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Hybrid waterscapes: an examination of meaning-laden waterflow in the towns of Roman Britain

Ingate, Jay (2014) Hybrid waterscapes: an examination of meaning-laden waterflow in the towns of Roman Britain. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,.


In the past twenty years there has been a sustained theoretical challenge to issues of Roman identity in the western provinces. However, despite this body of work, the towns of Roman Britain are still primarily defined by the extent to which they embraced a set of supposedly Mediterranean urban features. This research uses the medium of water to thoroughly explore the reasons behind this approach and the disparity it has created in respect to studies of prehistory. While water is undoubtedly a thread of continuity in human settlement, scholars of the Roman period have been particularly concerned with outlining its urban utilisation as a sign of familiarity, or shared civilisation, between the Roman period and modernity. Subsequently, Roman era structures related to water (such as aqueducts, wells, bridges and bathhouses) have been portrayed as examples of a cultural advancement that was distinct from previous activity within the immediate landscape. This approach has therefore discounted the rich and powerful associations pertaining to water throughout the temperate European prehistory.

Through analysis of twenty one of the most influential Roman towns of Britain, this thesis shows how local beliefs would have been an integral part of how one perceived and experienced urban water features. It will be emphasised that the entanglement between these associations and complex, but receptive, incoming cultural influences would have played a key role in creating hybrid waterscapes within these settlements. Fully acknowledging this complex cultural presence of water underlines how the experience of towns in Roman Britain was a product of a number of different perspectives; meaning these places cannot be fully understood without a careful consideration of local context.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Willis, Steven
Thesis advisor: Swift, Ellen Victoria
Uncontrolled keywords: Hybridity; Water; Roman; Britain; Iron-Age; Aqueducts; Baths; Wells; Bridges; Ritual Towns;
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Classical and Archaeological Studies
Depositing User: Jacqui Martlew
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2014 15:11 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 04:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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