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Oppida: A Settlement Phenomenon of the Later Iron Ages in Britain and Temperate Europe: An Analysis of Colchester, Titelberg, and Canterbury

Jackson, Emma Louise Oppida: A Settlement Phenomenon of the Later Iron Ages in Britain and Temperate Europe: An Analysis of Colchester, Titelberg, and Canterbury. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:61912)


The later Iron Age was a time of considerable change in both Britain and Temperate Europe, with this period ultimately culminating in many areas of these regions coming under Roman rule. Much of the evidence attributed to the c.200 years this period spanned, (150/100 BC - AD 43), has received considerable attention from archaeologists over the years; however, there are certain bodies of this evidence that remain, by and large, a mystery. Arguably one of the most enigmatic entities ascribed to this period of prehistory are the oppida; a class of settlement said to have spanned from Hungary in the East to northern Gaul and Britain in the West.

Initially the term oppida, Latin for town, was applied to large fortified settlements of later Iron Age date said to display evidence of urbanism. Over the years this definition has altered in light of studies designed to ponder the functions of these sites; meaning that today there are multiple characteristics sought in, and applied to, potential oppida. Since the 1990s pre-existing interpretations of this term, and those sites labelled thus, have been the subject of papers designed to reassess the functions of so-called oppida and question whether existing suppositions of these are correct; a process that has led some to conclude that this term may no longer be fit for purpose.

This thesis aims to explore this notion further, and in doing so ascertain whether the term oppida continues to be one of relevance today. In doing this the author explored, in depth, the morphological and artefact records of three oppida, (Colchester, Titelberg, and Canterbury), using a pre-determined methodology in order to establish these sites' functions. The inferences borne from this process were then compared to those for a number of contemporaneous oppida and non-oppida settlements in order to broaden the scope of the study and strengthen the conclusions drawn.

These conclusions suggest that we do indeed need to reconsider our use of the term oppida today; as the characteristics sought in sites labelled thus fail to be reflected at the sites considered herein. This reconsideration is necessary, because, as the author argues, at present a site's characterisation as an oppidum ultimately lies in the hands of those responsible for its archaeological examination and subsequent publication, irrespective of whether the parameters of the term are met.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Willis, Steven
Thesis advisor: Swift, Ellen Victoria
Uncontrolled keywords: Archaeology, Late Iron Age, Oppida, Colchester, Titelberg, Canterbury, Britain, Temperate Europe
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2017 11:00 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:45 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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