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Dress, Adornment and Identity in Late Iron Age and Roman Britain

Statton, M; (2016) Dress, Adornment and Identity in Late Iron Age and Roman Britain. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

“Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world's view of us.” – Virginia Woolf, Orlando The aim of this thesis is to examine the chronological, spatial and social distribution of brooches, hairpins, finger-rings and bracelets in Late Iron Age and Roman Britain (50 BC – 410 AD), in order to better understand how cultural change in this period was embodied through personal ornamentation, and how different identities were created from mixtures of indigenous and imported traditions. A large corpus of material has been compiled for this study. It has been drawn from a range of sources but the majority is taken from the significant new corpus recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), which is distinctive because the finds derive predominantly from rural sites and as such represent the belongings of the majority of the Romano-British population. The theoretical framework for the project is Structuration Theory, and thus the underlying assumption is that personal adornment is an active element in the practice of ‘appearing’ and therefore that patterns of similarity and difference in the distribution of such objects are potentially significant in terms of ‘identity.’ Distribution maps and graphically illustrated quantitative analyses have been used to explore patterning in the artefact distributions. The traditional argument that brooches are markers of regional identity is challenged and a range of positive and negative conclusions put forward. Overall, it is demonstrated that brooches probably had significance for some aspects of identity, especially in the late Iron Age and later in relation to religious practice, but that on current evidence definitive interpretations are problematic, not least because some patterns of artefactual variation may not have corresponded to noticeable variation in past practices. The project makes a significant contribution to the growing literature on the body and dress and to current debates about cultural tradition and transformation in the Roman period, as well as to the methodology of artefact studies.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Dress, Adornment and Identity in Late Iron Age and Roman Britain
Event: University College London
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1515922
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