Romano-British: Strategic Objectives

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Romano-British: Strategic Objectives
Strategic Objective 5A Strategic Objective 5B Strategic Objective 5C Strategic Objective 5D Strategic Objective 5E Strategic Objective 5F Strategic Objective 5G Strategic Objective 5H Strategic Objective 5I Strategic Objective 5J 5.1.1 5.1.2 5.1.3 5.1.4 5.1.5 5.2.1 5.2.2 5.2.3 5.2.4 5.2.5

Strategic Objective 5A

The East Midlands was an important area for the manufacture of pottery, which in the case of Nene Valley colour-coated wares and mortaria produced in the Hartshill and Mancetter kilns of the Leicestershire-Warwickshire border were distributed nationally[1]. Several regionally important production sites have also been identified, together with a variety of pottery fabrics whose production location is less well understood[2]. Comparative studies of the chronology, production and distribution of local and regional wares are hindered by inconsistencies in terminology and variability in recording methodologies[3]. Research on these subjects would benefit from the development of a region-wide fabric and form series[4], building upon existing county schemes and the National Roman Fabric Collection[5]. The compilation of a catalogue of pottery in museum collections and publication of key groups from sites such as Stanwick and Ashton in Northamptonshire would also strengthen the infrastructure for research[6]. Syntheses of the nationally important Lower Nene Valley and Mancetter-Hartshill industries are long overdue, together with synthetic studies of the key regional industries represented by the Swanpool, Knaith, Bourne and Market Rasen kilns of Lincolnshire, Upper Nene Valley greywares, the Lower Trent valley kilns, Derbyshire wares, the problematic shell-tempered fabrics of Lincolnshire and south Nottinghamshire[7], and the mid-first century fineware industries of Northamptonshire[8]. Such work would greatly enhance knowledge of the pottery industry in the region and beyond, and by assisting the development of training programmes would address the growing skills shortage in Roman ceramic analysis[9].
Agenda topics addressed: 5.1.1- 5.1.3; 5.1.5; 5.2.1 – 5.2.5; 5.3.4; 5.4.3; 5.6.1; 5.6.3; 5.6.6

Strategic Objective 5B

Opportunities should be taken to encourage appropriate recording and typological and scientific analyses of pottery, metalwork, coinage, querns and other finds derived from fieldwalking and metal-detecting[10], including finds deposited in museums, and the wider dissemination of this information[11]. This has particular potential for enhancing our understanding of regional exchange networks and wider social issues such as eating and drinking[12] and the development of social identities. By providing greater opportunities for public engagement in the research process, this would also promote the role of the voluntary sector in the regional Research Strategy.[13][14][15] The Portable Antiquities Scheme is well placed to promote the dissemination of information and to assist in the formulation of guidelines for the recording and analysis of finds. In addition, as much of this material continues to elude county Historic Environment Records, there are opportunities for ensuring closer liaison between the public, Historic Environment Record staff and other heritage professionals. The importance of finds as an educational resource should also be emphasised, bearing in mind particularly the inclusion of the Roman period as a National Curriculum subject[16].Agenda topics addressed: 5.1.1-5.1.4; 5.2.1 – 5.2.5; 5.3.4; 5.4.3; 5.6.1-5.6.6; 5.8.2

Strategic Objective 5C

The chronology of the Roman period is fairly well established, although complicated for the non-specialist by inconsistencies in dating terminology and hindered by an over-reliance upon pottery, imprecise dating of much metalwork and a continuing reluctance to embrace scientific dating methods[17]. The problem is especially acute in the Peak, where both Iron Age and Roman artefacts are scarce[18], and is compounded by the longevity of native artefact traditions[19] and the particular problems of dating 3rd and 4th century pottery[20]. Further problems, arising from a paucity of regional pottery corpora and non-publication of key assemblages, are discussed above (5A). Radiocarbon dating has particular potential for refining chronologies, especially through the application of Bayesian analysis[21], and despite calibration difficulties in the late Roman period, systematic programmes of dating should be encouraged. Resources should also be targeted upon dendrochronology, which has significant potential for dating the waterlogged wood recovered from deeply stratified urban contexts and rural sites with favourable conditions of preservation. These and other scientific techniques such as archaeomagnetic or rehydroxylation dating[22] are especially relevant for the late Roman period, which, with the cessation of Roman coin supply from around AD402, loses an important dating tool and have particular potential for elucidating the tradition of late and post-Roman inhumations lacking associated grave-goods[23]. Agenda topics addressed: 5.1.1; 5.1.4; 5.1.5; 5.2.3; 5.3.2; 5.3.4; 5.4.1- 5.4.4; 5.5.4; 5.7.1; 5.8.1; 5.8.4; 5.8.5

Strategic Objective 5D

Despite the excavation of a number of moderately extensive Roman cemeteries in the region[24] and of isolated burials on and around settlements, sometimes in boundary features[25], there has been little analysis of skeletal remains of this period. The application of radiocarbon and isotopic analysis[26] would enable these burials to be placed more securely in their chronological and environmental contexts, while DNA analyses of bone samples have the potential for elucidating the genetic relationships between individuals preserved in cemeteries[27]. To some extent, because of the antiquity of many excavations, such analysis may have to await the discovery of new large-scale cemeteries. Of the many burials recorded from Lincoln, for example, relatively few have survived for modern analysis[28]. It is recommended, in view of the potential research value of such remains, that adequate provision for appropriate scientific analysis be included as a standard requirement in archaeological schemes of treatment relating to sites likely to yield evidence of Roman activity.
Agenda topics addressed: 5.5.3; 5.8.1; 5.8.4; 5.8.5

Strategic Objective 5E

Excavations have generated a substantial body of data that may be applied to studies of intra-regional and temporal variations in subsistence and diet, and hence to assessment of the impact of Roman cultural traditions upon the dietary preferences of native communities[29][30][31]. The full potential of this information may only be realised by ensuring adequate dialogue between specialists and by promoting the integration of disparate specialist data in site reports and regional syntheses. Particular emphasis should be placed upon the integration of studies examining the functional composition of pottery groups and the residues preserved on pottery[32], querns and other material associated with food production, processing and storage[33], and associated faunal and palaeobotanical remains[34]. Scientific analyses with significant potential for the reconstruction of ancient diet and health, exemplified by residue analyses of ancient pottery and stable isotope analyses of human remains[35], need to be encouraged as routine practice[36]. There is also considerable scope for enhancing the palaeoenvironmental record – notably by encouraging regular sieving for fish bones and by ensuring that bulk samples are large enough to yield sufficient floral and faunal data to permit meaningful analysis[37].
Agenda topics addressed: 5.3.2-5.3.4; 5.4.6; 5.5.1-5.5.5

Strategic Objective 5F

On-line access to the UADs for Lincoln and Leicester, together with the continuing publication of excavation backlogs for these cities, is proposed as a springboard for hinterland and community archaeology projects focused upon these major public towns[38]. At Lincoln, both the early legionary fortress and the later colonia[39] have been extensively excavated. A review and a research agenda have been produced for the initial military phase of Lincoln and the subsequent period of civil consolidation[40], and much information on the Roman heritage of the city is now available on the innovative Heritage Connect website[41]. The major public town at Leicester has seen extensive recent excavations[42], the results of which are incorporated in a UAD that is now an integral part of the Historic Environment Record. It is proposed that the information contained in these databases be made available on-line and revised regularly, ensuring that they remain up-to-date research resources. In terms of further work, it is recommended that particular emphasis be placed initially upon characterising the Late Iron Age settlements known to have existed at both locations and exploring the impact of urbanisation upon the hinterlands of these towns. Agenda topics addressed: 5.1.1; 5.1.4; 5.2.1 – 5.2.5; 5.3.1-5.3.5; 5.4.3; 5.5.3; 5.6.1; 5.6.2; 5.7.1-5.7.4; 5.8.1; 5.8.3; 5.8.5

Strategic Objective 5G

The secondary urban settlements of the region are comparatively poorly known, but formed an important tier of the regional settlement hierarchy that was closely integrated with the developing road network[43]. They represent a particularly prominent element of the East Midlands landscape, of interest within and beyond the region, and a detailed review is recommended to elucidate further their character and to explore comparisons with towns elsewhere in Britain. This could build upon important work undertaken for Northamptonshire[44] and could be combined with analysis and publication of key sites such as Ancaster, Lincolnshire[45], Ashton, Northamptonshire[46], Thistleton, Rutland[47] and Brough-on-Fosse, Nottinghamshire[48]. Detailed analyses of the structural remains, artefacts and environmental data from these secondary urban centres should enhance significantly our understanding of their origins, morphology and socio-economic, political and religious functions, their relationship to roads, rural settlements, villas and larger public towns, and their impact upon the rural landscape. Many of these secondary urban centres may have developed from nucleated Late Iron Age settlements, and there is significant potential for study of the origins of urbanisation and the balance between military and indigenous motors of change[49]. Agenda topics addressed: 5.1.1; 5.1.4; 5.2.1-5.2.5; 5.3.1-5.3.5; 5.4.3; 5.5.3; 5.6.1; 5.7.1-5.7.4; 5.8.1; 5.8.3; 5.8.5

Strategic Objective 5H

Further synthetic studies are required to develop further our understanding of the Roman agrarian landscape, and in particular to investigate how landscapes and rural settlements had varied between the upland and lowland zones[50]. Where detail is available, as at Long Bennington[51] and Stanwick[52], there are suggestions that in some areas villas or Romanised farms had developed from Iron Age settlements with no significant reorganisation of the surrounding countryside. In other areas, by contrast, there are indications of major landscape reorganisation linked to agricultural expansion; this is exemplified by the integration of settlements and boundaries in the ‘brickwork-plan’ field systems of the Sherwood Sandstones[53][54] and the coaxial field patterns of the Trent Valley downstream of Newark[55][56], both of which systems appear to have developed principally in the Roman period. Fieldwalking, metal detecting, cropmark plotting, geophysical survey, lidar and targeted excavation all have important parts to play in mapping and interpreting these landscapes. Appropriate survey programmes, building upon and enhancing earlier investigations in areas such as the Lincolnshire Fens[57] and Peak District[58][59], should be developed alongside the dissemination of key unpublished datasets and synthetic studies aimed at contextualising current data[60]. In addition, appropriate environmental sampling strategies need to be encouraged to accumulate botanical and faunal data that will provide a secure foundation for studies of changing landscape context and site location strategies (5E).Agenda topics addressed: 5.4.1-5.4.6; 5.5.1-5.5.4

Strategic Objective 5I

A variety of landscapes within the region, including the major river valleys of the Nene[61], Welland[62], Witham[63] and Trent[64], have been the subject of long-term and extensive investigations in advance of quarrying and other developments and of landscape-based research targeted upon the Roman period. Additional synthetic studies of the major river valleys would be particularly welcome, and could provide useful comparisons with studies of upland areas such as the Peak[65], Lincolnshire Wolds[66] and Northamptonshire Uplands[67]. Key research themes include the use of rivers and associated artificial waterways[68] for the transport, across and beyond the region, of commodities such as lead and pottery[69], the role of rivers as foci for industrial production[70] and, more generally, the significance of riverine communication networks as drivers of landscape change[71]. Opportunities should also be taken to collate the comparatively neglected evidence for riverside installations such as mills, bridges and fords[72]. Such studies could usefully be combined with palaeochannel surveys comparable to that conducted in the Trent Valley[73], which may assist in locating Roman river courses and hence areas of potential interest for the preservation of riverside installations. Agenda topics addressed: 5.4.1-5.4.6; 5.5.1 – 5.5.4; 5.7.2-5.7.4

Strategic Objective 5J

The East Midlands preserves nationally important evidence not only for pottery production (Objective 5A) but also for ironworking, centred upon Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland[74], lead mining and processing in Derbyshire[75], and salt manufacture throughout the coastal areas of Lincolnshire[76]. Other noteworthy industries include quarrying for querns[77], other stone artefacts and building materials, ceramic tile production, copper alloy smelting, and craft industries utilising wood and secondary agricultural products such as bone, antler, leather and textiles[78]. Understanding of some of these industries, notably salt and pottery production, has greatly improved in recent years, but many questions remain to be answered on the chronology, technology, infrastructure and socio-economic contexts of these and other industries[79]. A regional-scale assessment of the current evidence for Roman industrial activities is recommended as a springboard for further studies of specific industries (see also Objectives 5A and 5B). Agenda topics addressed: 5.1.1; 5.2.1; 5.2.4 – 5.2.5; 5.3.1- 5.3.5; 5.4.3; 5.6.1-5.6.4; 5.7.2; 5.7.4


How can we enhance our knowledge of developing pottery industries, particularly during the Conquest period and 3rd to 4th centuries?


How may information on temporal and regional variations in pottery typology and vessel fabrics best be disseminated?


How may our understanding of sites known only from metal-detected and fieldwalking finds be enhanced?


How can we advance our knowledge of the chronology of metal finds, particularly brooches?


What are the priorities for scientific dating, particularly radiocarbon, and how may targeted dating programmes be developed?


How far was the military conquest a motor of social and economic change?


To what extent is the pivotal location of the region between civil south and military north reflected in the archaeological record?


Can we define more closely the distribution of early military sites and their periods of use?


How did the supply needs of military garrisons and armies along the northern frontier affect the economy and transport infrastructure?


How did the withdrawal of Roman political and financial support impact upon the established society and economy?