The Ending(s) OF Roman Britain

Simon Esmonde Cleary

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

The Ending(s) OF Roman Britain

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Archaeology
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology



This article reviews the changes in the archaeological record produced by the ‘ending(s)’ of Roman political, military, and economic systems in Britain along with the related collapse in the cultural systems which materialized in the archaeology. It theorizes the archaeological record for the mid to later fifth century using the modern category of ‘failed/collapsed state’ model. The implications of this for the incoming Germanic peoples and the ways in which they and the Britons constructed their identities are presented. The recent re-examination of the material culture of ‘final-phase’ Roman Britain suggests that settlements, structures, burials, and artefacts of the Romano-British sequence continued in use through the first third of the fifth century. In the longer term, such models were able to establish dominance over the competing war-bands of the core areas of the old Britannia, probably absorbing many of them as these replaced their ‘British’ identity with an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ one.

Keywords: ending; Roman Britain; archaeology; Germanic peoples; Britons; failed state; collapsed state; Anglo-Saxon; identities

Article.  8175 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »