The social context of eating and drinking at native settlements in early Roman Britain
Observation of the presence and absence of Roman-style goods and structures has guided much of the analysis of imperialism in Roman Britain and other parts of the Empire. Wealth and power have been assumed to correlate with the extent to which a group's material culture and lifestyle appeared `Romanized'. The concept of `Romanization' has become the primary measurement of change in the lives of the people who were conquered: and where there was only slight evidence of Romanization, there is an assumption that the lives of people were little changed and continued much as they did before the conquest. Many of the signifiers used to describe `Romanization' are tied to the consumption of food and drink. Eating and drinking, however, is much more than the observance of particular ingredients and containers - it is also the consideration of how and where one eats and drinks, and with whom and why. Rarely is the totality of food and drink consumption in Roman Britain considered. This study challenges the inventories of `Roman' and `native' material culture, so as to incorporate different types of settlements and the experiences of people of different socio- economic backgrounds into discussions of Roman Britain. This thesis develops a methodological approach to the analysis of the social contexts of the consumption of food and drink at `native type' settlements during the post-conquest period in an attempt to access the localized effects of imperialism. This approach was realized through an in- depth analysis of four sites in the Upper Thames Valley. The four sites selected for analysis are: Barton Court Farm, Roughground Farm, Old Shifford Farm, and Claydon Pike.