The taberna structures of Roman Britain
The aim of this thesis is to explain how the shops (tabernae) of Roman Britain related to society. The buildings of a more humble nature, including tabernae, have been frequently overlooked at the expense of the more ornate public buildings and villas. This thesis proposes to redress this imbalance, as it is believed that retailing and manufacture were one of the most crucial features of Roman society. Varied sources have been used to aid this hypothetical reconstruction and these included the excavated archaeological remains, the extant remains from other parts of the empire and the ancient literary sources. Although these provided a wealth of information they are by themselves limited in what they can reveal about their society. Anthropological and geographical studies have proved an immensely useful tool to illuminate other aspects of society. These were approached with great circumspection and examined in relation to the archaeological evidence. Using all this information the thesis attempts to describe and explain the major factors that helped to create the form and geographical pattern of retail establishments in Roman Britain. It is argued that the tabernae were more responsive to and give a more accurate picture of the social and economic climate of Roman Britain than any other building type. It appears that the Romano-British community was well catered for in life's necessities with a wide variety of merchandise supplied by tabernae. The development of tabernae is difficult to summarise, as more than any other building type they were subject to a multitude of varied and individual circumstances, but it can be demonstrated that a thriving and competitive retailing community existed in the major settlements of Roman Britain.