University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Beyond Native and Invader: a Re-evaluation of the Romano-British Period in Cumbria

Peacock, Jennifer (2016) Beyond Native and Invader: a Re-evaluation of the Romano-British Period in Cumbria. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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The ‘native’ population in Roman Cumbria, the majority of whom are thought to have lived in farmsteads in the countryside beyond the civitas at Carlisle, forts, and vici, continues to be defined by its difference to the ‘invader’. This is not only a result of the nature of the artefactual record but of the history of research in the region which continues to influence the creation of archaeological narratives, with perhaps the most pervasive problem being a continuing reliance on analogies. Instead, by studying artefact assemblages from ‘native’ farmsteads on their own merits and taking a critical, self-reflective approach to their interpretation, it is possible to create a more dynamic model which posits that people and ‘things’ have the ability to move within and between two separate, yet co-dependent, ‘spheres’ of exchange. As expected, the process of analysis demonstrated that the material ‘fingerprints’ of pottery and glass assemblages are very different at farmsteads, forts, and vici in Cumbria. Existing narratives have tended to interpret this as either a result of the poverty or disinterest of the ‘native’, or that they were actively resisting the influence of the ‘invader’. However, by taking into account the form and function(s) of ‘things’, it can be argued that their selection was an active choice, and that this was influenced by a range of different social, cultural, and individual factors. Taking the same approach to the study of a number of sites in the Pennines/Northumberland, North East Wales/Cheshire, and Droitwich demonstrated that, although the size of artefact assemblages might indicate a strict North:South divide, the forms of pottery and glass implies an intermediate zone around North East Wales/Cheshire. All of these results appear to indicate that the economy of Roman Britain was composed of multiple, overlapping systems, and that individuals and groups had the power to choose if and when they engaged with them. However, at the moment, the ability to discuss this idea in depth is restricted by the number of sites available for examination. The problem in Cumbria is that the same farmsteads have been repeatedly re-interpreted and although a handful have been excavated over the last decade, a recent trend towards large-scale community projects focused on vici means that there is a danger this practice will continue. To break out of this cycle of re-interpretation requires the creation of a research project dedicated to establishing a detailed chronology of pre- and post-Conquest rural settlements in Cumbria. Doing so will enable us to truly move beyond ‘native’ and ‘invader’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the
University’s requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy 2016.
A print version of this PhD thesis is available on Level 4 at the Hive.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Cumbria, Romano-British period, native population, invaders, archaeology, archaeological narratives
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2016 08:18
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:14

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