The Foundations of Britain: Archaeology of the first Millenium B.C. - CLAS5900

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


Across much of Britain by the Late Bronze Age (from c. 1000 BC) economic and social organisation was beginning to assume forms which provided the foundations for subsequent fundamental transformations seen through the First Millennium BC: in population, in agriculture, in technology, in land holding and power and cultural forms. The period saw the emergence of technologies, manufacturing and craft skills, social structures and belief systems, husbandry and movement of enduring influence. The unfolding of this formative period, with its efficiently managed landscape dotted with farmsteads and hillforts, lavish metalwork and occasionally exotic burials, and its fluctuating and enigmatic relationships with mainland Europe, is accessible mostly through archaeological study alone: and what a rich resource that has proved to be, especially through recent studies and techniques. Only at the very end does limited historical information become available when we are told of the presence of chariot borne warriors, kings, queens and Druids. The module spans the late Bronze and Iron Ages, presenting the often dramatic and striking archaeological and historical data within current interpretative frameworks. All parts of the British Isles come into focus. Settlements, burials, material culture, environmental remains and monuments are explored revealing a richly nuaned matrix of cultural evidence which inspires interrogation and interpretation.


Contact hours

3 hours per week


Also available under code CL666 (Level 5)

Method of assessment

100% coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List -

T Champion and J Collis (eds) 1996. The Iron Age in Britain and Ireland: Recent Trends
B Cunliffe 2005 Iron Age Communities in Britain, (e-book available via The Templeman)
A Fitzpatrick and E Morris (eds) 1994. The Iron Age in Wessex: Recent Work
A Gwilt and C Haselgrove (eds) 1997. Reconstructing Iron Age Societies
C Haselgrove 1999. Iron Age Societies in central Britain, in B. Bevan, Northern Exposure: Interpretative Devolution in the Iron Ages in Britain
C Haselgrove 2001. Iron Age Britain and its European setting, in J. Collis, Society and Settlement in Iron Age Europe
C Haselgrove and T Moore (eds) 2007. The Later Iron Age in Britain and Beyond
C Haselgrove and R Pope (eds) 2007. The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near Continent
J Hill 1995. The pre-Roman Iron Age in Britain and Ireland, Journal of World Prehistory, 9/1

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will have:
SSLO1 - examined the archaeological data available for the study of Later Prehistory in Britain in its various forms, including site evidence and location, excavation data, survey data, artefacts, environmental remains, results of scientific analyses, coins, ancient literary sources, and so forth
SSLO2 - investigated the political, economic and cultural dynamics of the first millennium BC in Britain, and the extent to which the timing, pace and direction of change were influenced by internal (i.e. within Britain) initiatives and processes or external factors in Europe
SSLO3 - explored how both historical and archaeological data can appropriately be used to further critical analysis of this formative period of antiquity
SSLO4 - fostered skills in the close observation of examples of material culture, understanding of site and settlement location and morphology, map data, the interpretation of burial rites and traditions, and in the evaluation of historical writings, and in assessing the veracity of various sources of information
SSLO5 - used historical and archaeological data on a comparative basis to discuss critically the nature of later prehistoric societies in Britain evaluating and challenging evidence and assumptions or embedded hypotheses, with a critical and independent perspective founded on analysis of relevant data
SSLO6 - described the principal data types for the archaeology of the pre-Roman Iron Age, and be able to comment critically on the reliability of the different sources which contribute to an understanding of the formation of life-styles, ‘identities’, social structure and belief systems of this period
SSLO7 - analysed contacts between the inhabitants of the British Isles and the peoples of the ‘Celtic’ and Classical Worlds in terms of how these interactions influenced processes of political, economic and cultural change
SSLO8 - developed both research and writing skills leading to clear concise description and commentary
SSLO9: - demonstrated knowledge of key relevant data and ideas about this era of fundamental transition from prehistoric cultural forms to arguably a set of communities displaying marked aspects of modernity in the forms and organization, with an ability to critically discuss and contextualize the processes of change SSL1O – gained familiarity and confidence in planning, researching and delivering presentations that weigh historical evidence types and differing interpretations in a discerning manner

Both Levels will have gained a deep and nuanced understanding of discrete archaeological methods and approaches in respect of a specific era and location and of the potentials and limitations of the data (in its various forms) to shed light on past human society and cultural expressions, typological characteristics, central tenets in site location, chronological trends, regional variations of expression and their meaning.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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