The Romans withdrew formal administration and military forces from Britain in about AD 410. There has been much debate about what happened next: continuity and/or Dark Age chaos?
New techniques and new legislation in archaeology can help our understanding of this difficult, transitional period of history. Isotopic evidence of dental remains from human burials, linked with finds from graves of personal jewellery too low in value to have been traded, is being used to track population movements in and out of Britain.
Records of finds of base metals now reported through the Portable Antiquities Scheme have improved our understanding of the coinage of Roman Britain and of the regional patterns of use of jewellery of all periods. GIS-based cost-pathway analysis calculates the relative costs of moving through landscapes by road and river, while survey itself reveals Roman and earlier monuments still visible in the fifth century AD, influencing contemporary settlement choice.
Overall, probably the most significant factor in economic and social change was the gradual abandonment of coinage: from the final years of the fourth century AD, Britain became demonetised.
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Lovernianus's dedication on the serving platter from the Appleford hoard
Blair, J., Anglo-Saxon Oxfordshire (Stroud: Sutton, 1994)
Henig, M. and Booth, P., Roman Oxfordshire (Stroud: Sutton, 2000)
Salway, P. and Blair, J., The Oxford History of Brtain Vol. 1: Roman and Anglo-Saxon Britain (Oxford: OUP, 1992)
Ward-Perkins, B., The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilisation (Oxford: OUP, 2005, 2006)
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15 December 2011