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Soldiers and Bureaucrats in Late Roman Britain: interpreting the imperial occupation through the medium of the crossbow brooch

Twort, Stephen (2017) Soldiers and Bureaucrats in Late Roman Britain: interpreting the imperial occupation through the medium of the crossbow brooch. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

The crossbow brooch is a type of material culture which has been associated by scholars with the soldiers and bureaucrats of the late Roman state. Building upon previous research, this thesis examines the distribution of a sample of 350 crossbow brooches discovered throughout the landscape of the former diocese of Roman Britain. By utilising typological schemes which locate these particular objects within a chronology ranging from the third to the early fifth centuries; this thesis argues that the regional distributions of the crossbow brooch throughout Britain can be considered as the consequences of long-term developments relating to when and where imperial servants were posted rather than a late fourth-century phenomenon per se. Furthermore, by employing various discursive approaches to data analysis this thesis discusses how the crossbow brooch was constructed, considered and discussed within late Roman society. In particular, the rhetorical and political utilities of the crossbow brooch are explored to contemplate its roles in localised identity work within various social practices which allowed contextually dependent subject positions to be claimed. It is argued that the crossbow brooch was associated with a particular discourse relating to the concepts of gender and service that acquired the status of ‘truth.’ Thus, while this brooch type could have signified a potential multiplicity of contextually dependent meanings within society, this ‘truth’ was an important discourse in structuring power relations and one that had permeated society to reach its widest influence during the mid-late fourth century. Consequently, when the networks supplying this material culture failed c. AD 400, the construction of new discursive ‘truths’ and subsequent power relationships would have been required in Britain as the empire’s occupation disintegrated.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Mr Stephen Twort
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 09:26
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 09:26
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20301

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