New Books

First Stop North of Londinium: The Archaeology of Roman Enfield and its Roadline Settlement

Martin J. Dearne

A new Enfield Archaeological Society publication giving a comprehensive account and analysis of what is known of the roadline settlement, its local context and the significance of roadline settlements around Londinium.

Full excavation and finds reports for over 45 sites. 355 pages; 137 figures; 19 plates.
Price: £20 + £3.50 p&p

To order send a cheque (payable to ‘The Enfield Archaeological Society’) with your name and delivery address to: Enfield Archaeological Society, 9 Junction Rd., London N9 7JS or order through the website using PayPal.

First Stop North of Londinium:
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BAR 557 2012: Roman Nantwich: A Salt-Making Settlement Excavations at Kingsley Fields 2002

by Peter Arrowsmith and David Power. ISBN 9781407309590. £35.00. iii+197 pages

In 2002 the fullest evidence so far recovered for the Roman settlement at Nantwich, a historic salt-producing centre in Cheshire was revealed. This uncovered a previously unknown Roman road, and, positioned along this, evidence for the collection and storage of brine and the production of salt, together with buildings, enclosures, a well and a small number of cremation burials. Waterlogged conditions meant that organic remains, including structural timbers, were well preserved on the site. These included the two finest examples of timber-built brine tanks excavated from Roman Britain. This volume presents the wide-ranging finds of these investigations.

Available from Archaeopress.

BAR 563 2012: Birmingham Archaeology Monograph Series 13 Gorse Stacks – 2000 Years of Quarrying and Waste Disposal in Chester

Richard Cuttler, Sam Hepburn, Chris Hewitson and Kristina Krawiec. ISBN 9781407310015. £38.00. viii+232 page

The site of Delamere Street lies just outside the north gate of Roman and medieval Chester and in recent years has been subject to intensive investigation as part of the Gorse Stacks development. This publication represents the culmination of those investigations carried out by Birmingham Archaeology during 2006 and 2008.

Available from Archaeopress.

Excavations at Chester, the western and southern Roman extramural settlements

A Roman community on the edge of the world: excavations 1964-1989 and other investigations by Simon W Ward and others. xvi+446 pages. Oxford: Archaeopress. (BAR Brit Ser 553), 2012. ISBN 9781407309316. £55.00.

This is the first detailed, wide-ranging report to be published on excavations in the extramural settlement of the Roman legionary fortress at Chester, specifically those around the western side of the fortress. This publication concentrates on ten interventions carried out over twenty-five years in the area to the west and south of the fortress and attempts to summarise in more detail, discoveries elsewhere around its perimeter. Discussions attempt to characterise the townscape, its development and population, and also to explore the role of the Chester extramural settlement generally.

Available from Archaeopress.

Roman Britain – Life at the Edge of Empire

A New Title from Ralph Jackson and Richard Hobbs

Written by two curators of Romano-British antiquities in the British Museum, this book is an accessible, highly illustrated introduction to the history, society, culture and art of Britain when it was a province of the Roman Empire.

Published to coincide with the 1600th anniversary of the end of Roman Britain, this book explores many new finds which have not received such attention before, including the horse and rider figurine from Cambridgeshire and the Ashwell temple treasure, along with some of the most well-known and iconic items from this period of British history.

From a child’s leather shoe to fascinating letters, hoards of stunning gold and silver, and the monumental bronze head of the emperor Hadrian – the authors use archaeological evidence, ancient written sources, and the latest research on surviving artefacts to paint a vivid picture of Roman Britain.

Artefacts in Roman Britain – Their Purpose and Use

Edited by: Lindsay Allason-Jones, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Contributors – Lindsay Allason-Jones, Richard Brickstock, Nina Crummy, W. H. Manning, Sîan Rees, M. C. Bishop, R. S. O. Tomlin, Quita Mould, Hella Eckhardt, Ellen Swift, Ralph Jackson, Joanna Bird, Hilary Cool

Hardback  ISBN: 9780521860123  80 b/w illus. 3 tables

Roman Britain has given us an enormous number of artefacts. Yet few books available today deal with its whole material culture as represented by these artefacts. This introduction, aimed primarily at students and general readers, begins by explaining the process of identifying objects of any period or material. A series of themed chapters, written by experts in their particular area of interest, then discusses artefacts from the point of view of their use. The contributors’ premise is that every object was designed for a particular purpose, which may have been to satisfy a general need or the specific need of an individual. If the latter, the maker, the owner and the end user may have been one and the same person; if the former, the manufacturer had to provide objects that others would wish to purchase or exchange. Understanding this reveals a fascinating picture of life in Roman Britain.

Aspects of Industry in Roman Yorkshire and the North

edited by P Wilson & J Price

Oxbow Books, 2002. Paperback, 160 pp, 69 figs. ISBN 1 84217 078 3. £25.

The ten papers in this book (inspired by a day-school on crafts and material in Yorkshire) are grouped into three sections: crafts and industries of York and two Yorkshire rural areas; high-temperature industries – pottery, glass, and metal – and low-temperature industries – leather, black minerals, and stone.

To take the last first, the paper on stone (by Gaunt & Buckland) is very site-specific. It concentrates on the building materials found in Roman York, their point of origin, and the likely method of their transport, road or water. The local stones are discussed in geological stratigraphic order, with a short section at the end on non-local stone, making it a useful work of reference. Allason-Jones’s paper on ‘The jet industry and allied trades’ has a wider relevance, with a large section on the various types of black minerals, their sources, characteristics and the method of working. Where possible, examples are taken from Yorkshire or the north. The paper on the leather trade (van Driel-Murray) is written along similar lines, discussing the raw material, tanneries, and military supply before turning to a specific discussion of the footwear of northern Britain and a look at the evidence from rural settlements.

Two papers deal with the pottery industry, one taking a broad view, the other concentrating on a particular manufactory. Halkon looks at the pottery industry of Holme-on-Spalding in its landscape, examining raw materials, kiln sites, and communications, before describing the pottery recovered during a programme of field-walking in the parish and attempting to establish a chronology for the various kiln sites. Swan’s paper on ‘The Roman pottery of Yorkshire in its wider historical context’ is a thorough examination of manufacture and supply from the Flavian period through to the 4th century. Topics covered range from the recognition of probably military figlinae, the origins of the potters themselves (ie some probably came from Verulamium, others from the Lower Rhineland), and institutional and personal imports, to early military workshops, garrison changes and pottery chronology in Trajanic to Hadrianic York, the expansion of rural pottery production in the 3rd century, and so on. This is clearly a very valuable and detailed study which will no doubt stand as a major work of reference for many decades.

Price’s examination of the evidence for glass production in Yorkshire and the North starts with a look at primary production (glass-making) and secondary production (glass-working) in the Empire, using evidence from beyond the study area to establish both the method of manufacture and the material and structural remains to be found in the archaeological record. She then provides a summary of current knowledge of both primary and secondary production in Britain, before describing in greater detail the evidence from Yorkshire and the North and providing an interpretation of that evidence.

Two papers deal with non-ferrous metal-working. Dungworth’s short paper provides a brief overview of the production of copper-alloys in the Roman world, before turning to specific assemblages from Yorkshire. He discusses the analyses of the alloys used for Dragonesque brooches and compares the results to the typology put forward by Bulmer and Feachem. A similar section discusses fantail brooches, which were made in a distinctive low-tin alloy. A ‘social distribution’ approach is then used to examine the percentage of the various alloys present on different types of sites. These appear to be broadly similar on most categories of site, varying only for ‘small rural’, ‘hoard’, ‘burial’, ‘cave’ and ‘hillfort’. The first has more brass objects than the general run, the four latter all have fewer. While the very nature of hoard, burial and cave finds might be expected to produce a variation of some type regardless of what aspect is examined, deliberate object selection leading inevitably if unconsciously to alloy selection, I cannot help but wonder if the ‘small rural’ result has been affected by the low number of objects analysed, only 25 compared to 68 for town, 161 for large rural, and 415 for military.

Bayley then describes the evidence for non-ferrous metal-working in Yorkshire, providing an overview of the processes involved, ie mining, smelting and the various secondary stages leading to production of finished objects. Examples from Yorkshire are slotted into this summary and then a gazetteer of metal-working sites is provided.

These material-specific papers are preceded by two case studies: Cool’s ‘Craft and industry in Roman York’, and Wilson’s ‘Craft and industry on the North York Moors in the Roman period’. It is only in these papers that one of the most important industries, iron-working, makes its appearance, as well as bone-, wood-, and stone-working. Wilson also introduces the ‘invisible crafts’, such as fuel production, and the domestic crafts, such as textile production. Both authors provide summaries of the evidence for the various industries in their area and end with overviews of the manufacturing activities, relating it where possible to the military and civilian populations.

Overall, this is a very valuable regional study which on some instances provides important information for Roman Britain as a whole. It is, however, disappointing that there is no wider study of iron production and working. Perhaps a second day-school can be arranged to deal with this and the ‘invisible’ crafts.

Nina Crummy

Excavation of Roman sites at Cramond, Edinburgh

by N Holmes, edited by M Collard & J A Lawson

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monograph 23, 2003. Paperback, 170 pp, 141 figs. ISBN 0 903903 23 7. £20.00.

This report presents the results of the excavations of 1975 to 1981 at the Roman fort at Cramond, on the Firth of Forth at the mouth of the river Almond. In addition, some of the finds included in the specialist reports came from rescue work in the early 1970s.

Previous work suggested that there were two military occupations of the fort between c AD 142 and 162, and a third during the Severan campaign of the early 3rd century. In addition, an Agricolan phase has been postulated based on a few 1st-century finds from the area, though with no structural evidence to support the idea.

The excavations examined the fort defences, the bath-house to the north of the fort, and an industrial complex to the south-east. The latter produced evidence for carpentry, leather- and iron-working, and shoe making.

There are detailed studies of the pottery, the small assemblage of glass, and the coins. The latter examines not just the coins from the excavations dealt with in the report, but also earlier ‘casual’ discoveries from the 18th century onwards, and those from other excavations from the 1950s to 1970s. The data available from this list provides little evidence in support of the theory that there was an Agricolan occupation of Cramond, and also takes issue with details of the dating of the Antonine occupation, suggesting that the abandonment of the fort was later than AD 162. Commodan coins may also be evidence for a occupation in the AD 180s, and the Severan issues suggest occupation before c AD 200, rather than after AD 208, the latter supported by comparison with the coins from Carpow.

Apart from a section on military equipment of both iron and copper alloy, the small finds are presented by material. They include medieval and later objects as well as Roman. The ironwork from a well in the industrial complex is of particular interest; it includes a shovel blade, an axe-hammer, possible files or rasps, and a punch.

The site produced three high-quality cornelian intaglios, at least two of which predate the first military occupation of the site, and the stonework includes part of an altar and sandstone bench-end, the latter from the bath-house site. The wooden objects are welcome additions to the assemblage from Roman Britain; they include part of a window-frame, slotted to receive panes of glass, and a turned leg from a piece of beech-wood furniture. An analysis of the timberwork from the same Roman well in the industrial complex that produced the iron tools suggests that there is evidence for a well-managed timber workshop with carpenters working for a specialised market other than a purely functional military one.

The tile, environmental evidence and medieval pottery are presented as brief summaries, and there is a more detailed analysis of some post-Roman inhumations, possibly plague victims, as well as reports on the small assemblages of clay tobacco pipes and post-medieval coins.

The final chapter discusses the evidence from this report, especially in the light of previous work on the site by Alan and Viola Rae. It is divided into sections on the perimeter features of the fort (defences, gates, roads), its internal layout, the bath-house and industrial complex, and includes an overview of the dating evidence form the material remains. Finally, Cramond is set in its wider context as a part of the military occupation of southern Scotland in the 2nd and 3rd century.

Nina Crummy