. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Drummond-Murray and Thompson (2002: 101, fig. 78).

86 People in Roman Britain

Figure 3.4


consequence of the conquest. There has also been much useful study documenting the natural resource extraction in Britain in the Roman period including the iron-producing centres, such as the Weald (Cleere 1974; Cleere and Crossley 1995), the Forest of Dean (Fulford and Allen 1992; Fulford 2004) and East Yorkshire (Halkon and Millett 1999). There were also leadproducing sites in Yorkshire, the Mendip Hills and elsewhere (Clough 1962; Tylecote 1976; Todd 1992), the gold deposit at Dolaucothi in southern Wales (Burnham and Burnham 2004), copper from Wales, tin and other resources from Cornwall, Purbeck ‘marble’ from Dorset, salt production and so on. It is has often been assumed that much of the exploitation of the natural resources such as metals would have been under state control. There is

People in Roman Britain 87 certainly evidence for military involvement in lead mining with stamps on lead pigs (ingots), but there were also what appear to have been individual’s names on some of the later ingots, which might mean other forms of production were taking place. The production may have been leased out under contract (Mattingly 2006: 507–8), but it is perhaps also important not to be too hasty to the assumption that the mines were always owned by the state or that ownership did not change. It is also often assumed that the land containing the iron ore sources were under imperial ownership including notable areas of deposits in the Weald of Kent, the Forest of Dean and the East Midlands. Whilst there is some evidence that the Classis Britannica was involved in iron production in the Weald in the early centuries, the exact nature of the activities and their organisation remain unclear. Within these areas there appear to have been a number of large production estates and smaller sites, and it is often argued that these are state production sites or leased out under contract by the state (ibid.: 210). Whilst these are possible interpretations, they must remain suggestions without further supporting evidence. Iron production, however, did take place in the Iron Age, and it is important to recognise that forms of production and organisation may have continued in the Roman period, albeit perhaps in an increased an altered manner as a result of the occupation. Importantly, the practical role of the mining and extraction activities should not be overlooked because these activities would have formed an important part of the identities of those involved. It is also possible that these roles carried cultural meanings and status that has been lost today because of the cultural and religious meanings associated with metals and the processes of metal production (cf. Herbert 1993; Hingley 1997). It is also important when considering the activities relating to natural resource extraction and production not to divorce the significance of the practices from the wider and longer-term significance attached to these landscapes and resources. The negotiation with the landscape through the extraction and production of resources and significance attached to these places would have formed a major element of their importance and biography (see also Chapter 5 for a discussion of materials). In the Roman period many of these resources were taken over or used for the first time (at least on a larger scale), but these activities must also be seen to form part of the longer-term significance and meaning associated with these places. As craftsmen and labourers negotiated their identities in the context of the Roman occupation, the meanings of places and landscapes would also be significant and negotiated at this time; any study of the practical aspects of production or industry in the Roman period should take this into account. OTHER FACETS OF BEING HUMAN IN ROMAN BRITAIN As well as career biographies, of course, there are also other elements that can shape people’s identities, experiences and life courses including, as

88 People in Roman Britain alluded to, their age, biological sex, gender (as social construct) and status. In Roman studies there is now increasing attention given to the human life course and especially areas that have not always received as much attention as they deserve including childhood and old age (e.g. Gowland 2001; Harlow and Laurence 2002; 2007; 2012; Rawson 2005; Revell 2005), and in medieval archaeology, an important new work by Roberta Gilchrist (2012) has explored these aspects through a study of archaeological material and the framework of the life course. The implications of age, sex, gender and other facets of identity on the way in which archaeological material might be interpreted to address past experiences is something that is increasingly forming an important part of archaeology and ancient history (e.g. Hemelrijk and Woolf 2013; Revell 2010). Women have increasingly been given a voice in academic studies through textual evidence relating to either an elite group of powerful and influential women involved in political life or wealthier women able to get involved in civic munificence. Hemelrijk (2013) has undertaken a study of 363 inscriptions referring to female benefactions from urban contexts with 48 per cent coming from Italy, 39 per cent from North Africa and Spain and smaller numbers from other areas. She argues that these benefactions integrated women into public life and allowed them build their status within their cities and the careers of their children and descendants (ibid.: 80). They were able to leave their mark on the city. Whilst this is an immensely useful analysis it is also important to recognise that these benefactions still only represent a small number of women who would have lived in these towns, and they would have been of elite or sub-elite rank. It is much more difficult to analyse the lives of women who did not provide these benefactions. Whilst these women, moreover, were keen to take part in the elite life of the cities, there would also have been women that wished to live their lives through other traditions. This may have been particularly marked in provinces such as Britain where towns developed in landscapes with people possessing other priorities and ways of expressing their identities. In Roman Britain it seems likely, however, that local customs and conventions as well as Roman traditions would also have had an impact on the way in which individual’s experienced—and were indeed permitted to experience—the world around them. Indeed, it could be argued that there are no single landscapes that can be documented and described because they were constructs of each person’s own perspectives and experiences. Likewise, places, although perhaps collectively recognised as important or special, would have been multifaceted through the experiences of each person; these experiences would also have changed throughout the life course of every individual. Places were constructed both of the memories these people had and their everyday actions in the present. It is important not to underestimate the significance that a child’s perspective would have constructed a landscape or experienced a building differently to a young adult or an older person. This difference relates not only to their level of prior knowledge and experience of particular places but also

People in Roman Britain 89 more physical aspects such as their size, height, mobility, health, condition of eyesight, hearing ability and so on; in these respects each place would have been unique to the individual, although there may well also have been collective meanings. There are likely also to have been rules of access to buildings or places relating to age as well as opportunities to subvert these rules; children would have been able to move through small gaps, climb walls and so on in ways that fewer adults could. Local customs may well also have had established rules or traditions concerning male and female uses of space and differences of access, but it seems likely that males and females would have experienced the same places differently. Bender (2001) has argued that prehistoric monuments can be interpreted from the perspective of ‘contested landscapes’ where the experiences of men, women and children would have differed and competed with each other because of their different viewpoints and needs (see Figure 3.5). This type of analysis, although it can be difficult without also having textual sources to give some kind of supporting evidence, can provide extra dimensions to studies of Roman settlements and landscapes as constructed through human action and behaviour. Status is likely to have played one important role in influencing the differences in how places were used and experienced. A retired legionary soldier living in

Figure 3.5 Photograph of the Neolithic henge monument of Maumbury Rings in Dorset outside the Roman town at Dorchester (Durnovaria) which became the site of the amphitheatre. It is possible to think about the way in which these monuments may have been contested as they were experienced by people of different sectors of society, ages and genders. Source: Photograph reproduced with permission from Dorset County Council Historic Environment Record.

90 People in Roman Britain a colony, for instance, would supposedly have received a piece of land most likely confiscated from the local population, although by the second century at least they would have been retired with money rather than with land. Many buildings such as some bathhouses and temples would also have had access to them controlled by aspects such as status, and in many cases, access perhaps depended on the time of day or year. Places, then, were constructed through human actions and life courses, which means that they were never static entities that can be recorded through archaeological description. Allason-Jones’s (1989) book Women in Roman Britain has been immensely important in emphasising the lives of women in Roman Britain through a detailed consideration of many themes and activities that may have involved women and the differences between the life of an urban woman compared with that of a rural woman. What the book clearly demonstrates is that many of these activities involving women had often been neglected by male archaeologists writing on Roman Britain, which they saw as insignificant, but were in their own right highly skilled and demanded the utmost seriousness in their undertaking be it what could be described as housework activities, childcare or other activities. These were vital roles which would have formed part of the everyday experiences of many women and constituted significant parts of their identity. That said, however, it could also be argued that the book does tend to reinforce a rather normative approach to the experience of women. The themes that the book addresses such as ‘at home’, ‘fashion’ and ‘marriage’ must surely invoke modern attitudes even if these are now increasingly considered inappropriate to consider the lives of women today. The nature of these activities, including how housework was experienced, also draws on parallels from today rather than on the social context of the time, and it is important not to neglect the possibility that men may also have been involved in these activities. There has been far less in the way of impact of gender archaeology on our understanding of women’s lives in Roman Britain compared with other areas of archaeology, especially prehistory where, as we have seen, there has now been much useful debate on the subject. Whilst we know from the Classical sources about at least two apparently powerful and influential women in Late Iron Age/early Roman society in Britain—namely Boudica and Cartimandua—there are very few other sources relating to Britain that refer to women. This could mean that with Britain in the Roman Empire, there was a reduction in the possibilities for women to have positions of power; certainly they would not have formed part of the provincial administration (although they were influential behind the scenes). This aspect of women’s lives, then, may have changed in the Roman period, but they are likely to have continued any important roles that they had in more localised, especially rural, contexts. What it meant to be a man or a woman, to be male or female, would also have been culturally specific and difficult to discern from archaeological material alone without placing the biases of the observed onto the material. Studies such as by Allison (1999; Allison

People in Roman Britain 91 et al. 2005) and Allason-Jones (2001) have demonstrated the difficulties in categorising objects as male or female and then attempting to discern uses of space from this material. What is clear, however, is that the experiences of women would have been important in the construction of the meaning of each settlement and must be considered to have formed part of the biographies of these sites. Harlow and Laurence’s (2002) book Growing Up and Growing Old in Ancient Rome is a useful contribution to the study of the experience of girls and women in the past through their life course, but, as the title indicates, the book is primarily about Rome and, more specifically, the people that are recorded in the Classical texts, so presumably they are of a higher status than the majority of the population. Knapp (2011: 28) has made the useful observation that the issues that preoccupy the writers of the Classical sources would not have been of particular significance for the ordinary working people in Rome. Harlow and Laurence’s book contains a useful case study examining the way in which people’s identities, appearance, attitudes and experiences change throughout their lives and also how these can differ between male and female. For an area of the Empire such a Britain, however, such textual sources are likely to be relevant in reflecting the lives of only a handful of people that came into the province. Regional populations are likely to have had their own traditions, initiation rituals, ways of treating the young and elderly, social attitudes towards age and so on and how these differed between male and female. It seems very unlikely that without textual sources we can begin to access these attitudes, their complexities and how they differed locally and regionally across Britain. Generally, however, it seems likely that men and women, children and the elderly would have experienced landscapes and settlements differently, but these experiences would all have come together to form significant integral components of the biographies of these landscapes and settlements. Human action and experience can be thought to constitute the existence and meaning of these sites and landscapes. Whilst that it might seem obvious that children would have experienced buildings and settlements differently because of their different perspectives one especially significant issue might be that of the dangers that children would have faced that were less of an issue for adults. This includes the dangers associated with urban topographies. At Roman London for example, the Walbrook Valley formed a significant feature of the town with the Upper Walbrook Valley consisting of a number of small streams and marshy areas which were gradually canalised as the settlement developed (Hill and Rowsome 2011; Leary and Butler 2012; Maloney 1990; Rogers 2013). Many of these small streams would have needed to be crossed as people negotiated themselves through the settlement, and it seems likely that insubstantial and makeshift bridges were made from wooden planks and other materials. Whilst the streams and marshy areas would have been posed no danger to adults, it is conceivable that they would have been much more dangerous

92 People in Roman Britain to small children who could fall into them and even drown. Negotiating these features would also have been more difficult for small children compared with adults and would have formed a significantly different settlement experience. It would perhaps be too easy to draw on studies of classical texts referring to the lives of children in Rome to create a picture of children’s experiences in Britain (e.g. Dixon 2001; Harlow and Laurence 2002; Laes 2011), but whether these same kind of social normalities were followed in Britain is unclear especially outside of urban contexts. It is likely that in the countryside, many local traditions and rites of passage continued to be important from prehistory, and in urban settings there could well have been a range of traditions from the contexts. More general archaeological work on the socialisation of children has examined the importance of local contexts in the way children develop their experiences and identities which then plays a significant role in the identities of adults (e.g. Baxter 2005; Sofaer 2000). It is not easy to know how to recognise the lives of children in the archaeological record and the way in which they thought about and experienced the places in which they lived. Nevertheless, it seems probable that their ways of life would have continued in the Roman period even whilst the lives of some adults at least were changing. Certainly following Mattingly’s (2004; 2006) model of choice and discrepant experience, it could well only have been in adulthood that people were able to make their own choices about how they would live (if they had the opportunity to do this). Whilst the new lives of adults would, of course, have had an impact on their children, it seems likely that traditions of child rearing would have had strong bonds with local traditions from prehistory. Ideas around death and the treatment of the body also constitute elements of identity. As with childhood, ill health or disabilities can also form a facet of difference of experience that is not taken into account by adult archaeologists. On death, the body of the individual left behind becomes an object in the world of the living and is subject to the behaviour, beliefs and conventions of the living people (cf. Gowland and Knussel 2009). As such, the body itself has a history because it has an impact on the living, but it is also treated in a way that draws on traditions and rituals that are considered appropriate or necessary. This is not to say that the identity of the person that has died does not also continue to play a role, but the body can only be acted on by the living. The tombstones found in Roman Britain tend to have been left by those that came into Roman Britain rather than local populations, and there has been much debate about why this was the case. Hope (2001) has argued that leaving tombstones was a way of people far from home of gaining some kind of permanence and recognition in the world after a more transitory existence in life. Tombstones would also have cost money, but this does not mean that only poorer people would not have constructed the tombstones. It seems instead that they did not form part

People in Roman Britain 93 of the pre-existing tradition in Britain and therefore would not have been considered desirable or appropriate to them. Burial remains can be a rich source of data, providing evidence relating to the lives of each individual as studied by osteoarchaeologists. Analysis of burials include the treatment of the body and layout and contents of graves (or context in which the human remains are found), the organisation and layout of cemeteries or other burial places, and the study of the human remains (Reece 1982; Philpott 1991). Burial practices reveal important reflections on the living with burials contributing to the continued development and transformation of the biography of each individual. What is clear for Roman Britain is that there are far fewer burials known from excavation than must be representative of the population. Whilst to some extent this is connected with the priorities that have historically been given to certain areas of study, as well as centuries of land use and destruction that would have had an impact on the survival of burial remains, it also suggests that there continued to be a range of practices with dealing with the dead in the Roman period that did not necessarily leave what would be recognised as a burial today. Even fewer burials from the Iron Age than are known than from the Roman period, suggesting a variety of treatments of the body which then have continued to be important or evolved in the Roman period. Sharples (2010: 247–87) has discussed evidence of a range of ways of treating the dead in Iron Age Britain including in settlement contexts, as structured deposition, in pits such as grain-storage pits, in rivers and bogs, as inhumation and as cremation. From the study of the human remains it is clear that practices such as excarnation, human sacrifice and head cults also took place in the Iron Age (ibid.); the activities would also have involved landscapes, settlements and structures. The discovery of human body parts within structures and settlements, in contexts including pits, ditches and wells, in the Roman period has in the past tended to be regarded as being the result of carelessness, or they were residual from later activity or site disturbance. It is being increasingly recognised, however, that they were in fact the result of deliberate activity and that the body parts formed integral components of the settlements or buildings merging identities and biographical constructions. The treatment of the dead provided one type of material manifestation of continuing practices and beliefs from the Iron Age. This might be even more significant with the recognition that the dead in some societies are thought to continue to play a prominent role amongst the world of the living (cf. Crais and Scully 2009). Whilst in modern Western society the dead do not really play a role in the lives of the living, except in personal memory, in some societies they are considered to play a more prominent role in terms of influence, power, decision-making and so on. It is worth recognising, then, that the dead could well have continued to play an influential role in settlements at least for as long as the memory of them remained necessary and important. As we have seen Creighton (2006) has argued that the memory of individuals could have

94 People in Roman Britain formed a significant part of the meanings and origin myths associated with settlements. Roman period London provides a useful example for developing this further. In southern Britain furnished cremation burials had been adopted by some in the late Iron Age, and this form of burial was the dominant form of cemetery burial in the early Roman period. Like most Roman towns, moreover, there were large cemeteries outside the town gates, and there have been a number of excavations in these areas such as the eastern cemetery (Barber and Bowsher 2000), western cemetery (Watson 2003) and the south (Mackinder 2000). These burials represent one form of expression of identity, but within the town there are also other finds of human bones. At the site of Moor House (see Figure 3.6), which lay just outside the north boundary of the town in a wet and low-lying area of the Upper Walbrook Valley, there were numerous small river channels and areas of marshy ground, was a large number of disarticulated human body parts with a deliberate concentration of specific bone types, suggesting that the bones did not simply represent disturbed burials (Butler 2006: 38–41). The evidence suggests that people from a wide area were converging at this place to dispose of the dead through longer-held ritual ceremonies. It is also significant that the Walbrook river seems to have been used for the deposition of large numbers of human skulls in prehistory but also into the Roman period (Merrifield 1995), emphasising the continuation of tradition of ritual activity using human remains. This would suggest that in this urban context, and perhaps involving people coming to this area from elsewhere in the vicinity, people’s bodies were being treated in ways influenced by prehistoric practices. Whilst these people residing in the town were living in a somewhat ‘Roman’-influenced setting, influencing their identity, in death their biographies continued to evolve and bring together a range of traditions. For the people carrying out the treatment of the bodies, they may well also have been acknowledging the complex identities of the dead individuals. Dead babies also appear to have been treated in specific ways. It has long been recognised that they were predominantly not buried in the same contexts as children and adults were. It seems either that they were buried in separate areas to the main cemetery or that they were disposed of in other ways. It has often been argued that babies were treated in this way because they were not yet considered to be people, and so did not afford any special burial rite or treatment (e.g. Philpott 1991: 97; Struck 1993). It seems, however, that these babies were treated in very special ways, just in a different manner to that of the adults. It could be that because the babies had not yet developed their own individual identities and were not able to negotiate themselves within the Roman occupation, longer-term traditions prevailed and were considered more suitable for them. As children got older their identities developed as they negotiated understandings of being through both their local and wider social and political contexts. This might suggest that children were not considered to form part of the way in which identities

People in Roman Britain 95

Figure 3.6

Plan of the Moor House site in London.

Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Butler (2006).

could alter as people negotiated their being within the context of the Empire. Longer-term traditions could have been regarded as being more important and relevant to them. This might explain why they are often found in what were ritual deposits in pits and within buildings and in agricultural contexts. Excavations in insula IX at Silchester uncovered the bones from a minimum of four infants from within pits, apparently not placed within them as complete skeletons (Snelling 2006: 200–5). These were with animal bones, suggesting ritual deposits perhaps using dead infants in ways that had been carried out in prehistory as a way of negotiating with the godly world and securing one’s position in the world. Infant burials are well known on rural

96 People in Roman Britain settlement sites, and it has been suggested that they were involved in the agricultural cycle and, therefore, the life cycle, perhaps continuing traditions from prehistory; the agricultural cycle would have been deeply embedded into the psyche of rural people and local traditions and beliefs are likely to have survived for centuries, even if the way in which they were expressed changed in the Roman period. Excavations at Hambleden Roman villa in Buckinghamshire in the early twentieth century famously uncovered ninetyseven infant burials, and these were predominantly interpreted in terms of illegitimacy, secrecy and poverty (see Figure 3.7; Cocks 1921: 150; Johnston 1983: 11; Mays 1993). There have been a number of studies of the contexts of Roman period infant burials in Britain (Moore 2009; Pearce 1999; 2001; Scott 1991; 1999) emphasising the need to move beyond twentiethcentury social values, prejudices and expectations relating to infant burials and instead to examination the social meanings behind the contexts of deposition including associations with the agricultural cycle and notions of regeneration and rebirth. This is compatible with Moore’s (2009: 41) observation that the vast majority of infant burials were associated with domestic contexts. The sheer number of them suggests that people would have come from a wide surrounding area to deposit the babies here. The villa context of the deposits indicates some change in behaviour and use of the landscape but at the same time they were drawing on longer-term traditions and rituals; the babies did not yet belong to the contemporary social context and could therefore form part of longer-term continuities in belief and being. Whilst the organisation of agricultural practices could have changed, the infant burials were a way of forming links with longer-term traditions. This might also be the case for the infant burials found placed within bronze casting pits within the annexe of the baths-basilica at Wroxeter in the later Roman period (see Chapter 5; Barker et al. 1997). It could be that this metalworking activity also drew on longer-term traditions of ritualised production from prehistory and the association between metalworking and notions of passage, regeneration and rebirth like the agricultural cycle. From birth, then, it could be argued that people’s identities were constantly developing and changing, but this would also have been affected by the imperial context and influences that people found themselves in. It seems that people’s identities first belonged to the longer-term local beliefs, and then, as they aged, they negotiated with the new possibilities and political situations that presented themselves. One noticeable feature of most urban cemeteries in Roman Britain is the relatively lower number of adult females compared with males (e.g. the London eastern cemetery; Barber and Bowsher 2000: 313–4). This might suggest that urban centres never became regarded as the most suitable places for settled family lives in Roman Britain and that there were higher male populations in towns because they were the foci of people coming in from outside Britain and where more men than women may have gone to practice trades and run businesses. In death it might also be that more women were concerned about returning to longer-held beliefs

People in Roman Britain 97

Figure 3.7

Plan of the excavated areas of the Hambleden villa, Buckinghamshire.

Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Cocks (1921).

and traditions that did not form part of their newer expressions of identity as part of Roman Britain. The lack of evidence can be just as important as the information gained from studying material. It is certainly clear that people’s identities continually developed through their lives in the context of Roman Britain and were reshaped because of the changing political situations. Whilst not often acknowledged as much as it should, another aspect shaping identity is human health which can also have a significant impact on how the world is experienced and, in turn, can shape the life course.

98 People in Roman Britain Levels of health can, of course, change significantly through a person’s life especially in older age when mobility, eyesight, hearing and the other senses can be affected. In different settlement contexts there are likely to have been varying possibilities of receiving health care and of different types. Doctors would also not really have been able to help with much more minor ailments and conditions such as broken bones and perhaps preventing infection in wounds. The military were perhaps likely to have had the best access to care, thus widening the difference between their lives and the indigenous peoples. One of the buildings in the fort at Housesteads next to the principia building has traditionally been identified as a hospital—and it is labelled as such at the fort—(cf. Crow 2004; Rushworth 2009), but there is not really any substantial evidence in terms of artefactual remains that would support this interpretation of the building’s function. There have been some detailed published studies on human health in the Roman period, and it not the place to go into this in detail, but it is useful to mention some of the results of this work. In most instances it is not necessarily the fact that people’s health would have improved in the Roman period, although there would have been new levels of hygiene and sanitation in some contexts (Roberts and Cox 2003; 2004), even though bathhouses were as much connected with religious activity as with cleanliness. Roberts and Cox’s archaeological study of health and disease through time has demonstrated an evidential rise in dental disease, anaemia, joint disease, other bodily inflictions and infections. These diseases would have formed significant components of the way in which people experienced their surroundings and were able to live out their daily lives. It seems likely that in most contexts, also, traditional medical practices continued from the Iron Age. One interesting perspective on this is Patricia Baker’s (2004) contextual analysis of medical instruments from military frontier contexts on the Rhine, the Danube and northern Britain. These instruments included needles, scalpels, forceps, spoon probes, dental tools, ear probes and surgical knives. Through this study Baker was able to demonstrate differences in the evident medical care taking place amongst the different units suggesting that these individual units may have chosen their own care rather than there being a uniform system. Baker suggests that it is possible that this may relate to the different cultural backgrounds of the units with some not wishing to adopt new forms of medical activity. It seems that attitudes towards ailments, diseases and their treatment can be imbued with mores and traditions and form a significant part of cultural identity. One area where there may have been a difference in levels of health at least for some in the Roman period is in eye care as represented by the finds of oculists’ (collyrium) stamps in Britain (Jackson 1996). There are now about thirty of these stamps in Britain, and they are composed of stone dies for impressing into medicinal preparations to treat the eye although it is unclear how and if they worked. Mattingly (2006: 498) has highlighted the fact that the find spots of these stamps show a broad distribution along

People in Roman Britain 99 the main road network of the province with most coming from towns and small towns. This suggests that these oculists would have been based in the market centres and that people travelled to these settlements to obtain this and other treatment. These new treatments would have had an impact on people’s experiences and wider opportunities in this provincial context, but it is unclear who would have engaged with this form of care. Local traditions and practices would also have remained important and given particular values to local areas, settlements and people. CONCLUSION In this chapter the complexity of person biographies within the context of Britain and the Roman Empire has been examined. There are, of course, many facets of identity, but they also need to be combined with the complex social and political situation of Britain in the Empire. Critical biographies allow us to move beyond simplistic recreations of the self and life experiences and think about the way in which people’s lives were lived out within very different social and cultural contexts than our own. Imperial careers demonstrate the way in which some people moved around the empire acquiring new experiences and influencing their identities in the places that they lived and worked. It seems likely that the local peoples would have had different concepts of identity, experience and the life course which would have come into conflict with the position of Britain in the Roman Empire. People’s experiences were also interrelated with buildings, landscapes and objects which are explored in the next chapters, and thus, their biographies were intertwined in a much more complex way than has often been considered in Roman archaeology. People’s identities and idea about themselves were changeable throughout the course of their lives, and we will also see this with the identities of settlements, landscapes and objects all of which were integral and influential on each other. NOTE 1. Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 16 was replaced in 2010 by ‘Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning and the Historic Environment’, which also combined it with PPG 15, which dealt with other areas of the historic environment. In 2012 this, in turn, was replaced by an even more streamlined ‘National Planning Policy Framework’.


Buildings, Settlements, Landscapes and Critical Identities

Like people, buildings, settlements and landscapes have ‘lives’ (though not in today’s biological sense), and as such we can critically analyse our approach to their archaeology. These lives are integrated into the lives of people because, in a two-way process, they give each other meaning and significance. The separation of humans from landscapes tends to be made more distinct in archaeological studies, drawing on today’s perceptions, than it necessarily was in the past, and in the same way the distinction between inanimate and animate need also not have been the same in the past. As we have seen, the biographical framework has been a useful way for archaeologists to organise the archaeological material and to write about sites and site use through time, but in doing this it is important to avoid normative assumptions relating to site continuity, change and experience, as well as the structural identities of the buildings and settlements as a whole. The critical biographical approach allows us to explore new angles for interpreting the archaeology of buildings, settlements and landscapes and thinking about them in terms of their relationship with people and people’s experiences. Whilst archaeologists often draw on the concept of people biographies to analyse archaeological material and its use life, constructing people’s identities and life courses in the past is also a complex activity; this in turn should be recognised in our reconstructions of buildings, places, settlements and landscapes so as to avoid assumptions relating to structural identity, use and experience. As with the identities of people, moreover, structural identities and places are changeable, contextually specific and can develop in the context of the new social, political and economic circumstances. The Roman conquest is often considered in terms of disruption and discontinuity, but a critical approach can allow us to develop a more inclusive perspective which combines change with continuity in a way that does not always meet conventional forms of narrative. The concept of the heterography suggests a different form of biographical construction that does not take for granted modern Western notions of the construction of identity and the life course and takes into account the impact of colonialism on the composition of identity and the life course. It is possible to develop more critical ways of thinking about the lives of buildings and landscapes, and this can include

Critical Identities 101 the way in which settlements have conventionally been categorised and how they were used and experienced. THE LIVES OF BUILDINGS AND SETTLEMENTS The notion that buildings, settlements and landscapes, and even places that have not involved any form of construction or alteration, have lives and biographies is a useful one in archaeology, and it also means that they can be considered to have identities with all the complexities in interpreting them as examined in relation to people in the previous chapter. Critical approaches to identity in this way can ensure that we do not take our understandings of these structures, landscapes and places, and their relationship with people, for granted. The suitability of the biographical framework for thinking about them on a more practical level is partly because of the nature of the archaeological discipline, which generally requires the archaeological material to be organised chronologically with the excavation process documenting phases of structural development and building use over time. But it can also relate to the relationship between people and buildings and between the identities the buildings acquired and how they were experienced. Archaeological analyses of buildings taking social approaches explore the way in which internal spaces were used and organised and often how this might reflect on wider conceptions and attitudes within society regarding space and other aspects of life. Archaeologists have long had a useful and strong relationship with anthropological work to aid the investigation of the biography of houses and the organisation of their internal spaces. Such famous anthropological studies include Cunningham’s (1964) study of Atoni Houses. In this study Cunningham demonstrated that the Atoni dwellings were thought to stand in opposition to the sun, and because of this the entrances to the dwellings did not face east or west; for light, instead, there was the fire inside the house. This specific cultural organisation of the house must also have had an impact on human experiences within the structures because of the particular nature of firelight and the smoke, smells and sounds particular to it. The structuralist philosophy of Lévi-Strauss (e.g. 1982) has also had an impact on the way in which archaeologists, especially prehistorians, have thought about the internal space organisation of structures including divisions of public and private space. Through these studies the internal spaces acquire biographies of use, but the buildings also have a structural life which has an impact on how we study their cultural biography. Kopytoff (1986), for instance, studied the houses of the Suku of Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and documented how these houses can take on different uses in later stages of their life, which also led to structural changes to the buildings. This could include the transformation of a domestic space into a more work-focused kitchen and then sometimes into a chicken coop before then finally collapsing. These structures were changing function, but each

102 Critical Identities phase was no less significant that the preceding one, and each contributed to the overall structural life of the building. That the final stages of the building also had significant lasting cultural meanings is reflected in the fact that it was considered socially unacceptable to change a structure that functioned as something like a chicken coop back to a kitchen or domestic structure; it was not thought of as being a possible part of the life cycle of the building. A number of studies in prehistoric archaeology have emphasised that the importance of the biography is in documenting structural development of buildings and specific sites over time. This has included studies of both the rectangular structures that predominate on continental Europe and roundhouse structures in Britain. Bailey (1990) for example has argued that the continued building and rebuilding of structures on the same site could have been a way of legitimising positions within society and ensuring social continuity. Chapman (1997: 158) has written about the notion of ‘timemarks’ as places where significant social action occurs over time, creating history and mythology, and consequently it becomes difficult to break away from these places. Buildings and structural developments also represent the process of time and can be considered in terms of the way in which they indicate the passage of time and how people regarded temporality in prehistory (Thomas 1996). Gerritsen’s (2003) study of Iron Age longhouses in the Netherlands is a useful example of the application of the structural biography to a detailed consideration of the archaeological evidence (see Figure 4.1). In Britain there have been a number of studies considering the structural lives and organisation of roundhouses. This has included studies of left/right divisions of space, centre/periphery organisations and the structuring of space through the deposition of artefacts (e.g. Brück 1999; Fitzpatrick 1994; Parker Pearson and Richards 1994).

Figure 4.1 Plan of one of the longhouses analysed in Fokke Gerritsen’s volume Local Identities. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Gerritsen (2003: 65, fig. 3.21).

Critical Identities 103 Especially useful has been Sharples (2010: 174–237) coverage and discussion of the idea of the Iron Age house as a cosmology examining house use life, size, orientation and internal organisation. He usefully discusses a range of studies of Iron Age roundhouses and re-emphasises the importance of cosmological considerations in their construction and organisation which has undergone some attack and criticism in recent studies (e.g. Pope 2007; Webley 2007). One useful example of this is in the consideration of the orientation of roundhouse doorways. Oswald (1997) published a study of roundhouse plans and orientation and argued that roundhouse entrances seem to have been deliberately oriented towards midwinter sunrise (southeast) and the equinox (east). Oswald was one of the first to argue usefully that these structures were not simply orientated this way because of the problems caused by strong westerly winds or to maximise the sunlight that entered the structures; there was more to these structural orientations than simply functionalist explanations. Building on this, Sharples (2010: 198) argued that wind direction is affected by local topography so would create a much more generalised spread of doorway orientation than is currently seen in the evidence, and there are major regional differences in the direction of bad weather between the east and west coast of Britain. Sharples’s own analysis of structure orientation in Iron Age Wessex was also able to demonstrate a marked concentration of entrances orientated to the south-east and a more general spread to the south and east, which would seem to support Oswald’s earlier studies and analyses. Despite the debate about how we bring social interpretations to the meaning of structures, there are generally thought to be fewer problems from social and theoretical perspectives with the way in which archaeologists actually reconstruct these buildings and understand their structural history. What makes studies of Roman Britain, and other provinces, so challenging is that there is still much uncertainty about the nature, interpretation and function of many archaeological structures and the processes and social implications involved in the development of new settlement and building types after the Roman conquest or as a result of influences from the Empire. Such an example of the complexities of these structural changes is with the construction of rectangular buildings instead of roundhouses that we see occurring in Britain in the Roman period. The roundhouses that continued to be occupied or built in the Roman period should also be interpreted and understood within the new social context rather than making assumptions about the nature of the continuity from the Iron Age. Each structure would have its own identity as a unique outcome of Britain’s presence within the Roman Empire which can be expressed through more critical perspectives as in the case of the heterography. This framework acknowledges the complexities that can exist in attempting to understand identities (which in this case would be structural identities) as different traditions, ideas and peoples were brought together. The human perception, organisation and experience of internal space should also form an important part of the structural

104 Critical Identities analysis because the meanings attached to spaces can be different from the changes to the buildings. Each structure, consequently, must be analysed on its own merits without making assumptions relating to its nature and function through simplistic labels that Romanists tend to give to buildings and settlements such as villa, farmstead, small town, town and so on (cf. Millett 2001). Roundhouses that continued in use or that were built in Roman period Britain should be interpreted beyond arguments that relate simply to cultural resistance, lack of engagement with Rome or economic poverty. A critical approach allows us to contextualise the way in which we construct our understanding of buildings through our expectations of what these buildings should be like, how they should function and how they were experienced. Our reconstruction of the archaeology is often related as much to our preconceptions of the structures as the actual nature of the material remains itself. This was especially the case in antiquarian and other early excavation work which actively sought to discover remains of perceived Roman civilisation brought to Britain rather than trying to understand the structures in their own terms and contexts (cf. Hingley 2000). Indeed, Millett (2001: 174) has argued that many sites defy modern categorisation, and it is important to acknowledge this difference in the past before we can begin to understand the function and nature of each structure. Perhaps one of the types of structures and settlement forms often regarded as most familiar to us in Roman Britain, and the Roman period more generally, is the villa, but even this structural type should not be taken for granted. Many have been subject to a long history of study and their early analyses have formed a major part of our understanding of Roman Britain. For example Frampton Roman villa in Dorset was uncovered and documented by Samuel Lysons (1763–1819), the antiquarian who worked on a number of sites in the area, in the 1790s after it was first discovered by labourers working in the vicinity. The mosaics received quite a lot of publicity at that time including one that depicted a chi–rho emblem; another mosaic contained scenes perhaps from the Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid (Putnam 2007: 86–8). The remains have always been described as a villa in studies of Roman Britain, but very little is actually known about the plan or nature of the complex because few rooms have actually been excavated. The structure also seems somewhat curiously to have been placed in the floodplain of the River Frome, which it seems would have likely flooded regularly. It might instead be possible to see this structure as having more of a religious function with the mosaics depicting a now seemingly complex amalgamation of religious imagery and beliefs. In automatically reinterpreting this structure as a religious building, however, it is important to be careful in assuming that modern notions of convenience/inconvenience and ideas relating to domestic life can be applied to the past. Millett (2005) has argued that it is important to realise that many of the sites that we have may well defy modern categorisations. Frampton reminds us that many of the sites that we think we know and understand, and that have often becomes

Critical Identities 105 fixtures in the literature, are actually known with a lot less certainty than assumptions often suggest. The villa complex at Lullingstone in Kent (see Figure 4.2) is another example that has often been treated in terms of a typical Roman country house, but could this be more because we are applying modern assumptions and interpretations on to the structure in our analyses? If a more critical approach is taken, it is possible to break down our understanding of these complex structures and to think again about the buildings, their landscape settings and their use. The rich contextualised structural and material evidence excavated from Lullingstone during the long campaign of excavations from the late 1940s to early 1960s (Meates 1979) demonstrate how methods of excavation had moved on from many earlier digs at villas which tended to focus predominantly on uncovering the villa plans and their mosaics, such as with Lyson’s work. The Lullingstone excavations indicated the importance of recording phases of development and use over time in as much detail as possible as well as the contextual documentation of discoveries during the excavation which included infant burials, marble busts and pit deposits. This detailed recording of information can also now allow archaeologists to go back and look at the information again and reconsider interpretations in the light of new evidence from other sites and new theories and concepts. The expectations of what a Roman villa should be, and how it should function,

Figure 4.2

Plan of the villa at Lullingstone, Kent.

Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Meates (1979: 25, fig. 2).

106 Critical Identities has tended to influence many interpretations of the structural and material evidence from excavations and this practice has continued to this day. The expectations of the villa as a comfortable country house for the elite of society—projecting, especially, modern ideas of the aristocratic lifestyle onto the past—can influence the way in which the plans and details of the sites and how they were experienced, are interpreted. The detail of the recording of the excavated remains can allow us to rethink some of these aspects. To start with, there is the location of the villa by the side of the River Darent which suggests that there would have been problems with flooding in the vicinity. Most studies of villas would argue for economic interpretations of the villa location because it was terraced on the hillside beside the river, the river provided a useful source of water, pasture and a communication route, and there was sufficient open land for cultivation. This might seem a useful rational argument but this location is subject to flooding as occurred during the excavations in July 1956 when floodwater rose to the wall tops of the site, and in the Deep Room the water was around 2.45 meters deep. This flooding within the Deep Room part of the complex dislodged material from a blocked niche, and at the back of this niche was found the representation of three water nymphs. It could be that these representations were in some way in connection with the recognition of the landscape as potentially significant and liable to flood. It might be that this particular landscape was considered to be ritually significant before the construction of the villa and that its construction was seen to be an important recognition of the importance of this landscape. It also suggests that the notion of convenience and rationality need not be suitable for understanding the decisions that were made at this time. This does not necessarily mean that the structure was not a villa or that it has an economic function, just that the decisions in location and use need not equate with modern expectations and the emphasis on rationality. The interaction between new styles of building and the meanings that could be associated with places is reflected well here. The Deep Room itself, which can occur in both urban and rural contexts, also seems to represent a specific cultural choice in construction and a more localised form of addition to the villa structure and is found in a number of villas in the area (Perring 1989). Within the Deep Room there is evidence of religious activity including the deposition of pots and later on the deposition of marble busts. Other unusual deposits include a pit containing lead-rich copper-alloy ingots and another containing pieces of leather described in the published report as a tannage pit. The report records a pit with contents that appear to have been carefully structured with the complete skull of a lamb and pottery sherds at the lowest level (Meates 1979: 106–7). Above this were a large number of leather items, especially leather sandals suggestive of more than thirty-four individual shoes. Within the pit were also large quantities of seeds, pips and fruit stones interpreted as being used to create an acidic liquid for tanning. Then above this was the complete skeleton of a suckling pig, other pottery sherds and complete pots, one with a graffito on

Critical Identities 107 it. Rather than representing rubbish as the report stated, it seems that these finds are suggestive of ritual deposition. The interpretation of the leather deposit is not entirely clear, although it could represent the deposition of material that had a particular significance to those living or working at the villa, and there is evidence of a possible tannery in the vicinity. Indeed, shoe deposition seems to have been a significant ritual phenomenon in later periods as Ralph Merrifield (1987) demonstrated in his study of shoe deposition in post-medieval times in his book The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic. Leather shoes were also found preserved in the waterlogged Vindolanda deposits which contained the wooden writing tablets (Birley 2002) which could well also be interpreted as structured deposition. The marble busts from the Deep Room were also enigmatic, but they appear to have been placed there in the third century in an already weathered and damaged state. They were placed on the projecting steps within the room. Bust I was placed on the centre of the top step with its back to the wall block, and Bust II, the head upon a small podium beside the steps, leaning against the wall with the face exposed and the torso on the second step against the west wall, was also associated with some pieces of pottery vessels. The placement of these statues within the Deep Room has sometimes been considered to represent a change in ownership of the villa, but it is uncertain whether the busts really represent the owners. Their location in the Deep Room also suggests that they were continuing the religious significance of this space also suggested by the placement of pottery vessels and other items around them. This Deep Room appears to have continued as a place of ritual even when above it there was the creation of another possible religious space which is conventionally interpreted as a Christian house church dated to around the AD 380s. Fragments of wall plaster were found in the excavations having fallen down into the Deep Room (Meates 1987) and were first recognised by a member of the excavation team, Cregoe Nicholson, for the potential of the images that were on the fragments and he was in charge of piecing them back together. This work appeared to reveal walls decorated with images of praying figures and Christian symbols, including chi–rho monograms. The exact interpretation of the nature and form of the depictions, however, is now under some dispute. This is not only because of the heavy nature of some of the restoration (Millett 2007: 173) but because the use of particular religious symbols need not necessarily be suggestive of those religious beliefs or activities taking place. Whilst it is generally acknowledged that the room need not have functioned as a Christian church might be understood today, it is too presumptive to assume that a form of Christian activity that we might recognise really took place there. The paintings might suggest that the room was the context of some kind of religious activity, but this is already known from the earlier history of the villa and Deep Room. In the fourth century additions were made to the villa, including the construction of an apsed reception room with mosaic images drawing on Classical stories and myths, but it may also be that the apparent

108 Critical Identities Christian imagery formed part of an amalgamation of images from a variety of sources used to decorate the villa. The Christian room could have been where a variety of religious practices or a type of activity that is now difficult to recognise and explain was undertaken. As already argued the location of the villa already had religious significance with its watery setting, pit deposits and other activity. It is possible that the wall paintings represent a fourthcentury manifestation of the religious significance of place also indicated by the ancestor worship that possibly took place here. Whilst this settlement can be described as a villa, it is important not to assume that it can necessarily be interpreted in terms of modern expectations of villa form or function which often draws on Mediterranean models. The structural biography of the villa is an important way of understanding the site and its continued significance and evolving use over time but the biography assumes that we know the function and nature of the structure in the first place. Critical biographical frameworks such as the heterography allow us to acknowledge that villas could develop differently and have various localised meanings across the Empire in the different provincial contexts. There has long been much debate about the process of development of villa structures in Britain and about the social developments and changes they represent. Conventional interpretations, such as proposed by Francis Haverfield (1912), tended to emphasise Romanisation, and this framework has remained an important interpretative framework into the 1990s with Millett (1990) being especially influential. A number of attempts to gain a more sophisticated interpretation of villa development in Britain, where there were no comparable structures in the preceding Iron Age, have included Hingley’s (1990a) examination of the conversion of space from a circular structure to a rectangular building. He argued that the construction of rectangular buildings need not necessarily represent a change in the way in which the internal space was organised. Also significant is Jeremy Taylor’s (2011) analysis of villa structures in southern Britain where he has emphasised, and placed importance on, the differences between these complexes and those found in the more central parts of the Roman Empire. Each villa has an individual form of development reflecting local identities and requirements, but this need not simply relate not only to the development of the structures themselves but also to the landscape in which they were located. This is best demonstrated by a number of villas in Sussex which visually appear to have incorporated pre-existing monuments into the villa landscapes; for example at Beddingham villa in Sussex one of the walls of the newly constructed villa was deliberately built in a curve to respect the site of an existing roundhouse whilst at Barcombe, also Sussex, the villa plan clearly incorporated a Bronze Age round barrow (Rudling 1998; Rudling and Butler 2002). The identity of the people living in these structures, and the social processes taking place as they began to build the new buildings, is unknown, but these people were perhaps likely to have been tantalisingly complex in a way that we can only inadequately grasp. The incorporation

Critical Identities 109 of the monuments into the villa complexes would suggest that there was an attempt either to maintain the significance of the existing places or perhaps they were used as a way of legitimising new positions of power represented by land ownership and villa construction. The villa owners could have been local peoples or settlers that did not quite belong which meant that they needed to legitimise themselves in the landscape.

Households One important aspect of the social archaeological investigation of villas has been the study of household organisation within the buildings. There have now been a number of important studies of households in the Roman world (e.g. Allison 1999; Laurence and Wallace-Hadrill 1997; Samson ed. 1990; Wallace-Hadrill 1994). The study of the social organisation of villas emerged as a response to the predominant lack of analysis of the use and organisation of villa spaces, even though there was a long tradition of villa excavation. The development of social analyses of the use of these spaces was an attempt to move beyond descriptive approaches to villa plans, mosaics and other features which tended to dominate structures and instead address the social implications of the spaces by giving the users more of a focus in the investigation of the structures. This form of investigation has been addressed earlier in prehistoric settlement studies most notably in David Clarke’s (1972) analysis of the Iron Age settlement excavated at Glastonbury, the Glastonbury lake village. In Clarke’s interpretation of the settlement evidence he reconstructed the site as consisting of seven compounds or modules each of which containing a number of structures including two large roundhouses, which he argued were occupied by males, and then a single roundhouse occupied by females. He argued that each compound contained an extended family of about twenty persons and that there were distinctions in the use of space between areas for men and women. Clarke’s analysis was based not only on aspects of the structural record but also on his interpretation of the evidence of craft and cooking activities and on his cultural biases relating to male and female roles and positions in society, which has since been the subject of criticism, especially through theories in gender archaeology. Whilst the results of Clarke’s study of the Iron Age community and settlement organisation are treated with considerable caution today, the principles of such studies are important for helping us to access social meanings associated with the settlements. This remains as difficult an issue today as it was for Clarke in the 1970s especially in areas where there are few if any textual sources to support the interpretations. Hingley’s (1989) book Rural Settlement in Roman Britain was one of the first detailed attempts at examining social issues connected with the archaeological evidence of rural settlements in Britain paying particular attention to the theme of household and focusing not only on villas but the full range of rural settlements and structures that have been excavated as well. In one particular case study,

110 Critical Identities Hingley (1989: 43–4) drew on the excavations of an aisled house at North Warnborough in Hampshire, where he argued that the material culture from the house could be used to identify distinct areas of male and female activity with combs, shuttles and spindle whorls taken to indicate female occupation and spearheads, keys, padlocks, knives and ironmongery to indicate male activities. With this information Hingley reconstructed his interpretation of activity distribution in the building and allocated rooms as either male, female or both. In common with most studies of the period, however, Hingley did not incorporate archaeological theories relating to gender and identity and this analysis is unlikely to hold up to more critical scrutiny today. The book’s focus on the social interpretation of the settlements, however, which provided an important way forward in how the rich resource of material can be utilised. Another advocate of social interpretations of Roman rural settlement in Britain, focusing predominantly on villas, was J.T. Smith (e.g. 1963; 1978; 1982; 1987) who published a major monograph in 1997 after a series of earlier contributions (Smith 1997). The focus of much of his work was on the interpretation of villa plans, examining the layout of the buildings in terms of household composition and organisation. Smith also worked on architecture from other periods, including medieval Britain, and it could be argued that this also influenced his approach and perspective on the Roman material; his aim was not to critically challenge understanding of architectural space or experience. Whilst the principle of this analysis on the Roman villas were immensely useful the difficulty always was relating excavation plans to the social composition of houses which creates a circular argument in recreating the social composition from the interpretation of the plans. The originality and potential of Smith’s approach gives it importance, but the identification of household composition from building plans with or without additional archaeological material will always remain a problematic area of pursuit. What might be a beneficial perspective to take this approach further would be to place an emphasis on the internal spaces themselves as well as the two-dimensional building plans. The way in which these spaces were experienced could form a significant contribution to the construction of identity drawing on longer-term social traditions in the way in which space was used and experienced.

Villa Landscapes As well as villas, studies of villa landscapes have also tended to focus on economic interpretations. In Romano-British studies, villas have predominantly been regarded in economic terms and/or as elite country estates (Applebaum 1975; Branigan 1977; Todd 1988), but whilst many undoubtedly had an economic function and were for the relatively well-off, this does not mean that we necessarily know and understand their relationship with the landscape and deeper social meanings associated with their use

Critical Identities 111 and setting. It is perhaps easy to forget that whilst we generally understand villas as farms, the modern concepts of ‘farm’ and ‘farming’ are really a post-medieval development (Johnson 2007: 129). This is also the case with landscape itself—a debate that has now been well discussed (e.g. Cosgrove 1984; Cresswell 1994; Hirsch 1995; Johnson 2007) but has not as yet had a major impact on Roman archaeology (although see Rogers 2007; 2011a). Chapter 2 also examined the way in which traditions and techniques within landscape archaeology have also had an impact on the way in which we have constructed past landscapes and conceptualised human experiences within those landscapes. Archaeologists study landscapes through the sources that they construct themselves such as aerial photographs, geophysical and fieldwalking surveys, maps and site plans which in effect projects modern landscapes and perceptions into the past. The post-medieval origins of the term and the idea of ‘landscape’ has been usefully documented (Hirsch 1995; Lemaire 1997), as have the origins of ideas of the ‘picturesque’ and abstract notions of space, all of influence how we approach and think about landscapes in the past. In studying villa landscapes, then, a subject conventionally regarded as an unproblematic theme and familiar to us, much in the way of modern agricultural landscapes, it is important to contextualise our knowledge of the structural remains within the local social perspectives of the period. This means considering the way in which the landscapes were imbued with meaning and how the construction of villas was used as an integral element of human expression within the landscape. It is also important to ask whether villas would have meant the same thing across the whole of Britain (cf. Taylor 2011). It has been argued, for instance, that there is only one known, and one possible, villa in Cornwall, but do we really know what these buildings meant and how they functioned in their local contexts? The villa at Magor near Camborne was excavated in the 1930s (O’Neil 1933) and appears to have been constructed by the midsecond century AD but within an Iron Age enclosure, suggesting continuity of use, although not necessarily of ownership. The possible villa remains come from Rosewarne, near to Magor, where fragments of tessellated pavement are known suggestive of a masonry building, although this need not necessarily have come from a villa (Quinnell 1986). More work is clearly needed at both sites, but they do indicate the influences of new styles of architecture. It could be that such forms of building were incorporated into local traditions of land use and conceptions of space rather than necessarily adopting Roman forms of land organisation and behaviour. Quinnell (ibid.) has argued that local ordo members living in the area could have continued to use local forms of settlement such as the rounds rather than constructing villas. If so, there is clearly not a straightforward relationship between identity, behaviour and architecture, and it is necessary to contextualise meanings associated with each structure and its history. Whether there would have been ordo members living in this area, however, is debatable; the level of integration with Roman politics in areas such as this remain very

112 Critical Identities uncertain, and it may well be that local forms of politics remains considerably more important. The nearest large town, moreover, would have been Exeter, lying more than 100 kilometres away, which makes this proposition more unlikely unless there were other forms of settlement or organisation requiring ordo members. In the north of Britain there are also fewer villas known than in the south although an increasing number are now being recognised. The same question could be asked, however, of what they really meant in these contexts. For example the villa-type building at Holme House (Piercebridge) in North Yorkshire/County Durham (see Figure 4.3) was constructed within a monumental enclosure where a central roundhouse appears to have remained the major focus of the settlement, and the villa building was constructed to its east (Harding 1984: 18). The villa was located in the Tees Valley near the river, and as a result Harding suggested that the positioning of the villa was excellent for the conditions of the soil and for communication because the Tees could be used for transporting produce from the villa (ibid.: 20). Also now know in the Tees Valley are a number of other villas, situated along the course of the river heading east towards the Tees mouth area. The location

Figure 4.3

Plan of the villa at Holme House/Piercebridge, County Durham.

Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Hingley (1989: 66, fig. 31).

Critical Identities 113 of the villa at Chapel House Farm, Dalton-on-Tees has also been considered in terms of the farming land and its proximity to the road network (Stobbs 2002: 17). Excavations at this site in the 1990s produced evidence of three associated stone buildings including Building A, of winged corridor design; Building B, an aisled building without any internal divisions; and Building C, a rectangular building with a well, a possible ancillary building (Brown 1999: 21–22; Stobbs 2002: 15). Unfortunately, excavations did not go beyond the level of the villa, so the presence of pre-Roman occupation is uncertain (Stobbs 2002: 17). Another villa is known at Quarry Farm, Ingleby Barwick, near Stocktonon-Tees and closer to the mouth of the Tees, and there may well have been more villas so far undiscovered (ibid.: 23). Whilst these villas were utilising the Tees Valley, and were each located about 10 kilometres apart, it is also important not to assume that we necessarily understand the significance of the choice of locations and the meaning of the villas in the landscape. This is especially the case with regards the religious significance of the Rivers Tees as suggested by the large number of objects thrown into the river at the site of the Roman military base and bridge crossing at Piercebridge including pins, finger-rings, statuettes of Cupid, a ram and a figure of Hercules (Casey 1989: 37; Fitzpatrick and Scott 1999: 117); many comparable votive sites have been identified in prehistory such as Flag Fen (Coombs 1992; Pryor 2001). Excavations and survey work at Piercebridge such a relatively large settlement associated with the base and river crossing (Cool and Mason 2008; Wessex Archaeology 2010). Moreover, near to Piercebridge is the monumental Iron Age earthwork oppidum complex of Stanwick, set within a marshy and watery landscape, which dominated the area in the late Iron Age (Haselgrove et al. 1990; Haselgrove and Millett 1997: 284). The contemporary unenclosed settlement of Melsonby, 1 kilometre outside Stanwick, was the location of a rich group of deposited metalwork (Fitts et al. 1999) suggesting that this whole wider landscape would have been imbued with meaning. The inhabitants of the villas perhaps used these meanings of landscape as a way of legitimising themselves and emphasising their power and authority. Whilst the villa owners were perhaps developing their organisation of the land in a way more suitable for villa use, it could be argued that they were also drawing on existing cultural meanings associated with the landscape which led to a transformative biographical development of the area. The villas at Quarry Farm and Chapel House Farm lie on relatively low-lying land whilst it begins to climb through the Tees Valley to Piercebridge. These differences in the landscape may also have encouraged the development of different localised meanings attached to the estates, but this does not mean that there cannot also have been a wider significance attached to the use of the valley, and this demands that critical examinations of the cultural meanings of landscapes are developed. Such continuities of meaning in the landscape could also be considered for the late Roman to post-Roman periods. The longer-term meanings associated with places and landscapes are likely to have remained significant in

114 Critical Identities post-Roman times. Such continuities in landscape use have been stressed by Stocker and Everson’s (2003) study of early medieval churches constructed near causeways in the Witham Valley and by Bell’s (2005) study of the religious reuse of Roman sites for building churches. Excavations have also shown how farmsteads could remain in use into the post-Roman period and significant into the Saxon period. Excavations of the farmstead at Orton Hall Farm in the Nene Valley for example showed use from the first century AD into the sixth century AD. New structures were built in the fifth and sixth centuries as represented by new forms of buildings and pottery (Mackreth 1996). The processes of negotiation between new and old were likely to have been just as complex as those seen at the start of the Roman period, but they also indicate a continuation of place and landscape. As with the Roman conquest, it seems likely that the people coming into Britain at this time would also have had to adapt to local circumstances, traditions and myths as well as bringing their own. This complexity is indicated in sites such as Orton Hall Farm where there was continuity in the use of the estate demonstrated by the construction of sunken-featured structures (ibid.). This type of structure has often been taken to be indicative of Germanic incomers now occupying the site (e.g. Brooks 1988; Mackreth 1996), but as with new styles of architecture in the early Roman period, and their relationship with identity, it seems reasonable to be more critical of the identity of those using the sunken-featured architecture. It is possible that new forms of architecture were adopted with changing political circumstances and influences, but this was less connected with the identities of those living in the settlements. In thinking about these sites in terms of critical biographies it is possible to break down assumptions relating to these structures and think instead about how they were used and experienced. It is important to consider the impact of the changing political situation on the meaning of the sites but also to combine continuity with this as well as how their meaning developed over time.

Non-Villa Settlements As noted, there has been a useful move towards studying the full range of rural sites that can be found in Roman Britain, and emphasising regionality and localism (e.g. Mattingly 2006; Millett 1990; Taylor 2007), rather than focusing on villas. These studies have also emphasised the need to think beyond Romanocentric frameworks for understanding the settlements so that interpretations do not make assumptions relating to economic wealth and status. In this section case studies of rural settlements in Britain are examined to explore the way in which we can be more critical about how we reconstruct these settlements, how they were used over time and how they were conceptualised and experienced as spaces. Critical approaches allow us to rethink the way in which we interpret these settlements, both as structural remains and spaces, within the social context of Roman Britain.

Critical Identities 115 Like people, these settlements and buildings had lives, and their identities were equally subject to development and change. It is important to avoid normative perspectives when documenting and describing these settlements. The dichotomy between Romanised and non-Romanised is far too simplistic for understanding these settlements and interpreting their architecture and spaces in these social contexts. Alternative frameworks are needed that can allow us to bring together a range of elements of continuity and change in architecture, behaviour and experience which constituted the meanings associated with each site. Settlements are often categorised according to size or morphology or in terms of a single observed function, as in the case of specialised religious or industrial sites. They are given labels such as small town, roadside settlement, villa, non-villa settlements and native settlements and so on, and the focus of discussion is on their appearance and structural composition. This focus, especially through constructing archaeological plans, tends to concentrate on the extent to which the settlements exhibit Romanised characteristics or not and the settlements are valued, consequently, according to the extent to which they were thought to be Romanised. This places an emphasis on architectural styles rather than social meanings relating to construction and the use of space. As we have seen (Chapter 2), there has now been considerable important work documenting and mapping the range of rural settlements across Britain in the Roman period which places significance especially on notions of regionality (e.g. Mattingly 2006; Taylor 2007; 2013). Rather than attempting to categorise these settlements in terms of regional characteristics, however, it might be possible also to consider them in terms of identities through critical biographies. This critical approach is examined here through a number of case studies. Pegswood Moor, Northumberland The northeast of England is one area where there has long been a focus of study of the regional nature of the settlement here in the Roman period and our knowledge of the range of settlement types here is still developing as new discoveries are made (see Figure 4.4). It is a useful area to explore critical biographies or heterographies of settlement and people with the development of imperial influences in this area. With the gradual incorporation of Britain into the Empire the landscapes were changing in ways that drew on the old and the new and developed in ways that concerned different concepts of being and time. The site of Pegswood Moor in Northumberland is useful because it has settlement from the Iron Age and Roman periods. In the north-east, settlement patterns differ between the North-East Coastal Plain and the adjacent uplands, and in the Coastal Plain there is also a range of settlements dating to the Iron Age and Roman periods. One of the major types of settlement that has long been recognised in this area is the rectangular enclosed settlement and a number of excavations have

Figure 4.4 Plans of the excavated areas of the Pegswood Moor settlement, Northumberland: (a) later Iron Age; (b) first to second century AD. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Proctor (2009: 19, fig. 19, 27 and 37).

Figure 4.4


118 Critical Identities been undertaken on these sites notably by George Jobey from the 1950s onwards (e.g. Jobey 1962; 1963; 1966; 1981). These enclosures can have either a single or a double ditch and internally they usually contained a small number of roundhouses which were perhaps farmsteads, although the relationship between the people within the buildings remains unclear (see Figure 4.5). Many appear to have been long lived, beginning in the Iron Age and continuing in the Roman period, although some may have been earlier in date and only through excavation is it possible to determine this. The enclosures around these settlements make them easily identifiable in the archaeological record and observable by aerial photography, but it is being increasingly recognised that there are other types of settlements here in the late Iron Age and Roman periods, many of which were not

Figure 4.5 Plan of Middle Gunnar Peak, Northumberland, excavated by George Jobey (1981). Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Hingley (1989: 61, fig. 26).

Critical Identities 119 enclosed. Whilst these enclosed settlements must have contributed to defining the identities of the occupants, this must have been no less the case with the other types of settlements which also represent the positive choices made by people. For example at Thorpe Thewles located near Stockton-on-Tees, excavations demonstrated in the early Roman period that the settlement expanded and the ditch around it was in-filled (Heslop 1987). Large-scale open area excavations in Northumberland prior to industrial work taking place have revealed some much larger settlements. Excavations on the Blagdon Hall Estate, Ponteland, before the Delhi opencast mining extension, revealed a large area of settlement with roundhouses along with storage structures, enclosures, pits and field systems (Jenkins 2006; cf. Proctor 2009: 9). There was very little material culture from the site, suggesting that it was perhaps not considered desirable even if the residents did not consider themselves to be poor. The level of poor soil preservation on the site meant that it was unlikely that organic items would have survived, even the animals bones were poorly preserved, and so it may be that there was more organic material culture that was more highly prized than the inorganic objects such as pottery. Individual settlements and structures play an important role in the construction of people’s identities and experiences. Related to this and influencing the construction of identity is the nature of movement around the settlements and the surrounding landscape. These experiential activities connected with the construction of identity would have evolved as the settlements and landscapes also changed meaning that identities were not fixed. In this imperial context the settlement identities were evolving and resulting in heterographical settlement identities which were much more than simply the physical structures themselves. The site of Pegswood Moor in Morpeth, Northumberland, (Proctor 2009) is a good example of the possibilities of a sophisticated framework of analysis that is needed to understand the longer-term history and meaning of these sites in the context of the Roman Empire. The settlement began around the fourth century BC consisting of an unenclosed farmstead. There were traces of four round structures, but it seems likely that only one was occupied at any time except possibly for Structure 4, which was smaller than the other round buildings, and it had a western facing entrance rather than facing east like the others. This led the author of the report to argue that this might have had a different function, perhaps being used for storage or craft activity, or even a sacred function (ibid.: 16). Then in the next phase, by the second century BC, the settlement had expanded but also became enclosed and the landscape around it was increasingly organised into enclosures which seem to have been areas for storage, stock-keeping and manufacture (ibid.). At least eight roundhouses were identified within the enclosure, but not all of these would have been in use at any one time. That the objects on the site also formed an integral component of the settlement, and are central to understand space and experience, is clear from the small number of finds from this period but also where

120 Critical Identities these finds were found. Generally the gullies had very few finds, but there was a group of pottery sherds in the terminal of one of the drainage gullies; this may have been a special deposit placed within the gully (ibid.: 21–2). There were also what could be described as structured deposits within pits with one containing an iron adze head (ibid.: 22). There were also beehive quern stones and other stone artefacts within the ditches (ibid.: 23). This phase of use continued into the Roman period, and then in the later first century AD, new enclosures were constructed and the domestic buildings seemed to have moved elsewhere beyond the excavation. There was a reorganisation of the area, but artefacts also formed an integral part of the site with the ditches again containing finds including a quernstone and glass amulet (ibid.: 36). The meaning of the site was constituted of all these phases of activity and included settlement, artefacts and landscape. There was clearly some kind of change to the organisation of the site in the Roman period, perhaps because of the Roman presence and use of the landscape, but this also formed part of the history of the site and formed its ongoing evolving form. The implications of this new landscape organisation and layout are that there would have been new forms of behaviour, movement and activity within the landscape which would have had an impact on the construction and nature of the landscape identity. Whilst archaeological reports tend to present the material chronologically, however, it is important to recognise that there would also have been alternative ways in which time and progression would have been understood and incorporated into this landscape through the interaction of differing traditions from local contexts and the wider workings of the Empire. Snettisham Bypass, Norfolk Excavations between 1989 and 1990 prior to the construction of a bypass road at Snettisham in Norfolk led to the discovery of a group of roundhouse structures (see Figure 4.6). This excavation lay to the south of the famous Ken Hill site where large numbers of late Iron Age gold torcs and other gold items have been found over the course of the second half of the twentieth century and became a focus for excavations led by the British Museum (Stead 1991). The Ken Hill site has been described as a hill fort by some (e.g. Davies 2009), although most would not place it in this category and it remains enigmatic. There are traces of a possible Roman period shrine here which may also have been the location of earlier religious activity (Hutcheson 2011). The bypass excavations revealed a settlement that appeared to have been constructed in the Roman period because there was very little evidence of pre-Roman activity, although the excavated area probably inevitably only revealed a part of the site. In the mid-first century AD a round structure, interpreted as a roundhouse, and a series of enclosures were constructed (Flitcroft 2001: 16). There was little material culture on the site at this stage except for small quantities of pottery which consisted

Critical Identities 121

Figure 4.6 Plan of one of the Roman period roundhouses excavated at the Snettisham Bypass site, Snettisham, Norfolk. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Flitcroft (2001: 24, fig. 12).

mainly of local Nar valley type vessels a lot of which were handmade in the Iron Age tradition (ibid.). There were a few sherds of grey wares and white wares, all of which came from the backfill of the ring ditch and the associated enclosure ditch, which suggests that there was some kind of spatial organisation of the site. These wares are often considered to be ‘Romanised’ wares, as are there were also a few sherds of first century samian ware from the industrial waste of Pit 730 (ibid.: 21). Then in the late first to early second century AD there was an increase in activity with a spread of domestic occupation and further enclosures (ibid.: 22). There were numerous intercutting pits indicating an industrial area and a

122 Critical Identities new roundhouse was built. Within the house, all that remained of the interior were traces of post holes and a hearth. To the south of the building was an unusually shaped enclosure ditch which enclosed a small area of around 4.2 metres by 5.4 metres. To the west end of this small enclosure lay a dog burial which was probably of early date given the inclusion of two sherds of first-century South Gaulish samian ware (ibid.: 23). There is evidence of craft activities around the building, but much of the material on the site appears to have been deliberately structured in its deposition. There was a group of six brooches in the western arm of the enclosure, two more on the east side and one in the ring ditch fill. All the brooches dated to the middle third of the first century AD, and a further seven were found in the topsoil stripping of the area. Associated with the brooches still in context were samian sherds of a later date around the last quarter of the first century AD and early second century AD, and there were coarse wares of the same date. This suggests that the brooches remained in use for a longer date before deposition (ibid.: 28). Along with this pottery there was a large number of different pottery types including grey wares and sandy-reduced and oxidised fabrics, and vessel forms included jars, bowls, beakers, flagons, dishes and storage vessels. Within the enclosure ditch there was also a concentration of Flavian period samian dating to around AD 79 to 95. There were a large number of finds from this period including brooches, loom weights, samian vessels and other pottery, indicating a material-rich structure at this time which would have had a major impact on the way in which the space was used and experienced. It is not impossible that the brooches were also deposited with textiles which may also have been a status symbol more important than the inorganic items. Dress is also significant because it has so many social implications including the visual demonstration of social relationships and hierarchies as well as the difference of clothing between age groups and sexes which can mark out life stages and, of course, individual tastes and identity expression if the opportunity allows. Although the structure was a roundhouse, drawing on Iron Age traditions, the amount and type of material culture found suggests that there would have been a difference in the way in which the space was experienced from the structures that were built in the Iron Age; there would have been a complexity in the relationship between ‘Roman’ and local influences. The deposition of many of the finds suggest that the space was structured in a way that drew on Iron Age roundhouses, but the use of the material itself also suggests new experiences of the space and new impacts on the senses. In exploring objects in more detail in Chapter 5 it is argued that pottery and other items that are especially personal to people and their sensory experiences, such as brooches, can form a major component of identities and identity development. New forms of pottery and other vessel types such as glass would have been used in different ways but at the same time also experienced in a way that drew on existing traditions of experience. This would

Critical Identities 123 have led to a significance and complexity of life within these settlement that should be recognised and considered with greater significance. In the early to mid-second century AD the site appears to have been reorganised with new divisions across the land and enclosures. There are wells and a corn drier on the site along with the curved ditch of a house (ibid.: 37). Again, the roundhouse structure was important but the way in which the land around it was traversed and experienced would have changed meaning so that it is important that we do not just focus on the roundhouse structure itself. Returning to the finds assemblage from the site, it was suggested that the Colchester derivative brooches remained in use for a fairly long time before being deposited in the enclosure. This would suggest that they wished the way in which they represented their identity to continue, although there were also some later types suggesting that this could change too. There were thirty-nine fragments of glass from seven vessels, samian vessels, mortaria and a small number of amphora fragments (ibid.: 58–61) all indicating new sensory experiences which formed a part of the meaning of the settlement as much as the continuation of other elements such as the timber-built roundhouses. There was a complex biographical development of the site through the experiences associated with it. As the site was used through time its identity would have been altered through its layout, objects and people’s experiences, and through this holistic approach it is clear that it is far too simplistic to interpret the site as either Romanised or indigenous. Trethurgy Round, Cornwall Trethurgy Round near St Austell in Cornwall is another useful case study to consider how critical reconstructions can allow a more nuanced interpretation of settlement archaeology in this provincial context and the way in which it was lived in and experienced (see Figure 4.7). Rounds were the principal form of settlement in Cornwall from the later Iron Age to post-Roman periods, and around 1,500 of them are known. What is especially significant about Trethurgy Round is that it was constructed in the mid-second century AD, so well after the AD 43 invasion date, and was used into the sixth century; thus, it was constituted of a rich history of use. It is also important because it is the first round to be completely excavated, so it is possible to carry out a more comprehensive analysis of the settlement incorporating not only the structures but also the material finds from the site and the spaces within and around the structures and enclosure. Despite the excellence of the published report in trying to steer towards a different agenda for understanding these sites (Quinnell 2004), there still tends to be a rather negative attitude towards them relating to Romanocentric perspectives because they chose not to adopt more Roman style architecture. For example Mattingly (2006: 405) has stated that the material culture on these sites was relatively poor and stated that the reason for this was that most of the pottery was local so-called gabbroic wares and there were only small numbers of coins, samian, amphorae

Figure 4.7 Simplified plan of the site of Trethurgy Round, St Austell, Cornwall, incorporating different phases. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Quinnell (2004: 5, fig. 3).

Critical Identities 125 and Black Burnished ware sherds and glass vessels. He argued that the site was underdeveloped economically and that contacts for supplies must have been irregular. Whilst Mattingly certainly does not see this form of settlement as inferior, the approach to describing the settlement and its material could be more critical than simply arguing that there had been limited development over time and emphasising the local nature of the economy. The round was enclosed by a ditch and rampart revetted on both faces with stone. Within the enclosure there were five roundhouses constructed of stone along with ancillary buildings including a four-poster granary, a byre and what were possibly stores and workshops. A polygonal structure 1.8 metres by 1.5 metres has been interpreted as a possible shrine (ibid.: 208), although despite its unusual shape and small size there is no positive evidence indicating any type of function, and it could have been used as a storeroom or to keep animals or it had other functions. That said, some form of domestic shrine is as good as any other interpretation for the structure. Excavations of the settlement were able to distinguish at least nine phases of use with a complex sequence of activity in each building. It is unlikely that the excavation of what remains of the site can ever do justice to the complex use life of the settlement over at least four centuries, but it does emphasise the importance of the biographical approach for understanding the meaning of the settlement and how this long history would have had an impact on the way in which the settlement was experienced, influenced behaviour and created a sense of identity. Rather than going into the descriptive detail of each phase, it is more helpful here to emphasise a more critical understanding of its biography including in relation to how sensory experience of the settlement would have had an impact on how this biography is constructed. The majority of the pottery on the site was gabbroic ware like all Roman period sites in Cornwall. Whilst the colour of the pottery varies from buff to black, its fabric is consistent in that it has a high content of small white feldspar fragments which protrude through the surfaces and the majority of the pottery is made from the same gabbroic clays from the Lizard (ibid.: 108). The source of clay had been used from the Neolithic onwards for much of the pottery in the area, suggesting that it was an important source of clay and had more significance in meaning than simply being a practical source. The fabric would have been very much embedded in the local psyche of how pottery should be made, how it should feel and even how it might affect the taste of the food and drink prepared and consumed from it. This might especially be indicated by the large number of different forms of pottery made from the fabric in the Roman period, many of which clearly influenced by imported wares and other locally produced but externally inspired wares such as Black Burnished wares (ibid.: 110). These forms, including their rims, would also have had an impact on sensory experiences because they were held in the hand and in some cases put to the lips. Here, then, there was a complex mix of sensory experiences blending the new and the old which would have constituted the settlement. This can

126 Critical Identities be seen also with the inclusion of samian ware on the site. Although only sixty sherds were found representing perhaps a minimum of fourteen vessels (ibid.: 98), the nature of the sherds and the context are important in their own right. Most of the sherds were small and abraded and appear to have been Antonine in date, but the contexts in which they were found were often much later in date perhaps even the late fourth century (ibid.: 99). This samian ware, then, would also appear to have formed an important part of the site. The vessels may have been highly regarded and curated over a long period because of the particular sensory experiences they produced. They could also have been put to other uses after breaking, also forming an important part of the biography of the object and the settlement. The identity of the objects were important as well as the impact they had on those living in the settlement. It could also have been the particular feel or colour of the pottery that made them especially significant in the settlement. The importance of particular materials and forms to the people of this settlement is also represented by the stone vessels found on the site known as ‘Trethurgy bowls’, because they were first recognised here and are made of stone of Cornish origin. This form of vessel, however, appeared to be copying metal vessels known across northern Europe (ibid.: 137), again indicating the complex mix of local and external influences on the senses and the experience of the site. Another important find on the site was the fragments of window glass (Price 2004: 89) which might be somewhat of a surprise in a settlement of this type but actually suggests something quite significant for understanding the site (see Figure 4.8). The fragments come from one greenish matt-glossy pane which was made by pouring glass onto a flat surface and manipulating it into a rectangular shape. This type of matt-glossy window glass was made from the early first to late third century AD and is found on military, urban and villa sites and was often used in bathhouses to let light in but also to

Figure 4.8 Diagram of one of the fragments of window glass discovered in the excavations at Trethurgy Round, St Austell, Cornwall. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Quinnell (2004: 90, fig. 90).

Critical Identities 127 keep heat in (ibid.). The window glass from this site is the first to be found in Roman period Cornwall and might be especially unexpected on a site such as this with round domestic structures. It is possible that the pane was even used in one of the more rectangular structures interpreted as store buildings, or it could even have been incorporated into one of the roundhouses on one of straighter long sides (ibid.). In this case, whether there had originally been more examples on the site that have now been lost is uncertain. It seems unlikely that the windowpane would have come to the site and not been used, but even if this was the case it might suggest the desire for a different sensory experience. The window glass can be considered an influence from the Roman Empire, and it would have produced a different form of experience within the domestic space through the way in which it allowed light in. It represents another contributing factor to the form of behaviour and experience within the spaces despite the main form of the structures drawing on Iron Age traditions. The identity of the settlement was evolving through time, and it would have had an impact the experiences and identities of the people living in the settlement.

Elms Farm, Heybridge: A ‘Small Town’ The small town settlements in Roman Britain have long been subject of debate over how they should be interpreted in terms of origins, function and status (e.g. Brown ed. 1995; Burnham and Wacher 1990; Hingley 1997), but they have perhaps most often been regarded as kinds of country towns, akin to modern ideas of the small market town, and interfaces between urban and country. Burnham and Wacher (1990) have published one of the most useful studies on the ‘small towns’ of Roman Britain, in which they drew together much of the known excavated data on these settlements for the first time, and this work played an important role in making the material more accessible. The style of the publication was very similar to the earlier work by Wacher, The Towns of Roman Britain (1975), which was descriptive but brought together a vast resource of information and current archaeological material. In The Small Towns of Roman Britain (Burnham and Wacher 1990) the settlements were studied by dividing them up and placing them within groups labelled ‘potential cities’, ‘minor towns’, ‘specialised religious sites’, ‘specialised industrial sites’, ‘minor defended sites’ and ‘undefended sites’. Whilst these labels have some value in terms of what we know about the function of some of them, they tend to focus on one particular aspect of the settlements and compare them in a judgemental way with the chartered towns. Perhaps particularly problematic are the ‘potential cities’, ‘minor towns’, ‘minor defended sites’ and ‘undefended sites’ categories which do not really tell us much about the nature of each settlement and their purpose. This is where it might help to move beyond conventional frameworks of analysis that tend to emphasise conceptions of urbanism that draw on modern and Roman models and rate these settlements according to how they

128 Critical Identities conform to these models. It seems unlikely that any perceived modern parallels can really help us to gain very reliable insights into the nature of the settlements. Hingley (1997) has argued that we can perhaps consider small towns with their less regimented street grids and few if any monumental buildings as indigenous interpretations of Roman urbanism. This is helpful because it does emphasise the fact that these settlements seem to indicate a significant change in behaviour and way of living. This is even represented by the prevalence of rectangular strip buildings within the settlements which are not very common before the conquest. Clearly it seems that the residents of the small towns think that the strip buildings are preferable to building roundhouses within them which do not appear very common at all. Small towns appear to embody changes in behaviour but also to draw on longer-held traditions and perspectives which could include the use and experience of space. The difficulty with small towns is that they appear to have developed under such a range of different circumstances that any form of single category such as the ‘small town’ seems inadequate and is likely to be limiting our understanding. The ‘small town’ at Elms Farm in Heybridge, Essex, for example appears to have its origins in the late pre-Roman Iron Age as a shrine complex and possibly small settlement (Atkinson and Preston 1998: 94–8). This may itself have already been influenced by the close proximity of the Roman Empire. Then in the early first century AD the complex was rebuilt with the laying down of a large gravelled area and a number of rectangular structures as well as a circular shrine, which were then in turn replaced around AD 120 with the construction of a large rectangular building, the use of which was associated with a number of pit deposits (ibid.: 99–100). This area appears to have remained a focus of the settlement through the Roman period which became a fairly sizeable small town. What is especially significant about this settlement is that excavations were able to reveal that although the street system was not laid out in the form of a grid, that is seen in the chartered towns, it does appear that it was laid down at one time, indicating planning and a large-scale construction project in a way that drew on the large towns. The settlement was organised but appeared to be drawing on local conceptions of space. It may also have been drawing on existing traditions of construction and labour organisation, bringing people together in a similar way to what we have seen with the construction of monuments in prehistory (cf. Sharples 2010). The identity of this settlement, then, cannot be described in terms of a Roman town or prehistoric settlement but is a product of Britain in the Roman Empire. Because the identity of the settlement is unfamiliar to us and constituted of people and experiences, it is unsuitable to analyse it and its use over time in terms of the narrative form of biography. The category of ‘small town’ is perhaps only useful because it allows us to put together all the settlements that have this unclear identity so that they can be debated. The emphasis instead should be placed on the meaning and significance of each individual settlement because it developed over time rather than using categories that tend to project modern perceptions onto the past (this is examined further in Chapter 5).

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Shiptonthorpe: A ‘Roadside Settlement’ The category of settlement known as ‘roadside settlement’ are also problematic in how they came to be formed and the social processes involved although in most of these cases they do seem to be in response to the appearance of the Roman street network and possibly the economic and other opportunities that locating a settlement here would provide. The way in which they were organised and run and whether there was any form of leadership is largely unknown. The population is likely to have consisted primarily of local people, but there could conceivably also have been inhabitants that came into Britain from elsewhere especially those following the army because they may have wished to establish businesses and services along these transportation routes. One example of a ‘roadside settlement’ which has been investigated through excavation and a range of survey techniques is that of Shiptonthorpe in East Yorkshire which lay along a road between the larger settlements of Brough-on-Humber and York (see Figure 4.9). There

Figure 4.9 The location of Shiptonthorpe, East Yorkshire, on the main Roman road network. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Millett (2006: 306, fig. 15.1).

130 Critical Identities is no clear evidence of occupation on the site before the Roman period, although there will always be an element of uncertainty and the surrounding landscape was certainly occupied and intensively used in the Iron Age. The settlement seems to have been founded in association with the establishment of the road, although the road itself proved difficult to date but may have been early second century AD, which is also supported by the date of the earliest evidence of settlement. The nature of the settlement evidence would seem to suggest that the settlement was formed through the coming together of a number of farmsteads in the area, or perhaps the creation of new ones as people broke away and came to live here. The process of the settlement creation and construction, however, is unclear. The plan of the settlement suggests a number of farm-like enclosures. The published report on the fieldwork has argued that there is nothing in the evidence of the settlement to suggest any regular system of land allotment or planning but it seems more like people acted on their own initiative (Millett 2006: 307). The exact nature of local circumstances and land ownership, activities and events, however, will perhaps always be uncertain. The settlement covered around 9.6 hectares and is likely to have included small farming plots. There is also evidence of fairly large-scale processing of flour through the evidence of numbers of querns and large millstones. This might suggest that the settlement’s activities did serve some form of larger area. The number of knives and blades on the site might also suggest that meat processing took place at the settlement. Whilst the nature of the activities may not have been any different from those that took place on earlier individual settlements, it might be that the organisation of the activities could also have played a significant role in the creation of the identities of the people living in this settlement. Through these activities and organisation of settlement, facets of their identity were changing within the context of Britain within the Empire, and this can be seen in the structural evidence. The early buildings were roundhouses in the local Iron Age style and some of these may have continued through the Roman period. On the excavated part of the settlement there is evidence that the roundhouse then changed into another form of structure which appeared almost to be a roundhouse with one rectangular end. The building was around 9 metres long and could perhaps be described as consisting of around a 6-metre-by-6-metre square and semicircle of about a 3-metre radius. It has been suggested that this style of structure may represent some kind of hybrid form between roundhouse and rectangular structure (ibid.: 311). It was then replaced, however, by a large rectangular building around 8 metres wide and 21 metres long. Its roof was supported by two aisles of posts. Although clearly a significant change from the earlier structural form, however, there was also a continuation of use of the same building materials which would also have been a major element of the way in which the structures were experienced (see Figure 4.10). The structures also had biographies which can be analysed critically and where heterography might explain better their significance. Intertwined with the

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Figure 4.10 Plan of the remains of the rectangular timber building excavated at Shiptonthorpe, East Yorkshire. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Millett (2006: 311, fig. 15.2).

physical appearance and significance of the structures would also have been continuing spaces, material forms and concepts of time which would also have been connected with identity and the meaning of the site. Excavations across the settlement, moreover, demonstrated that it was clearly highly organised in terms of the use and experience of space with a number of ritual pit deposits containing animal skeletons and infants. This was clearly drawing on pre-existing religious practices representing the continuation of perceptions and uses of space despite now also building rectangular buildings. Excavations also found fragments of waxed wooden writing tablets (ibid.: 309) suggesting that at least some people living in the settlement could read and write Latin, perhaps for business purposes. This settlement clearly had a complex identity, not only pulling new and older aspects structural components together but also combining with this tradition of experience as well as other new aspects such as reading and writing. The identity of the structures and the settlement was not static but developed and changed over time in a way that constructed the complex heterography of the site. HETEROGRAPHIES OF LANDSCAPE One common way in which the biographical framework has been drawn on in archaeological studies is in documenting the use of archaeological

132 Critical Identities landscapes over time and interpreting fieldwork results in an attempt to assess the meanings attributed to these landscapes. Three examples of this are Avebury: The Biography of a Landscape (Pollard and Reynolds 2002), Stonehenge: The Biography of a Landscape (Darvill 2006) and most recently North Sea Archaeologies: A Maritime Biography, 10,000 BC – AD 1500 (Van de Noort 2011). What is common about all these works is that they use the idea of the biography to examine the chronological development of the sites, or groups of sites, and their landscapes over time and to connect the material to the lives of the people associated with them; all three publications do also differ in their approach and interpretation of the idea of the biography. It is useful, however, to look at how we can be more critical with the use of biography and how it is used and constructed in archaeological interpretation. One of the main reasons for adopting the biographical approach for Joshua Pollard and Andrew Reynolds (2002: 11) in their book on Avebury was to bring together the results of the most recent fieldwork in the Avebury landscape with older discoveries and less-well-studied and understood material such as that relating to the Anglo-Saxon period. Their book adopts a chronological approach connected with the use of the landscape over time after a brief outline of the history of research into the Avebury landscape. The first period focus of the book begins with Mesolithic (10,000–4000 BC) evidence in the landscape and finishes with the medieval period around AD 1550 including an examination of documentary evidence of activities. Whilst immensely important and useful as a work, in many respects it does not achieve too much more than conventional excavation reports, which generally take the form of chronological accounts of site development and use. It certainly at times takes the same scientific and descriptive approach to the material as an excavation report does and does not fully utilise the analytical possibilities provided by the concept of the biography. Timothy Darvill’s (2006) book on Stonehenge also adopts the chronological interpretation of biography to examine the material evidence of the use of the site from earliest prehistory onwards. Importantly, however, this book continues the examination of the landscape up to the year 2000 and looks at the cultural impact of Stonehenge and the way in which its modern perception has influenced our understanding of the monument and its function in the past. This takes in some respects a similar approach to the earlier Stonehenge Complete by Christopher Chippindale (1983). The book, therefore, presents a biographical study of the idea of Stonehenge, as well as a detailed investigation of the most up to date archaeological research of the site and its context. This biographical study of the cultural context of Stonehenge in turn helps us with the understanding and interpretation of the archaeological material itself. The third example is Robert Van de Noort’s North Sea Archaeologies: A Maritime Biography, 10,000 BC – AD 1500 (2011). Rather than focusing on a single site or complex of sites, this work investigates archaeological

Critical Identities 133 evidence relating to the North Sea and the cultural significance of that context for activity. Again, the work is largely chronological beginning with the geological beginnings of the North Sea itself and working through to the medieval period, but it also examines the cultural meanings attached to the North Sea both in the past and in modern times. It also examines theoretical implications of using the sea as a framework for examining and understanding past activity. Beyond the treatment of landscape and sea as archaeological entities themselves, however, again there is little debate relating to the full implications of the use of the biographical framework itself and of how it can have an impact on our understanding and interpretation of the archaeological material. There have been a number of recent projects connected solely or partly with the archaeology of Roman Britain which can be considered to take a biographical perspective to the documentation and organisation of the archaeological material. These include Chris Gosden’s University of Oxford–based research project titled ‘Landscape and Identities: The Case of the English Landscape 1500 BC–AD1086’. This project has set out to examine the use of the landscape of England over time by focusing on the settlement record and history of each settlement over time; analysis concentrates especially on the way in which this can relate to aspects of human identity within the landscape. A project at the University of Exeter titled ‘Fields of Britannia’ has taken a landscape archaeology approach to examine the issue of continuity in the use and organisation of the land from the Roman to the medieval periods in Britain. Many of these forms of projects draw on the records held in the regional archives across Britain. Other examples include Michael Fulford’s project at the University of Reading ‘Evaluation of PPG 16, “Grey” Literature and the Rural Settlement of Roman Britain’. This project focuses on rural settlement of Roman Britain in an attempt to address the way in which PPG 16 has had an impact on understanding through the requirements of site assessments and fieldwork prior to construction and other work in the landscape. By evaluating this ‘grey’ literature the histories of settlements and landscapes can be reconstructed much in the way in which biographies are constructed. Another project based jointly at Reading and Leicester has been studying the results of developer-led archaeology on our knowledge of settlement and landscape use across Iron Age Europe. This has been an important project because there is now a large amount of material that has been produced through developer-funded fieldwork, but it has not been brought together and analysed collectively. Such analysis can demonstrate landscape use and change over time in a way that often draws on the biographical framework. In this section the way in which the critical biography can have a major impact on the way in which we study and interpret landscapes within an imperial context is examined. This notion of landscape, moreover, does not simply equate to the countryside or rural settlement but more nuanced than this, and critical approaches can also apply to urban sites and their

134 Critical Identities wider settings. A critical biographical approach can help us to transform our understanding of many areas that have traditionally been taken for granted.

Roman Urbanism and Landscape It is not just the normative approaches and assumptions relating to rural settlements that can be challenged through critical and contextual analysis. It is also settlements that we have conventionally assumed to have been less problematic and unchallenging that can also be analysed from different perspectives. As we saw in Chapter 2, towns in Britain are conventionally categorised by the nature of their official status and their origins and include the coloniae (colonies), which were founded on the site of fortresses, municipia and civitas-capitals (e.g. Wacher 1995; Webster 1988). They often form part of the narrative of conquest and Romanisation of the province, and they take a priority in studies of Roman Britain before other forms of settlements. Here, however, it is hoped that by exploring ways of approaching rural settlements, first it is also possible also to challenge assumptions made in approaches to towns. For the inhabitants of the rural settlements or ‘small towns’, moreover, it is through these settlements that their identities would have been expressed rather than the chartered towns. Many of the towns are interpreted as functioning as what have been termed civitascapitals, the centres of the administrative areas the civitates. This organisation of the province into civitates is often considered to have been based on pre-existing tribal groupings in Britain as we have seen (Chapter 2) from the pioneering work of Francis Haverfield and his analysis of the Ravenna Cosmography. Whilst this organisation of the province could be accurate, and would have been needed for purposes of tax collection and so on, the basis by which the civitates need necessarily have be formed through existing strong tribal organisations is a little more problematic (cf. Moore 2011). Whilst these tribes may well have existed in some form they are likely to have been consolidated through the process of provincial organisation and they need not reflect the identity of many people living within the civitates where local notions of being, expressed through their settlements, places and landscapes would have been more important. The critical biographical approach to rural settlements, moreover, can also be important for documenting urban settlement because towns also had their own identities and use lives with one influencing factor including the relationship of towns with the surrounding landscape. Continuing research on Roman urbanism can ensure that we do not become complacent in the way in which we organise and interpret urban material, which can mean that additional or alternative perspectives for approaching towns are not considered (cf. Rogers 2008; 2011). Whilst there have been many publications describing towns, some additional perspectives through which we can approach aspects of meaning are addressed in this section. As with the complex nuances associated with villa development,

Critical Identities 135 each of the towns in Britain would have been the result of negotiations between new forms of building and continuities from pre-existing traditions of spatial use and experience. What also tends to be the case in Roman urban studies is that modern ideas and experiences of urbanism are applied to the Roman period with less emphasis on the way in which different experiences and values of places would have influenced the nature and conceptualisation of these settlements. Perhaps especially in studies of Romano-British urbanism, moreover, there has tended to be a rather negative attitude towards towns because of preconceptions of the nature of Classical urbanism. Indeed they have been considered failures for having not developed in the same way as in other provinces such as in France and Spain. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that each settlement must be contextualised and valued according to local circumstances and experiences. Each town across the Empire, moreover, would have differed in the nature of its development and character, its place value and how it was experienced as a space. One important aspect of reshaping approaches to the character and life of towns is to examine the landscape context in which towns developed from social perspectives rather than solely considering functionalist (especially practical, strategic and economic) aspects of location. This will help us to think beyond solely Romanocentric perspectives in urban development. Whilst archaeologists have acknowledged the importance of the presence of Iron Age oppida in the location of some towns which would have contributed to the meaning of these sites and urban development (see Figures 4.11 and 4.12; e.g. Creighton 2006; Collis 1984; 1995; Crummy 1997), there has tended to be a focus on interpreting oppida as proto-urban settlements which again projects assumptions of the nature of urbanism onto these sites. In particular the search for the ‘urbanness’ of oppida has tended to mean looking for recognisable elements such as concentrations of buildings. What seems to be the case, however, is that just as importantly oppida also consisted of other elements such as wetlands which were integral parts of their being. These elements of the landscape, socialised as part of oppida, could also retain their meaning as towns developed at these locations in the Roman period. They also formed part of the urban experience in the Roman period and gave each settlement unique values of place and unique trajectories that need not take the cycle of growth, development and decline. Lincoln is a good example for emphasising the pre-existing importance that could be attached to landscapes which went on to have an impact on life and experience within the urban settlement that developed in the Roman period (cf. Rogers 2008; 2012). Lincoln is an especially useful example because there was apparently no Iron Age oppidum type settlement here, according to more conventional interpretations at least (see Rogers 2008), and consequently the focus of investigation on the town origins has predominantly been the military foundation (see Figure 4.13). Whilst the history of the fortress, founded around AD 70, and its conversion to a colonia is now well documented, with much data presented in the important volume The

136 Critical Identities

Figure 4.11 Plan of the areas of activity associated with the oppidum at St Albans (Verulamium/Verlamion). Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Niblett (2001: 41, fig. 19) and I. Thompson (2005: 26, fig. 3.1).

City by the Pool: Assessing the Archaeology of the City of Lincoln (Jones and Stocker 2003), there are also many aspects of the urban history that can be viewed from different perspectives. Before Millett’s book The Romanization of Britain (1990) which gave an important voice to the existing population of Britain and their settlements at the time of the Roman invasion, the emphasis in Roman urban studies tended to be on military foundations as part of the conquest strategy. This was emphasised to such an extent that even with towns where no military foundation has so far been satisfactorily identified, such as Leicester and Silchester, they were often argued to have been military foundations and considerable debates were had on how various traces of possible evidence were to be interpreted (e.g. Frere 1967; Wacher 1975). In the case of Roman Lincoln the emphasis on its foundation as a legionary fortress can mean that the town’s relationship with Iron Age activity and landscape can be neglected. This activity and the longer-term values associated with the landscape formed an integral element of the urban settlement, providing it

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Figure 4.12 Plan of the features associated with the oppidum at Colchester around the Roman town of Camulodunum, dating from the first century BC to the first century AD. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Hawkes and Crummy (1995, fig. 6.1).

with its own unique characteristics. The identity of the town, and the way in which it was experienced, would have developed through a relationship between Roman and local notions of landscape and settlement. Lincoln is a useful example of the way in which we can break down some of the assumptions that we can have about the urban settlements if we focus

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Figure 4.13 Photograph of the standing Roman period remains of the Newport Arch, Lincoln, Lincolnshire. Source: Photograph by A.C. Rogers.

too much on the event of the town foundation. The fortress was located on a Jurassic limestone ridge known as the Lincoln Edge at the point at which the ridge was pierced by a glacial gap (the Witham Gap). It overlooked the Witham Gap, and there is a significant decline down the hillside to the valley bottom where the River Witham flows (see Figure 4.14). Very little is known about what lay beneath the fortress, although it does appear that part of it was constructed over the ‘Jurassic Way’, an ancient route way which follows the line of the Jurassic limestone ridge through Northamptonshire to Lincolnshire. There is also a possibility that the well on the site of the forum had prehistoric origins, although there is as yet no positive evidence of this because it was largely cleared out in modern times. With this evidence it might be emphasised that the fortress was located predominantly for strategic reasons to dominate and observe this landscape and control existing route ways. Whilst this indeed might have been the case, there are other aspects which ensure that this explanation and understanding of the site cannot stand entirely on its own. Jones (1988: 145), for instance, has highlighted the fact that there are many impracticalities with the city’s location because the clay hillside was full of springs which required special consideration in terms of drainage and the Witham valley was very marshy (see

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Figure 4.14 Plan of the waterscape at Lincoln as it was at the time of the foundation of the Roman town. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Stocker (2003: 16, fig. 4.4).

the following discussion). Providing freshwater and moving supplies to the hilltop also required considerable effort which would have counterbalanced the strategic benefits. All of these factors, however, come together to form the meaning and values attached to the site. In the valley bottom, moreover, there is more evidence of settlement and activity here before the fortress was constructed, and it seems likely that the nature of this landscape played an important role in the importance attached this place. The landscape appears to have been treated or recognised as

140 Critical Identities a special place in prehistory, and this was marked by the construction of causeways across the Witham Valley including at Stamp End which lies about 1 kilometre to the east of modern Lincoln where there is a lock today. It was during the construction of the lock in the nineteenth century that many items of metalwork were found which appear originally to have been deposited within the River Witham probably from a causeway in the area of the Stamp End lock. These items include the Witham sword and shield. A number of causeways are known in the Witham Valley and it appears that many of these retained their religious significance in the landscape into the medieval period; Stocker and Everson (2003), for instance, have argued that in a number of cases churches were constructed close to these causeways because they marked out religiously significant locations in the landscape. The deposition of the metalwork in the water suggests that this watery landscape was considered culturally significant and it was an important point in the landscape in prehistory—the foundation of the Roman fortress and town, then, would not have been taking place within a landscape that was unused or socially and politically neutral. The nature of the waterscape at Lincoln might be one reason why it was considered significant in prehistory and any assessment of the meaning and value of sites should not just focus on the built environment. At Lincoln there are many watery features that come together to shape the waterscape here. There is the slow-moving and unstable River Witham and at Lincoln the River Till/Fossdyke connects with the Witham via the Brayford Pool, a large body of water formed naturally at the junction of the slow-moving waters of the rivers Witham and Till. The size of the Brayford Pool has reduced over centuries of encroachment through land reclamation and would have been larger in the Roman period. This is demonstrated especially by archaeological evidence of islands that existed within the pool in prehistory and the Roman period but which have now been lost due to land reclamation. Excavations, especially at 181–3 High Street, have identified one island that existed within the Pool, and it is significant that it is here that the earliest stratified Roman period material has come, including traces of timber buildings, and there is evidence of Iron Age activity here. The nature of this Iron Age activity is still poorly understood, but it is possible that it could have been a place of religious significance because of the location. Island locations between water and land do appear to have been imbued with religious significance in prehistory (cf. Brown 2003; Webster 1995). The Roman period activity could also represent religious activity with finds including large quantities of sherds of second and third century AD drinking vessels found here (Jones 2003: 99, 104). Also of significance is the wetland landscape associated with the low-lying valley and a river prone to flooding. There is evidence to suggest that wetland landscapes were imbued with religious significance in prehistory and were used as a focus of ritual deposition and to traverse them was an act of ritual significance (e.g. Bradley 1998; Van de Noort and O’Sullivan 2006).

Critical Identities 141 Within this wetland there is evidence from archaeological, topographical and historical work that there once were other smaller pools here, including Cuckoo Pool and Swanpool, the latter surviving today but in a reduced form (Jones and Stocker 2003: 17). The combination of wetlands, islands, rivers, springs and other elements coming together suggest that this already a significant landscape then became part of the urban landscape as the town developed. It could be argued that the construction of the town formed part of the history of action in the landscape, contributing to its significance and forming part of its meaning. The urbanscape related not only to the buildings and streets but also to the wider landscape and waterscape. The cultural significance of landscape must be considered to have been an important element of towns even if there was also reorganisation of the landscape as the urban settlement developed. The development of the townscape in the Roman period also formed an important part of the urban biography. At Lincoln this can be seen especially in the way in which the waterscape was altered as the town grew. When the colonia was founded the public buildings within the town concentrated in the area of the earlier fortress, but another area of the town also developed down the hill to the river known as the ‘Lower City’. This part of the town appears to have contained more domestic and retail buildings. Then across the river there was another area of settlement which continued to develop in the medieval period and became known as the Wigford suburb (Jones 2003; Steane 2001). It is in this low-lying area of the town that the landscape was considerably transformed through land reclamation and wetland drainage which has been identified on a number of excavations in the area. It is important to view this development of the landscape not solely in practical or economic terms but also in terms of changing the landscape which would also have had social implications connected with the transformation of the land and water and the relationship between the two. Especially significant actions were the gradual reduction in the width of the River Witham and the low-lying wetland area (see Rogers 2012; Steane 2001). Acknowledging this longer-term landscape use is one example that can help us think about how these urban spaces developed and were experienced in different ways. Studies of Roman London have conventionally been influenced by the interpretation that the town was a provincial capital which has meant that the investigation of the settlement has been influenced by the concept of the capital city with its public buildings and infrastructure (e.g. Milne 1995; Perring 1991). There has been less consideration, however, of the way in which the town also became part of the landscape and this landscape was used and altered over time. The landscape and topography would have been a significant component of the town just as its streets, buildings and other elements were (cf. Rogers 2008). Even in cases in which oppida are known, the oppida themselves were often constructed not long before the towns, but again it might be that these places were already imbued with meaning. Such an example might be Silchester, where the sequence of

142 Critical Identities development of the oppida and then town are now fairly well known (e.g. Fulford and Timby 2000), but it remains possible that preceding the oppida this area was already significant perhaps reflected in the name for the town, Calleva, which is thought possibly to mean ‘(town in the) woods’ (Rivet and Smith 1979: 291). Critical biographical frameworks for tackling settlement archaeology can allow us to view each site and their development through time within their own social and spatial contexts and through a combination of the influences brought from the Roman Empire and local developments from the Iron Age onwards. These settlements, moreover, would also have changed and developed through time. The heterographical framework for instance places an importance on the imperial context of these settlements and their evolving identities through absorbing influences brought from the Roman Empire and local contexts. These towns were products of the Roman Empire, but they were also influenced by the pre-existing landscapes and settlement development. Creighton (2006), Moore (2006) and others, moreover, have demonstrated that the oppida preceding towns were relatively late developments themselves in the Iron Age and were possibly the result of increasing presence and influence of Rome as new elites were vying for power and control (Moore 2011). So these settlements have rather uncertain and fluid identities in some ways similar to the way in which the identities of people and groups were negotiated at this time. Rather than attempting to categorise and label these sites to understand them, it might be preferable to view them as entities of being and experience. It seems increasingly likely that behaviour in the Roman period would have been influenced by pre-existing traditions, but these traditions would also have evolved and changed over time through the Roman period. In a sense there would also have been biographies of phenomenological experience (cf. Tilley 1994) which continued to develop and accrue meaning throughout the Roman period and into the later Roman period.

Ports and Landscape Critical biographies also allow us to be more challenging in the economic reconstructions that we make about Roman Britain. The Roman period in Britain saw the appearance of a range of new types of infrastructure in some contexts including new forms of roads, water supplies and drains. There were also new forms of port installations constructed in Britain in the Roman period. All the new elements of infrastructure not only had practical use value and economic implications, but they also had an impact on the landscape and the human negotiation and experience of these landscapes. New port constructions would have had a major impact on the landscape in which they were constructed, including the alteration of the relationship between land and water. This would have meant that their construction formed significant aspects of the history of the landscape and biography of the places where they were constructed. This also means that their construction would have

Critical Identities 143 had a significant impact on the way in which people behaved in these locations and how they experienced these places (e.g. Rogers 2012). In analysing these infrastructures, then, it is just as important to consider their impact on human behaviour and experience within the landscape as to study them in terms of convenience or their economic implications. As Koloski-Ostrow (2001) has observed, in studying aspects of Roman period infrastructures such as water supply and drainage it is tempting to project modern practical and economic assumptions onto the past, even though there would not necessarily have been the same mind-set. It is necessary, then, as far as possible, to be able to contextualise the circumstances around construction activities and the impact that they had on local places and experiences. Roman period London is a good example to consider the potential of localised meanings of infrastructure construction, the impact of the constructions on the landscape and the way in which this would have had an impact on experiences of these places (see Figure 4.15; e.g. Rogers 2011b; 2013). At London there were monumental timber port installations constructed for the first time in the second half of the first century AD on the north side of

Figure 4.15 Reconstruction of the timber box quay discovered at St Magnus House, New Fresh Wharf, London. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Miller et al. (1986: 66, fig. 56).

144 Critical Identities the Thames during the early phases of town development (Brigham 1998; Milne 1985; Swift 2008). There was an important crossing point here across the Thames from Southwark which is also likely to have been important in prehistory (Watson et al. 2001) and it has been suggested that this could have been one reason for the importance of the location for urban development (e.g. Milne 1995; Perring 1991)1 It is important also to recognise, however, that this landscape would already have had meaning before the foundation of the town. This is suggested by some of the known archaeological evidence, but places can, of course, also have meaning without also forming a focus of settlement or material culture (cf. Bradley 2000; Insoll 2007). There is some evidence of settlement at Southwark in the Iron Age (e.g. Sidell et al. 2002), but the apparent extent or nature of settlement need not necessarily be a reflection of the value attached to this place. Southwark at this time also consisted of a number of low-lying islands and water channels within the Thames, and the relationship the island had with the water would have been changeable as water levels altered (Cowan et al. 2009). The nature of islands and island locations across water seem also have attracted religious significance and veneration. It is also known that this section of the Thames attracted religious veneration through the deposition of metalwork and other material into the river as well as human skulls (Bradley and Gordon 1988; Marsh and West 1981; Merrifield 1987). That this activity also continued in the Roman period suggests that this waterscape retained its religious meaning, which would have influenced the impact that the port construction had on the landscape. The port installations were constructed at the highest point at which the river was still tidal (Milne 1995: 39), but although the port would, of course, have had practical and economic implications through its use, there are also their social implications that need to be combined with this. Any form of reconstruction of the port needs also to contextualise the range of meanings and experiences associated with the structures and their location which breaks down any straightforward biographical construction that we can make (cf. Rogers 2011b). The construction of the port installations in this landscape for the first time, then, can be considered in terms of the way in which this landscape was negotiated, experienced and used. The physical act of altering this watery landscape, moreover, through the construction of the installations would have also produced cultural responses beyond simply that of the practicalities of undertaking the work (cf. Rogers 2013). Altering this waterscape and the relationship between land and water would have had social as well as economic implications because of the value attached to the location and especially because the constructions would have required different activities and forms of behaviour at the waterfront. The construction events altering the land would have had different meanings for different people including the military, the governing elites and also the local peoples, which means that it is difficult to create a single reconstruction of the installations. The heterographical framework, for instance,

Critical Identities 145 places an emphasis on the changing identity of the installations through their relationship with people. Whilst the initial constructions perhaps had major social implications on the landscape, over time they appear to have become accepted by the inhabitants. This can perhaps be recognised by the involvement of the local inhabitants in the repair and rebuilding of sections of waterfront and the extension of the waterfront further into the Thames in the second century AD (cf. Rogers 2011b). Other ways in which the landscape, and the relationship between land and water, was transformed in the Roman period was with wetland drainage and land reclamation seen in both rural (Rippon 2000) and urban contexts (Rogers 2013). The emphasis in the interpretation of this activity has conventionally been on its economic implications in bringing land into agricultural production, but transforming the landscape, as with port installations, would also have had social implications which need to be emphasised (ibid.). These events and activities form part of the history of the landscapes, the meanings of which were also integral with human experience. The economic implications of altering the land, then, should not be the only focus of investigation because they would also have affected landscape and human identity and experience. This relationship between people and landscape, moreover, means that it might be possible to consider alterations to the landscape in terms of negotiations of power and control. The Roman imposition onto the landscape could in effect even be considered in terms of enslavement of the land as people were also enslaved. People and landscapes cannot necessarily be treated as distinctly as they tend to be considered today. Biographical constructions of the landscape also need to take changing meanings and experiences into account within the imperial context of the period.

Hadrian’s Wall: Landscape and Structure What might be considered in terms of being a major imposition on the landscape is the monumental construction complex known as Hadrian’s Wall which ran from the mouth of the Tyne in the east to Cumbria in the West (see Figure 4.16). The monument today is justly world famous and is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Antonine Wall farther north and frontiers in Germany. Accompanying this fame, however, are many popular assumptions and preconceptions about the nature and function of the Wall inspired also by the popularity of themes connected with the Roman military. The military has long been an important area of interest in Roman studies, resulting in much valuable work. The scale of material that there is to investigate, however, means that it has almost in effect become a specialism within Roman studies with its own conventions and traditions. This can be seen for example in the triennial International Limes Congress, with its published proceedings (e.g. Freeman 2002; Morillo Cerdán et al. 2009; Zsolt 2005), on Roman frontier studies and in the decennial Hadrian’s Wall pilgrimage (which begun in 1849) which sees enthusiasts

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Figure 4.16 Photograph of a section of the remains of Hadrian’s Wall between the forts of Housesteads and Great Chesters. Source: Photograph by A.C. Rogers.

walking the length of the Wall, usually from Wallsend to Bowness of Solway, en masse over a set period and in so doing also reinforcing interpretative traditions of the Wall. This means that it has often been difficult to open up Roman military studies to alternative perspectives and theories within Roman archaeology, but this situation is now changing (e.g. James 2011). There is evidence of local indigenous settlements near to the Wall which may have been abandoned or would at least be affected by its presence. Such an example is the Iron Age farmstead at Milking Gap near to Milecastle 38 along the Wall from Housesteads fort. Here, the remains of an enclosure and around five roundhouses are known (Breeze 2006: 256). The construction of the Wall and the large-scale military presence here would have had a major impact on the lives of the local population. The conventional focus within studies of the Wall has been through interpretations as a military structure, and the archaeological remains have not tended to be considered through other theoretical frameworks. Most recently there has been some useful debate on the history of study of the Wall, and how this has influenced our perceptions and interpretations of it (Hingley 2012; Witcher 2010a; 2010b). These have been valuable investigations, demonstrating the Wall is as much about modern perceptions as it is about past histories. Through

Critical Identities 147 this work, however, it is possible to start to assess again the way in which the Wall might have been used and experienced in the Roman period and formed part of the landscape. Perhaps of particular significance is that the location of the Wall appears to take advantage of a number of natural features in the landscape including the mouth of the Tyne and the Whin Sill, which is a major rock outcrop and part of the North Pennines. Stretches of Hadrian’s Wall are constructed along the sill elevating it to a great height, and this has traditionally contributed to the idea that the Wall was also constructed for observation purposes and signalling (e.g. Woolliscroft 2001). If the Wall were constructed in a location that was convenient in terms of natural landscape features, however, it would suggest that it was not intended to keep everyone that fell to the north of it from coming south. The location of the Wall probably meant nothing at all in terms of any local political organisation that already existed, and indeed, as mentioned, many rural settlements are known north of the Wall (cf. Proctor 2009). This would mean that passage through the Wall is likely to have formed a significant aspect of how it was perceived by many, and there are many gateways in the Wall for this purpose. At the same time moving through the Wall, as a monumentalised barrier or enclosure, might have been imbued with symbolic meaning, the experience of which was integral to the meaning of the Wall. The symbolic nature of moving through the Wall might also be reflected in the way in which gateways were constructed at regular intervals along it, even in some cases where they were seemingly of little practical use because of steep drops on the north side or other difficulties. For example at Milecastle 37 near Housesteads (Breeze 2006: 252–3) the north gateway appears to have been blocked due to subsidence resulting from its location (see Figure 4.17). This suggests that it was not considered to have been of any practical use despite being monumentally constructed. The Wall could even have had symbolic status in terms of its relationship with passage into the Empire and not intended to act as a barrier. The way in which the Wall itself was experienced as a structure is also an important aspect to consider when attempting to understand its meaning and function. The Wall was constructed of dressed stone and the gateways shaped in a particular fashion which meant passing through the Wall would have created particular experiences which were different from those encountered in any other contexts nearby. If the Wall was located where it was because of the nature of the landscape that could be used such as the Whin Sill, moreover, it seems likely that this landscape would already have had meaning and local significance. The Wall may well have appropriated a landscape that was rich in meaning where people living south of the Wall were just as hostile to the Roman presence as people to the north were. One interpretation of the Vallum, which was constructed to the south of the Wall and is unknown in any other frontier system, is that it was to protect the Wall from the south and to create a militarised zone. The Vallum is a monumental ditch about 6 metres wide at the top and 3 metres deep with two

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Figure 4.17 gateway.

Photograph of the remains of Hadrian’s Wall Milecastle 37 with

Source: Photograph by A.C. Rogers.

earthen mounds to its north and south, presumably where the earth from the ditch was placed (see Figure 4.18; Breeze and Dobson 2000: 56–57). At a number of points along the Vallum there were causeways, or crossing points, which were the only points that the Vallum could be crossed to gain access through the wall. Excavations at the Vallum crossing point at Benwell fort on the Wall demonstrated the way in which it allowed access to the forts southern gate. Halfway across the stone-built causeway was a gateway which had to be passed through in order to gain access to the other side of the Vallum (Birley et al. 1934). The purpose of the Vallum has been much debated, but this can be taken further by thinking about its impact and meaning in the landscape and about how this would have affected how it was experienced. In prehistoric Britain the act of creating ditches seems to have been imbued with symbolic meaning, as well as any practical function they also had, as can be seen in their deliberate incorporation as integral components of major monument complexes, but could also be meaningful around farmsteads and other settlements. Leary and Field (2010: 122), for example, have argued how a monumental ditch was deliberately constructed to form part of the Silbury Hill monument in Wiltshire. They argued that such a ditch would not

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Figure 4.18 Diagrammatic section of the Vallum at Hadrian’s Wall. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Breeze (2006: 85).

have been necessary if it had been created simply for extracting material for building up the mound. The low-lying and watery nature of the landscape, moreover, would have meant that the ditch would have flooded with water in wet periods perhaps suggesting that standing water would have formed an important component of the complex (cf. Evans [1997] discussion of standing water in settlement enclosures). Ditches can also be associated with other functions and meanings such as entrapping malevolent spirits which may have been a constant problem in such highly ritualised and meaningladen landscapes (Leary and Field 2010: 122). With the construction of Hadrian’s Wall through a meaning-laden landscape, it might be that the military wished to impede local spirits in the landscape from reaching the Wall by constructing the monumental ditch. A ditch, moreover, could also have been considered the most effective way of controlling the movement of local peoples because of the symbolic significance they attached to it. The ditch would not necessarily have prevented them from coming up to the wall and through it, but it could have controlled their approach. It might also be relevant that a small temple excavated at Benwell lay outside the fort and close to the Vallum (Birley et al. 1934). The temple was dedicated to Antenociticus, who is only attested here and may relate to a local deity associated with this particular place. The ditch would have been a disruptive feature to the deity of this place. Equally possible is that ditches were considered to be symbols of power and prestige, which has been considered to be a factor behind their use and meaning on Iron Age settlements (e.g. Bowden and McOmish 1987). The Vallum, then, could have been used as a sign of Roman power that was more meaningful locally than the Wall itself. The military was using a form of construction that had an impact on local traditions and on ways of experiencing the landscape, and this might explain why the Vallum may have been later in date than the Wall itself. Some have argued that the Vallum was

150 Critical Identities constructed whilst the Wall was being built or was reduced in width size as a form of protection (Bennett 2002). This could be a reasonable suggestion but the Vallum also need to be considered in terms of the way in which the local population would have experienced it. For the local population the Hadrian’s Wall complex would have had a major impact on their material world and on how their world was experienced. The Wall was imposed on the landscape, and had an impact on people’s behaviour and experiences within the landscape, but was integral to its meaning were also continuities in traditions of experience which must be considered in any construction of the Wall’s biography. Hadrian’s Wall as a boundary in the landscape would, of course, also have had symbolic meaning. In Roman religion itself, for instance, there was a god related to boundaries, Terminus. The term limes used for frontier was originally applied to a bank or path separating fields and the act of defining and enclosing land, limitatio, was steeped in religious symbolism (Shotter 1996: 3; Whittaker 1994: 8). The significance that walls and boundaries could have can also be seen in the rituals that played a role in the foundation and definition of urban spaces. The process of taking the auspices, to identify the location of a new town for example took place within a defined area called a templum. The suovetaurilia was the sacrifice of animals at the boundaries of towns, and this applied to forts (Whittaker 1994: 21). The depiction of such a ceremony was found at Bridgeness on the Antonine Wall (ibid.) perhaps suggesting that the same symbolic significance of boundaries was applied to this frontier. The town was bounded with symbolism and entering a town through a gateway would also have been imbued with meaning (Rykwert 1976: 70; 137–9). Within prehistoric archaeology there have also been debates about moving beyond purely defensive interpretations of enclosures (e.g. Bowden and McOmish 1987; Collis 1996; Hingley 1984). Providing straightforward interpretations of enclosures as defences (e.g. Ralston 2006) seems to be applying too much confidence about how we understand the contextual social and symbolic meanings of these constructions and denies additional meanings that would also have been bound up with their use and significance. The populations of towns in the Roman period could well have been drawing on these longer-term local cultural traditions and beliefs and could be an example of the way in which incomers to Britain adapted their behaviour and outlook. Deposition and other ritual activity connected with boundaries and gateways has also long been recognised in the context of prehistoric settlements, such as in Hingley’s (1990b) documentation of the evidence of the deposition of iron currency bars in boundary contexts in the Iron Age (Hingley 1990b). Attempts to recognise ritual activity associated with boundaries in the Roman period, however, have been few, and in the past excavations were perhaps not undertaken with this kind of evidence in mind. The incorporation of statuary into the construction of the town wall at London (Hill et al. 1980) could be evidence of the symbolic nature of the boundary

Critical Identities 151 context. The construction of the wall appears to have used items of stone statuary from the town, but each piece had been placed carefully within the wall as if the pieces possessed value and meaning. Hadrian’s Wall has been subject to centuries of investigation and excavation which might now make it difficult to recognise any evidence of ritual deposition connected with the Wall as a boundary. At the Antonine Wall, however, it seems that many of the distance slabs, recording the lengths of the wall completed by each legion, were deliberately buried within pits when the wall was abandoned (Hanson and Maxwell 1983: 144; Keppie 1979: 7; Steer and Cormack 1969: 122). These pit deposits could well represent ritual activity connected with the significance of the boundary and cultural sensitivity of the context. At the Western end of Hadrian’s Wall at Maryport, an altar to Jupiter Optimus Maximus has recently been discovered buried face down in a pit dating to the second or third century AD (Tomlin 2013: 382–83). This discovery accompanies a further seventeen altars discovered at the site in the nineteenth century (Jarrett 1976; Shotter 1996). The excavation team have argued that the altars must have lost their significance and were used in building work, but this would seem to be a rather simplistic interpretation given the contexts in which the altars were found and their careful preservation and deposition. The continuing and evolving biographical life of the objects needs to be taken into account; even if they were reused for other purposes, it is perfectly conceivable that they retained their meaning and significance. There is also evidence that the incoming military to the Hadrian’s Wall area were sensitive to the existing religious meanings attached to the landscape. One example of this is the large number of items of metalwork dredged from the River Tees at the site of the river crossing at the military base of Piercebridge, as already mentioned, which appears to have been deposited ritually. Another example is at Carrawburgh fort along Hadrian’s Wall where there was a mithraeum, the cult of Mithras being a religion that was very much associated with military identity (see Figure 4.19). Outside the mithraeum, however, was a small shrine to the Nymphs and the Genius loci (the spirit of the place). An excavation here in 1960 revealed an altar, with a well to one side with four slabs protecting it and a semicircular bench. On the altar was a dedication by the prefect of the First Cohort of Batavians M. Hispanius Modestinus probably dating to the early third century AD (Breeze 2006: 222). What is significant about this shrine is the recognition of the local spirit despite the introduction of other religious practices as well. Clearly the soldiers were concerned about placating the local spirit, and this place played a role in shaping their own experiences and identities. The recognition and worship of local geniuses formed a significant part of Roman religious practice, and so the recognition of these places also meant that they were being incorporated into Roman practices. The nature of these religious experiences, then, would have been nuanced and multifaceted including local perspectives and the beliefs of the incomers.

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Figure 4.19

Plan of the Carrawburgh Mithraeum on Hadrian’s Wall.

Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Breeze (2006: 220).

Also close by to the mithraeum is a strong spring in a rectangular basin known as Coventina’s Well (Allason-Jones and McKay 1985). Coventina was a water goddess whose worshippers seem mainly to have come from the lower Rhineland area, but they were also interpreting a local water god or goddess that was already there and acknowledged by the local people. The structure was excavated in 1876, and these excavations produced a large array of items including a mass of coins, carved stones, altars, jars, incenseburners, pearls, brooches and other objects (ibid.; Breeze 2006: 222). The coins’ date range was from Mark Anthony (died 31 BC) to Gratian (AD 367–83), but this need not be representative of the whole collection because the site was also robbed at the time. The coins, however, do suggest a period of peak activity around the late second and early third centuries. Here, then, the landscape was being interpreted through not only their own traditions but also by their drawing on its local significance in a way that had an impact on them and the indigenous population of these areas. Through this more critical approach to Hadrian’s Wall it becomes clear that it is no longer adequate simply to describe its structural history through time. Meanings and experiences must be contextualised here, and through this it is clear that the identity of the Wall is also changeable through its relationship with the military and other incomers as well as the local population.

Avebury Revisited: The Landscape of Britain in its Imperial Context Chapter 1 discussed the way in which the biography has been used in prehistoric archaeology as a framework for examining the construction and long-term use of monumental landscapes which often have identifiable structural changes, alterations and additions. One of these is the Avebury

Critical Identities 153 complex in Wiltshire, which has probably been one of the most intensively studied archaeological landscapes in Britain though the focus of attention, understandably, has predominantly been on the prehistoric monuments it an attempt to understand their construction and purpose (see Figure 4.20; e.g. Burl 1979; Gillings and Pollard 2004; Gillings et al. 2008; Malone 1989). Few books on Roman Britain mention the Avebury complex, and any discussion of Avebury in the Roman period is more likely to interpret use of the landscape in terms of disruption and discontinuity from earlier periods. Petts (1998), however, has explored the way in which knowledge and experience of the Avebury landscape would have differed between the military and other incomers compared with the local population. Usefully, Ronald

Figure 4.20 Plan of the prehistoric monuments of the Avebury landscape, Wiltshire. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Leary and Field (2010: 141).

154 Critical Identities Hutton (2011) has published a study examining evidence for the ritual use of prehistoric monuments in the Roman period, but here I would like to suggest that we also need to challenge our interpretations of continuity and discontinuity in the landscape. It is also important not to focus only on the monumental prehistoric structures because many forms of place and features of the landscape could have retained meaning into the Roman period. In Roman times new roads were constructed through this landscape, and some agricultural land appears to have been arranged in the same orientation as the road which suggests that some kind of reorganisation of the landscape took place at this time. This evidence has often been argued to signify a major change in the use of the landscape and most notably the end of the religious significance of the landscape, perhaps through forced change because of the Roman occupation. This has also often been connected with the idea of centuriation where land, especially around colonies, was divided up into plots for veteran soldiers. Centuriation is usually interpreted as indicating disruption and dominance in a conquered landscape (cf. Dilke 1971). In Roman Britain, however, there is as yet no clearly recognisable evidence of centuriation surviving in the landscape around the colonies. This does not mean that it did not necessarily take place but that the traces of it were lost over time, or it may have taken a less obvious form in the landscape using pre-existing boundaries or other forms of markers, and Mattingly (2006: 360) suggests that there would have been much effort in delimiting and quantifying existing landholding arrangements. New roads can also affect the way in which the landscape is moved through, the speed of this movement and, as a consequence, how the landscape is experienced (cf. Laurence 1999), but this need not be the same thing as disruption. The important point, however, is that this changing organisation of the landscape does not have to mean discontinuity because it also represents the longer-term use, meaning and significance attached to the landscape. The very act of reorganising the landscape means that the existing landscape has to be recognised, manipulated and acted on. This organisation also does not mean that the significance of features in the landscape would be lost. In the case of the Avebury landscape the Neolithic henge, the stone circles and stone avenues, the Windmill Hill causewayed enclosure and the West Kennet chambered long barrow are much more likely to have retained their local meaning and significance than being disrupted by the new roads and enclosures. In fact their continued use would have contributed further to their significance in the landscape. The colonial context of this landscape development demonstrates the need to place more emphasis on the variation of experience, all of which would have contributed to the fluidity of identity of the landscape. Close by to Avebury, and possibly part of the complex, is the Silbury Hill mound constructed in the Neolithic period over a number of identified phases. What is increasingly being recognised, as already discussed in part, is the way in which the landscape around the mound was also used and

Critical Identities 155 manipulated—features of the landscape formed just as significant elements of the complex as the constructed elements. This included the watery nature of the landscape including springs and rivers. To the west and east are seasonal winterbourne streams and to the south-east is the Swallowhead spring which is seen as the source of the River Kennet. Leary and Field (2010: 149) have argued that the low-lying position of the mound and the fact that it is surrounded by high terrain suggest that it was not constructed for its height and visibility and instead was constructed in a way that drew on, emphasised and manipulated the watery significance of the landscape. The external ditch around the mound would have been filled with standing water, at least on occasion, and the mound was perhaps a deliberate attempt to emphasise the significance of the watery area and the spring. In the Roman period a road was constructed past Silbury Hill on a line not too different from the modern A4 (see Figure 4.21). What is especially significant, however, is that evidence of Roman period settlement has long been known in the surrounding fields where material was turning up during farming the land and the construction of pipelines. In 1993 when a pipeline was renewed, often first being laid down in 1926, a small-area excavation was undertaken, and the presence of around five stone Roman period buildings were identified as well as pits and ditches. These buildings appeared to date to the later third and fourth century, but there were also sherds dating from the first and second centuries, suggesting there was occupation from at least this time (Powell et al. 1996). Aerial photography revealed a large settlement here which falls within the conventional category of ‘small town’, and this was confirmed by a programme of geophysical survey from 2006 to 2007. This survey identified a settlement consisting of roads, enclosure ditches and buildings, some of which were fairly substantial. The survey results demonstrated multiple phases of development and the settlement appears to have begun in the early Roman period or even in the late Iron Age (Leary and Field 2010: 159). If there were indeed late Iron Age origins here then it might suggest that the Roman period road was constructed to incorporate the settlement or it perhaps took the route of a pre-existing roadway, indicating less disruption than is often assumed. It is tempting to think that the Roman (and possibly Iron Age) settlement represented a new form of settlement for the people that inhabited the area and perhaps had their history stretching back to the Neolithic period. It is obviously difficult to be certain about this but the settlement does emphasise the evolving use and importance of the landscape. Rather than disruption, it is possible to consider the settlement in terms of continuity of use and early investigators interested in the area, including William Stukeley and others found Roman coins and other items on Silbury Hill (ibid.: 155). The monument continued to be frequented and valued even if this was not in the manner as it had been in the Neolithic. Reynolds (2005) has suggested that

Figure 4.21 Plan of the Roman settlement at the foot of Silbury Hill identified through excavation and geophysical survey. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Pollard and Reynolds (2002: 173, fig. 70).

Critical Identities 157 the Roman period settlement had a local administrative role, perhaps the centre of a pagus or administrative district, and would have been involved in local agriculture and the collection of agricultural products. This imposes a strong imperial function onto the settlement, but if this was the case, it further emphasises the incorporation of this prehistoric complex into the Roman period landscape. Silbury Hill was an integral part of the settlement but so, too, were the springs and rivers in the landscape; the watery landscape continued to be meaningful as it had been in prehistory. This integral relationship between settlement and landscape might also be indicated by the number of Roman period ‘wells’ found around Silbury. Excavations have suggested that these ‘wells’ were only open for a relatively short period. Instead of actually functioning as wells, another interpretation is that they functioned as ritual shafts, and they did contained evidence of what was most likely material relating to ritualised structured deposition including deer antlers, flint flakes and pottery (Brooke and Cunningham 1896: 170; Corney and Walters 2001: 24–5). Leary and Field (2010: 164) have suggested that the choice of this material was deliberately referencing the prehistoric predecessors indicating a continuity of people, meaning and experience in the landscape even if they were now living in a different manner. Lives and experiences were affected by the new form of settlement and land organisation, but at the same time the watery landscape, monuments and ancestors represented continuities of experience. Here, then, was a situation that was more complex than can be represented through the conventional biographical framework with progressive narrative. The landscape incorporated aspects of both continuity and change in this imperial context. Rather than disruption brought by Roman occupation and the reorganisation of the landscape in the Avebury area, there was a more complex form of use and experience entwined with local meanings and perceptions of place and time. The meaning of Silbury Hill itself, moreover, may have continued to evolve. It is possible that only in the Roman period did it become a focus of religious activity whereas in the Neolithic it had a different as yet inaccessible purpose and significance. A biographical reconstruction tends to emphasise either continuity or disruption, but in reality the relationship among the people, the landscape, the settlement and the experience would have been much more complex. CONCLUSION In this chapter, the way in which we approach the archaeology of landscapes, settlements and buildings in Roman archaeology has been critically examined. A number of examples that often form important components of most accounts of Roman Britain including Hadrian’s Wall, towns, villas and ports have been drawn on and that there are alternative approaches that can bring

158 Critical Identities different perspectives to the material has been argued. It has been argued that critical biographies can provide a more challenging way of considering how lives developed and changed through time, and identities evolved through experiences and social contexts. The lives of people, buildings, settlements and landscapes need not have been regarded in the same distinct ways as they tend to be today. Critical biographies also allow us to challenge our assumptions of landscape and structural interpretation moving away from more normative interpretations to think more critically about how we study material and about how it gained meaning in its social context. As with the identities of people, moreover, the identities of landscapes, buildings and places are also changeable in different social contexts which cannot be constructed through conventional biographical frameworks. Ultimately, archaeology is about the study of people in the past through the investigation of where and how they lived out their lives. This interaction between people, landscapes, buildings and things means that we need first to negotiate our understanding of these elements through critical and locally situated studies. NOTE 1. There continues to be debate surrounding the foundation of Roman London as to whether it was a result of military or civilian activity (e.g. Milne 1995; Perring 2011). It seems possible that it was partly both and that merchant activity enabled the town to expand quickly.


The Lives of Objects and Materials

The specialist study of objects has long formed an integral and highly informative role in Roman archaeology to support excavations and textual evidence and this is no less the case in Romano-British studies. There is a very strong tradition of studying the material culture of Roman Britain, as well as the preceding Iron Age, including pottery, glass, coins, brooches, other jewellery and metalwork objects, intaglios, leatherwork, wooden objects and bone objects. There is also the archaeological material that is often described as bulk finds but also forms important components of sites including animal and human bones and plant remains. The majority of these finds are conventionally studied by specialists who often deal solely with one type of object or material, and through this level of specialism we are able to gain immensely valuable information especially in relation to manufacturing details, quantitative analyses, distribution patterns and patterns of use on settlements and more widely over time. These studies also often result in the production of detailed catalogues of the finds from the excavation sites, which allows researchers to draw on the information for their studies, as well as the publication of encyclopaedic guides to the study of particular artefact types or materials such as Paul Tyers’s (1996) Roman Pottery in Britain and Jennifer Price and Sally Cottam’s (1998) Romano-British Glass Vessels: A Handbook. Whilst these resources provide immensely important technical information and details on their use, chronology and distribution, this specialist focus can sometimes mean that there is less contextualised study of the social implications and significance of the objects. The detailed documentation and analysis of objects has been used to examine important questions such as trade routes, networks and the organisation of production which form an important part of archaeological investigations of all periods. The movement of materials and objects around has been the subject, especially, of much recent study (e.g. Alberti and Sabatini 2012; Jones 2004). The difficulty with much of this analysis work, however, is that it tends to focus on the way in which objects accrue meanings as they move through networks. Whilst this movement is an important facet of the way in which objects can acquire meanings there is a tendency to emphasise linear forms of accruing meaning attached to objects rather than

160 The Lives of Objects and Materials the importance of local meanings and the impact of the objects on local experiences. This importance of local meaning and experience can break down conventional constructions of object identity because the meanings attached to objects can change in different contexts. Object identities are formed through people–object interaction and human experiences, which means that they are as changeable as are the identities of people as we have seen. A critical approach to object identity and biography, then, ensures that we do not make assumptions about object meaning and significance without fully contextualising them within their life histories and local situations. THE BIOGRAPHY OF THINGS IN ARCHAEOLOGY In response to the valuable specialist studies on artefacts and the huge wealth of information that such studies generate, not only in Roman archaeology but across the archaeological discipline, there was growing discussion amongst some archaeologists, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, of ways in which the data could be utilised in more socially meaningful ways. New perspectives for studying and theorising material culture within archaeology, especially in developing socially inspired approaches, were influenced by anthropology and sociology and the reconsideration of the relationship between objects and humans. The concept of the cultural biography of objects, building especially on the work of the anthropologists where there is now a vast body of literature including Appadurai in the Social Life of Things (1986), Kopytoff (1986), Hoskins (1998), Miller (ed. 2005; 2009) which we have seen has also influenced studies of archaeological structures (Chapter 4), has been especially significant for analysing the social significance of archaeological material. The cultural biography has influenced the way in which archaeologists have investigated and written about artefacts including the emphasis on the objects having lives from their initial conception, construction and use through to their deposition, any subsequent use and their later reception. For Roman artefacts this reception could be in the medieval or modern periods. Also of central importance to these analyses has been the study of way in which objects, and their use in the past, influenced and shaped human identities and behaviours in a constant form of interaction (e.g. Gosden and Marshall 1999; Jones 2001; Meskell 2004); most recently Hodder (2012) has written about this integral relationship between people and things, and its implications for archaeological research, in terms of entanglement. Another important area of archaeological investigation has been in recognising the significance in the nature of the contexts in which archaeological objects are found in documenting actions that represented equally significant stages of their lives. This includes the structured deposition of objects (e.g. Hill 1995) and the fragmentation of objects (Chapman 2000; 2007). John Chapman’s work on fragmentation, arguing that objects were

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deliberately broken in meaningful actions and with significance attached to the individual pieces, has been an especially useful demonstration of the importance attached to each stage of the life of an object. Even broken pieces of objects found in the archaeological record could be the result of meaningful human action. These pieces could be just as significant (or even more so) than the objects in their complete form. Another form of reuse of objects which has been subject to more conventional study is where they continued to be used but are put to different functions. In some cases it might even be that the objects had never been used for the original function but incorporated into alternative traditions of use. Relevant examples here include the use of samian vessels as lamps at broch sites in Scotland (e.g. at Fairy Knowe, Buchlyvie, near Stirling; Armit 2003; MacKie 2007). In Roman studies there has tended to be a slower recognition of identifying actions such as ritual deposition or fragmentation in the archaeological record compared with prehistoric archaeology, where a number of pioneering studies took place. Roman studies have focused especially on description, perceived function and technological issues relating to manufacture rather than embracing more social interpretations of local meanings of place and time. What has increasingly formed a useful part of Roman studies, however, has been the number of investigations examining the spatial distribution of objects on archaeological sites and within structural spaces in order to interpret social meanings relating to the use and organisation of space. A difficulty with many early excavations was that recording strategies did not include much detailed spatial information relating to the find spots of objects except in cases of special or unusual finds or collections of objects such as hoards or infant burials; even in these cases, however, there was rarely precise information recorded in the published reports. Today on most excavation sites, the location of all small finds discoveries is carefully recorded three-dimensionally with its coordinates and height measurements. Even bulk finds, such as pottery sherds and animal bones, are recorded spatially through the careful documentation of the context from which they came, which is tied into the site grid as a soil samples. This detailed recording allows for spatial analysis of the finds to be undertaken and this has encouraged a number of attempts to document the use and changing use of rooms within buildings from finds as well as studies of other ways in which space might have been used and organised, such as by gendering space (e.g. Allison et al. 2005). There have been a number of investigations examining the distribution of finds within military and domestic contexts to compare assemblages across settlements and to analyse the uses of spaces within them and how this use might have changed over time. The difficulty with these kinds of analyses, however, has always been ensuring that the assemblages can be compared in meaningful ways with each other, both across time and from site to site, because of the varying methods of excavation and recording. Correspondence analysis has been used to compare the find assemblage

162 The Lives of Objects and Materials from the legionary fortress in York with those of other military sites (Cool and Baxter 1995; 2002; Cool et al. 1995) whilst the finds from structures within Caernarfon fort were compared through time to document the changing use of the buildings (Evans 1993). Gardner (1999; 2001; 2007) has also worked on the finds from forts and fortresses focusing especially on the use of fort space in late Roman Britain. He has used this analysis to comment on the nature of military and civilian identities and has argued that the traditional assumption of clear-cut division between ‘civilian’ and ‘military’ in and around fort contexts is far too simplistic and more nuanced interpretations of the identity of the people in these contexts are needed. Penelope Allison et al.’s (2005) work on the finds assemblages from forts has focused especially on the issue of whether it is possible to document male and female uses of spaces and has argued that it is possible to identity the female presence within military contexts. Allison has also raised methodological issues regarding how finds can be interpreted differently when found in different contexts because of the assumptions we make about the use of the spaces and the people using them. Objects interpreted as female within domestic contexts for example have been ignored or interpreted differently when found in military contexts. An important exception to this has been Allason-Jones’s (2001; 2009) work on analysing the finds assemblages from excavated turrets along Hadrian’s Wall. In her work she has demonstrated that finds traditionally considered female, such as needles and nail cleaners, were present in male-only contexts leading to revised ideas about how soldiers lived and looked after themselves by mending their own clothes and keeping themselves clean. The study emphasises the need to avoid making assumptions about engendering objects and spaces in the past—arguments more often made in prehistoric archaeology (cf. Pope and Ralston 2011; Sørensen 2000) but have had less of an impact in Roman studies. Allison’s (1992) work on finds assemblages from Pompeii has also raised important methodological issues relating to the study of finds distributions within buildings due to factors affecting the completeness and comparability of finds assemblages. She has argued that the concept of the ‘Pompeii Premise’, in which there is a completely intact archaeological surface undisturbed from the day of its creation up to the present, is unrealistic because there would always have been later activity and disturbances affecting the sites, and then there are the archaeological techniques themselves which influence the assemblages. Even at Pompeii itself it is known that there was considerable post-eruption activity where buildings were cleared and items were salvaged. Then there was the further disruption caused by the post-medieval period interest in the site. What all of these studies of material finds do indicate, however, is that it is ultimately the use of space that is of importance through this work rather than merely providing descriptions of objects or buildings. Combining structural, artefactual and spatial information together can produce a more dynamic understanding of how space was used and experienced and how

The Lives of Objects and Materials


this changed over time. What needs to be integral to more studies of objects, then, is a consideration of the way in which theory will have an impact on the human experience. There still tends to remain a focus on descriptive approaches to documenting objects, emphasising visual appearance, rather than their impact on the other senses. This need not just include objects but also materials more generally, all of which would have had an impact on the human senses and how spaces were experienced. All the materials used in construction activities and other purposes such as pieces of stone, for example, can be treated in terms of objects, and thus material culture, because they were chosen, shaped and deployed in meaningful ways (cf. Conneller 2011; Hurcombe 2007). Many building materials were also deliberately made for the purpose of construction such as bricks and tiles—all of these are cultural artefacts and had their own lives and biographies. They also had an impact on the human experience through their impact on the senses. All archaeology is spatial, but whilst it is important to emphasise that people acted in space, it is also necessary to examine the way in which these spaces were experienced. The experience of this space should be integrated with the objects found within the spaces but also, in the case of buildings, the components of the buildings themselves or the components of landscapes. These experiences would also have changed as the relationship among buildings, objects and landscapes also changed—in effect creating biographies of experience. This biography of experience, however, need not have taken a linear form of progression as new things were introduced to Britain during the conquest or new building styles developed because these things and materials would also have come into existing traditions of ways of experiencing thus contributing to more complex outcomes.

Things and the Senses Most studies in archaeology tend to emphasise the sense of sight in the way in which objects, but also buildings and landscapes, are described and documented. Sight, of course, is only one of the five major senses that play a role in the way in which the world is experienced and the range of use of each of the senses can vary amongst different peoples and individuals. The importance people give to the various senses can be culturally specific (cf. Ingold 2000: 243). The senses have also formed part of sociological and anthropological studies of today’s Western society (e.g. Classen 1993; Howes 2005), and these studies have been able to demonstrate the way in which the senses are used and prioritised today. For example the senses of smell and taste may have been much more significant in the formation of experiences and identity in the past than tends to be recognised today. Classen et al. (1994) have argued that modern Western society has become much more deodorised than it was in the past, and as a consequence less importance is often given to the sense of smell in our understanding of the way in which past places were experienced and understandings of the self constructed within them.

164 The Lives of Objects and Materials There has now been some useful work on the senses in prehistoric archaeology examined aspects of experience (e.g. Frieman and Gillings 2007; Hamilakis 2014; Skeates 2010). Sensory experiences, however, are something that can also have an impact on the formation of human identity. This can be examined in terms of the impact of Roman influences on the provinces, which saw new forms of objects, building materials and structural styles being used in areas such as Britain. The nature of sensory experiences, moreover, and their personal relationship with each individual mean that the impact can be on the smallest scale but still of considerable significance. Experiences such as new forms of pottery which are held in the hand for example could have had a more significant impact on the formation of people’s identity than has conventionally been considered. More complex than this, however, whilst there would be new things to experience, these things would also have been experienced through existing traditions relating to sense use and sense prioritisation. This examination of the impact on identity from the micro level can provide a different perspective from the other frameworks that have developed to examine social change and continuity from the Iron Age to the Roman period, such as Romanisation, creolisation and discrepant experience (see Chapter 3). These three frameworks are important, but they do not really tackle the realities of experiencing the past. Whilst new pottery and building styles might have come into Britain and people had the economic opportunity to adopt them and use them, if we do not know how they were experienced then it is not possible to assess the impact they had on people’s identity. It is also useful to recognise that whilst in Western thought the senses tend to be separated and thought of as being distinct from one another, this need not have been recognised in the same way in the past, especially in areas such as prehistoric Temperate Europe where populations are likely to have had very different traditions of experiencing and conceptualising their world through using the senses differently. Terms such as synaesthesia or intersensoriality refer to the interplay between all the senses and the fact that it is through a full-bodied combination of the senses that humans perceive the world. In any given situation, moreover, it need not be the senses that we might necessarily expect that were given dominance for experiencing these situations (Skeates 2010: 21–3). It is important, then, to recognise the significance of all the senses in our understanding of the past and different values could be placed on each of the senses, and combination of senses, in varying situations. There are also likely to have been sex, gender and age differences in the way in which senses were used but within the cultural traditions of the local area. Whilst in modern studies of Roman archaeology and the ‘Romanisation’ process changes tend to emphasise the visual, in the Roman period equal or more significance could have been placed on the role of hearing, touch, taste and smell, as well as perhaps other less easily definable senses such as the so-called ‘sixth sense’ and other forms of senses which are not recognised so much in modern Westernised societies.

The Lives of Objects and Materials


Objects and materials were experienced as well as viewed. The different pottery fabrics (but also all vessel materials including glass, metals and wood), coatings, decorations, vessel shapes would have felt differently when held and touched, including with the hands and lips, and may also have smelt differently and affected the way in which the foodstuffs within the vessels tasted. It is possible to consider, for instance, pottery fabrics, and other types of objects, according to how they felt to the touch rather than simply how they appeared. Whilst we do not have the contextual knowledge of how past groups did think about different vessel types, this is surely no more problematic than the use of colour charts which are equally subjective; perceptions of colour, and the values given to particular colours, are also socially contextual. The use of other senses in experiencing objects would have been just as important as the use of sight. There has been much debate about the role of new material culture that appeared in Britain in the late Iron Age and early Roman periods in terms of culture change (e.g. Collis 1986; Haselgrove 1999; Hill 2007). Whilst there has tended to be an emphasis on change through ‘Romanisation’ there has not been more emphasis on continuity through the new types of artefacts. In the case of new pottery fabrics and forms introduced into Britain in the late Iron Age and Roman periods, Pitts (2005) has shown that certain pottery forms were often chosen because they fit into existing uses and traditions which has been used to argue for minimum social change. Whilst this may have been the case, a holistic approach to the senses would also include colour and appearance, touch, taste and smell to the impact that these new vessels had on the formation of people’s experiences and in turn, shaped their identities. In a recent psychological investigation into the ‘sensoaesthetic’ properties of materials (how the physical properties of materials relate to their sensual and aesthetic properties), for example, the study demonstrated how spoons made of different metals could considerably influence the way in which the taste of the food is perceived (Piqueras-Fiszman et al. 2012). This demonstrates the importance attached to different materials. Different pottery fabrics could also have influenced the taste of the food that was served in the vessels. It is well known, moreover, that food can play an important role in people’s memories and identities—often described as foodways (e.g. Van der Veen 2008)—and so the way in which it was eaten would also have played a significant role in its impact. A holistic approach to the senses, then, demonstrates a complex relationship between continuity and change in people’s experiences and, in turn, their identities. This involvement of all the senses in people’s experiences would have resulted in changing identities, with people drawing on existing traditions of sensory experience but also experiencing new things. The impact of new objects in terms of identity and social change can also be seen in other object types. The toilet sets that we see appearing in late Iron Age and early Roman Britain, for example, have been studied in detail by Hella Eckardt and Nina Crummy (2008) who make an important

166 The Lives of Objects and Materials and convincing argument concerning the way in which these items represent changing ways of representing and styling the body at this time. The comprehensive approach to the documentation of the toilet sets allows for analyses of patterns of their use, but consideration could also be given to the implications of these objects in terms of sensory experiences. Not only would the objects have been experienced by touching them and wearing them around the body, but they also suggest new forms of behaviour in terms of ways of keeping clean and presenting, and perhaps scenting, the body which would also have had an impact on other senses including smell and touch. This type of analysis can in a sense offer a micro perspective to the theme of the social impact of the Roman conquest on the people of Roman Britain. Approaching objects through sensory experience, moreover, provides one way of thinking about the changing nature and identities of objects themselves in these social contexts. Although the objects had the same form, they would have been perceived and experienced differently by people with different traditions. New things coming into Britain would have provided new experiences but they would also have been experienced according to local sensory traditions. This means that, like people (see Chapter 3), the identities of objects would have been changeable and the straightforward narrative nature of biographies could be inadequate for assessing the lives of these objects. ARTEFACT USE LIVES—RITUAL, BIOGRAPHY AND THE LIFE CYCLE Another important aspect of the life of artefacts relates to the deliberate human actions through which objects are deposited into the ground or into other contexts such as water. Perhaps one of the clearest results of this form of activity is the occurrence of hoarding and its relationship with the practice of deposition in the Roman period. Predominately, coin hoards, and hoards of other metal items, have been interpreted in terms of economic motives and the protection of property as indicated by this quotation from a foremost scholar on Roman coinage: “in all parts and in all periods of the Roman Empire men would put away their savings” (Mattingly 1932: 90). This approach to thinking about the material evidence and the contexts in which it was found remains dominant in Roman archaeology despite Ralph Merrifield’s (1987) book The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic emphasising the need to recognise ritual activity in the Roman period from the archaeological material. Studies within prehistory, such as Julian Thomas’s Rethinking the Neolithic (1991; see also 1999), J.D. Hill’s Ritual and Rubbish in Iron Age Wessex (1995) and Richard Bradley’s (1998) The Passage of Arms: An Archaeological Analysis of Prehistoric Hoards and Votive Deposits, have led the way in changing understandings of deposition

The Lives of Objects and Materials


and ritual in the past but more work could be done on identifying and emphasising these aspects in the Roman period. Through a detailed study of the material found on Iron Age settlement sites, and especially the contexts from which it was found, J.D. Hill (1995) was able to argue for a need to rethink conventional approaches to interpreting archaeological deposits as rubbish that had simply been thrown away. He also emphasised that the concept of ritual deposition should not be confined to solely thinking about ‘valuable’ material culture such as precious metals but could involve any form of material including bone and ceramics. For Hill the act of deposition itself was important, and this deposition could be structured in meaningful ways and in particular parts of the site. As structured deposits the material formed an integral part of the composition of sites and the way in which they were organised on a daily basis. This organisation of settlements was also connected with people’s identities and the way in which they organised and understood their worlds. With any study of archaeological material, then, it is important to recognise that its deposition would also have been a meaningful act despite the material assemblages perhaps not appearing significant to us today. Within Roman studies, the concept of ritual deposition has helped us to rethink the nature of deposits, activities and experiences on sites (e.g. Clarke 1997; Fulford 2001; Woodward and Woodward 2004). A significant part of the life of objects, then, is what followed on from their supposed original purpose—even though they may not in fact have been put to these uses.1 The identification of later uses of objects can often depend on the way in which the objects and their contexts are interpreted in the archaeological record. A useful example to examine this is the case of the items found during excavations in the 1930s at the site of the forumbasilica complex at the town of Wroxeter. Excavations of the east portico gutter that ran around the forum found a large number of complete mortaria and samian ware vessels within the gutter (see Figure 5.1). Many of

Figure 5.1 Plan of the Wroxeter forum drain excavation showing the locations of the nests of samian vessels. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Atkinson (1942: 129, fig. 31).

168 The Lives of Objects and Materials the samian vessels that were lying in the gutter were stacked together. The interpretation of these finds on discovery during the excavations was that they were the result of a fire in the basilica which had led to market stalls within the forum being upturned in the panic and the vessels falling into the gutter (Atkinson 1942). Although there does appear to be some evidence of a fire within the building, there are a number of issues concerning the nature of these finds that are worth considering. If these finds were the result of stalls being upturned then the vessels would probably have broken as they fell, and it seems unlikely that they would have been found in rows along the gutter. The gutter also contained a number of relatively rare iron finds including a sword, hammer and adze as well as a stone inscription which seems to have been the dedicatory inscription for the forum itself dating to around AD 129–30 (ibid.: 127). It is unlikely that the excavators would have considered these finds as anything other than the result of panic and destruction caused by the fire but the nature of the finds and their context might allow us to think differently about them. The objects could all have been deposited at one time representing a significant event, perhaps the burning and reconstruction of the structure, or it could have been over a longer period. The fact that the objects concentrated in the eastern gutter could also support the idea that they represent ritual activity drawing on existing cosmological beliefs; as we have seen, Iron Age roundhouses were often orientated east or south-east (see Chapter 4). The possibility that there was standing water in the gutter at times may also have made this a meaningful context for ritual activity. If these objects were not deliberate ritual deposits, moreover, it seems unlikely that they would not have been cleared out of the drain before repair work to the forum was undertaken. It is unclear, however, why these items would have been chosen for deposition. It could be the case that the act of deposition was more important than the items deposited, but the choice of items could also have been significant. In support of this, Willis (1997) has identified a number of cases where large deposits of unused samian vessels are known on fort sites in Britain which had apparently all been deposited at times of abandonment or structural renewal and change at the forts. These forts included Vindolanda, Inchtuthil and Leaholme, amongst others, and the assemblages had conventionally been interpreted in terms of the disposal of stock that had been broken in transit, become outdated or had to be discarded before troops moved on or the forts were renovated. By drawing attention to the number of cases where similar assemblages and contexts are found, Willis suggested that rather than simply representing rubbish, the acts of deposition of this items were more likely to represent important events. Their deposition seems to have been connected with marking structural changes and developments and forming part of the lifecycle of the settlement. The choice to use samian ware, however, is not so simple to explain. It could be the act of deposition rather than the material that was significant or the deposition of vessels rather than deliberately samian ware. It could be that vessels were important

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because they were associated with eating, drinking and feasting which were not only significant cultural activities but also essential components of the human life cycle. Eating and drinking formed an important communal activity, but it was also a deeply personal act with personal attitudes towards different foods and tastes forming a significant aspect of people’s identities. It was also essential for life and well-being and it seems that many of the ritual activities were culturally linked with human life-cycles in a way that brought objects, people and landscapes together. The relationship between object, landscape and human action, as represented by ritual deposition in the Roman period, has also been studied in the case of the Fenland in East Anglia (Rogers 2007). In the Roman period, the Fenland was the largest wetland landscape in Britain, but the focus of investigation and interpretation has tended to be on economic issues and normative approaches to reconstructing landscapes. There have, however, been a number of useful studies of wetland landscapes in prehistoric contexts that have emphasised the cultural significance that could be associated with wetlands and the role of religious activity in these contexts including ritual deposition (e.g. Bradley 2000; Van de Noort and O’Sullivan 2006; Van de Noort 2011). This does not mean that we fully understand the reasons behind this religious activity, but it might be possible that wetlands— in a state between land and water—were regarded as transitional places between the human and godly worlds and were a means of communication with the gods. Acts of deposition seem to have formed part of attempts to communicate with the gods. Despite these investigations there remains a tendency in Roman studies to analyse wetlands in predominantly practical and economic terms (but see Rogers 2007; 2013). Studies of the Fenland in the Roman period have tended to focus on topics associated with Romanisation, agriculture and the debate relating to whether the Fenland was taken over by an imperial estate in the Roman period (e.g. Fincham 2002; Jackson and Potter 1996; Taylor 2000). Whilst the interpretation of the Fenland as an imperial estate is now considered problematic (Taylor 2000), it is also important to recognise the cultural significance of this wetland landscape which would have been drawing on continuing longer-term meanings as seen in the East Anglian Fenland, where there were a number of Roman period shrines constructed around the boundary of the low-lying Fens and the higher, drier land around it (see Figure 5.2). The study by Rogers (2007) documented for the first time the range of evidence relating to ritual deposition in the Fenland in the Roman period including a large concentration of hoards. These deposited items included hoards of vessels made of pewter, bronze and pottery as well as coin hoards and other deposited objects such as bronze statuettes. The choice to deposit vessels, as with the samian deposits discussed earlier, could well be connected with the association between food and the life cycle. Vessels could also be personal items and the contents of the hoards suggest that they could have constituted individual vessels brought together by different people rather

170 The Lives of Objects and Materials

Figure 5.2 Plan of the known Roman period shrines in the Fenland, many of which appear to focus around its edge. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers.

than a dinner service deposited by one person or family. This has been recognised in other cases in which hoards of vessels have been found, most notably in Poulton and Scott’s (1993) study of pewter vessel hoards discovered in wells and pits. They also argued that the hoards of vessels most likely

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indicated different people coming together and adding their contributions rather than representing complete dinner services deposited for safekeeping at times of insecurity, which had tended to be how they were interpreted prior to this. That many of the hoards consisted of pewter vessels indicates that they dated from at least the third century because pewter production is not attested in Britain before that time, but the difficulty is that there is not much overall evidence for unrest or increasing insecurity in Britain at this time. Many of the vessels, moreover, do not seem to have been used prior to deposition, and Poulton and Scott (1993) have argued that in some cases the vessels seem to have been deliberately made for deposition. If this were indeed the case, it further highlights the importance of bringing together the study of object, landscape and human biographies. Such analyses of finds and landscapes also remind us that there remains considerable opportunities for rethinking approaches to Roman material and its relationship with settlement sites. Our understanding of these sites should not be taken for granted by projecting modern day cultural assumptions onto the Roman period. This is demonstrated particularly well with John Chapman’s (2000; Chapman and Gaydarska 2007) concept of fragmentation. From the many of the ways in which objects were treated that we can see in the archaeological record suggest that the objects were often considered to have had more value than simply being functional. Individuals would also have become attached to particular possessions that they valued—in this way individual items were assigned with unique values and meanings, even if they were mass produced in large numbers as in the case of pottery or brooches and so on. This value attached to particular individual objects is not something that is easy to identify in the archaeological record but how they were treated could be one indication. Chapman’s premise of fragmentation argued that pieces of objects found in the archaeological record were not simply the result of damage and discard, but the objects had been deliberately broken at some stage and the separate pieces possessed meaning, and they were then meaningfully deposited. This interpretation of the material was supported by careful analysis of the contexts from which the individual pieces were found as well as experimental approaches to the way in which objects, such as pottery vessels, fragmented due to being dropped or broken by other means (Chapman and Gaydarska 2007). The treatment of objects in this way reminds us that objects had their own lives—the separation between human and object need not have been as distinct in the same way as it is today. In the case of objects deposited in the Roman period it seems that they were often deliberately bent or broken before deposition, and in the case of pottery vessels, holes were deliberately cut into them. It is possible that this could indicate that objects were thought to have had individual lives and identities that needed to be ritually killed before deposition. For example in London a large number of metal objects were found in the area of the Middle Walbrook Valley next to the river. Many of these objects were knives and other tools, and they were in good condition except that a number had

172 The Lives of Objects and Materials been deliberately bent or broken. These finds had conventionally been interpreted as items of scrap that had been thrown away (e.g. Wilmott 1991), but the good condition that they were in and the watery nature of their context have led others to argue that they instead represent ritual activity and some of the objects were ritually killed before deposition (cf. Merrifield 1987; 1995; Merrifield and Hall 2008). As another important example, Fulford (2001) has reassessed the material found within wells and pits during the Victorian and Edwardian period excavations at Silchester. These contexts produced a large amount of material including complete pottery and metal vessels, animal skeletons, tools and other objects although the significance of these deposits was not recognised at the time. Fulford has argued convincingly that this material could represent the continuation of ritual activities from prehistory and people’s negotiations with the godly world. In the case of the vessels deposited, a number had been deliberately holed in the body or base before deposition, also representing their ritualised killing (ibid.: 205). The manufacture of objects, whether metalwork, pottery vessels or anything else, could well also have had connotations with the creation of human life through reproduction and childbirth. These social meanings associated with production, moreover, need not necessarily have diminished with the largerscale productions of the Roman period, and they would have remained part of the life of the objects. PEOPLE, PLACES AND MATERIALS Buildings, settlements and places were constituted of materials. This is significant not just in terms of practical issues of resource procurement, manufacture or construction but also int erms of symbolic meanings that can be associated with the various materials, how and where they are sourced and the construction processes. Materials and their sources could have cultural meanings associated with them which could form part of the lives of not only objects but also the buildings and settlements where they were used. Materials, moreover, need not have been regarded as innate and separate from living things as they tend to be treated today. In order to think about the significance attached to places, then, it is important not just to consider people and human action but also the materials that formed part of these places. In his book Time, Culture and Identity (1996) Julian Thomas advocated that we need to think of places, and the uniqueness of their meaning, in terms of the coming together of objects and people; the biographies of both people and objects brought meaning to places (see Figure 5.3). This has more recently been re-emphasised in Hodder’s (2012) work on the entanglement between people and things, which draws on Miller’s (e.g. 2005; 2009) and others’ work on materiality, as well as the recognition of the need to study the materiality of other components of the lived world such as water (cf. Rogers 2012; 2013). For Thomas (1996), objects can be regarded as

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Figure 5.3 A simplified and revised version of a diagram depicting ‘The interactions of artefacts, people and places in later Neolithic Britain’. Could this also be applied to studying settlements in Roman Britain? Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Thomas (1996: 161, fig. 6.10).

“time-geographic life paths” and the meanings associated with these objects can influence human experiences and give specific values to places. In this way, human identities, places and objects were integral to each other. Thomas’s case studies concerned sites in late Neolithic Britain, and his method of approaching places required the observation of how different types of objects circulated in the late Neolithic world and came together at particular

174 The Lives of Objects and Materials locations. Through this analysis of the origins and movement of objects, Thomas was able to demonstrate that different types of objects circulated in different ways, and as they came together at particular locations, they gave a unique character and meaning to these places (ibid.: 162). Settlements, then, were constituted not only of the materials used to construct them but also the people and objects within them. Increasingly, however, there is also an emphasis on the need to examine materials and their sources archaeologically with as much methodological and theoretical rigour as the objects and structures that they were used to create (e.g. Conneller 2011; A. Jones 2001; 2007; 2012). Materials would have been just as socially imbued with meaning as objects, and it is also important not to rely on today’s distinctions between organic and inorganic for interpreting object ‘lives’. For example Hurcombe (2007: 109) has argued that individuals and communities can personally know a material source; this personal relationship with it creates a social history of the material. Whilst this has been recognised for some time now in prehistoric archaeology, especially in studies of the sources of materials used for the construction of lithic monuments such as Stonehenge (Bradley 2007; Castleden 1993) and stone axes (Bradley and Edmonds 1993; Edmonds 1995), the same sort of social analyses of Roman period sources of materials and the meanings associated with materials and constructions have not been attempted. In Mesolithic and Neolithic archaeology for example Conneller (2011: 77) has discussed the notion of ‘stones as places’, emphasising the idea that raw material is not just about source (and trade and mobility) but can also embody a place and many of these places were important to the prehistoric people. Taçon’s (1991) anthropological study of the Aboriginal groups of western Arnhem Land in northern Australia for example demonstrated how raw materials and their sources can be bound with ideas relating to the activities of ancestral beings in the landscape; materials were classified according to their aesthetic and spiritual qualities. In Neolithic Britain studies of sources of stone used for axe manufacture have demonstrated that the stone could often be in particularly dramatic and inaccessible places even though the stone itself was not necessarily any better for making axes than more accessible stone (Bradley and Edmonds 1993). This has encouraged the view that these locations had special meaning and that this would have been transferred to the axes. Cummings (2012) has discussed the construction of stone monuments and demonstrated how a range of different sources of stone were often sought and deployed in meaningful ways when the monuments were constructed. In her analysis of the construction of one particular monument, the chambered cairn of Blasthill in Kintyre, she demonstrated that stones had come from a variety of sources and incorporated into the structure in apparently meaningful ways; indeed, the stones were not necessarily visible when the structure was complete. She argued that many of the sources of materials in the landscape were imbued with meaning relating to their history of

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use and association with the ancestors. She also argued that construction of these monuments was a group activity with people coming together and bringing specific materials that were meaningful to them. This approach to understanding prehistoric monument construction has also been argued for hill forts and oppida. The scale of construction of these monuments suggests group activities and sometimes, too, materials appear to have been brought in from deliberately chosen places that lie some distance away despite from a modern perspective, the local materials having been just as adequate (Sharples 2010: 116–24). It appears that specific values, stories and memories were associated with particular materials and sources in these cases. Morris (2007) has also examined salt production in the Bronze Age and Iron Age in these terms, suggesting that the sources of salt and the processes of production would have been imbued with ritual and symbolism. Another useful example is Jones’s (2001) examination of the production of pottery in Neolithic Orkney. He has demonstrated that at the site of Barnhouse, different households used different sources of stone for the temper. Two of these sources were near to the chambered tomb at Unstan whilst another was near the settlement of Bookan. Jones argued here that the use of these different tempers related deliberately to the meanings attached to their sources in the landscape. Whilst this makes a useful case for interpreting the different sources of temper here, it seems reasonable to argue that all sources of materials used to make pottery, or build structures, would have been imbued with social meaning. Particular sources were recognised as significant even if the differences between them cannot now be identified archaeologically. This means that even with imports such as the pottery that came into Britain in the Iron Age and Roman periods, the objects were regarded as meaningful not only in terms of its appearance but also in the way in which it had been made and the stories that were possibly attached to its fabric and inclusions used in this manufacture. These aspects of the value attached to these objects are much less tangible to identify today but remind us of the range of meanings that would have been associated with objects beyond simply the economics of manufacture and trade. The archaeological work that has been investigating the significance that could be associated with materials has predominantly been focusing on prehistoric periods, but this should not mean that the Roman period should be treated differently. Roman period buildings and objects can also be analysed in terms of the social significance of construction and the values attached to the raw materials used, their sources and the construction processes as meaning-laden events, and fruitful work can be done on examining the origins and movement of marble around the Empire through archaeometric studies which have the potential of contributing to this type of study (e.g. Lapuente et al. 2014). In Britain, the change from building predominantly timber structures in the Iron Age to the many buildings in stone in the Roman period, for instance, would have had social implications the full significance of which are not as yet fully understood. Chapter 4 examined the way in

176 The Lives of Objects and Materials which roundhouse space was laden with meaning, but so could the construction of the buildings and the choice of materials. It could well be that specific sources of wood and thatch had particular significance and ensure that the structures were embedded within the local landscape as locally farmed resources were used. In the Roman period all types of buildings, whether round or rectangular, would also have been significant in terms of the processes of building and the materials used in their construction. This means that it is important to think about the social meanings associated with the sources of raw materials not only in Britain but across the Roman Empire. This could even include the imperial mines and quarries which have mainly been studied in terms of the organisation of labour in the context of Roman imperialism (e.g. Fulford 2004; Hirt 2010; Mattingly 2011). Local meanings attached to these sources could be equally significant. In Roman Britain many of the buildings would have consisted of a combination of building materials including stone, tile and brick, and there would also have been timber and other materials. All these materials would have had to be prepared for use and buildings would have been conceptualised and experienced in terms of these materials, their sources and their manipulation. There have been a number of useful studies documenting the construction processes of Roman buildings both in Britain and elsewhere, examining especially the economic aspects relating to material procurement, labour requirements, evaluations of the cost of construction (e.g. DeLaine 1997; Hill 2004; Pearson 2003; Shirley 2000). As well as these economic perspectives, however, it is possible to consider the individual histories and social meanings associated with the construction activities and materials constituting each building. Structures can be conceptualised in terms of the coming together of materials in a way that gave each building meaning and distinguished it from others. A villa complex, then, was not just an economic and political entity but was formed from the coming together of a range of building materials and fittings unlike any buildings that had existed in the countryside in Britain prior to this or, indeed, continued to be constructed contemporary with them. These would have included building stone, tile, brick, and possibly also window glass, mosaic tesserae, wall plaster, paints and other materials which would have differed from the timber rectangular structures that are known (although many with stone foundations) and roundhouses that continued to be built. Each villa would have had a unique meaning, and produced unique experiences, through the way in which materials came together and were deployed in the structures. The use and significance of colour, and how it is sensed, would also have formed part of the meanings associated with buildings and settlements. With the mosaics, wall paintings and other colourful elements in the villa it could be that the use of colour was particularly meaningful as a way of expressing power and difference. There have now been a number of archaeological studies investigating the social significance and implications of colour in

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the past (e.g. Bradley 2009; Jones and Macgregor 2002), emphasising that objects could have more significance than just material value. The bringing together of particular components to make the colours in the villa decoration could also have been particularly significant, integrating these settlements with supply links that could in some cases go across the Empire. From what is known from Iron Age archaeology in Britain, there does not appear to have been a deliberate attempt to use a large range of colours for producing objects and decorating buildings, but this does not mean that colour was not also highly significant and laden with meaning within society as everything would, of course, have had a colour by which it was distinguished from other things. Andrew Jones (2004) for example has discussed the significance of colour in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain and has argued that objects made of gold, amber, jet and faience were particularly meaningful because of their distinct colours and the complex biographies of procurement and production that these colours represented. He suggests that these artefacts represented new forms of personal identity framed within the networks of procurement. The colours were particularly powerful in invoking these networks and creating senses of identity. It is important to recognise, however, that it would not only have been the colours from these artefacts that were meaningful but also that all colours are likely to have been imbued with meaning. For example within domestic contexts it might be that some colours were taboo whilst the colours of timber, wattle-and-daub, thatch and so on were considered the most significant. In the Roman world, the use of different colours as in villa architecture could well have had considerable social implications that should not be neglected. The perspective of analysing the meanings associated with places through the coming together of materials, objects, people and experiences could be especially helpful to us in Roman archaeology for thinking about the way in which settlements are categorised and given labels and in turn how we construct our understanding of them through archaeological writing. As we have seen there has been considerable debate about the way in which settlements in Roman Britain are categorised and the difficulties with labelling sites in a way that can restrict our understanding of their nature and function to specific aspects, such as town, small town, roadside settlement, villa, native settlement and so on, rather than treating them more individually and holistically (cf. Millett 2001). Additionally to this they could be conceptualised in terms of the coming together of materials, objects, buildings and people. This would mean that it is possible to explore the meanings and values of each settlement as well as possibly forming part of larger categories of sites which also had a function within the province. Materials and things could be just as significant in forming the meanings associated with places as were people. The difficulty with this approach to studying settlements, of course, is methodological in that every settlement would have been excavated differently and to a different extent. There is, consequently, no such thing as a comprehensive finds assemblage from any settlement that can then

178 The Lives of Objects and Materials be compared with another. Despite these difficulties for comparison, this approach could be especially valuable for thinking about the values associated with each settlement and the experiences they encouraged. This form of reanalysis also need not apply only to types of settlements but also to phases of settlements where there has tended to be specific approaches and perspectives given to the various phases. For example there is considerable potential for this approach in helping us with new ways of approaching an understanding of towns in the later Roman period.

The Later Roman Period There is a danger in treating the study of late Roman Britain as a specialism separate from other periods of study. It could be argued that this is not necessarily a bad thing because the later Roman period—usually treated as the late third to early fifth centuries AD—was a considerable period in its own right which demands detailed and specialist investigation which it has received in a number of important publications (e.g. Dark 2000; Esmonde Cleary 1989a: 235; 1989b; 2013; Jones 1996; Johnson 1980; White 2007). Considerable attention in the past had been on the late Iron Age/Roman transition period, but there had rarely been equal levels of debate on late Roman Britain despite also being a lengthy period. This refocus and specialism, however, meant that studies of late Roman Britain often became divorced from the theoretical developments taking place in other periods of Roman archaeology in Britain. Late Roman studies often focused their investigations on themes of change and decline within the wider context of the late antique world. The late Iron Age/early Roman transition is important in terms of understanding not only urbanism (see Chapter 4) but also the life of the town and what happens to towns in the later Roman period. Breaking down historic narratives, we can understand towns through more fluid histories as they develop and change meaning over time. The historical narrative might emphasise towns in the later Roman period in terms of decline, but if we consider these later phases as having their own identities then we can move away from regarding them in such negative terms. There has been much important work written because of this specialism, but it is also possible to adopt additional perspectives by situating late Roman Britain within longer-term social contexts. The book Late Roman Towns in Britain: Rethinking Change and Decline (Rogers 2011a) has emphasised the need to bring more theoretical approaches to late Roman archaeology and especially in the study of late Roman urbanism where there has often been a focus on decline rather than really trying to get to grips with what was taking place within these settlements and how they were experienced and valued at this time. Decline itself, as we have seen (Chapter 2), can be considered a theoretical framework of analysis for interpreting late Roman material; as such, the theory also has a social context, and its development

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can be analysed. Approaches that emphasise decline, moreover, tend to place studies within the context of historical narratives of progression. Whereas the Roman conquest and Romanisation is often treated within the context of progression, the late Roman period is seen as a period of decline because it does not appear to conform to this modernist emphasis on progression. These attitudes can be seen especially in studies of late Roman urbanism, where the general emphasis has tended to be on describing the way in which the appearance of buildings changed and seemed no longer to conform to classical models of urbanism. By moving beyond this framework it becomes possible to consider the value of towns as places from alternative perspectives that put an emphasis on human action, meaning and experience rather than decline. Notions of progression and retrograde can be unhelpful for interpreting the archaeology of this period (cf. Moreland 2010: 7–12; Rogers 2011a). The debate relating to how we should understand the end of Roman Britain relates partly to how we should treat the problematic and very partial records of historical events and what the archaeological evidence can tell us about people’s lives at a local level. One particular debate, as seen in Chapter 2, is the reliability of using AD 410 as the end date of Roman Britain, and the effects that this has on the way in which archaeological material is interpreted. It is clear from archaeological work that settlements rarely changed or went out of use during the AD 410 period. Other historical events that have influenced interpretations of archaeological material include the conversion of the Empire to Christianity. Temples are assumed to have gone out of use and to have been replaced by churches in late Roman Britain, but there is in fact little evidence to support this. It has only been through more careful excavations pioneered by such work as Philip Barker’s excavations at Wroxeter in the 1960s and 1970s (see Figure 4.16; Barker et al. 1997), that the importance of late phases of use on settlement sites has been documented for analysis. What is increasingly clear about the late Roman period is that there continued to be a complex negotiation between continuity and change as there had been throughout the Roman period from the Iron Age/ Roman transition onwards. The later Roman period was no different here, and knowledge of this dynamism can help us to move beyond simplistic notions of decline. A useful case study for how we can combine analysis of objects, structural materials and the importance of place in a biography of experience is the examination of the evidence relating to public buildings and their use in the later Roman period. As we have seen (see Chapter 2), the study of late Roman archaeology has tended to be influenced by attempts to find evidence of decline. There certainly were changes in the later Roman period but there were also changes throughout the Roman period and especially marked during the late Iron Age to Roman transition. Through the detailed investigation of archaeological material relating to town structures and the use of spaces in the later Roman period it was possible to challenge assumptions

180 The Lives of Objects and Materials relating to how the use of the urban spaces are conceptualised and the nature of urban life envisaged. It emphasised the need for developing theoretical frameworks in late Roman archaeology and acknowledging different perspectives for thinking about the period especially in terms of the relationship between the late phases of settlement use and earlier periods. Perhaps one of the most noticeable ways in which public building space was being used in the later Roman period was with metalworking activities taking place within the buildings (see Rogers 2010; 2011a). The nature of the remains of metalworking can perhaps make the activities more visible in the archaeological record than other activities which must be taken into account when interpreting them especially because they have often invoked strong responses in terms of what they mean for interpreting towns and the nature of town life in the later Roman period. The presence of metalworking within public building spaces has been taken to indicate a change from the classical organisation of the use of space, and this context, along with the nature of metalworking processes themselves, has meant that the metalworking has been interpreted negatively and as representing the decline and decay of the buildings and the towns as a whole. The notion that the activity does not conform to a classical model of urban organisation has encouraged a number of interpretations of the meaning behind the metalworking and its location. In some cases it has been interpreted as representing squatter occupation within the buildings and has been linked to the notions of decay and decline of the towns and the breakdown of civic order. In other cases it has been seen as representing government-run factories (fabricae) perhaps for the production of weaponry, or the renting out of part of the buildings for a commercial venture (e.g. Frere 1975; Faulkner 2000; Fulford and Timby 2000; Stirling 2001: 69). Whilst both these interpretations would suggest some of kind of urban organisation, they are also considered representative of the decline of the urban spaces. It is unfortunate that in no cases in which evidence of metalworking has been found is there also a clear indication of the items made from the metalworking which makes interpretations more difficult. In some cases the activity is thought to have been the production of structural parts for buildings such as iron nails and other components, as in the case of the activity within the basilica at Caerwent (Brewer 1990: 82). Taking a holistic approach to studying the material within the buildings, however, allows us to place the metalworking activities within the context of other contemporary activities. Through this approach it is also possible to contextualise meanings associated with the activities and to consider their wider significance. Rather than representing a chaotic decline to the buildings, it appears that the metalworking often formed part of an organised use of the structures, and it took place even whilst the earlier uses of the buildings were continuing in other parts of the structures. This would suggest that despite not conforming to modern expectations of how public spaces and activities should be organised, the metalworking did form an accepted activity within the structures. It might even be that the metalworking could

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have formed an official part of the activities taking place within these public buildings. This kind of interpretation is especially possible if we think about the social meanings that would be associated with metalworking and other industrial processes in the Roman period. It is possible to view these activities not purely in practical, technological and economic terms that modern perspectives tend to emphasise, but also the way in which the activities were socialised and imbued with meaning. This would have had an impact not only on the significance attached to the finished objects but also the meanings relating to the locations in which the activities were taking place. Although it might be regarded as an easy option to draw on anthropological studies as a way of understanding past behaviours and interpreting meanings behind activities, such work can be a helpful reminder that there can always be alternative ways of thinking about past activities and interpreting the evidence. In particular for this metalworking evidence, anthropological studies can remind us that it is possible to think about these activities beyond modern simply industrial processes. Such studies have shown for example that metalworking can involve complex rituals and a theme associated with many of the processes focused on the correlation made between metalworking, especially iron production, and the notions of human procreation, generation and transformation. Such an emphasis can be seen in Herbert’s work Iron, Gender and Power (1993), which studied the smelting rituals of a number of groups in Africa. Haaland’s (1985) study of iron production in the Sudan and Reid and MacLean’s (1995) work in East Africa also identified links between iron production and ideas relating to human fertility and procreation, where smelting was considered a procreative act in which furnace and bellows took the roles of the sexual partners (ibid.: 149). In these cases, then, the metalworking was associated with expressions of vitality, birth and regeneration. Although these cultural attitudes to the metalworking were specific to the particular people under investigation, such work has also been influential in studies of prehistoric metalworking in order to gain more social interpretations of the evidence (e.g. Aldhouse-Green 2002; Giles 2007; Hingley 1997). For example Hingley (1997) explored possible ritual activities associated with iron-working in Iron Age Britain that could be identified through the archaeological remains. This evidence included ritual actions associated with the metalworking debris, such as being placed within grain storage pits, and the deliberate deposition of iron ‘currency bars’ within settlement boundaries and entrances (1990b). Hingley argued that these contexts of deposition were evidence of the association between metalworking and notions of fertility and the human life cycle, which is also linked with agricultural production and ideas of transition and passage. The significance attached to the process of the metalworking would also have had an impact on how the objects themselves were regarded. Not just the metalworking events were also significant but the spaces in which they took place as well. The activities were highly organised and structured, and this might help us

182 The Lives of Objects and Materials in understanding the significance of the activities within the public buildings in the later Roman period which was also spatialised meaningfully. It is not unreasonable to suggest, moreover, that meanings associated with the metalworking in late Roman towns would also have been drawing on the traditions from prehistory; these activities would have formed an integral component of these places, with a two-way process of the places giving them meaning and the activities giving the places meaning (cf. Rogers 2011a). Examining the evidence of activities contemporary with the metalworking within the buildings can also help to contextualise its meaning. One type of evidence is that of religious activity that was associated with it—this in turn supports the notion that there was much more going on within these buildings than has often been assumed in the past (ibid.). For example at Wroxeter there is evidence of metalworking taking place within the annexe of the baths-basilica in the fourth century AD represented by the remains of hearths and bronze-casting pits (Barker et al. 1997: 72–9). But also associated with these pits, however, were infant burials that had been deliberately placed within and near them. It could be argued that these pits formed convenient contexts to place the burials, but this seems like an unsatisfactory argument for their concentration in this particular location. The burials suggest some kind of association between the metalworking and notions of regeneration and rebirth—including structural regeneration reconfirming the importance of place—or perhaps some kind of notion of transition or journeying. Either way the evidence suggests that there was more to this metalworking than the simply opportunistic use of the building space for an industrial activity. The town of Wroxeter has received considerable attention for what it might be able to tell us about late and sub-Roman Britain. The meticulous excavations within the town centre within and around the public buildings were able to identify a complex range of late and post-Roman activity taking place with the construction of timber structures represented by postand stake-holes. Within the baths-basilica building for example, there were numerous traces of what appear to have been open-fronted lean-to structures erected in the building in the later Roman period (Barker et al. 1997: 81–2). Within the structure there was also a marked increase in coins and small finds in the later Roman period, including personal ornaments, found within the building suggesting an intensified if different use to which the building was being put. The stalls suggest some kind of market activities which would have produced a range of new sights, sounds, smells and tastes within the structure contributing to the meaning of place. The full sensory experience of these activities, combined with the metalworking activities, would have indicated a place of continuing value. Behind the façade of probable decaying public buildings it is possible to bring the evidence together through the finds evidence to demonstrate the way in which human action and experience continued to re-emphasise the values attached to place. This emphasis on action, experience and place value allows us to move beyond modernist notions of decline and regression. It may also represent an intensification

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or continuation of the activity identified in Atkinson’s (1942) earlier excavations which seemed to indicate that there were stalls set up around the portico of the forum. There was a changing organisation of space, then, as activities were now also taking place within public buildings such as the baths-basilica. The concentration of the metalworking activity in these prominent places within towns, especially a large number of the forum-basilica complexes, suggests that the metalworking formed a significant element of the accepted activities within the town and these central locations emphasise its symbolic significance. For example the basilica building at Silchester has been excavated in detail allowing for an analysis of internal activities and of how they changed over time (see Figure 5.4). Here there were quantities of forging slag from iron smithing from features dating to the fourth century, which appeared to concentrate towards the two ends of the hall (Fulford and Timby 2000: 74). There was less evidence of activity in the centre of the hall, suggesting that it was still being used for other activities. There were also pits containing scrap from bronze working probably dating to the later third century. Contemporary with the phase of ironworking was a tiled area laid down within the hall, now represented only by a few remaining tiles and traces of slots where timber walls had stood (ibid.: 74–5). In this tiled area were also many late Roman coins and bird bones, suggesting it functioned as an altar. Religious activity was taking place within the building at the same time as the metalworking, and they were even connected with each other, representing the vitality of the building and presenting a graphic picture of the sensory experience of the use of space. This activity appears to have been taking place at a broadly contemporary period in which a new hypocaust was installed in at least one room of the west wing of the complex suggesting that part of the building was also being used for some official purposes (ibid.: 75). The metalworking, religious activity and other activities taking place within the basilica would have had a significant impact on the senses, especially with the smell and sound of the metalworking and the physical actions involved in such work. Through such an emphasis on the senses it is possible to move beyond more limiting interpretations of decline and the end of civilisation. Ironworking also formed an important part of activities within the settlement in the late pre-Roman Iron Age (ibid.: 418), and it is possible that the smells, sights and sounds of this activity formed an important part of the significance attached to this place. Similar sensory experiences through metalworking in the later Roman period could have evoked the importance of place and the continuing significance of the sites moving away from modest ideas of progression and regression and linear time. In a period that took place before the modern preoccupation with sight and appearance, it is necessary to recognise that the full sensory experience of the settlements were an important way of acknowledging their continuing importance. Whilst a place generating little or no sound or smell might not have been considered very vibrant, noisy and smelly activities such

Figure 5.4 Plan of the Silchester basilica in the fourth and possibly fifth centuries showing traces of timber structures, metalworking and a possible tiled shrine. Source: Drawn by A.C. Rogers; adapted from Fulford and Timby (2000, fig. 71).

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as metalworking would have been a significant reminder of the continuing importance of the settlements regardless of whether the town’s appearance had moved away from modern perceptions of what Roman urbanism should be. Instead, our attitude to late Roman Britain can be challenged if we approach it in terms of a different form of materiality rather than decline with a changing relationship between people and things and the sensory experiences that resulted. It could be argued that the social situation in the later Roman period in Britain was far more complex than early Roman times because of the centuries of interaction and integration between the Empire, the military, local peoples and others. Studies have tended to emphasise the reduction in pottery production and other goods in the later Roman period as evidence of decline (e.g. Faulkner 2000), even though there could have been simply vessels made from other materials. It is also being increasingly recognised that there was also production on the late Roman period including localised grey wares (Whyman 2001). This emphasis on producing grey wares could even have evoked earlier traditions stemming from prehistory. In the Iron Age there appears to have been a deliberate emphasis on greys and blacks in pottery colour, even though there would have been the technology to make the lighter colours, suggesting the darker colours were considered the most appropriate. Work by specialists on this late Roman material can help us to consider this period differently. This is not just pottery but increasingly other types of objects are being identified which often resulted in a distinct late Roman finds assemblage (e.g. Allason-Jones and Collins 2010; Bowles 2007; Collins and Gerrard eds. 2004; Cool 2010; White 2007), such as the manufacture of dress pins and bracelets in fifth-century Wroxeter and Cirencester (White 2007: 154). There were also late-Roman military-style buckles and belt fittings that were made locally in Britain in the fifth century. Such objects were conventionally used by the state to issue to soldiers and officials, but the objects found here suggest their use by a British army styled in the Roman fashion but without access to the standard brooches and belt sets issued to imperial troops (White 2007: 154). White (ibid.) suggests that this indicates that someone was issuing military metalwork and there was still an army presence here working within its imperial context but developing a different localised identity pulling together a number of influencing factors including the landscape and material context and the range of people in the locality. Cool (2010) and Gardner (2007) have also emphasised the need to study and theorise the late Roman material culture from military and civilian settings. In studies of finds from forts on Hadrian’s Wall, for example, there has tended to be an emphasis on obvious military equipment such as lorica segmentata which appear in military assemblages in the first and second centuries AD. Cool’s study of late Roman assemblages from forts has shown that the number of obviously military items are negligible compared with

186 The Lives of Objects and Materials personal items (2010: 2). Cool argues, however, that rather than representing the decline of the military their visibility in the material record was changing and that fourth century developments in women’s fashions were also making them more visible. By the fourth century the lorica segmentata was no longer worn, but soldiers represented their identity instead through belt equipment and other material. The pottery assemblages also change in the later Roman period from being dominated by the imported samian ware (glossy bright orange) to a range of colours of wares made in Britain with colour-coated wares from the Nene Valley being important, which was matt rather than glossy and could range in colour from black to red/brown (Tyers 1996: 173–5), again returning to the significance of colour. These pottery types, then, would provide a different sensory experience to the samian in terms of how it felt, looked and perhaps affected the taste of their contents. The vessels may also have been held differently in the hand since there were no longer the smaller cup forms that were available in the samian ware (Cool 2010: 3), perhaps suggesting local cultural differences of pottery/vessel use which would have had impact on military behaviour. There were, however, more glass vessels which mostly seem to have been shaped into small drinking vessels (Cool 2006: 149), again indicating a different form of experience. What is key to this finds research here, then, is that it is possible to recognise a different material world interacting with the everyday experiences of the people living in these contexts which also would have had an impact on identities. This kind of renewed approaches to ways of tackling the later Roman period can really help us to move beyond the conventional frameworks such as decline. CONCLUSION The material world is integral to people’s experiences and can shape their identities. The cultural biography of things has long been an important area of investigation in archaeology and other areas of the social sciences looking not only at the use life of objects but also at how objects can have a reflective impact on people’s sense of being and identity. Objects also have to be experienced, and the way in which the senses are used can affect how this is done and its impact on people’s identity. This creates a much more complex situation than simply arguing for the adoption of Roman ways through Romanisation or choosing it through discrepant experience. Objects also have their own lives and may have been regarded as possessing identities and biographies not unlike human identities. Artefact studies have long been the focus of specialists in Roman archaeology, which has produced a huge amount of important data and information that we would not otherwise have. This valuable information can be drawn on for creating studies that combine objects, people, settlements and landscapes.

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NOTE 1. It is also important to note that the distinction between primary and then secondary uses of objects need not be as clearly defined as tends to be considered in archaeology. For example it might be that a pottery vessel was deliberately manufactured for the purpose of ritual deposition rather than for use as a vessel.


Conclusion Critical Biographies and Roman Britain

Through this book I have aimed to provide a discussion of the archaeology of Roman Britain that does not take the narrative approach for granted or rely on normative assumptions in reconstructing the archaeological evidence. Especially it has focused on ways in which it is possible to use the critical biography framework to examine the relationship between culture continuity and change in Britain in the Roman period but in a way that does not focus just on people but also on their integral relationship with the world around them. Concepts behind the biography have acted as a background to consider how we can be more critical in the examination of the archaeological evidence and reconstruction of the past. Returning to this discussion on biographies, the idea of the biography, whether or not consciously used, often forms an important influence on the way in which archaeologists reconstruct the history of site use over time, write excavation reports, interpret objects and think about people’s lives and life courses in the past. Reception and historiographical studies can also be considered biographical in a way through how they examine the history and impact of objects, texts, ideas and interpretations in later periods. More recently the biography has become a more deliberate tool in archaeology being employed as a deliberate framework for understanding structure or landscape use over time and for interpreting the significance of those particular landscapes or buildings (e.g. Gerritsen 2003; Pollard and Reynolds 2002; Van de Noort 2011). It has also been used as a way of examining the relationship between people and things (e.g. Gilchrist 2012; Gosden and Marshall 1999; Hodder 2012; Hodder and Horton 2003; Meskell 2004) which can also be extended to buildings, settlements and landscapes. But rarely has there been much theoretical discussion of the concept of the biography itself and whether it is appropriate for the analysis of all periods, things and situations. There has also tended to be a focus on one particular element—whether buildings, objects or people—rather than thinking about how they could be interwoven and integral to the understanding of each other. In historical studies where the biography has long formed an important way of documenting an individual’s life in the past, there has been a resurgence in the recognition of the importance of the subject, and it is

Conclusion 189 increasingly forming part of more serious academic discussion in what has been termed by some as the ‘biographical turn’ in the humanities and social sciences. There is now more critical awareness of the biography especially in the way in which it could be argued that it imposes a Westernised linear framework onto conceptualising the individual’s life and identity. In the colonial context of the British Empire, the framework of the heterography has been suggested to replace the biography as a way of documenting the lives and identities of people who have very different concepts of time, life and death as they were brought into the Western world (Crais and Scully 2009). It has been argued here that in archaeology this could not only be applied to people but also to examining settlements, buildings and objects. The need for a more critical form of analysis has been emphasised here to tackle how we approach the archaeology of the specific social situation of Britain in the Roman Empire. It has been emphasised that this is about how we not simply document and reconstruct the archaeological material but also think about much more fundamental themes relating to identity and experience in Britain in the Roman period and the impact the Roman Empire had on this. The relationship between aspects of change has long formed a central part of Romano-British studies since the development of the term Romanisation, and even prior to this (cf. Hingley 2008), but there continues to be considerable demand for debate and reassessment in how we document the archaeology of Roman Britain. The complex relationship between Britain and the Roman Empire is not only reflected in how the identities of people were affected, but settlements, landscapes and objects must also be considered together in an interconnected way. A critical awareness can help us to move away from the normative approaches in reconstructing and analysing buildings, landscapes and things that tend to dominate Roman archaeology, especially through the framework of Romanisation. Whilst historiographical studies have demonstrated how the modern social context of study can be so influential in the way in which the past is interpreted, there has so far been less emphasis on developing other frameworks that are more critical of normative assumptions. Through its critical approach, in this book it has emphasised the need to address socially situated and localised understandings and experiences. As we have seen, in Julian Thomas’s (1996) book Time, Culture and Identity: An Interpretative Archaeology he has argued for the need to understand the significance of places as the coming together of people, objects and settlement all of which have unique meanings, identities and histories which combine to create the value of that place. This is a useful concept for thinking about place in Roman Britain, where these elements would have come together to have a significant impact on people’s experiences and in turn their sense of identity. If objects, buildings and settlements could also have lives, then their relationship with human identities becomes more complex. An integral aspect relating to our understanding of identity in Roman Britain is its connection with experience. Frameworks such as Romanisation

190 Conclusion (e.g. Millett 1990) and discrepant experience (Mattingly 2006) have tended to treat experience as something given and normative that does not need to be theorised or critically challenged. It has been argued here, however, that an important part of studying experience must be a contextualised understanding of how experience takes place and the role that experience can have in the formation of identity (cf. Rogers 2013). The Roman period in Britain saw the appearance of new objects, building materials and forms, settlement types and impacts on the senses, all of which would have influenced the human experience. The way in which these experiences took place, however, would also have been drawing on local traditions of experiencing the world and thus combining continuity and change in a more complex way—all of this would have had an impact on people’s negotiation with the Roman Empire and the impact on their identity. A focus on the sensory experiences has been discussed an example that might provide us with a more nuanced way of understanding the formation of people’s identities, their negotiations with the Empire and the way in which people, objects, settlements and landscapes were interlinked. It is an example of how it might be possible to rethink narratives of social continuity and change because of the Roman conquest. There is an important relationship among the senses, traditions and new ways of sensing and new things to sense which would have had an impact on the creation of identity. Linked with sensory perception is also emotion, an issue which is also now being addressed in archaeology (e.g. Tarlow 2012). Emotional responses can be the natural responses of the body, which everyone might feel, but emotional experiences can also depend considerably on the character of each individual, and people can, to some extent, also be trained to feel or exclude particular emotions. Emotional responses, then, whilst being highly dependent on the character of the individual, can also contribute towards the formation of this character and the identity of a person in what is a twoway process. Human responses to particular places can also contribute to the perceived nature of those places which in turn influences the experiences of others that go to these places. A critical approach to the biography, such as in the framework of the heterography, allows us to think about people’s changing identities within the social context of the Roman Empire. But this critical approach to identity does not only apply to people but also to objects, buildings, settlements and landscapes. The critical biography allows us to challenge the way in which we reconstruct and think about buildings, settlements and landscapes in this context. Rather than assuming that we know what villas, towns, landscapes and so on were. The heterography, for instance, moves us away from an imposed biographical framework to one that contextualises the formation of identity, considers the lives of people, places and things from the local perspective, acknowledging the complex combinations of continuity and change. Critical biographies also emphasise the importance of critical awareness regarding the sources of evidence that we have available to us and the way

Conclusion 191 in which these resources have been created and have traditionally been utilised. In any form of biography writing, a consideration of the nature of the sources and their strengths, weaknesses and biases is central, and it has been useful to think about the way in which historians have developed critical awareness in the biographies that they write (see Chapter 1). This awareness includes the biases that are often found against women, the non-elites and the marginalised in the sources as well as problems and difficulties relating to source creation, survival and scholarly selection (e.g. Anderson 2012; Crais and Scully 2009). This self-reflective approach to the historical biography, and especially studies of groups of people rather than single individuals, has perhaps helped to lift the biography more into the mainstream of academic history whereas it has in the past (and, to some extent, remains) regarded as a lesser form of historical writing. This might also explain the general mistrust amongst ancient historians of the value of ancient biographies and of why there has not been a detailed comprehensive study of Roman period biographies (cf. Hägg 2012). It could be argued, however, that these early biographies have been influential in the construction of the written biography in later periods which shape the way in which we think about biographies today. Archaeology has tended to adopt the framework of the biography for documenting the way in which settlements and landscapes were used over time. In archaeological biographies it is also important to think about the way in which modern perspectives will always influence reconstructions and understandings of the material and how biases of interest, perspective, visibility and feasibility will affect the results that we have for analysis. Heterography also allows us to think more critically about the different forms of trajectory that people’s lives could take in the past; this can provide a more sophisticated and useful understanding of people’s identities within the Roman Empire. It moves beyond normative economic and other assumptions in reconstructing the past and places an emphasis on contextualised understandings of how notions of the self and the life course can change as a result of the imperial context. This critical framework can also apply to buildings, objects and landscapes, helping us think about the way in which they were used and experienced. IMPLICATIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR FUTURE STUDY Whilst this study focuses on Roman Britain as an area that has been the subject of much debate relating to how we understand the nature of Roman imperialism and the impact of Rome on local societies (e.g. Mattingly 2004; 2006; Revell 2009; Webster 2001), there is a huge potential for widening this form of study and analysis to consider the whole Empire as well as other periods in archaeology. It could be argued that there has not tended

192 Conclusion to be the same level of debate for other parts of the Empire where more conventional themes such as Romanisation still tend to dominate and normative approaches to the interpretation of archaeological material are conventional. One reason for this might be that in many of these areas of the Roman Empire there are more ancient textual sources available, and these perspectives tend to adopt more Romanocentric approaches. A more critical approach to Roman archaeology accepts the need to debate the nature of Roman imperialism (e.g. Gosden 2004; Mattingly 1997; 2006; 2011; Woolf 1998) in how we understand the impact of Rome on the provinces and the complex relationship between continuity and change. But it also enables us to think in a more critical way about how we might interpret the archaeological evidence in order to move beyond normative assumptions and interpretations. Although highly data rich and immensely valuable, it could be argued that what studies such as Millett’s (1990) The Romanization of Britain and Woolf’s (1998) Becoming Roman: The Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul do is essentially project modern concepts of identity, the life course and urban and rural living into the Roman period. It is a way of life thought to have been unproblematic and reconstructed as something we can understand and even have affiliations with today. There is a vast wealth of archaeological material for Roman Gaul, and indeed all areas of the Empire, that can be analysed more critically from a range of perspectives. Studies of provincial archaeological material can place an emphasis on socially situated meanings and traditions of experience from prehistory through the Roman period. In discussing socially situated experience and its impact on identity, the example of the focus on sensory experience encourages us to think about how the senses worked and were utilised in the past in a way that would have contributed to the construction of identity. This study requires a holistic approach to sensory experience. For experiences within a settlement, for instance, there needs to be an examination of all forms of archaeological material, including botanical and animal remains, human bone, small finds, pottery and other finds, as well as structural remains; this form of analysis would require the collaboration of specialists. Every excavation report will contain the work of individual specialists dealing with data that can be used in this way, but there is often little integration in terms of theoretical analysis in the significance of the results as a whole. These collaborative approaches can allow us to develop more theoretical frameworks for studying past experience and identity. Within ancient history there has long been a push for more focus on the study of the lives of the non-elites or other types of people that have not always received so much focus of study such as women and children (e.g. Harlow and Laurence 2002; Knapp 2011; Laes 2011). Without the historical sources for Roman Britain, more debate is needed about the nature of the life course in the Roman provinces and about how this differed from Rome. There are likely to have been a large range of local differences which we are

Conclusion 193 probably very far from recognising and tackling successfully. This should not, however, also assume that we fully understand the life course of the elites from Rome, the officials and military that came into the provinces, and in these cases more analysis is needed of both surviving biographical works and epigraphic evidence (e.g. Hope 2001). In studying the archaeological evidence from the provincial contexts, more emphasis can be placed on the contextual significance and meaning of the material rather than assuming universal meaning and significance across the Empire. It has often been stated or assumed in Romano-British studies that Roman Britain was an especially unusual province in how it developed and in its archaeological record (e.g. Mattingly 2006: 379), but whilst there certainly were differences it could be argued that Roman Britain has also been one of the most intensively studied areas of the Empire and where there has been the most intensive debates relating to archaeological theory through forums such as the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) and the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC). These theoretical discussions have allowed archaeologists to explore directions and develop perspectives that still only more rarely form much significance in the archaeological practices in other areas of the Empire. Some parts of the Empire have not received anything like the same level of detailed archaeological investigation as Britain now has. This is partly a result of national and local political and funding situations, which can differ considerably across Europe. If each province was subject to the same level of investigation and theoretical debate as the archaeology of Britain has been then it seems likely that there would be equally challenging outcomes and reappraisals of our knowledge of the material in these areas; this is definitely an area that could be developed further. As in Britain, traditions of scholarship across each part of Europe would also have had a significant impact on how the material has been studied and interpreted in the past; these traditions can also be documented and analysed (e.g. Dyson 2006; Hingley 2001; Hurst 2010; Mattingly 1997; Schnapp 1996; Shanks 1996). This includes Italy and Greece, which have been the focus of strong traditions of classical archaeology which have influenced the perspectives of interpretation. This includes the traditions of the various foreign schools established in these areas, such as the British Schools in Rome and Athens. Events such as TRAC have now been encouraging wider participation to bring together scholars working on material in different parts of the Empire, but there is still considerably more work that could be done to expand debate in many areas which would then undoubtedly then identify more complex nuances and differences across the Empire. More comparative provincial studies are needed to explore the complex archaeology and to ensure that normative interpretations of the archaeological material do not dominate our approaches to the evidence. Of course, all local archaeological traditions are influenced by political and social situations, but advances could be made by increased dialogue relating to theoretical issues across

194 Conclusion this area. Each province of the Empire is equally rich in material that can be investigated in terms of both its local significance and meaning and its wider position within the Roman Empire. For example Dacia has a rich range of archaeological sites which have only relatively recently begun to attract more archaeological attention. Especially valuable here has been not only the documentation of sites through aerial photography (Hanson and Oltean eds. 2013; Oltean 2004; 2007; Oltean and Hanson 2001) but also social analyses of the settlements both of the Iron Age and Roman periods (e.g. Hanson and Haynes 2004; Oltean 2007). Comparative analyses between provinces through theoretical frameworks would provide valuable insights into life in the different areas of the Empire. As well as more detailed comparative studies of the material from the provinces across the Empire, and a longer-term goal of further fieldwork in some of these areas, there is also a need to be more adventurous and imaginative with the rich resource of material that is now available to us. Whilst participants of TRAC might argue that Roman archaeology is engaging with theoretical debates, a more prevalent image remains amongst other archaeologists, especially prehistorians and now medievalists, that archaeological work conducted by Romanists rarely takes place with much engagement in theoretical issues. Whilst many Romanists would rightly consider this unfair, there is still much potential in Roman studies to be more critical of assumptions and more imaginative in how the material is used and interpreted. One significant way in which this might be done is for archaeologists to engage with other academic disciplines that can provide expertise on areas that cannot so easily be undertaken by archaeologists working alone. This could include not only the theoretical developments in history and literary theory but also disciplines such as psychology, sociology, biology, chemistry and physics. This might include for example the way in which experimental psychology can assist in the analysis of sensory experiences in the past. Psychology can bring scientific understanding to the way in which the senses work and how things are perceived not only amongst people of the modern West but also amongst others peoples today who have different traditions of perception and sense use. Through specialist investigations in experimental psychology it might be possible to gain a more useful understanding of the way in which new materials had an impact on the senses and human identity in the Roman period. Other specialisms such as ecology and biology could provide a contribution to the way in which past landscapes and environments would have had an impact on the human experience. Sociology is also a discipline that has much to offer in terms of social analysis, but it is often overlooked in archaeology in favour of anthropology. Despite being a discipline that developed to study modern society, Sociology can provide details on important themes and frameworks of social analysis for helping us to think about society in the past and factors that had an impact on their behaviours, identities and social preoccupations. Sociology can provide a more academically rigorous way of

Conclusion 195 tackling social themes in the past that are key to understanding people’s life experiences. This includes themes such as family life, professions and daily activities, wealth and status, religion and emigration, amongst many others. The key to a more critical Roman Britain must be to engage in a wide range of debates and dialogue between archaeologists and others. Another important issue is the contribution of Roman archaeology to the wider archaeological discipline. Perhaps one of the reasons why Roman archaeology has traditionally not tended to engage in theoretical debate with other specialist areas is that the non-Romanists have perhaps not always regarded Roman archaeology with much admiration. Despite the considerable developments in archaeological interpretation in Roman archaeology, especially with the move beyond Romanocentric perspectives and the emphasis on local peoples and regionality, this work has not tended to have much impact on the perceptions of prehistorians. It seems that the popular perspective on many excavation sites is that unless it is a Roman site being purposefully excavated, the Roman material is more of a nuisance than of any value. The discovery of Roman period pottery, for instance, still tends to regarded (perhaps mostly with tongue in cheek) in terms of ‘those Romans got everywhere’ rather than integrating the evidence into a much more sophisticated documentation of social developments over time and the social implications of the material culture. This attitude to Roman material can perhaps also be seen to be the result of the surviving reputation of the many early excavations that focused predominantly of Roman sites, especially forts and towns, which dug down to early Roman levels whilst destroying later material and not excavating earlier layers (cf. Hingley 2000; Rogers 2011a). The framework of the heterography has been discussed as an example of the way in which it might be possible to provide an alternative way of thinking about people’s identities as they developed over time in the context of Britain in the Roman Empire. It was also argued that similar perspectives could also be applied to the identities of landscapes, buildings and objects to move beyond normative approaches to archaeological interpretation and instead emphasise social meaning and experience. It can be argued, moreover, that this framework for analysis used here in Roman archaeology could have considerable value for interpreting the implications of interaction and social change on identity in other periods including prehistoric archaeology. One aspect that makes the Roman period so significant is that in Britain, it is perhaps the first time when there is incontrovertible evidence relating to peoples coming into Britain and having an impact on the local populations. It has long been argued that peoples also came into Britain in the earlier periods, although not on the same scale or manner, such as in the Iron Age when people came from Gaul. One documented individual is Commius, who, Julius Caesar records, was an important leader in Gaul (B Gall. IV.21; cf. Creighton 2006: 21; Nash 1987) and he probably also would have come to Britain with a group of followers. It is also valuable to re-emphasise

196 Conclusion that Britain itself did not consist of a unified population or identity at this time. Whilst we have some similarities in building styles and material culture across larger areas, this does not mean that the peoples across these regions considered themselves to have the same identity (cf. Jones 1997). As we have seen, there may well also have been very different ways in which identities and biographies were constructed. This means that people coming into Britain could have had a local influence on identity whilst not affecting other areas. With the importance of localised identities in Bronze Age and Iron Age Britain for example, it could well be argued that the dominance of one group over another could be analysed from the same social perspectives as Roman dominance over a group of people. The classical sources that record Iron Age tribal names, whether these were accurate reflections of identity or not, suggest that there was considerable flux as groups were lost perhaps by being incorporated into others and by some being forced into slavery (cf. Moore 2011). Warfare would have played a role in the relationship between groups, but there has been much debate over the exact extent to which this was so and whether warfare was a factor of everyday life in the Bronze Age and Iron Age. It is generally accepted that it would have been a constant background presence in the Bronze Age, even if it only became more significant on certain occasions (cf. Harding 2000), as was probably also the case in the Iron Age, where the study of warfare and violence has tended to have been neglected in recent years (James 2007). Whilst these groups would have been in flux as they were broken up and new individuals gained power and influence, at the same time, local traditions, histories, life styles and ways of experiencing may have survived as well as the meanings that had been associated with places. Like the Roman conquest, then, whilst power may have changed, there may well also have been a significant level of survival of local traditions amongst these peoples that were taken over by others. The frameworks discussed in Roman archaeology have much potential for helping us to interpret prehistoric archaeological material and think about issues such as identity, place and experience. Far from being unfashionable, Roman archaeology has considerable potential for the archaeological discipline as a whole. Rather than prehistoric archaeology influencing Roman archaeology, there is a case for Roman studies also being of use to prehistorians and to those working on postRoman material. Prehistoric archaeology has been important in the development of archaeological theory, but even here there are also assumptions that can still be challenged. The theoretical discussion can be important for rethinking approaches to prehistoric settlement and identity by reassessing the contextual meanings of settlements and perceptions of them as they were used over time. A theoretical branch of any academic discipline is important for its developing maturity and for providing essential interpretative breathing space for the data. The importance of local meaning and experience allows us to rethink features that are traditionally taken for granted, such as

Conclusion 197 interpreting settlement ‘defences’ (e.g. Ralston 2006) and the function of late Iron Age oppida (e.g. Collis 1984). This in turn will help us to reconsider the impact of Rome on Iron Age Europe, which is one of the central themes for tackling the Roman Empire and the nature of Roman imperialism. With an increasing amount of archaeological material available for study across the provinces, it is also increasingly important that we develop interpretative methodologies that allow us to take advantage of the material. Whilst each province of the Roman Empire had aspects in common with the others, there were also significant contextual differences at provincial and local levels. The provinces each took different trajectories through their own heterographies incorporating different histories, places, identities, traditions of experience and time, social organisations and perspectives on land, nature and culture. It is this, especially, that makes Roman archaeology so exciting and challenging.

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Page numbers in italics are figures; page numbers with ‘n’ are notes. Agricola (Julius Agricola, Gnaeus) 37, 50, 73–4 Agricola (Tacitus) 37, 50 agriculture 96 Alaric 39 Allason-Jones, L. 90, 91, 162 Allison, Penelope 90–1, 162 Ammianus Marcellinus 19n, 39 Annales (Tacitus) 37, 46, 47 Antonine Itinerary 34 Antonine Wall 50, 145, 151 apps for mobile devices 29 archaeology: and biography 16; excavation 30, 51–4, 161, 192; future studies 191–7; gender 90; genealogy as 23; methods of recording 31–2, 31, 155, 194 Archaeology of Ritual and Magic, The (Merrifield) 107, 166 archives 11, 13–15, 30, 133 Atkinson, D. 183 Atlas of Roman Rural Settlement in England (Taylor) 29 Aurelius Victor 53 Avebury: The Biography of a Landscape (Pollard and Reynolds) 132 Avebury (Wilts) 152–7, 153, 156; see also Silbury Hill Baartman, Sara (Hottentot Venus) 14–15, 66 Bailey, D.W. 102 Baker, Patricia 98 Banner, L.W. 12 Barathes (Barates) of Palmyra 78

Barbarians Speak: How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe, The (Wells) 59 Barcombe villa (Sussex) 108 Barker, Philip 179 Barnhouse (Orkney) 175 Barrett, J. 26 Batavians 82–3, 151 Beddingham villa (Sussex) 108 Bell, T. 114 Bellum Gallicum (Julius Caesar) 37, 66, 67 Bender, B. 89 benefactions 88 Benwell (Hadrian’s Wall fort) 148, 149 Bericht (Römisch-Germanische Kommission) 25 bias 14, 54–5, 192 biographers 14 biographical turn 13, 189 biography 4–5, 9–18, 39–40, 56; critical 1–4, 6, 18, 55, 158, 188–97; of knowledge 20–1 Birdlip Quarry (Glos) 70 Birley, Anthony 11, 56–7, 75 Blagdon Hall Estate (Northum) 119 Boudica 37, 46–7, 66, 81, 90 Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen (Hingley) 22 boundaries 150–1, 154, 181; see also enclosures Braund, D. 34 Breeze, David 28 Britannia: A Journal of Romano-British and Kindred Studies 25 Britannia (Camden) 24

226 Index Britannia Romana (Horsley) 24 British Academy Supplemental Papers 25 Britons 8 Bronze Age 108, 175, 177, 196 brooches 80, 122, 123 Brooks, H. 48 Brown, J.M. 14 Bruce, John Collingwood 28 Bruttium (Italy) 39 buildings 135, 189; and identity 61–2, 101–9; longhouses 102; materials 61, 163, 175, 190; public 179–85; rectangular timber buildings 130, 131; roundhouses 69–70; strip 128 burials 63; dogs 85; and identity 70–1, 79, 92; infant 94–6, 97, 131, 131, 182; and meaning 93; see also tombstones Burnham, B. 127 Butler, Judith 60 Caerwent (Venta) (Monmouthshire) 35, 36, 180 Camden, William 24 Camulodunum (Colchester) (Essex) 53, 68, 137 capitalism 70 careers, imperial 72–6; see also occupations Carlyle, Thomas 12 Cartimandua 90 Cassius Dio 38, 40, 46, 47, 75 Cassivellaunus 68 Catuvellauni 76 causeways 114, 140, 148, 154 centuriation 154 Chapel House Farm (N.Yorks) 113 Chapman, John 102, 160–1, 171 children 88–9, 91–2, 192; infant burials 94–6, 97, 131, 131, 182 Chippindale, Christopher 132 choice 59, 92 Christianity 104, 107–8, 179 churches 107, 114, 140, 179 Cirencester 185 City by the Pool (Jones and Stocker) 136 civitas-capitals 51–2, 134 Civitas Capitals of Roman Britain, The (Wacher) 52 civitates 36, 65, 65, 80, 134 Clarke, David 109 Classen, C. 163 Classics 10–11, 21, 66

Classis Britannica 87 Claudius 38, 40, 41–2, 47, 48–9 coins 27, 79, 152 Colchester (Camulodunum) (Essex) 53, 68, 137 Collingwood, R.G. 25, 51 coloniae 53, 134, 135, 141 colour 176–8 Commius 195 Commodus 38, 76 Conneller, C. 174 continuity 113, 115, 130, 154–5, 188 Cool, H.E.M. 185–6 copper 86 Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (C.I.L.) 24–5, 28–30, 30 Corpus signorum imperii Romani (C.S.I.R.) 26–7 Cosh, Stephen 27 Cox, M. 98 craft and design 31 Crais, C. 14–15 Creighton, J. 49, 68, 79, 142 creolisation 5, 58, 59, 164 Crummy, Nina 165–6 cultural meanings 55, 87, 102, 113, 133, 172 Cummings, V. 174 Cunningham, C.E. 101 cursus publicus 34 Darvill, Timothy 18, 132 ‘decline’ 22, 178, 185 Deep Room (Lullingstone villa) 106–8 deposition of objects 160–1, 166–72, 181, 187n; Hadrian’s Wall 157; Lincoln 140; London area 85, 94–6, 95, 144, 150–1; Lullingstone villa 106, 107–8; Pegswood Moor 120; Piercebridge 113; Shiptonthorpe 131; Snettisham Bypass 122–3 developer-funded fieldwork 133 Dictionary of National Biography 12 discrepant experience 58, 164, 190 discrepant identity 59–60 ditches 147–50 dogs 85 dress 122, 186 Druids 68 Durnovaria (Dorchester) (Dorset) 89, 89 Eboracum see York Eckhardt, Hella 63, 165–6

Index 227 economy 6, 60 elder people 91 Elms Farm (Essex) 127–8 Elton, G.R. 12 Eminent Victorians (Strachey) 12 emotions 6, 190 enclosures 54, 118–19, 120 epigraphic sources 23–33, 62; see also tombstones equestrians 72 ethnicity 64, 70, 84 Eutropius 39 Everson, P. 114, 140 excavation 30, 51–4, 161, 192 experience 57, 58–62, 88; and objects 160, 163; and religion 151 fabricae 35, 180 farms 111, 114 Favro, D. 61 Fenland (East Anglia) 169–70, 170 Field, D. 148, 157 Fishbourne (W.Sussex) 41, 42, 43, 68 Flavius Cerialis 83 flour processing 130 foodways 165, 169 forts/fortresses 35, 134; Colchester 42, 48, 53; and finds 161–2, 168; Gloucester 53; Lincoln 53, 135, 136, 138–40; and religious meaning 149–50; Scotland 54; Vindolanda 83, 83, 107, 168; see also Hadrian’s Wall fragmentation of objects 160–1, 171–2 Frampton villa (Dorset) 104–5 Fréjus (France) 74–5 Fulford, Michael 133, 172 Gardner, A. 162, 185 genealogy 21–3 gender 90, 110 Geographia (Ptolemy) 35–6 Gerritsen, Fokke 102, 102 Gibbon, Edward 22–3 Gilchrist, Roberta 17, 88 glass: vessels 186; window 126–7, 126 Glastonbury (Somerset) 109 Gloucester (Glevum) 53 gold 86, 120 Gosden, Chris 133 governorships 74 Growing Up and Growing Old in Ancient Rome (Harlow and Laurence) 91

Haaland, R. 181 Hadrian’s Wall 40; epigraphic sources 28; finds 185; and landscape 145–52, 146, 148–9, 152–3 Hadrian’s Wall: A Life (Hingley) 22, 23, 28 Hambledon villa (Bucks) 96, 96 Handbook to the Roman Wall (Bruce) 28 Harding, D.W. 112 Harlow, M. 91 Haverfield, Francis 25, 36, 51, 58, 108, 134 health 97–9 Herbert, E.W. 181 Herodian 38 heterography 6, 15–16, 100; and identity 44, 57, 190, 195; and landscape 131–4 Hill, J.D. 66, 67, 166–7 hill forts 66, 120, 175 Hingley, Richard 21, 22, 23, 28, 46, 58, 108, 109–10, 128, 150, 181 Historiae (Tacitus) 37 historical narratives 3–4, 23, 33–4, 40, 43–4, 49, 178–9 historiography 21–3, 22 History of Rome (Mommsen) 58 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The (Gibbon) 22–3 Hodder, Ian 17, 31, 172 Holme House (Durham) 112, 112 Hope, V.M. 92 Horsley, John 24 hostages 79 Housesteads (Northum) 98 Hübner, Aemilius 24 Hurcombe, L. 174 Hutson, S. 17 Hutton, Ronald 153–4 Iceni 46–8 identity 5–6, 57, 58–62, 64, 96, 189, 190; and buildings 101–9, 120; and burials 70–1, 79; discrepant 58–60; ethnic 70, 83; and objects 160, 164, 166; and occupations 71, 72; pre-Roman 45, 47–8, 50, 66; and settlements 128; structural 100–1 Imanuentius 68 imperialism 3, 5, 6, 176 Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire (Mattingly) 21

228 Index indigenous peoples 63–71, 146 inscriptions 26, 27; legionary tombstones 80–2; Regina’s tombstone 76, 77, 78–9 Internet 28–9 invasion of Britain 37–8, 40–3, 41, 49 Iron Age 45–9, 64; burials 93–4; earthworks 113, 118–19; France 75; iron production 87, 183; Lincoln 140; oppida 48–9, 66, 135; pottery 165, 185; ritual/ religion 85; rounds 123–7, 124; Southwark 144; tribal groupings 66, 196; see also roundhouses Iron, Gender and Power (Herbert) 181 iron-smithing 84–5 Ivleva, T. 80 James, S. 82 Jerome 11 Jobey, George 118 Johnson, Matthew 7, 70 Jones, Andrew 175, 177 Jones, M.J. 136, 138 Journal of Roman Studies 25 Julius Agricola, Gnaeus 37, 50, 73–4 Julius Caesar 37, 66, 67, 195 king (term) 67–8 Knapp, R. 91 knowledge, transfer of 61–2 Koloski-Ostrow, A.O. 143 Kopytoff, I. 101, 160 Lambert, D. 12, 15–16, 72–3 landscape 4, 5, 6, 48–9, 50, 189; Avebury (Wilts) 152–7, 153, 156; Hadrian’s Wall 145–52, 146, 148–9, 152–3; and heterography 131–4; movement through 49, 69; and objects 169–72; and ports 142–5, 143; and Roman urbanism 134–42, 136–9; and settlements 54; and villas 110–14 landscape archaeology 31, 55 Late Roman period 178–86 Late Roman Towns in Britain (Rogers) 178 Laurence, R. 36, 91 lead 87 Leary, J. 148, 157 left/right divisions of space 69, 102 legionaries, retired 72, 89–90

Lester, A. 12, 15–16, 72–3 Lévi-Strauss, C. 101 life courses 5, 17–18, 57, 69, 88, 192–3 life history 14 Lincoln (Lindum) 53, 135–41, 138–9 local peoples, and written histories 44 London 49, 141, 143–4, 143, 151 longhouses 102 lorica segmentata 185–6 Lucas, G. 33 Lullingstone villa (Kent) 32, 105–8, 105 Macdonald, Sir George 25 MacLean, R. 181 Mandubracius 68 Mann, J.C. 35, 81 maps 32–3 Marcus Aurelius Nepos 81 Marius Maximus 11, 40 Marseilles (France) 74–5 material culture see objects Mattingly, David 2, 20, 21, 25, 54, 59, 60, 67, 98–9, 123, 154 Mattingly, Harold 27 Maumbury Rings (Dorset) 89 meaning 87, 189; boundaries 150–1; cultural 55, 87, 102, 113, 133, 172; and fragmentation 160–1, 171–2; and Hadrian’s Wall 147, 149–51, 152; and manufacture of objects 172; and materials 172–8; and metalwork 96, 151; and objects 159–60; wetlands 135, 139, 140–1, 149, 155, 169–70 medicine 98–9 Merrifield, Ralph 107, 166 metalwork/metalworking 84–7, 140; meaning of 96, 151; and public building space 180–6, 184 military 80–3, 98, 136 Milking Gap (Northum) 146 Millett, Martin 25, 58–9, 64, 66–7, 80, 104, 108, 136, 192 Mommsen, Theodor 24, 58 Mons Graupius 37, 50 monuments 174–5 Moore, A. 96 Moore, Tom 65, 66, 142 Moor House (London) 94, 95 Morris, E. 175 mosaics 104 Moser, S. 31 Mudd, A. 70 municipia 53, 134

Index 229 natural resources 6, 84–7 Neal, David 27 Nero 47 networks, imperial 72–3 ‘new biography’ 12–13, 14 North Sea 132–3 North Sea Archaeologies (Van de Noort) 132–3 North Warnborough (Hants) 110 Notitia Dignitatum 8, 34 Nthunya, Mpho ‘M’atsepo 15 objects 5, 17, 189; brooches 80, 122, 123; glass (vessels) 186; glass (window) 126–7, 126; hoards 169–71; and identity 160, 164, 166; Late Roman period 178–86; marble busts 107; and materials 159–63, 172–8; meaning 159–60; medical 98–9; and senses 163–6; ‘smith urn’ 85; toilet sets 165–6; uses of 166–72; writing tablets 27, 83; see also deposition of objects; pottery occupations 71 oculists stamps 98–9 oppida 48–9, 66, 135, 137, 141–2, 175 Orton Hall Farm (Cambs) 114 Oswald, A. 103 Pegswood Moor (Northum) 115, 116–17, 118–20 people 4, 62–3; incoming 71–80; indigenous 63–71 People of Roman Britain (Birley) 57 Pertinax 38, 40, 75–6 Petts, D. 153 photography 31, 31, 155, 194 Piercebridge (Durham) 112–13 Pitts, M. 165 place 88–90, 113–14, 172, 189, 190 Plutarch 11 politics 111–12 Pollard, Joshua 132 ‘Pompeii Premise’ 162 Portable Antiquities Scheme 29 ports 142–5, 143 pottery: Iron Age 165, 185; Late Roman 185–6; Orkney 175; ‘Romanised’ 121; and sensory experiences 125–6, 165 Poulton, R. 170–1 Prasutagus 46–8, 66 Prestwich, M. 12

provinces 8, 35 Provinces of the Roman Empire from Caesar to Diocletian, The (Mommsen) 58 psychology 194 Ptolemy 35–6 Purbeck ‘marble’ 86 Quarry Farm (N.Yorks) 113 queen (term) 47 Quinnell, H. 111 Ravenna Cosmography 36 reception studies 21, 189 Recovery of Roman Britain 1586–1906, The (Hingley) 21–2 Regina’s tombstone 76, 77, 78–9 Reid, A. 181 religion see ritual and religion Reynolds, Andrew 132, 155, 157 Richmond, I. 51 ritual and religion: and buildings 106–9, 113; Christianity 104, 107–8, 179; and Hadrian’s Wall 150–2, 152; Iron Age 85, 93; and metalworking 181–3; and settlements 120, 125, 131; and the Thames 144; and water 144, 157: see also burials; deposition of objects Ritual and Rubbish in the Iron Age (Hill) 166–7 rivers: Darent 106; Frome 104; Tees 151; Thames 144; Witham 139, 139, 140 roads 49, 69, 138, 154, 155 roadside settlements 51, 53, 115, 129–31, 129, 177 Roberts, C. 98 Roman Imperial Coinage (R.I.C.) 27 Roman Inscriptions of Britain: Inscriptions on Stone (R.I.B) 25, 29, 78 Romanisation 2, 5, 58–62, 164, 179, 189–90; and art 27; and indigenous peoples 64, 71; settlements 115; and villa complexes 108 Romanization of Britain, The (Millett) 58–9, 64, 136, 192 Romanization of Roman Britain, The (Haverfield) 58 Roman Officers and English Gentlemen (Hingley) 21

230 Index Römisch-Germanische Kommission 25 Rosewarne villa (Cornwall) 111 round barrows 108 roundhouses 69–70, 103–4, 175–6; Birdlip Quarry 70; Glastonbury 109; Holme House 112, 112; Milking Gap 146; Pegswood Moor 118, 119; Shiptonthorpe 130; Snettisham Bypass 120–3, 121 rounds 123–7, 124 Rural Settlement in Roman Britain (Hingley) 109–10 St Albans (Verulamium) (Herts) 48, 53, 79, 136 Saller, R.P. 81 Scole House (Norfolk) 34 Scotland 49–50, 54 Scott, E. 170–1 Scriptores Historiae Augustae (Anon) 11, 40, 75 Scully, P. 14–15 sculptures 27, 107 self 14–16, 56–7, 61, 68, 99, 191; and landscape 50; medieval 70; modern 163 senators 72 senses 6, 45, 61, 190, 194; and colour 176–8; and objects 163–6; and pottery 125–6 Septimius Severus 38, 53 settlements 5, 53–4, 74–5, 134–42, 136–9, 189; non-villa 114–27; roadside 51, 53, 115, 129–31, 129, 177; small town 127–8: see also villa complexes Shanks, M. 23, 30, 31 Sharples, Niall 66, 93, 103 Shaw, B.D. 82 Shiptonthorpe (E.Yorks) 129–31, 129 shoes, deposition of 106–7 Silbury Hill (Wilts) 148–9, 154–5, 156 Silchester (Calleva) (Hants) 68, 95, 141–2, 172, 183, 184 Silures 36 Singing Away the Hunger (Nthunya) 15 slaves 68, 78, 79, 81 small towns 51, 53, 63, 115, 134, 177; Avebury/Silbury Hill 155; Elms Farm (Essex) 127–8 Small Towns of Roman Britain, The (Burnham and Wacher) 127 Smith, J.T. 110

SMRs (Sites and Monuments Records) 29 Snettisham Bypass (Norfolk) 120–3, 151 social relationships 122 ‘social triangle’ 67 sociology 194–5 sources: epigraphic 23–33; textual 33–51 South Shields (Tyne and Wear) 76, 77, 78–9 Southwark (London) 84–5, 84–5, 144 space: experiences of 45; left/right divisions 69, 102; public buildings 179–81 stable isotope analysis project 63 Stanley, L. 14 Stanwick (Durham) 113 status 6, 89 Stewart, P.C.N. 34 Stocker, D. 114, 136, 140 Stonehenge: The Biography of a Landscape (Darvill) 132 Stonehenge Complete (Chippindale) 132 Strabo 75 Strachey, L. 12 strip buildings 128 Stukeley, William 155 Suetonius 11, 39–40 survey 30 Sydenham, E.A. 27 Tacitus 11, 37, 40, 46, 47, 50, 74, 81 Taçon, P. 174 Taylor, Jeremy 29, 108 Temple of Claudius 47, 48 Theodosius, Count 19n, 39 Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) 193 Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conferences (TRAC) 7, 193, 194 Thomas, Julian 172–4, 189 Time, Culture and Identity (Thomas) 172–4, 173, 189 ‘timemarks’ 102 Titinius Felix 81 tombstones 25, 92–3; civilian 82; military 80–2; Regina’s 76, 77, 78–9 towns 51–2, 52, 135–42, 136–9; see also small towns Towns of Roman Britain, The (Wacher) 127 traditions 45, 55, 61–2, 88, 99 Trethurgy Round (Cornwall) 123–7, 124 tribal groups 64–71, 65, 134, 196; see also individual tribes

Index 231 Trinovantes 47, 68 Trouillot, M.-R. 13–14 Unwin, C. 46 urbanism 6, 134–42, 136–9 Valerius Pudens, T. 81 Vallum 147–50, 149 Van de Noort, Robert 132–3 Venta (Caerwent) 35, 36 Verulamium (St Albans) (Herts) 48, 53, 79, 136 Vespasian 40, 74 villa complexes 31, 105–10; Barcombe (Sussex) 108; Beddingham (Sussex) 108; building materials 176–8; Faustini 34; Frampton villa (Dorset) 104–5; Hambledon (Bucks) 96, 97; and households 109–10; and landscape 110–14; Lullingstone (Kent) 32; Quarry Farm (N.Yorks) 113; Rosewarne (Cornwall) 111 Vindolanda (Northum) 27, 83, 83, 107, 168 Vitae Parallelae (Plutarch) 11 Wacher, J.S. 52, 127 Walbrook Valley (London area) 91–2, 94

Wales 35 warfare 196 water 142–5, 172; and location of buildings 106; see also wetlands Webster, Jane 59 Wells, Peter 59 Wengraf, T. 13 wetlands 135, 139, 140–1, 149, 155, 169–70 White, R. 185 Whitmore, C. 30 Willis, S. 168 Winchester (Hants) 35 Witmore, C. 23 Wolpert, S. 14 women 88–91, 96–7, 186, 191, 192 Women in Roman Britain (AllasonJones) 90 Woolf, G. 192 Wright, R.P. 25 writing tablets 27, 83, 131 Wroxeter (Shrops) 96, 167–8, 167, 179, 182–3, 185 Xiphilinus 38 York 53, 129, 162 Zosimus 39