Separating Romans and barbarians: rural settlement and Romano-British material culture in North Britain

Nigel Wright

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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This thesis investigates the role which Roman artefacts played within rural settlements in North Britain during the Romano-British period. The possibility that Roman artefacts were used by native Britons as markers of prestige is explored through the presence or absence of Roman artefact types. The more prestigious the occupants of the rural settlements were, the more likely they were to have access to a variety of exotic trade items. The methodology employed in this study has been adapted from previous studies on pottery types and settlement remains from Scotland. This thesis examines an area that centres on Hadrian's Wall, which at various times in its history acted as the frontier for the Roman Empire, as well as being a staging post for troops and a means of controlling the local population's movement. The study region includes land up to 50 kilometres either side of Hadrian's Wall, and examines rural settlements located within one or two days travel from the Wall. The excavation reports of rural settlements were examined, and include settlement types such as homesteads, hillforts and villas. From these sites, Roman artefact types were quantified and used to generate data for analysis. The results agree with the hypothesis that social hierarchy can be detected through the comparative presence or absence of Roman artefact types. It is also apparent that the settlements on either side of Hadrian's Wall, and either side of the Pennines mountain chain, were not part of a simple, homogenous culture. This thesis begins with an outline of the geographic and environmental nature of the region (Chapter 2), and an examination of settlement and society in North Britain during the preceding Bronze and Iron Ages (Chapter 3). An essay on Romano-British society and settlement is included (Chapter 4), and is followed by a brief discussion of post- Roman Britain (Chapter 5). Following an outline of the methodology used (Chapter 6), the results of analysis are presented in detail (Chapter 7). The Discussion chapter explores how the results of analysis meet existing theories of rural settlement and society, and compares North Britain with continental data from Germany and North Gaul (Chapter 8).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2007

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