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The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 3  page 29
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

Chapter 3

THE LATE IRON AGE

 

I. INTRODUCTION

The study of pottery of the Roman period in Kent, as elsewhere in Britain, would be incomplete without some reference to that of the period immediately preceding the Conquest. Much has been made of the late Iron Age pottery of the south-east of Britain and the light it can shed upon the political history recorded in fragmentary form by Julius Caesar and taken up by occasional literary references emanating from the Roman Empire down to the Claudian conquest of A.D. 43. The invasions of tribal groups from the Belgic areas of Gaul attested by Caesar as having occurred at some time prior to his own raids in strength of 55 and 54 B .C. have prompted several generations of archaeologists to envisage any change apparent in the material record of the late Iron Age as being due to ‘intrusive elements’, to use the phrase adopted by Ward-Perkins in defining his ‘South-eastern B’ cultural group (1938, 156). The development of invasion or ‘immigration’ models of Iron Age Britain has recently been summarised by Cunliffe (1978, 1—10), and need not be reiterated here. It will suffice to observe that the current tenor of studies of this period is to recognise ‘a broad cultural continuum’ (ibid., 10) from as early as the second millenium throughout the Iron Age. The changes that undeniably occurred are considered in the first instance to 

be due to the inherent dynamics of economy and society within Britain. ‘Intrusive elements’ in a ceramic or metal artefact assemblage are more likely, in this climate of speculation, to be attributed to trade and exchange of ideas and objects than to the impositions of invaders upon indigenous culture.
   The transformation of thinking that has seen the rejection of many intricate cultural models formulated by scholars of previous generations has not been without its consequences for the archaeology of Kent and its neighbourhood. The two models propounded by Ward-Perkins the ‘south-eastern B’ and ‘Wealden’ cultures (Ward-Perkins 1938, 152—6; 1944, 143—6) have been generally rejected during the last decade, to be superseded by two schemes of a more cautious nature, invoking sequences of ceramic ‘styles’ whose significance in terms of society is in their reflection of contact and exchange rather than the homogeneity of ethnic groups. Nevertheless, the ethnic identity of the Belgae, the invaders referred to by Caesar, is not easily rejected. As recently as 1976, a major paper sought to trace the stages of the Belgic expansion in Britain on the basis of ceramic and numismatic evidence (Rodwell 1976a). The precision that this study sought to achieve may be illusory; one of the main inhibitors of progress in unravelling

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