Britain before the Caesars: The Archaeology of the Iron Age - CLAS6660

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


Across much of Britain by the Late Bronze Age (from c. 1000 BC), economic and social organisation was beginning to assume forms that 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.

This 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 will come into focus. Settlements, burials, material culture, environmental remains and monuments are explored revealing a richly nuanced matrix of cultural evidence that inspires interrogation and interpretation.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Essay 1 (3,000 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (4,000 words) – 50%
Moodle Quiz – 10%

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% Coursework

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Use a range of established techniques to examine 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, and ancient literary sources;
2 Demonstrate conceptual understanding of 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;
3 Demonstrate detailed analytical 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;
4 Use 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;
5 Demonstrate a critical ability to analyse 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.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Critically evaluate their own views as well as those of others;
2 Demonstrate a deeper understanding of primary source materials and a facility with more complex methodologies appropriate to their investigation and use;
3 Engage with a wide range of information types that they will be able to collate, assess and present with an informed aptitude.
4 Demonstrate the ability to manage their own learning and understand the limits of their knowledge.


  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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