Ritual Landscapes of Pre-Roman Britain
26 April 2012
The Institute's Nicky Garland was recently invited to present his research at the Joint 10th Roman Archaeological Conference and 22nd Theoretical Roman Archaeological Conference at Goethe University in Frankfurt.
Nicky, who also works for the Institute's Field Unit (Archaeology South-East) presented a paper entitled 'Ritual Landscapes of Pre-Roman Britain: The Margins of Practice on the Margins of the Empire'. His conference trip was supported by an award from UCL's Graduate School Student Conference Fund.
The relationship in the Pre-Roman Iron Age between the Roman Empire and regions of the south of Britain, as client kingdoms, has been the subject of recent research (Creighton 2006). While substantial evidence for this relationship has been uncovered, these areas remained on the fringe of the Empire for approximately one hundred years between the reigns of Caesar and Claudius. The exploration of this intervening period provides an exciting glimpse at the connection between Britain and the Roman Empire prior to its amalgamation as a province.
Connections with the continent have been illustrated in the discovery of material culture, such as pottery and coinage, however, we can also consider the influence on Late Iron Age ritual architecture; such as at Hayling Island temple (King & Soffe 2008). These Pre Roman Late Iron Age temples provide examples of sites that were influenced by continental examples but also retained their importance after the Claudian invasion, when they were replaced by early Roman examples in the same positions. These sites were influenced by ideas emerging from the empire, but in locations of British choosing, reflecting a unification of societies prior to Rome’s direct control.
While traditional research focuses on the form and structure of these temples, their position in, and relationship to, the wider ritual landscape and networks of trade will uncover their social and symbolic meaning. The analysis of natural and humanly constructed aspects of the landscape is common in Romano-British research, however, the examination of sensory experience as part of these landscapes is an emerging field and requires more concrete models to realise its potential. While sensory methods may be seen on the margins of research, it will enable the formation of an experienced landscape; one that can examine the nature of Britain on the fringe of the Empire.
- Creighton, J., 2006. Britannia: the creation of a Roman province, London: Routledge.
- King, A. & Soffe, G., 2008. Hayling Island: A Gallo-Roman temple in Britain. In D. Rudling, ed. Ritual landscapes of Roman south-east Britain. Heritage Marketing & Publications Ltd.