The cemeteries in Roman Britain : evidence for management and related social implications, with particular reference to the late Roman period
Following the conquest, local and 'Roman' funerary customs introduced to Britain mainly through the medium of the army began to interact at a different speed and rate according to the geographical distribution and intensity of pre- existing burial traditions. At the early stage of the invasion, the new-corners made themselves 'identifiable' by following their own Romanised customs. During the 11 century the fashion of urned cremation spread throughout the province with the funerary trends in the civilian areas progressively conforming to the military. The towns continued to follow the trends imported from the Continent by adopting the rite of inhumation during the course of the 111 century, with a movement of ideas from the major to the minor urban centres and the rural settlements. By the IV century the evidence for regional patterns had started to fade, the process of assimilation set in motion in the course of the earlier centuries becoming far more wide-reaching and uniform in character. Uniformity and less apparent display of wealth in burial do not seem to have stemmed from increased management (whether religious or secular). By the IV century, the cemeteries had developed as a means of communicating civic pride through the representation of a stable society in the context of an increasingly autonomous province. In the early period civic pride had found expression in the provision of public buildings, with the collective character in the dedication of the early monuments surviving in the later cemeteries as projection of the community imagery. At the same time, the arena for burial had been extended from the country to the town as the latter had become an acceptable place for social display albeit in private forms. It is in the 'conceptual ruralisation' of the towns that Romanisation played a part by creating the premise for the re-consolidation of familial ties and traditional customs, and by contributing towards the homogenisation of the substantial rural character of Roman Britain.