Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Bettina Arnold

Committee Members

Thomas Malaby, Jean Hudson, Derek Counts, Elisabetta Cova


Continuity & Change, Imperialism, Landscape, Practice, Roman Britain, Time


What kinds of landscapes does the segmentation of space and time by the Late Iron Age/Early Roman transition create, include, and exclude? What continues, changes, and co-exists, and how is the landscape interconnected in the context of these negotiations? This thesis re-conceptualizes continuity and change during the Late Iron Age (100 BCE–CE 43) and Early Roman period (CE 43–CE 150/200) in southern England, exploring how relationships with place and landscape generate the contexts for community formation and transformation. Despite the deconstruction of the traditional acculturation paradigm—Romanization—it has proven difficult to circumvent binary categories of identity and process that relegate continuity to a static and undifferentiated pre-baseline temporal moment and equate transformation to Roman imposition. Tracing how the place biographies of seven case study sites in Dorset (southwest) and the Middle Thames Valley (southeast) interconnect with regional settlement patterns, including urban and rural dynamics, the project evaluates the variability of the case study sites in relation to documented post-conquest trends in terms of structure shape, construction materials, pottery, herd structure, and crop composition. It is argued that the dynamics of practice cannot be contained by a past and present divided by the conquest baseline, and consequently, that continuity and change cannot be confined to spaces and materials originating on one or the other side of that temporal moment—continuity and change are dynamic and interactive rather than ontologically separate outcomes of imperial occupation.

An approach is suggested that removes the traditional change–continuity axis as the primary context of interpretation, re-articulating how time, place, and material culture are linked to process and identity. Relationships with place point to deep, multi-temporal landscape histories incorporating Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, crosscutting the Iron Age context as a bounded past prior to the imperial transition. GIS spatial analysis of settlement concentration and cycles of activity in Dorset (79 sites) and the Middle Thames Valley (78 sites) suggest more plural landscapes than can be explained by a single trend toward urban centralization. Shifting patterns of inhabitation, working within long-term yet dynamic settings for interaction, may have worked to maintain and renegotiate a context of communities interconnected across a heterogeneous landscape. The analysis is framed by an approach to structuring inquiry that emphasizes possibilities—the multiple tendencies of the past and present. The conceptual framework engages with the multidirectional processes and simultaneous differences of persistence and transformation, dynamics often excluded by the hegemonic temporality and territory of the traditional Romanization-as-acculturation paradigm.