Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The Late Roman Field Army in Northern Britain? Mobility, Material Culture and Multi-Isotope Analysis at Scorton (N Yorks.)

  • Hella Eckardt (a1), Gundula Müldner (a1) and Greg Speed (a2)
Abstract

At Hollow Banks Quarry, Scorton, located just north of Catterick (N Yorks.), a highly unusual group of 15 late Roman burials was excavated between 1998 and 2000. The small cemetery consists of almost exclusively male burials, dated to the fourth century. An unusually large proportion of these individuals was buried with crossbow brooches and belt fittings, suggesting that they may have been serving in the late Roman army or administration and may have come to Scorton from the Continent. Multi-isotope analyses (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and strontium) of nine sufficiently well-preserved individuals indicate that seven males, all equipped with crossbow brooches and/or belt fittings, were not local to the Catterick area and that at least six of them probably came from the European mainland. Dietary (carbon and nitrogen isotope) analysis only of a tenth individual also suggests a non-local origin. At Scorton it appears that the presence of crossbow brooches and belts in the grave was more important for suggesting non-British origins than whether or not they were worn. This paper argues that cultural and social factors played a crucial part in the creation of funerary identities and highlights the need for both multi-proxy analyses and the careful contextual study of artefacts.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The Late Roman Field Army in Northern Britain? Mobility, Material Culture and Multi-Isotope Analysis at Scorton (N Yorks.)
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The Late Roman Field Army in Northern Britain? Mobility, Material Culture and Multi-Isotope Analysis at Scorton (N Yorks.)
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The Late Roman Field Army in Northern Britain? Mobility, Material Culture and Multi-Isotope Analysis at Scorton (N Yorks.)
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Adler, H. (ed.) 1989: ‘Römische Kaiserzeit’, Fundberichte aus Österreich 28, 203–57
Alcock, L. 1983: ‘Gwŷr Y Gogledd: an archaeological appraisal’, Archaeologia Cambrensis 132, 118
Atanasov, G. 2007: ‘Late antique tomb in Durostorum-Silistra and its master’, Revista Pontica 40, 447–68
Barber, B., and Bowsher, D. 2000: The Eastern Cemetery of Roman London. Excavations 1983–1990, London
Barth, F. 1969: Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, Boston
Bayley, J., and Butcher, S. 2004: Roman Brooches in Britain: a Technological and Typological Study Based on the Richborough Collection, London
Bentley, R.A. 2006: ‘Strontium isotopes from the earth to the archaeological skeleton: a review’, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 13, 135–87
Birley, A. 1979: The People of Roman Britain, London
Booth, P. 2014: ‘A late Roman military burial from the Dyke Hills, Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire’, Britannia 45, 243–73
Booth, P., Simmonds, A., Clough, S., Cool, H., and Poore, D. 2010: The Late Roman Cemetery at Lankhills, Winchester, Excavations 2000–2005, Oxford
Bradford, J.S.P., and Goodchild, R.G. 1939: ‘Excavations at Frilford, Berks’, Oxoniensia 4, 170
Brettell, R., Evans, J., Marzinzik, S., Lamb, A., and Montgomery, J. 2012a: ‘“Impious Easterners”: can oxygen and strontium isotopes serve as indicators of provenance in Early Medieval European cemetery populations?’, European Journal of Archaeology 15, 117–45
Brettell, R., Montgomery, J., and Evans, J. 2012b: ‘Brewing and stewing: the effect of culturally mediated behaviour on the oxygen isotope composition of ingested fluids and the implications for human provenance studies’, Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 27, 778–85
Brickstock, R.J. 2002: ‘Coins in the Roman burials’, in Speed 2002, 37–47
Bridgland, D., Innes, J., Long, A., and Mitchell, W. 2011: Late Quaternary Landscape Evolution of the Swale-Ure Washlands, North Yorkshire, Oxford
Burger, A.S. 1966: ‘The late Roman cemetery at Ságvár’, Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 18, 99234
Chenery, C., Eckardt, H., and Müldner, G. 2011: ‘Cosmopolitan Catterick? Isotopic evidence for population mobility on Rome's northern frontier’, Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 1525–36
Chenery, C., Müldner, G., Evans, J., Eckardt, H., and Lewis, M. 2010: ‘Strontium and stable isotope evidence for diet and mobility in Roman Gloucester, UK’, Journal of Archaeological Science 37, 150–63
Clarke, G. 1979: Pre-Roman and Roman Winchester. Part 2: The Roman Cemetery at Lankhills, Oxford
Collins, R. 2010: ‘Brooch use in the fourth to fifth century frontier’, in Collins and Allason-Jones 2010, 64–77
Collins, R. 2012: Hadrian's Wall and the End of Empire. The Roman Frontier in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries, London
Collins, R., and Allason-Jones, L. (eds) 2010: Finds from the Frontier: Material Culture in the Fourth–Fifth Centuries, CBA Research Report 162, York
Cool, H.E.M. 1983: A Study of the Roman Personal Ornaments Made of Metal, Excluding Brooches, from Southern Britain, unpub. PhD thesis, University of Wales
Cool, H.E.M. 2002: ‘An overview of the small finds from Catterick’, in Wilson 2002, 24–43
Cool, H.E.M. 2010a: ‘Objects of glass, shale, bone and metal’, in Booth et al. 2010, 267–308
Cool, H.E.M. 2010b: ‘Finding the foreigners’, in Eckardt 2010b, 27–44
Coulston, J.C.N. 2010: ‘Military equipment of the “long” fourth century on Hadrian's Wall’, in Collins and Allason-Jones 2010, 50–63
Crummy, N. 1983: The Roman Small Finds from Excavations in Colchester 1971–9, Colchester
Cummings, C., and Hedges, R. 2010: ‘Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses’, in Booth et al. 2010, 411–21
Dansgaard, W. 1964: ‘Stable isotopes in precipitation’, Tellus 16, 436–67
Darling, W.G., and Talbot, J.C. 2003: ‘The O & H stable isotopic composition of fresh waters in the British Isles. 1. Rainfall’, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 7, 163–81
Daux, V., Lécuyer, C., Héran, M.-A., Amiot, R.L., Simon, L., Fourel, F., Martineau, F., Lynnerup, N., Reychler, H., and Escarguel, G. 2008: ‘Oxygen isotope fractionation between human phosphate and water revisited’, Journal of Human Evolution 55, 1138–47
Derks, T., and Roymans, N. (eds) 2009: Ethnic Constructs in Antiquity: The Role of Power and Tradition, Amsterdam
Eckardt, H. 2010a: ‘A long way from home: diaspora communities in Roman Britain’, in Eckardt 2010b, 99–130
Eckardt, H. (ed.) 2010b: Roman Diasporas: Archaeological Approaches to Mobility and Diversity in the Roman Empire, Portsmouth, RI
Eckardt, H., and Müldner, G. forthcoming: ‘Mobility, migration and diasporas in Roman Britain’, in Millett, M., Moore, A. and Revell, L. (eds), Handbook of Roman Britain, Oxford
Eckardt, H., Chenery, C., Booth, P., Evans, J.A., Lamb, A., and Müldner, G. 2009: ‘Oxygen and strontium isotope evidence for mobility in Roman Winchester’, Journal of Archaeological Science 36, 2816–25
Eckardt, H., Müldner, G., and Lewis, M. 2014: ‘People on the move in Roman Britain’, World Archaeology 46.4, 534–50
Elton, H. 1996: Warfare in Roman Europe, AD 350–425, Oxford
Evans, J. 2002: ‘Pottery from the Roman cemetery’, in Speed 2002, 49
Evans, J. 2014: ‘Isotope analysis’, in Booth 2014, online Supplementary Material, Appendix 2
Evans, J.A., Chenery, C.A., and Montgomery, J. 2012: ‘A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain’, Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 27, 754–64
Evans, J.A., Montgomery, J., Wildman, G., and Boulton, N. 2010: ‘Spatial variations in biosphere 87Sr/86Sr’, Journal of the Geological Society, London 167, 14
Evans, J., Stoodley, N., and Chenery, C. 2006: ‘A strontium and oxygen isotope assessment of a possible fourth century immigrant population in a Hampshire cemetery, southern England’, Journal of Archaeological Science 33, 265–72
Faure, G., and Powell, J.L. 1972: Strontium Isotope Geology, Berlin, Heidelberg & New York
Gardner, A. 2007: An Archaeology of Identity. Soldiers and Society in Late Roman Britain, Walnut Creek
Gerrard, J. 2013: The Ruin of Roman Britain: An Archaeological Perspective, Cambridge
Hakenbeck, S., McManus, E., Geisler, H., Grupe, G., and O'Connell, T. 2010: ‘Diet and mobility in early medieval Bavaria: a study of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 143, 235–49
Handley, M. 2011: Dying on Foreign Shores: Travel and Mobility in the Late-Antique West, Portsmouth, RI
Hawkes, S.C., and Dunning, G.C. 1961: ‘Soldiers and settlers in Britain, fourth to fifth century’, Medieval Archaeology 5, 170
Hedges, R.E.M., and Reynard, L.M. 2007: ‘Nitrogen isotopes and the trophic level of humans in archaeology’, Journal of Archaeological Science 34, 1240–51
Hedges, R.E.M., Clement, J.G., Thomas, C.D.L., and O'Connell, T.C. 2007: ‘Collagen turnover in the adult femoral mid-shaft: modeled from anthropogenic radiocarbon tracer measurements’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 133, 808–16
Hills, C.M., and Hurst, H.R. 1989: ‘A Goth at Gloucester’, Antiquaries Journal 69, 154–8
Hillson, S. 2005: Teeth, Cambridge
IAEA/WMO 2013: Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation. The GNIP Database. Accessible at: http://www.iaea.org/water
Institute of Geological Sciences 1970: Richmond, Sheet 41: Solid Edition, London
Jarvis, R.A., Bendelow, V.C., Bradley, R.I., Carroll, D.M., Furness, R.R., Kilgour, I.N.L., and King, S.J. 1984: Soils and their Use in Northern England, Soil Survey of England and Wales Bulletin No. 10, Harpenden
Keenleyside, A., Schwarcz, H., and Panayotova, K. 2006: ‘Stable isotopic evidence of diet in a Greek colonial population from the Black Sea’, Journal of Archaeological Science 33, 1205–15
Keller, E. 1971: Die spätrömischen Grabfunde in Südbayern, Munich
Killgrove, K., and Tykot, R.H. 2013: ‘Food for Rome: a stable isotope investigation of diet in the Imperial period (first–third centuries AD)’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32, 2838
Kohn, M.J. 1996: ‘Predicting animal δ 18O: accounting for diet and physiological adaptation’, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 60, 4811–29
Leach, S., Lewis, M., Chenery, C., Müldner, G., and Eckardt, H. 2009: ‘Migration and diversity in Roman Britain: a multidisciplinary approach to the identification of immigrants in Roman York, England’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140, 546–61
Leach, S., Eckardt, H., Chenery, C., Müldner, G., and Lewis, M. 2010: ‘A “lady” of York: migration, ethnicity and identity in Roman York’, Antiquity 84, 131–45
Lee-Thorp, J.A. 2008: ‘On isotopes and old bones’, Archaeometry 50, 925–50
Longinelli, A. 1984: ‘Oxygen isotopes in mammal bone phosphate: a new tool for palaeohydrological and palaeoclimatological research’, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 48, 385–90
Mays, S. 2010: The Archaeology of Human Bones, London and New York
Mertens, J., and Van Impe, L. 1971: Het Laat-Romeins Grafveld van Oudenburg, Archaoelogia Belgica 135, Brussels
Meskell, L. 2001: ‘Archaeologies of identity’, in Hodder, I. (ed.), Archaeological Theory Today, Cambridge, 187213
Montgomery, J. 2010: ‘Passports from the past: investigating human dispersals using strontium isotope analysis of tooth enamel’, Annals of Human Biology 37, 325–46
Montgomery, J., Evans, J.A., Powlesland, D., and Roberts, C.A. 2005: ‘Continuity or colonization in Anglo-Saxon England? Isotope evidence for mobility, subsistence practice and status at West Heslerton’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 126 (2), 123–38
Montgomery, J., Evans, J., Chenery, C., Pashley, V., and Killgrove, K. 2010: ‘“Gleaming, white and deadly”: using lead to track human exposure and geographic origins in the Roman period in Britain’, in Eckardt 2010b, Portsmouth, RI, 199–226
Müldner, G. 2013: ‘Stable isotopes and diet: their contribution to Romano-British research’, Antiquity 87, 137–49
Müldner, G., Chenery, C., and Eckardt, H. 2011: ‘The “Headless Romans”: multi-isotope investigations of an unusual burial ground from Roman Britain’, Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 280–90
Neal, D.S. 1974: The Excavation of the Roman Villa in Gadebridge Park Hemel Hempstead 1963–8, London
Noy, D. 2000: Foreigners at Rome: Citizens and Strangers, London
Noy, D. 2010: ‘Epigraphic evidence for immigrants at Rome and in Roman Britain’, in Eckardt 2010b, 13–26
Oelze, V.M., Koch, J.K., Kupke, K., Nehlich, O., Zaeuner, S., Wahl, J., Weise, S.M., Rieckhoff, S., and Richards, M.P. 2012: ‘Multi-isotopic analysis reveals individual mobility and diet at the Early Iron Age monumental tumulus of Magdalenenberg, Germany’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148, 406–21
Pearce, J. 2010: ‘Burial, identity and migration in the Roman world’, in Eckardt 2010b, 79–98
Philpott, R. 1991: Burial Practices in Roman Britain, BAR British Series 219, Oxford
Pirling, R. 1966: Das römisch-fränkische Gräberfeld von Krefeld-Gellep, Berlin
Pirling, R. 1989: Das römisch-fränkische Gräberfeld von Krefeld-Gellep 1966–1974, Stuttgart
Pohl, W. 1998: ‘Telling the difference: signs of ethnic identity’, in Pohl, W. and Reimitz, H. (eds), Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of Ethnic Communities, 300–800, Leiden, 169
Pollard, A.M., Ditchfield, P., McCullagh, J.S.O., Allen, T.G., Gibson, M., Boston, C., Clough, S., Marquez-Grant, N., and Nicholson, R.A. 2011a: ‘“These boots were made for walking”: the isotopic analysis of a C4 Roman inhumation from Gravesend, Kent, UK’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 146, 446–56
Pollard, A.M., Pellegrini, M., and Lee-Thorp, J.A. 2011b: ‘Technical note: some observations on the conversion of dental enamel δ18Op values to δ18Ow to determine human mobility’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 145, 499504
Powlesland, D. 2003: ‘The early–middle Anglo-Saxon period (AD 400–AD 850)’, in Butlin, R. (ed.), Historical Atlas of North Yorkshire, Otley, 62–7
Price, J. 2002. The Glass Flask [571AE] from Roman Grave 7, Hollow Banks Quarry, Scorton, North Yorkshire, unpub. report for Northern Archaeological Associates, in Speed 2002, 48
Price, J. 2010: ‘Late Roman glass vessels in the Hadrian's Wall frontier region’, in Collins and Allason-Jones 2010, 37–49
Price, T.D., Burton, J.H., and Bentley, R.A. 2002: ‘The characterization of biologically available strontium isotope ratios for the study of prehistoric migration’, Archaeometry 44, 117–35
Pröttel, P.M. 1988: ‘Zur Chronologie der Zwiebelknopffibeln’, Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz 35.1, 347–72
Reitsema, L.J., and Kosłowski, T. 2013: ‘Diet and society in Poland before the state: stable isotope evidence from a Wielbark population (second century AD)’, Anthropological Review 76, 122
Richards, M.P., Hedges, R.E.M., Molleson, T.I., and Vogel, J.C. 1998: ‘Stable isotope analysis reveals variations in human diet at the Poundbury Camp cemetery site’, Journal of Archaeological Science 25, 1247–52
Roymans, N. 2004: Ethnic Identity and Imperial Power: The Batavians in the Early Roman Empire, Amsterdam
Scheidel, W. 2004: ‘Human mobility in Roman Italy, I: the free population’, Journal of Roman Studies 94, 126
Schwarcz, H.P., and Schoeninger, M.J. 1991: ‘Stable isotope analyses in human nutritional ecology’, Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 34, 283321
Sealy, J.R., Armstrong, R., and Schrire, C. 1995: ‘Beyond lifetime averages – tracing life-histories through isotopic analysis of different calcified tissues from archaeological human skeletons’, Antiquity 69, 290300
Simpson, C.J. 1976: ‘Belt-buckles and strap-ends of the Later Roman Empire’, Britannia 7, 192223
Soil Survey of England and Wales 1983: Soils of England and Wales Sheet 1: Northern England, Southampton
Sommer, M. 1984: Die Gürtel und Gürtelbeschläge des 4. und 5. Jahrhunderts im römischen Reich, Bonn
Speed, G. 2002: Excavations at Hollow Banks Quarry Scorton, North Yorkshire, Vol. 2: the Romano-British and Anglian Cemeteries, unpub. report for Northern Archaeological Associates
Stout, A.M. 1994: ‘Jewelry as a symbol of status in the Roman Empire’, in Sebesta, J.L. and Bonfante, L. (eds), The World of Roman Costume, Wisconsin, 77100
Swift, E. 2000: Regionality in Dress Accessories in the Late Roman West, Montagnac
Swift, E. 2010: ‘Identifying migrant communities: a contextual analysis of grave assemblages from continental late Roman cemeteries’, Britannia 41, 237–82
Taylor, M.P., and Macklin, M.G. 1997: ‘Holocene alluvial sedimentation and valley floor development: the River Swale, Catterick, North Yorkshire’, Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 51, 317–27
Voerkelius, S., Lorenz, G.D., Rummer, S., Quétel, C.R., Heiss, G., Baxter, M., Brach-Papa, C., Deters-Itzelsberger, P., Hoelzl, S., Hoogewerff, J., Ponzevera, E., van Bocxstaele, M., and Ueckermann, H. 2010: ‘Strontium isotopic signatures of natural mineral waters, the reference to a simple geological map and its potential for authentication of food’, Food Chemistry 118, 933–40
Walton-Rogers, P. 2002: ‘The Roman burials: clothed and shrouded bodies’, in Speed 2002, 35–6
White, C.D., Spence, M.W., Stuart-Williams, H.L.Q., and Schwarcz, H.P. 1998: ‘Oxygen isotopes and the identification of geographical origins: the Valley of Oaxaca versus the Valley of Mexico’, Journal of Archaeological Science 25, 643–55
Wierschowski, L. 1995: Die regionale Mobilität in Gallien nach den Inschriften des 1. bis 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., Stuttgart
Wierschowski, L. 2001: Fremde in Gallien – “Gallier” in der Fremde : die epigraphisch bezeugte Mobilität in, von und nach Gallien vom 1. bis 3. Jh. n. Chr., Stuttgart
Willis, S., and Carne, P. 2013: A Roman Villa at the Edge of Empire. Excavations at Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, 2003–04, York
Wilmott, T. 1997: Birdoswald: Excavation of a Roman Fort on Hadrian's Wall and its Successor Settlements: 1987–92, London
Wilson, P.R., Cardwell, P., Cramp, R.J., Evans, J., Taylor-Wilson, R.H., Thompson, A., and Wacher, J.S. 1996: ‘Early Anglian Catterick and Catraeth’, Medieval Archaeology 40, 161
Wilson, P.R. 2002: Cataractonium: Roman Catterick and its Hinterland. Excavations and Research, 1958–1997, York
Wright, L.E., and Schwarcz, H.P. 1998: ‘Stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in human tooth enamel: identifying breastfeeding and weaning in prehistory’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 106, 118
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Britannia
  • ISSN: 0068-113X
  • EISSN: 1753-5352
  • URL: /core/journals/britannia
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed