31 May 2011

New book on Roman Nottinghamshire

Nottingham-based author, Mark Patterson, is to be commended for making recent archaeological research on Roman Nottinghamshire available "in accessible narrative form." Motivated by a desire to correct the widely-held view that the county is a black-spot for Roman archaeology, Mark has trawled through academic journals, talked to professionals and experts and visited the sites to produce a readable and comprehensive synthesis of the latest thinking on this 400 year period of Nottinghamshire history.

The book covers the standard themes of pre-Roman tribal society, Romano-British religion and culture, military sites, villas and roads. The author also devotes space to every major Roman site in the county and summarises past and present discussions about their development; from the 17th/18th century fantasies of the antiquarians to the more scientifically based conclusions of modern archaeologists. The roadside settlement of Margidunum on the Fosse Way near Bingham is given the most attention and Patterson challenges some of the conclusions drawn by Felix Oswald who excavated it in the 1930s. I was, however, sometimes surprised by the order of the sections, particularly the one on post-Roman Nottinghamshire which appears at the end of the 'life's essentials' chapter after a discussion on diet and food!

The book is well illustrated but would be improved by the addition of detailed maps showing the distribution of villas, forts and roads in Nottinghamshire and the surrounding area: the two maps that are included depict some of the information but they don't show the full picture.

Minor criticisms aside, it remains a very useful and eminently readable summary of the latest research on the Roman archaeology of Nottinghamshire and is highly recommended.

1 comment:

Priories Historical Society said...

Its a great book especially as the Roman history of our area gets ignored pretty much in every book there is about Roman Britain and I've enjoyed reading it very much.

The timing is great especially with Southwell Villa being in the news so much at present.

Hopefully lots more information can be added for the time when a second edition comes out