Ask the Expert Q&A 24 October – Roman Yorkshire with Adam Parker
Adam Parker will be answering your questions on Roman Yorkshire on Friday 24 October 2014 between 3-4pm BST.
The shape and structure of a lot of modern day York and Yorkshire was first cemented with the arrival of the Roman military in this part of the world in the first century AD.
Many of the towns we live in and roads we travel on were first laid out by our Roman predecessors.
Nearly four centuries of influence in Yorkshire has left a profound archaeological trace, still visible today in a whole range of places – a bath-house under a pub in York, the fort defences in a park at Malton, a signal-station next to a castle at Scarborough to name but a few.
The story of Roman Britain (and Roman Yorkshire) is the colourful blend of military garrisons surrounded by civilians – the civilians themselves are Roman, British and Romano-British all existing within a huge cultural boiling pot.
Many museums in the region have some Roman remains on display due to the very simple fact that such a huge amount of material has survived through to the modern day!
Romano-British culture is visible through the coinage, pottery, weapons, statues, clothes, jewellery and grave markers left behind in the forts, houses, workshops, villas, fields and farms all across the province.Here in York we have objects brought in from Europe and North Africa and even sent a few out ourselves; pendants made from Whitby Jet have turned up in Germany, France and Denmark.
The prestige of the garrison at York was buoyed by three Emperors having resided here and, as a result, briefly making this small town at the end of the known world the centre of the Roman Empire.
Septimius Severus housed the imperial family here between 208-211 during his northern campaigns in Britain. Later, in 306, the Emperor Constantius I died of ill health and his son was famously proclaimed Emperor.
As well as Roman Britain and Roman Yorkshire, I have a particular interest in the frontiers of Roman Britain. Everyone is aware of Hadrian’s Wall (AD120s) as a vastly important cultural icon of this period, but are you aware of the Antonine Wall between the Firths of Forth and Clyde built two decades after Hadrian’s Wall by his Imperial successor?
What about the Gask Ridge – a line of forts and towers that runs well up into the Scottish highlands and predates both of these by nearly 40 years?
Additionally, I am involved in the study of Roman religion and magic in Britain. Religion is, of course, the Gods, Goddesses, spirits, beliefs and ideas that form part of the rich spiritual world at this time.
Magic is, unfortunately, not the study of rabbits drawn from hats and people sawn in half theatrically on stage but the whole range of charms, spells, curses and amulets that are practised on a day to day basis by the inhabitants of the Roman world.
For this MDY Ask the Expert Session I will be happy to answer any and all questions about the Roman World, Roman Britain and Roman Yorkshire, but especially invite questions about frontiers, religion and magic, Roman York, pottery, and Whitby jet.
Adam Parker is the Assistant-Curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, teaches adult education classes with the University of York’s Centre for Lifelong Learning and is involved with the Hadrianic Society, Roman Finds Group and Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
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