A Study of the Deposition and Distribution of Copper Alloy Vessels in Roman Britain

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The following thesis surveys the deposition and distribution of copper alloy vessels in Britain during the Roman period and then applies this data to the study of culture change and the construction of identity in the province during this time. The principal research strategy was to categorize the objects from published sources within four groups based on Depositional Context and to then examine these data-sets for patterns in geographic and temporal distribution, object form and decoration as well as patterns among the findspots where these objects were discovered. The copper alloy vessels themselves are classified using forms and typologies familiar from previous scholarship, though a new system for classifying handled pans was found necessary and is introduced in this thesis. Multiple patterns emerged within Depositional Contexts, Site Types and regional distribution relating to vessel selection and decoration which indicate a variety of practice by diverse peoples. This analysis argues that the principal function of copper alloy vessels in Roman Britain was for ablutions, whereas it has been previously proposed that most vessels were used for dining or drinking services. Additionally, the spread of copper alloy vessels was found to be so wide across the province that it was determined that this commodity was utilized and adapted by much of the population of Britain. The conclusions were then applied to the principal paradigms currently ascendant in characterizing culture change in the province. It was found that the predominant theories, which largely rely upon a dualistic view of cultural aggression and resistance, are insufficient to characterize the complex interaction between cultures in Britain and the development of an integrated and fluid material culture as expressed through the repertoire, deposition and distribution of copper alloy vessels evident during the Roman period in Britain.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorJohn Pearce (Supervisor) & Will Wootton (Supervisor)

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