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Assessing the Contribution of Commercial Archaeology to the Study of the Roman Period in England, 1990–2004

  • Michael Fulford (a1) and Neil Holbrook (a2)
Abstract
Abstract

This paper identifies the ways in which the enormous upsurge in the volume of commercial archaeology in England since the introduction of PPG 16 in 1990 has affected our knowledge and understanding of Roman Britain. The difficulties in establishing a comprehensive database of interventions are discussed, but overall it is estimated that around 6,600 separate interventions sampled Roman deposits between 1990 and 2004. While many important excavations have been published in conventional formats, a considerable amount of information resides only in grey literature. Commercial work has generated major advances in our understanding of non-villa rural settlement and its associated land use, while analyses of material culture and, to a lesser extent, biological remains have considerable potential for wider synthesis and inter-site comparison. Improvements in collection methodology and reporting standards are suggested, and the need to integrate the results of commercial investigations with data derived from other sources is stressed.

Résumé

Cette communication identifie comment la prodigieuse recrudescence du volume de l'archéologie commerciale en Angleterre depuis l'introduction de PPG 16 en 1990 a eu un effet sur nos connaissances et sur notre conception de la Grande-Bretagne romaine. Les difficultés liées à l’établissement d'une base de données complète des interventions sont discutées mais, dans l'ensemble, on estime qu'environ 6,600 interventions séparées ont échantillonné des dépôts romains entre 1990 et 2004. Bien que nombre d'importantes fouilles aient été publiées dans des formats traditionnels, une très grande quantité d'informations se trouve uniquement dans la littérature grise. Le travail commercial a engendré de grands progrès au niveau de notre conception du peuplement rural hors des villas et de l'utilisation des sols qui lui est associée, alors que les analyses de la culture matérielle et, à un moindre degré, des vestiges biologiques, offrent un grand potentiel pour une synthèse plus large et une comparaison entre les sites. Des améliorations au niveau de la méthodologie de recueil et des normes de consigne sont suggérées, et on souligne le besoin d'intégrer les résultats des investigations commerciales et les données provenant d'autres sources.

Zusammenfassung

Diese Abhandlung identifiziert die Auswirkungen, des enormen Aufschwungs der kommerziellen Archäologie in England seit der Einführung von PPG 16 (Regierungsrichtlinie 16) im Jahr 1990 auf unser Wissen über und Verständnis von Großbritannien in der Römerzeit. Die Schwierigkeiten einer umfassenden Datensammlung von Einschreitungen werden diskutiert, aber generell wird geschätzt, daß es im Zeitraum von 1990 bis 2004 ungefähr 6,600 separate Einschreitungen bei römischen Ablagerungen gegeben haben muss. Obwohl viele Ausgrabungen in konventionellem Format veröffentlicht wurden, gibt es seine beachtliche Menge von Informationen, die sich nur innerhalb der grauen Literatur befinden. Kommerzielle Arbeit hat zu einschneidenden Fortschritten im Verständnis von ländlichen, nicht einer Villa angehörenden, Siedlungen und deren Landnutzung geführt, wohingegen die Analyse von materieller Kultur und, in geringerem Ausmaß, die der umfangreichen biologischen Überreste noch beachtliches Potential zur weitergreifenden Synthese und standortübergreifenden Vergleichen haben. Verbesserungen in den Methoden der Fundbergung und Berichterstattung werden empfohlen und der Bedarf der Integration von Ergebnissen von kommerziellen Untersuchungen und anderen Quellen wird hervorgehoben.

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References
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The Antiquaries Journal
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