Iron Age Europe witnessed the divergence of a ‘classical' Mediterranean world, whose culture included such features as states, towns, coinage and literacy, from a ‘barbarian' world to the north, where these features developed only much later, if at all. This module will examine the evidence for this period in Britain and Ireland: the adoption of new technologies, especially iron; changes in agricultural production; the social significance of food and drink; the construction of hillforts such as Maiden Castle and the sort of society who lived in them; the growth of more specialised systems of production and exchange. One important theme is the connection between Britain and the continent and the expanding power of the Roman Empire. There were important social transformations in the Late Iron Age, especially in southern England: key questions include the relative importance of indigenous factors and connections with Rome, and the extent of social and political evolution before the Roman conquest: how urban were sites such as Colchester and Silchester, which became important towns after the Roman conquest.
Aims and Objectives
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Be able to use this evidence to assess how archaeologists have attempted to reconstruct life in the Iron Age and explain social change
- Have a general knowledge of the archaeological evidence for the Iron Age in Britain and Ireland and a detailed knowledge of some regions and key sites
- Be aware of how and why archaeological explanations vary through time, and how the problems archaeologists are interested in vary through time
The module will consider the different approaches that have been used to understand Iron Age societies, considering the interplay of theory and evidence that have created our modern understanding of this period. It will emphasise the importance of regional variation within Britain and Ireland, and examine the types of society that might have existed. Finally, the module will consider how we can understand why Iron Age societies might have changed. The module will involve a strong emphasis on learning to use, analyse and present archaeological evidence.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||20|
|Wider reading or practice||30|
|Completion of assessment task||20|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
Hill, J. D (1995). The pre-Roman Iron Age in Britain and Ireland (ca. 800 BC to 100 AD): an overview. Journal of World Prehistory, 9, pp. 47-98.
Moore, T. and Armada, X.-L. (eds) (2011). Atlantic Europe in the first millennium BC: crossing the divide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Haselgrove, C. and Moore, T. (eds.) (2007). The later Iron Age in Britain and beyond. Oxford: Oxbow.
Haselgrove, C., Armit, I., Champion, T. C., Creighton, J., Gwilt, A., Hill, J. D., Hunter, F. and Woodward, A (2001). Understanding the British Iron Age: an agenda for action. Salisbury: Trust for Wessex Archaeology.
Cunliffe, B. W (2005). Iron Age communities in Britain: an account of England, Scotland and Wales from the seventh century BC to the Roman conquest. London: Routledge.
Champion, T. C. and Collis, J. R. (eds.) (1996). The Iron Age in Britain and Ireland: recent trends. Sheffield: J.R.Collis Publications.
Pollard, J. (ed.) (2008). Prehistoric Britain (especially Chapters 9-15). Oxford: Blackwell.
Gwilt, A. and Haselgrove, C. (eds.) (1997). Reconstructing Iron Age societies. Oxford: Oxbow.
Haselgrove, C. and Pope, R. (eds.) (2007). The earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near continent. Oxford: Oxbow.
Summative assessment description
Referral assessment description
Repeat type: Internal & External