The Fate of Late Roman Towns

Martin Henig

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 Fate of Late Roman Towns

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This article addresses the similarities of function that Roman and medieval towns might have as centres of trade, administration, religion, and political power, one or a combination of which could cause ‘continuity’. It also highlights the variety of religious purpose that some Roman towns retained — ranging from their survival as centres of British Christianity to shrines that attracted pilgrimage. Winchester certainly has a ‘Dark Age’ history. Lincoln became a regional urban centre and the seat of a bishop by the early fourth century. York was a site of considerable importance, though excavation down to Roman levels has only been sporadic on both banks of the Ouse. The Dorchester, Caerwent, Caistor, and Bath serve to put a more positive gloss on what happened. Each of these towns is briefly discussed. The towns of Roman Britain survived as symbols of power and so most of them proudly retained their names.

Keywords: Winchester; Lincoln; York; Dorchester; Caerwent; Caistor; Bath; political power; trade; religion

Article.  8335 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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