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Title: Complex assemblages, complex social structures : rural settlements in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley 100BC to AD100
Author: Morrison, Wendy A.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Late Iron Age and Early Roman Britain has often been homogenised by models that focus on the resistance/assimilation dichotomy during the period of transition. The main objective of this thesis is to examine the rural settlements of this period through the lens of Cultural Theory in order to tease out the more nuanced and diverse human landscape that the material suggests. This approach begins to develop new ways of thinking about the variability observed in rural settlement from the end of the Middle Iron Age (MIA) to the beginning of the 2nd century AD. The selected study area is the Upper and Middle Thames Valley. The thesis uses the grid/group designations of Mary Douglas' Cultural Theory as a tool to produce a more multifaceted picture of the period, exploring the assemblages of these rural settlements to understand the nature of the socio-political structures of the region, beyond the anonymity of tribal affiliation and the faceless economical dichotomy of high and low status. The structure of the thesis is as follows: Chapter 2 summarises the state of play in the study of Late Iron Age and Early Roman Britain within the study area. The strengths and weakness of Cultural Theory, how it has been used in the past, and what role it has played in this research will be introduced in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 presents the dataset and the patterns observed, as well as why and how the types of artefacts examined are integral to the formation of the worldview of people. Chapter 5 offers interpretation of the data through the lens of the Cultural Theory model whilst Chapters 6, 7, and 8 place six case studies from the Upper and Middle Thames Valley under inspection and show in greater detail the potential of Cultural Theory as a tool for thinking about rural settlement variation. This study re-characterises the rural Upper and Middle Thames Valley as a place where there was a wide variety of worldviews during the period of great cultural and socio-political transition of the centuries straddling the turn of the first millennium. It suggests that the varying success and longevities of these rural settlements may have depended upon the ability of their inhabitants to either change their worldviews or to find similarities in the new organisation of their world.
Supervisor: Gosden, Chris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Archaeology--Methodology ; Landscape archaeology--England--Thames Valley ; Land settlement patterns--England--Thames Valley ; Prehistoric peoples--England--Thames Valley ; Thames Valley (England)--Antiquities ; Thames Valley (England)--Antiquities ; Roman