Roman frontiers create new societies in the lands beyond: a shift to pastoral farming and social re-structuring caused by the building of Hadrian’s Wall
Nick Hodgson, James Bruhn
Previous publications have argued that the Roman conquest of what is now northern England and southern Scotland encountered a densely settled agrarian landscape, but that this was largely abandoned around the time of the construction of Hadrian’s Wall in the early second century AD (Hodgson 2012; 2015). This paper considers the problem of what kinds of settlements and social structures emerged to replace former societies in the area north of the Wall.
Several sites can now be recognised in Northumberland and south-west Scotland which are characteristic of the centuries following the establishment of Hadrian’s Wall as the permanent imperial border in northern Britain. These successor sites (e.g. Castle O’er Fort in Dumfriesshire (Halliday 2002, Mercer in press), and the final phases Pegswood Moor (Proctor 2009) and St George’s Hospital, both in Northumberland) are not as numerous and are morphologically very different to what had preceded them. None have the heavily enclosed rectilinear form of the typical of the later Iron Age in this region. Instead all have complex ditch systems for funnelling, controlling and housing animals, indicating a shift to a more pastoral economy, one where the wealth and power was increasingly based on the control of cattle as a commodity traded to, or requisitioned as a tax by, the Roman imperial authorities. In this respect these centres are reminiscent of the situation at an earlier period at Flavian Elginhaugh, where a Roman fort was abandoned around AD 86 but remodelled as a stock enclosure, argued by Hanson (2007) to have been for the holding and selection of livestock being collected as a form of taxation on a population that was still subject to Rome but no longer under direct military occupation.
The shift in the pattern of settlement north of Hadrian’s Wall indicates a severe disruption to the existing landscape and to society overall, bringing an end to a stable social structure characterised by a numerous and widespread nobility, and suggestive of the rapid emergence of new centres of social authority in the 150km immediately north of the Wall.
Finally, the paper briefly considers what analogies for this social transformation can be found beyond other permanent Roman fortification lines of the 2nd century AD.
Allies, Enemies, Partners or Protagonists? Rome and the Brigantes in the First Century AD
The history of Northern England in the AD 50s and 60s has long been accepted as being as well understood as the limited literary and archaeological evidence would allow. For much of the twentieth century Tacitus’s words and Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s work at Stanwick, North Yorkshire, established an essentially binary narrative of a ‘Quisling Queen’ (Cartimandua) in thrall to Rome and ‘noble (if doomed) resistance’ led by Venutius, her wronged consort. The size of Brigantia and its strategic location dominating northern England, strategically having the potential to either protect or threaten the northern border of Rome’s new province ensured that its status, as an ally or an enemy, would be crucial to the Roman imperial project in Britain. This paper will review that relationship, its physical manifestations and changes that are visible in the material record using the well-known evidence from Tacitus and Wheeler in combination with the more recently published data from Stanwick (Haselgrove 2016) along with the emerging results from the important work undertaken by Northern Archaeological Associates at Scotch Corner as part of the A1(M) Motorway project. Questions relating to settlement form, military supply and trade contacts will be explored.
At the back of beyond? Actual perspectives on the lower Alpine Rhine valley regarding the first Roman contacts
The construction of a military base at Brigantium/Bregenz (A) in the Augustan Period marked a crucial step in the development of the alpine Rhine valley. The landscape between Bregenz at the Lake of Constance and Curia/Chur (CH) possessed great strategic importance for the surveillance of the route from the regio XI Transpadana to the northern foothills of the Alps. The expansionary policy of the latest republican period led to a temporal occupation of several alpine passes, resulting in the permanent control of the area after the Alpine campaign of 15 BC. The indigenous population of these decades is not clearly traceable in the archaeological record. Considering the previous state of research proposing a huge oppidum at the eastern bank of the Lake of Constance, the effective quantities of features and finds from this period are very small.
Recent excavations brought to light a differentiated settlement structure in modern-day Bregenz. An oppidum or Raetian central site in the lower Alpine Rhine valley from the transitional period still could not be proven, neither by unstratified single finds nor by settlement strata and complexes. The absence of late Latène features nearby the late-Augustan military base and the expansion of the associated vicus in the Tiberian Age shed a new light on the effective settlement situation in the first decades of the 1st cent. AD.
The paper presents a synopsis of the late Latène and early Roman findspots and features in the lower alpine Rhine valley. The actual knowledge indicates a decentral organised settlement structure in the 1st cent. BC experiencing a reorganisation in the 1st cent. AD. According to the ancient historiographical sources the political, military and economical transition of the region should not be understood as an occupation but rather annexation of a sparsely populated tribal zone. The paper attempts to show the initial Roman approaches to impose their administrative system on the tribe of the suggested Brigantii, realized in connection with an economic recovery owed to the Roman military presence.
The latest discoveries and research results of the Roman military presence in Middle Danube barbaricum
Balázs Komoróczy, Marek Vlach, Ján Rajtár, Claus-Michael Hüssen
At the previous Limes Congress in Ingolstadt has been presented the latest state of research concerning the Roman temporary camps within the Middle Danube region, within the of the international project framework. Since then the available information basis has broadened significantly in several aspects. Above all, two new temporary camps in Jevíčko and Brno (South Moravia, Czech Republic) have been discovered, while one of them newly constitutes the northernmost direct evidence of the Roman military presence within region. Besides numbers of other, mainly circumstantial evidences in form of component of the Roman military equipment and weaponry, has enriched so-far registered indirect evidences of the Roman military presence.
Roman Contact und Impact in the Swiss Plateau (100 BC – 20 AD)
After the Helvetii and Rauraci were defeated by Gaius Iulius Caesar near Bibracte in 58 BC (de bello Gallico, Book I) they returned to their original territories in modern-day Switzerland where they were most probably subject to a foedus with Rome. In the years around Caesar’s death, two colonies were founded on the Rhine and Lake Geneva re-spectively (Augst and Nyon), as a further means of territorial control.
Drawing from this historical framework but also from the detailed state of archaeological research for Late Republican Switzerland, which has recently been boosted by new discoveries and investigations, the paper will, on one hand present methodological considerations on how Roman imperialism can be assessed in the archaeological record and, on the other, it will analyse Roman impact on the settlement landscape of the Swiss Plateau from the early 1 cent BC up until the foundation of the Legionary Camp of Vindonissa in the Late Augustan/Early Tiberian Period.
First contacts in Scotland: a review of old and new evidence
The south of Britain saw regular contact with the Roman world for over 100 years before formal conquest. The picture was very different in Scotland, where evidence of contact before conquest is extremely rare. This changed with the rapid advance northwards in the late 70s and early 80s AD. At this time we see a small number of sites in some areas of the country with very rich Roman assemblages; other areas show no such evidence. This topic has seen no sustained analysis since Lesley Macinnes’ seminal 1984 paper on ‘Brochs and the Roman occupation of lowland Scotland’. Drawing on work over the last 30 years, the issue of pre-conquest contacts and the nature of relations in the late first century AD will be reviewed.
Roman stuff as a medium of diplomacy (working title)
An important aspect of Roman foreign policy throughout the centuries were an acute interest in their neighbours. As we know, often enough, this let to unilateral invitations from the Romans to join the empire. But just as often Roman diplomacy was a means to be informed or keep a check on their Barbarian neighbours.
This paper attempts to expose patterns of Roman diplomacy through literary sources as well as particular archaeological finds. As such, one part will consist of an examination of how the Romans describe the tools of their diplomatic advances. Another part will look at certain objects of Roman origin that appear to have been particularly well suited as mediums of diplomacy. As the base of my examination, I will focus on the initial contact with Barbaricum in the 1st century AD.
JUST TELLING STORIES. Augustus and Central Germany: Illustrating military history or telling another story?
An awareness of objects from the Roman provinces found in Central Germany can be traced back at least to the 17th century AD. Since then the scientific community focussed on the wide range of wellpreserved foreign items found in inhumation burials of the 3rd century AD, but another, less researched horizon of non-local objects of the Augustan period is of equal interest. In contrast to the material of the 3rd century AD, the older items from the Roman provinces are mostly personal and military equipment from Gallia or the ‘Empire’ in greater sense. Their occurrence in the time of the Roman military campaigns between Weser and Elbe as well as their possible accordance with object groups of the Roman army seem to indicate a link between Roman military historiography and the discussed finds. Without indubitable evidences of Roman military installations in that region, the finds appear to point towards native exchange processes as the most likely explanation of the distribution of these objects. At the same time, Noric-Pannonian dress accessories reached Central Germany and are understood as barter goods conveyed by the ‘Kingdom of Marboduus’. But is an historical interpretation really so straight forward and simple? There could be a more complex one: If we do not try to fit archaeological finds into our historical mould and accepted them as a largely independent and equivalent source of information for historical processes, we can tell an alternative, mostly unwritten, but not less eventful story. The origin of the ‘Roman’ finds and traces of cultural interaction could point to Roman military operations, a Gallic aristocracy and mobile groups of Germanic warriors who fought for different lords. But can small finds really help us to illuminate historical events, or is it just another story we tell? Using the example of Roman finds from Central Germany, this paper will question the significance of small finds as indicators for historical events or short-term processes (such as mobility) particularly in a time with written sources. To what extent can we use objects as an independent source for an archaeology that is understood as a historical science?
But Gaius, those locals seemed friendlier! The rationale behind the military deployment during the early stages of the Roman military presence in NW Iberia
José Manuel Costa-García
Far from causing a mere accumulation of homogeneous information, the finding of new sites in NW Iberia during the last years has contributed to the exponential diversification of our research topic, allowing us to catch a glimpse of realities simply unknown to us some years ago. Spurred on by the availability of new geospatial datasets, the discoveries have been made at a great speed, and that unfortunately implies that very little room has been left to the analysis and reflection on the new and old data all together.
The study of aspects such as the morphology, defensive system or locational pattern of these Roman military sites allows us to better understand the rationale behind their construction as well as to detect some of the agents which could have caused the adoption of locally adapted solutions. In addition, the implementation of visibility and mobility analyses can help us to identify the dynamics of the Roman military deployment in a given territory through the time.
These approaches could not only provide useful data about the actual role played by the Roman army deployed in NW Iberia –a matter of intense debate among Spanish scholars-, but also contribute to clarify the nature of the interaction between these imperial agents and the local population during the early stages of the Roman presence in the area. A non-homogeneous behaviour is to be expected all across the territory, considering the social, political and economic diversity of the indigenous communities –as it has been stressed by several Late Iron Age researchers in the last decades.
For instance, physical confrontation has been archaeologically attested in some areas -with episodes of violent destruction and reoccupation of hillforts by the Romans-, while the evidence related to these first contacts is subtler in other zones -even the military deployment shows a notable disdain for the proximity of indigenous settlements. But this was not a unidirectional process, and the re-ignition of the conflict in the mountainous regions also forced the Romans to introduce some changes in their original strategy before the area was definitely pacified.
Limes in Serbia – the early days
Milica Tapavički Ilić
The arrival of Romans to the territory of what is now Serbia was a complex process. In certain aspects, local population along the Danube was already acquainted to the Roman material culture. Still, many aspects were completely new to them. In an occupied country and with new inhabitants, local people had to find a way to survive and adapt themsleves to the new situation. Those who chose to stay, gradually made contacts witht the Romans, initially presumably through trade and supplying. However, those who decided to leave, crossed the Danube and fled to barbaricum. Their role in what was yet to come was also of great importance both for the barbaricum and for the Roman Empire.
Roman Conquest of the Western and Central Balkans in the Light of Recent Research
The paper aims at exploring important aspects of the impact of the Roman conquest in the vast area between the Adriatic and the Danube (the region of Western and Central Balkans), that is principally based on the author’s recent historical-epigraphical researches. A special focus will be put on the establishment of rule and required institutions within territorial units and the transformation of free tribes into civitates – communities organized based on their tribal structure whose inhabitants belonged to the indigenous population and the rôle of the Roman army in these processes. The paper brings forward the most important relevant literary and epigraphic evidence, including an understudied group of sources: the triumphal monuments and documents whose character is principally ideological and symbolical that may, however, have a significant documentary value and shed new light on the events of political history in this part of Roman Empire.