7 November 2016, 09:30-15:30.

Durham University, Palatinate Centre, Rm PC005.

ATTENDEES: Project Team (Richard Hingley, Tom Yarrow, Chiara Bonacchi, Kate Sharpe); Tom Moore, Rob Witcher, Christina Unwin.


Our project aims to collaboratively explore the ways in which aspects of Iron Age, Roman and post-Roman pasts that are drawn upon in contemporary society in Britain. The pilot study suggested several themes relating to the ways in which ideas and materials from the Iron Age and Roman periods have been inherited and transformed today, in different contexts (see III. Initial Themes). Additional scoping work has been undertaken in the first months of the project to test these initial findings, but before we enter the full research phase we would like to invite you to help us to explore and refine these themes. The Workshop therefore has three core objectives:

  • To further discuss the proposed themes and to brainstorm additional ones;
  • To move beyond ‘themes’ and look for the ways in which they are inter-connected or opposed to each other, in order to define problem-oriented frameworks (e.g. resilience, globalization vs. localism, etc.); and
  • To test how the above can translate into data gathering through the crowdsourcing example; i.e. what semantic tags should be proposed when crowdsourcing the analysis of relevant textual and audio-visual material.

Each of these objectives will be pursued through separate sessions, with two in the morning (objectives 1 and 2) and one in the afternoon (objective 3). Each session will start with a short introduction from the project team, followed by open discussion


09.30-10.00. Arrival and welcome with coffee and biscuits

10.00-11.00. Session 1 – Brainstorming themes

11.15-11.30. Coffee break

11.30-12.45. Session 2 – Drawing frameworks

12.45-14.00. Lunch

14.00-15.30. Session 3 – Structuring crowdsourcing

15.15-15.30. Conclusion

III. Initial themes

Celtic Iron Age: This idea has been directly critiqued since the 1990s (cf. Morse 2005, 11-2), but has survived in various kinds of unofficial heritage. Coordinated research has yet to be undertaken and an assessment of less divisive forms of Celtic identities (e.g. Hale 2002) may help to contextualize this information and provide insight into potential ethical problems arising from exclusivity.

Spiritual Iron Age: One high-quality project has undertaken an ethnographic exploration of contemporary worship at megaliths (Blain & Wallis 2007), but little work has examined such claims when they draw on IA and Roman monuments and human remains (Hingley 2015).

Sustainable Iron Age: The theme of sustainable agriculture during the IA is used in school teaching and forms the key of a number of HLF-funded projects. There is also an interest in the introduction of new plants and species in the Roman period, but this is rarely linked to sustainability. Re-enactors and living-history projects call upon these themes to educate the public.

Civilized Romano-Britons: The core idea that Roman conquest brought civilization to those living south of Hadrian’s Wall has been critiqued by archaeologists since the 1980s, but lives on in the media and may remain core to community archaeology and living-history projects (Hingley 2015).

Militarized Romans: Roman re-enactment is a popular hobby south of Hadrian’s Wall, while IA/Celtic re-enactors are rather less common. Such groups help to draw visitors to heritage venues and perhaps to provide a conception of the IA as unsettled and the Roman as militaristic (Appleby 2005; Bishop 2013). Pilot research suggests that some groups seek to critique these stereotypes.

Multicultural Romans: Materials addressing migration into Britain in the Roman period have been recently leveraged to communicate the interconnected nature of people in the ancient past and also the ideas of the imposition of physical frontiers (Alexander et al. 2012; Hingley 2015).