Ritual and Religious Sites in Later Iron Age Britain with Particular Reference to Eastern England
thesisposted on 28.08.2018, 11:38 authored by Frank Hargrave
Arguably two parallel paradigms exist in the study of Iron Age religion in Britain. The one, viewed through a Roman lens, sees a pan-European pantheon being worshipped at sanctuaries in a manner distinctly classical in style. The other imagines a world in which the sacred and the profane is interwoven and specific sites of ‘worship’ are less prominent. The reports of field archaeologists draw inconclusively from both paradigms creating an incoherent sense of ritual and religion in the British Iron Age. Drawing upon anthropological and sociological thought in regards ritual and religion, this thesis establishes a definition for ritual and seeks to explain the role of ritual within religion and the pertinence of differentiating between them. The subsequent framework is applied to a systematic study of sites across the East of England, specifically, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Leicestershire and Rutland, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and then related to a wider study. With the grounding in anthropological thought, the thesis shows how rituals are unlikely to reflect belief or homogeneity of beliefs between Iron Age societies but the manner of their practice can give valuable insights into their social role and the nature of religion during the period. The thesis also explores the ‘evolution’ of Iron Age rituals and religion from the late Bronze Age through to the Roman period.