Defended Small Towns of Roman Britain

Michael Fulford, Lisa Lodwick, Alex Smith, 2018

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University of Reading
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Michael Fulford, Lisa Lodwick, Alex Smith (2018) Defended Small Towns of Roman Britain [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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Although the vast majority of the population of Roman Britain continued to live in small rural farmsteads, many larger nucleated settlements developed after the conquest, often sited along the expanding road network. Some of these roadside settlements gained earthwork and/or masonry defences at various points during the mid- to late Roman period, and have often been termed 'defended small towns', although these vary markedly in terms of their scale and in the extent of any 'urban' characteristics (streets, public buildings etc.).

From the outset, for pragmatic reasons, the Roman Rural Settlement Project excluded defended small towns from the database, though a very generous donation by Paul Chadwick later enabled a sample of such data to be collected. Twenty-three defended small towns were included in analyses of the Romano-British economy, lifestyles and ritual practices, published in volumes 2 and 3 of the project's monograph series. A total of 209 records from the 23 settlements are included in this resource.

 Distribution of nucleated settlement in Roman Britain

Distribution of nucleated settlement in Roman Britain, with selected defended small towns highlighted in red

Data added:

Additional data were collected for the selected sample of defended small towns, above that collected for the rural settlements. These additional data comprise:

  • Coin denominations
  • Selected pottery wares
  • A division between stone tools, metal tools and knives
  • Quantifications of more detailed plant taxa

Data from the 209 records relating to the selected defended small towns can be accessed via the main query page of the Roman Rural Settlement Project

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