Roman

Key overview statements to address for the Roman period:

A number of overarching comments came out of the workshop discussions for the framework that should be taken into consideration for the Roman period:

  • How can we ensure we have sufficient finds specialists in the future, e.g. Samian ware expertise? There is a shortage of specialist curators at museums. We need a mentoring scheme to pass on knowledge (perhaps through apprenticeships).
  • There is still a root problem of not publishing major sites. Roman sites can be daunting for post ex projects as they can produce huge quantities of finds.
  • Have we captured enough about military occupation/Roman forts? The evidence at sites such as Lancaster and Castleshaw show unexpected military formats that do not fit into expected patterns. We need to be sure we have captured this type of data. Late Roman occupation of forts is a key theme.
  • Another important theme to focus research on is the relationship of people in forts/extra-mural settlements and rural settlements.
  • Can systematic analysis of finds assemblages, especially PAS, give an insight into regional distinctiveness. It is crucial we understand material culture. Some types of artefact are rare in the NW compared with other areas.
  • The NW has a distinctive history of devolution in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, unlike other areas of Britain, NW area is now governed by York as part of Britannia.
  • It is essential for archaeology contractors operating in the NW who have come from elsewhere to be aware of the regional distinctiveness as set out in the revised and existing NWRRF. Techniques and methodologies used on Roman sites in the south may well not be fit for purpose in the NW.


Roman Research Questions

Chronology and Dating

R01: How can we refine the dating of Romano-British sites to clarify the period of transition?

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The ephemeral nature of the archaeology and the low density of artefacts requires greater attention to stratigraphic evidence and detailed sampling strategies in the higher levels of sites of all types in this period. (3.8:3.48) Many more radiocarbon dates are required From Romano-British sites, for both early and late phases and most especially for rural sites. Briefs for development-led projects and project research designs should require positive discrimination in favour of programmes of dating, stratigraphic and scientific analysis. (3.2:3.5) There is a need for stratified and dated material from all LPRIA sites, including the larger enclosed lowland and hilltop sites, the smaller enclosed settlements, and seemingly open settlements. The assigning of dates to enclosures and cropmarks on morphological grounds is not secure and rigorous application of sequences of radiocarbon dates is required to produce secure chronologies. (3.2:3.8) It is worth bearing in mind that many find sites are places of persistent occupation – not just Roman.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
23/09/2024
Categories:
RADIOCARBON DATING, ROMAN, SETTLEMENT, ENCLOSURE, LATE IRON AGE, SPECIALIST SAMPLING, Chronology

R02: How can we gain significant new understanding of rural society and economies, particularly in the uplands, during the Roman period?

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Proactive programmes of fieldwork and air reconnaissance are required if we wish to see significant new understanding of rural society and economies, particularly in the uplands, during the Roman period. (3.2:3.6) To what extent do new and current landscape studies reveal significant new information? Palaeoenvironmental and alluvial studies are relevant to this.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
23/09/2024
Categories:
ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE, ROMAN, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis, Upland, society, Economy, Rural community

R03: To what extent is resistance to Roman occupation tangible in the archaeological record?

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There is a need to look for any evidence for the fortification, or re-fortification, of enclosed sites in the 1st century AD, and for evidence for either continuous occupation or abandonment of sites over the LPRIA to Romano-British transition. (3.2:3.9)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
19/03/2024
Categories:
RADIOCARBON DATING, ROMAN, ENCLOSED SETTLEMENT, LATE IRON AGE, FORT

R04: What evidence is there for the survival of regional and tribal identities throughout the Roman period?

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The question of identifying regional or tribal identities may be addressed through artefact assemblages, building style and other indicators to assess the continuation of these aspects through the Roman period. (3.2:3.10) Look at regional variants of material and typologies to help answer this.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
19/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, SETTLEMENT, POTTERY, ASSEMBLAGE, PERSONAL ORNAMENT, BUILDING, typology

R05: How can we ascertain if Romans established military sites on native power bases/centres of population?

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A critical assessment of the location of the earliest military installations and their relationship to known native settlements or material is required. A detailed project incorporating the mapping of known Late Iron Age settlements and landscapes in relation to known Roman military sites may elucidate aspects of Late Iron Age settlement hierarchy and Roman military strategy. Such work could draw on the current SMR/HER and Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) databases in order to interpret economy and political structure from the archaeological data, and then attempt to reconcile the results with the documentary sources. (3.2:3.12) We need to test distribution for forts empirically rather than assume if it fits a conventional pattern.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
19/03/2024
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, ROMAN, SETTLEMENT, LATE IRON AGE, FORT, Synthesis

R06: How well understood are fort chronologies and construction patterns?

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Development-led archaeology on military sites in urban contexts provides an important opportunity to review chronologies and phasing of the sequence of fort construction and use. Particular attention should be paid to any possible traces of early pre-fort phases or later Roman occupation. (3.4:3.19 part of)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
19/03/2024
Categories:
CONSTRUCTION DEPOSIT, MILITARY EQUIPMENT, ROMAN, LATE IRON AGE, FORT, STRUCTURE

Environment

R07: What is our understanding of river navigability and potential port development?

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Active
Date of next review:
13/03/2024
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Programmes of sampling should target estuaries and tidal reaches of major rivers for geo-archaeological investigations of river deposits, especially the River Dee, with a view to locating the main channel and its depth. Similar studies could be undertaken in the Fylde and for the Ribble, Solway and Weaver. This could also elucidate how far upstream it may have been navigable and how military supplies including personnel were deployed throughout the North West region. (3.3:3.15)

Categories:
ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, ROMAN, PORT, PALAEOCHANNEL, RIVER NAVIGATION, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis
Linked Strategy(s):
Programmes of sampling should target estuaries and tidal reaches of major rivers for geoarchaeological investigations of river deposits, especially the River Dee, with a view to locating the main channel and its depth. Similar studies could be undertaken in the Fylde and Solway. This could also elucidate how far upstream it may have been navigable and how military supplies including personnel were deployed throughout the North West region.

R08: What evidence is there for the impact of Roman occupation on the environment?

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Active
Date of next review:
13/03/2024
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Use palaeoenvironmental samples and analysis to inform our understanding of the Roman and pre-Roman environment. Wherever ramparts, roads or ditches are to be excavated, a sampling strategy should be considered for the recovery and investigation of buried soils, turves and similar deposits likely to preserve pollen, insects and other micro-organisms likely to be indicators of past vegetation, water quality and landuse. Specialists need to look for turf material and be aware of what to expect. (3.3:3.16) Landscape studies including lidar, field survey, aerial photography, plus palaeoenvironmental assessment such as pollen and wood analysis. Target the hinterland of Roman forts including small wetlands adjacent to sites for cereals and local impact. Look at regional, climate-driven changes.

Categories:
ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, LIDAR SURVEY, AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY, ROMAN, FEATURE, DITCH, RAMPART, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis

R09: How was timber sourced, managed and worked through the Roman period?

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Active
Date of next review:
13/03/2024
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Roundwood studies could be extended to other sites to search for consistent patterns or site-specific ad hoc exploitation of resources. (3.3:3.17) Use archaeological techniques to record and analyse worked wood. A high priority should also be given to dendrochronological studies of timbers, especially those thought to be possibly mid or late Roman in date. There is a need to extend the dendrochronological master curve to cover the whole of the Romano-British period. (3.3:3.17) Study the extent of woodland use and its impact on the environment. Studies of timbers, dendrochronology and roundwood need to be linked with pollen studies of clearance and deforestation. This could be liked to studies of other woodland resources and use of land for pasture or for cultivation, with studies of climatic changes and evidence for soil erosion. (3.3:3.17)

Categories:
DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY, ROMAN, CLEARANCE, TIMBER, Environment

R10: What was the impact of Roman industrialisation on the environment?

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Active
Date of next review:
13/03/2024
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Refer to Q11 supporting statement and include analysis of soil contaminants. Current study of geochemical signatures for historic lead production in the Peak District (Nick Clarke), can this model of research be applied elsewhere? River, lake and peat deposits will give good time depth.

Categories:
MANUFACTURE AND PROCESSING, ROMAN, INDUSTRIAL, GEOCHEMICAL SURVEY, Environment

Military Activity

R11: How can we identify typologies and the development of military sites and Roman road systems?

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Status:
Active
Date of next review:
13/03/2024
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This should be complemented by carefully targeted geophysical survey and research excavation on Scheduled military sites, as demonstrated at Birdoswald. (3.4:3.19 part of) Potential sites of un-located forts have been identified and air reconnaissance and field evaluation / survey should be directed to these, which are listed in the original research framework in section 3.4:30. Check LIDAR information on the ground for development proposals alongside known Roman roads. Use improved geophysical survey techniques/equipment.

Categories:
AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE, LIDAR SURVEY, ROMAN, DEFENCE, FORT, MILITARY BUILDING, GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY

R12: How can coastal and estuarine changes be understood through analysis of coastal defences?

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Active
Date of next review:
13/03/2024
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The nature of the coastal defences for the western seaboard in the 3rd and 4th centuries from the Bristol Channel to the Solway Firth and, in regional terms, from the Dee to the Solway, could be investigated in tandem with a programme of environmental research aimed at improving understanding of coastal and estuarine change. (3.4:3.21) Work with the Citizan project

Categories:
ROMAN, COASTAL DEFENCE SITE, Climate change

R13: What are the ethnic origins and lifestyles of those living in North West England during the Roman period?

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Active
Date of next review:
13/03/2024
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The ethnicity and country of origin of those serving on the province’s frontier are subjects of particular contemporary interest and while bone survival is often poor, every opportunity to analyse surviving human remains should be taken, in conjunction with study of artefacts, personal ornaments, burial practices and epigraphy, to understand the ethnic origins of military units, urban, rural, and industrial communities located in the North West. (3.4:3.22). Where bone or teeth are present, consideration should be made for biomolecular and isotopic analysis.

Categories:
ARMOUR AND WEAPONS, ROMAN, RELIGION OR RITUAL, BURIAL, HUMAN REMAINS, ASSEMBLAGE, STABLE ISOTOPE ANALYSIS, PERSONAL ORNAMENT, MITOCHONDRIAL DNA, Ethnicity

R14: What were the date, extent, function and changes over time of extra-mural settlement (vici) in the region?

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Status:
Active
Date of next review:
13/03/2024
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Undertake a synthesis of recent relevant work. Identify gaps in knowledge and carry out geophysical and landscape surveys, followed by targeted evaluation and excavation. Look at successful funding models from recent projects, such as university research or HLF community projects. NEW STRATEGY Much progress has been made on this over the last 10 years but what is especially needed now is synthesis.

Categories:
ROMAN, EXCAVATION, GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY, VICUS, EXTRA MURAL SUBURB, FIELD SURVEY, Synthesis

Site Location, Settlement and Landuse

R15: How was industrial production organised and administered both regionally and locally?

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The publication of recent investigation is required, and Comparison and synthesis of work on industrial centres. (3.5:3.23)
Development-led excavation in these centres should have clearly focused objectives relevant to research questions for this particular class of settlement. (3.5: 3.24)
Linked with Q R28

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
18/03/2024
Categories:
MANUFACTURE AND PROCESSING, ROMAN, INDUSTRIAL, EXCAVATION, publication, Synthesis

R16: How can we improve interpretations of the later phases of Romano-British towns?

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<p>A programme of reassessment of existing archives may produce new interpretations of the later phases on Romano-British towns. Chester and Carlisle have both provided evidence for 4th century activity, although the nature of that activity is unclear. (3.5:3.25)
Sir Ian Richmond’s unpublished archives for Lancaster should also be re-examined.</p>

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
18/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, TOWN, Collections research

R17: What was the extent of Roman rural and urban settlement interaction?

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Completion of post-excavation work on the Chester canabae and re-appraisal of archives of earlier excavations in other nearby areas could form the basis for a review of the satellite settlements around Chester, assessing the interaction of aspects of rural and urban communities. (3.5:3.26)
Include unpublished reports including academic research.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
18/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, Urban Settlement, Rural Settlement, Collections research

R18: What were the locations, density, chronology, economy and character of rural settlement sites and patterns?

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There is an urgent need for work to locate rural sites and to investigate potential Iron Age/Romano-British sites across the whole region, to determine their chronology, economy, character, and to examine the origins of rural settlement patterns. Whilst the sites of the majority of Roman forts and towns in the region are probably known, this is far from the case with rural settlements. (3.5:3.27) Look at results and recommendations of the Rural Settlement of Roman Britain research project. http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/romangl/ Rural sites need to be considered within their landscape context, by investigation of their field systems and boundaries, the local land use, topography and exploitation of other resources. In the southern part of the region at least, the immediate vicinity of sites has often produced earlier or later occupation. One approach would be to investigate a sample of cropmark enclosures, in a variety of topographical and geographical settings, including an excavation programme that embraces the area around the site. (3.5:3.28) A high priority must be the detailed examination of a sample of well-preserved rural sites. It remains crucially important to establish the origin of sites and the chronology and nature of their occupation and abandonment. In order to overcome the problem of recognising occupation phases with no durable material culture this work will depend on structured programmes of radiocarbon sampling throughout the stratigraphic sequence. The need for such programmes should be specified by the archaeological curators in order to ensure a consistent approach. (3.5:3.29) Use Bayesian modelling within and across sites for general trends. Retain samples for future dating.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
Categories:
RADIOCARBON DATING, ROMAN, ENCLOSURE, FIELD BOUNDARY, LATE IRON AGE, EXCAVATION, Rural Settlement, Chronology, Economy

R19: How can we identify whether the virtual absence of villas in the North West archaeological record is apparent rather than real?

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A study of SMR and HER data for finds of diagnostic artefacts and hints of associated Roman building materials may indicate whether the virtual absence of ‘villas’ may be more apparent than real and, in more general terms, assist in mapping the scale and effect of Roman cultural influence. (3.5:3.30) Ensure consistency in HER date terms. Will work provided the HER is current and complete.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
Categories:
ROMAN, VILLA, ASSEMBLAGE, BRICK, Tile, Synthesis

R20: How can we identify regional types and patterns of distribution, despite low levels of material culture across the region?

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Systematic publication of excavated assemblages from the region and of chance finds is a priority, in order to characterise contexts, identify regional types and intra- or inter-regional patterns of distribution. The unusually low level of material culture outside the major military/urban centres in the region means that the publication of individual or small groups of objects is a higher priority here than in artefact rich areas. (3.5:3.31) Need to include PAS data. Will work particularly with objects such as brooches (eg. Wirral types or trumpet types associated with military activity).

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
Categories:
ROMAN, ASSEMBLAGE, PERSONAL ORNAMENT, FINDSPOT, publication, Synthesis

Ritual, Religion and Ceremony

R21: How did people express religious beliefs (via site types, portable material cultures and funerary practices)?

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There is scarcely any knowledge of religious sites in this period, apart from that evidenced by inference from inscriptions and sculpture/ figurines, and the opportunity to investigate any such sites particularly in a rural context should be a priority. (3.6:3.34) Note that recent publications from Middlewich and Nantwich contain evidence of ritual activity.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
14/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, RELIGION OR RITUAL, ASSEMBLAGE, PERSONAL ORNAMENT, SCULPTURE, RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

R22: What evidence is there for late Roman religious change into the early medieval period, including non- Christian beliefs?

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The suggestion of a sub-Roman bishopric based in Chester and the association of a possible church within the Chester amphitheatre should be the subject for further research. (3.6:3.35) Look for evidence for the establishment of late Roman churches and their continuation into the early medieval period

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
14/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, RELIGION OR RITUAL, EARLY MEDIEVAL, CEMETERY, CHURCH

R23: How, when and where were foreign troops integrated with the indigenous population?

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Inhumations are less common survivals and merit intensive study, with macroscopic morphological and metrical analyses. All inhumations unaccompanied by dateable artefacts should be subject to radiocarbon dating, as well as stable isotopes and DNA analysis where appropriate, in order to place these within a coherent time-frame and to enable rural burial practices to be characterised in topographical and chronological terms. This may have significant implications for considerations of how, when and where foreign troops integrated with the indigenous populations. (3.6:3.37) Use current scientific techniques to maximise understanding.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
14/03/2024
Categories:
RADIOCARBON DATING, ROMAN, BURIAL, HUMAN REMAINS, ASSEMBLAGE, STABLE ISOTOPE ANALYSIS, INHUMATION, MITOCHONDRIAL DNA

R24: How were different landscape features utilised for funerary or burial rights and is there any continuity with the Iron Age?

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Current work on assemblages from cave deposits including burials indicates their high potential and should be pursued further. (3.6:3.39) Assess how much evidence there is for Romano-British funerary practices outside urban contexts and caves?

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
14/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, RELIGION OR RITUAL, BURIAL, LATE IRON AGE, ASSEMBLAGE, CAVE DEPOSIT, CEMETERY

R25: How do we identify ritual in everyday contexts?

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Specialist analysis of excavation assemblages, PAS data, possible PhD topic with research funding.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
14/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, RELIGION OR RITUAL, ASSEMBLAGE, Higher Education research

R26: How can we identify ethnic diversity through burial practices during the Roman Period?

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Research old excavation archives. Specialist analysis of excavation assemblages, possible PhD topic with research funding. Linked with Q R13

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
14/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, BURIAL, EXCAVATION, ASSEMBLAGE, CEMETERY, Collections research, Higher Education research, Ethnicity

Technology and Production

R27: How can the analysis of the origin of stone for buildings, funerary structures and querns help to determine patterns of resource exploitation and trade?

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Analysis of the origin of stone for building, funerary sculpture and quernstones may help to determine patterns of exploitation of resources, workshops and schools, and of trade on an intra- and inter-regional level. (3.6:3.40)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
18/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, RELIGION OR RITUAL, DEATH BURIAL OR FUNERARY OBJECT, EXCHANGE, QUERN, FUNERARY BUILDING, Stone Quarry, Trade

R28: What is distinctive about industrial processing in the Roman North West?

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Romano-British industries, and the communities that were engaged in processing and production of ceramics, salt and metalwork, have been identified throughout the North West and are a strong characteristic of the region in this period. Research is needed, however, to draw together the many and varied sources for this distinctive aspect of the Romano-British period, and to formulate an integrated research agenda rather than a series of single issue or site-related research questions. (3.7:3.41)
We need to ensure that there are sufficient ceramic and other specialists to tackle future projects and existing backlogs. Where are the specialist trainees and mentors?
Linked with Q R15

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
18/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, INDUSTRIAL, SALT PRODUCTION SITE, METAL WORKING SITE, POTTERY KILN, Training, Synthesis

Trade, Exchange and Interaction

R29: How can a systematic survey of the coast line help to identify formal and informal Roman ports?

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Systematic survey of coastal, estuarine and river environments is required to assess the surviving resource and the potential for Romano-British buried land surfaces and structures. Coastal and river-edge development and engineering projects need to be undertaken with sufficient provision for archaeological works or supervision. (3.8:3.47)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
18/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, PORT, WHARF, DOCK, Survey, Coastal And Intertidal

R30: What can archaeology tell us about trade and exchange in late Roman and early post-Roman periods?

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New research projects on well-preserved military sites with good indications of later occupation, to complement that at Birdoswald, are needed to establish whether this type of 5th-century and later activity may be typical or exceptional. (3.8:3.49) But also old excavations may need review in light of new thinking.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
22/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, EARLY MEDIEVAL, FORT, Trade

R31: What was the effect of the North West position on the outer edge of the Roman world and how does this explain the archaeology?

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Cross-theme? Synthesis of key excavated sites. Links to devolution comment in overview Point 6. Comparison with other regions and Wales/Scotland, and other provinces in the Roman Empire, will provide context and inform our understanding of how different the NW was.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
22/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, Synthesis

R32: How does military resourcing affect civilian sites?

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Linked to Q R14 on extra-mural settlements (vici). Examine good excavation sequences from extra-mural settlements. Analyse the Rural Research project data to see potential impact on rural settlement sites.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
22/03/2024
Categories:
ROMAN, SETTLEMENT, FORT, VICUS, EXTRA MURAL SUBURB, Synthesis

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