The differential use of constructed sacred space in southern Britain, from the late Iron Age to the 4th century AD

  • Alexander Smith

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The principal aim of the thesis has been to examine the development of constructed cult loci from the late Iron Age to the late Roman period in southern Britain, focusing on the differential use of internal space. Following an initial review of the interpretative parameters used in the archaeological identification of constructed cult sites, the evidence for such loci within an Iron Age context was critically re-examined. This has led to the conclusion that not only were such sites very rare and geographically dispersed, but they were confined in most cases to the ultimate pre-Roman and Roman transition periods. It
    is suggested that this development may have been at least partly induced by an internal increase in societal specialisation and political hierarchy, in addition to external influences from Roman Gaul.

    Contextual analysis of constructed cult sites has led to the conclusion that, at least within the Roman period, they were integral parts of the political, commercial, social and ideological world of those that surrounded them. Furthermore, their virtual absence from certain areas implies that the concept of constructed sacred space as a whole did generally not find expression outside of those areas more influenced by Romanized ideology and social structure.

    At the core of the thesis is an analysis of the use of space within a selected number of late Iron Age and Roman period constructed sacred sites. Whilst individual site variation was substantial, there was an occasional degree of regional coherence, in addition to a more ubiquitous homogeneity in some functional and spatial characteristics. Detailed spatial analysis has only been possible on a limited number of sites because of a previous lack of
    comprehensive excavation. The current study has shown that it is only by analysing in detail the whole of the site, that vital information concerning function and development may be gained.
    Date of Award2000
    Original languageEnglish


    • Sacred space
    • Temples
    • Roman
    • Antiquities
    • Celts
    • Prehistoric Britain

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