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The early years of London seem both uncannily familiar and unimaginably distant. Today, no one would bat an eyelid at Tacitus’ description of a settlement heaving with ‘businessmen and commerce’. Accounts of reckless loans, eye-watering debt, and advice to maintain a stiff upper lip (or at least ‘not to appear shabby’) in the face of adversity reinforce a sense that some things never change. But this was also a world where slaves conducted their master’s business, and opportunistic traders followed hot on the heels of the legions.
reinforce a sense that some things never change. But this was also a world where
Everyday life during Britain’s first civil war is also under the spotlight in this issue. The chaos of King Stephen’s reign was memorably summed up by one chronicler who lamented that ‘Christ and his Saints slept’. But did the king and his cousin’s battle for power leave a lasting archaeological legacy?
In Ireland, the search has been on for aftershocks from the Roman annexation of Britain. Tantalising clusters of finds, graves of people who seem to have been born in Britannia, and coastal emporia doing a roaring trade in Roman-style artefacts suggest that not all traders waited for the legions to get there first.
Recent excavations in Lincoln castle may have uncovered traces of a rather more august visitor: King Henry II. What can table scraps reveal about feasting that was fit for a king?
Our contributors this month
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF ANARCHY OLIVER CREIGHTON Oliver is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Exeter. His work focuses on medieval Britain and Europe, with particular interests in elite landscapes, medieval townscapes, and conflict archaeology.
WORLDS APART? JACQUELINE CAHILL WILSON Jacqueline was the Director of the Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland (LIARI) project, Discovery Programme, Dublin (20112015). Her research focuses on Roman influences on late Iron Age Ireland (AD 1-500).
FINDS FIT FOR A KING? CECILY SPALL Cecily is a field archaeologist and a Director of FAS Heritage. She has been working in commercial and research archaeology for over 20 years, and has a special interest in the Early Medieval period.
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