Presented as part of the Centre for Classical Studies Seminar Series
The wild north of Britain was never really settled by the Roman Empire. Britannia Secunda was a military zone throughout the Roman occupation. So when the administration of Britannia began to break down, it started in the north. Archaeology dispelled the idea of a sudden collapse of Roman control around 400AD some decades ago. The administration slowly disintegrated along with long-distance trade in the 4th century.
New evidence from archaeological fieldwork in Ribchester, a cavalry fort and vicus in northern England, suggests that the slow collapse actually started a century earlier in a region that barely submitted to Roman rule at all. The army’s control was temporary. The military units were made up of foederati, and government largely lay in the hands of the local Brittunculi throughout the Roman period. Britannia was very far from being a model province and was never a successful colonial enterprise.
Dr Ash Lenton is a professional historic buildings and archaeological surveyor. Dr Lenton is also a research fellow at the ANU, currently engaged on the Copper Colonies Research Project, focusing on the archaeological survey of the historic structures and the conservation of the historic landscapes. In June-July 2016, he conducted the ANU archaeology field course ‘Ribchester Revisited’ in conjunction with the University of Central Lancashire. His research interests include colonial encounters, social history, industrial archaeology, technology and identity, ethnoarchaeology, medieval architecture, post-medieval and colonial architecture and archaeological theory.