UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The pre-conquest Roman penetration of south-eastern Britain Millar, Roderick J. O.


This thesis is concerned with an examination of the interaction between a state level society, that of Rome in the period of the Late Republic and Early Empire, and a neighbouring group of chiefdoms, those in the south-eastern part of Britain. In this period the social, economic and political systems in southern Britain appear to have gone through processes of major stress and change. The study tests the general hypothesis that in the period between the expeditions of Caesar in 55 and 54 BC and the final Claudian conquest in AD 43, the south-east of Britain went through an evolution from a number of small independent chiefdoms competing with each, other to a proto-state. This evolution was triggered and accelerated by the interaction with Rome. To test this hypothesis the published archaeological reports on the excavations in three areas of south-eastern Britain were analyzed. The areas around St. Albans, Braughing and Skeleton Green, and Colchester were used. The analysis compares a number of specific types of artifacts, certain features, and burials from all three areas. The general weight of the evidence, despite some minor inconsistencies, shows that in the approximately ninety years between 55 BC and AD 43 power shifted from several centres: the St. Albans area, Braughing, Welwyn and Hertford to one centre at Colchester. Under the dominance of Colchester, St. Albans and probably other formerly independent chiefdoms, became satellite centres to Colchester. This shift in the power centre was accompanied by a marked increase in social stratification, demonstrated in the elite burials, the increasing range of elite goods, and larger and more complex features.

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