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The archaeology of ritual and religion in Iron Age Britain

Students will be introduced to key sites and new interpretations of the Iron Age, as well as acquiring knowledge about prehistoric archaeology and its methods of interpretation
The Old Schools, Trinity Ln, Cambridge CB2 1TN, ,United Kingdom
760339

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : Humanities

Function : General

Trainer name : Dr Gillian C. Carr

Starts on : 16th Feb 2015

Difficulty : Advanced

The archaeology of ritual and religion in Iron Age Britain

On this course, students will gain an insight into daily life, burial practices, landscapes and ritual in Iron Age Britain. Students will be introduced to key sites and new interpretations of the Iron Age, as well as acquiring knowledge about prehistoric archaeology and its methods of interpretation. We will also examine what happened when the Romans arrived with their new ideas about religion and the gods. Did the Britons accept conquest lying down or did they resist?

Aims of the course:
To familiarise participants with the recent developments in the archaeology of Iron Age Britain.
To introduce participants to the critical questions raised by the study of ritual and religion during the Iron Age.
To help participants evaluate some of the key debates in Iron Age studies.
To enable participants to understand aspects of life and death in the Iron Age.

Schedule:

  • Online Induction Week : 16-22 February 2015
  • Teaching Weeks: 23 February-29 March 2015
  • Feedback Week: 30 March-5 April 2015

Course content overview:
This course will be primarily concerned with introducing participants to the key themes of daily life and death in the Iron Age, focusing on southern Britain.

The course will begin with an introduction to the problematic concepts of the 'Celts' and a discussion of whether or not Iron Age Britons were Celtic and where the term 'Celtic' comes from. We will discuss the interpretation of Celtic Art. We will also consider the radical changes in interpretation of the Iron Age in the early 1990's.

From here we launch our discovery of Iron Age Britain by starting with hillforts, that most visible and well known of Iron Age monuments. We consider various models of interpretation and how they have been influenced by the biographies of archaeologists who have excavated them.

Next we will examine some of the structures that are found within Iron Age settlements, including houses and shrines. We will be asking to what extent they were structured and oriented according to ritual and cosmological considerations. As part of this session we will look at Iron Age pits - now known to be an important key to understanding rituals in Iron Age society.

In our next stage of exploration of the Iron Age, we focus our attention on Lindow Man, one of the so-called 'bog bodies' of preserved corpses that have been found in bogs across northern Europe. We seek to understand him in comparison with other bog bodies found elsewhere in Europe, and we consider how they should be displayed in museums.

In our final session, we begin to feel the first hints of the encroachment of the Roman world as we head to the later Iron Age and the consideration of changing rituals in this period. We examine the story of the conquest of Britain and how this impacted native ritual and religious belief and consider whether there is any evidence that the 'druids', that most well-knowen of all Iron Age figures, really existed.

Photos

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