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Introduction to British Archaeology

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Britain is steeped in archaeology and history. From villas and roundhouses to the grand castles of kings in the Middle Ages, these islands are rich in their archaeological traces.

This course is designed to provide an introductory outline of the archaeology of Britain from the dawn of Roman Britain, going on to explore the Anglo-Saxons, Celts, Vikings and Normans, before considering the archaeology of medieval power, identity, economy and death down to the end of the medieval period.

We will examine a wide range of surviving material culture and archaeological sites from across Britain. How have archaeologists approached the excavation and interpretation of these sites, their place in the landscape, and the significance of what has been found?

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught through ten two-hour sessions online, incorporating lectures, seminars and workshops. These sessions will consist of a one-hour lecture followed by class discussion and group work on specific topics relating to the module.

The discussion and group work will enable students to think critically and to contribute to the debates and topics presented during the lectures. The discussion-led sessions and the lectures will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.


  1. Introduction: Archaeology in Britain
  2. The Romanization of Britain?
  3. Life and Death in Roman Britain
  4. End of Empire: Post-Roman Britain
  5. Anglo-Saxon Britain
  6. Celts in the West?
  7. Viking Britain: Scandinavian Invaders?
  8. Unification and Conquest
  9. Power and Identity in the British Isles
  10. Economy and Death: The End of the Middle Ages

Coursework and assessment

You will be expected to complete two pieces of assessed work:

  • A 5 minute oral presentation
  • A site description or work portfolio of around 1000 words

There will be lots of help and support available for both assignments.

Reading suggestions

  • Arnold, C.J. 2005. An Archaeology of the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms. London and New York: Routledge
  • Hunter, J. and Ralston, I (eds). 2002. The Archaeology of Britain: An Introduction from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Industrial Revolution. London: Routledge
  • Rogers, A. 2015. The Archaeology of Roman Britain: Biography and Identity. London: Routledge
  • Tarlow, S. and West, S. (eds). 1999. The Familiar Past? Archaeologies of Later Historical Britain. London: Routledge

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.