Roman Villa = Romano-British Villa
Why the difference in terminology? There has been a tendency to use Romano-British to make the point that the Roman period in the British Isles did not make the inhabitants Roman but rather a blend of culture between Roman and Indigenous cultural ideas, traditions, deities etc. It's such a minor point but the terminology has stuck for some and not for others, I think Romano-British is a more suitable term for anything in the Roman period in the British Isles.
I think we are both using the term subsistence in the same way, the comment about starving was to say that the villa structures if they were the only large scale agricultural sites would not have provided enough food for the cities, towns etc. of the province.
I agree completely about the use of Iron Age as a cultural adjective - although what else we might call them is difficult to decide and they get called all sorts of terms in the literature.
Glad my comments were enlightening.
Mr. A.D. Holland B.Sc. M.Sc. AIFA.
Education Project Officer (11 - 18),
Council for British Archaeology,
Tel: 01904 671417
Email: [log in to unmask]
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Guillermo-Sven Reher Díez
Sent: 11 July 2008 10:36
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Land capability maps and rural settlement
I grant you that there are probably several grades of farmstead-villa existing in Britannia. I do not know them, so I am satisfied with your specifications. However, I would encourage to not use the term "Iron Age" for anything happening during Roman times, for it is a chronological term that, when used as a cultural adjective, is very confusing and probably wrong. Also, when I say 'subsistence' I do not mean starving (that would be sub-subsistence), I mean products marketed at only a micro-economic level or not at all (probably depending on the size of households: gentes, nuclear families, transgenerational families, etc.). Many villae probably were also non-commercially oriented, not all exported wine, oil, garum or whatever. We could probably establish many gradings within that (i.e. campanian villae in contrast to a villa in Wales, probably very different). By drawing the farmstead-villa dichotomy I did not pretend to make a simple classification, only draw the ends of a spectrum that could help us understand the complexity of rural settlement.
One last thing, what is the difference between a Roman villa in Britain and a romano-british villa? As with the 'Iron Age' before, here we are confusing geographical with cultural terminology. Perhaps we should scratch the word 'Roman' for the sake of redundancy.
Thank you anyway for your comments, very enlightening.
> Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 09:09:53 +0100
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Land capability maps and rural settlement
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Re: Farmsteads v Villae
> Not sure I agree completely - I think "Farmsteads" need to be split up into several sub-groups there are Romano-British Farmsteads which are basically villae in economic scale and are running cash crop agriculture. These have large to medium size economies, often have a mix of round and rectilinear building etc.
> Then there are Iron-Age Farmsteads (I admit this isn't a clear terminology) - i.e. still during the Roman occupancy of the British Isles but in areas where the Romanisation of agriculture had not taken strong hold - these would clearly be small scale farming - not completely subsistence since even before the Roman Invasion there appears to be agricultural production on a slightly higher than subsistence level. They appear to be in the areas of the country where Roman influence was poor, especially during the late 1st and 2nd centuries - I'm thinking of places such as the Yorkshire Dales etc.
> These farmsteads seem to be characterised partly by continued use of round-houses and field systems similar to the preceding periods and indeed without significant artefactual evidence to date them to the time of the Roman Occupancy I suspect they will often be classed as pre-Roman Iron Age farms (which I guess is what essentially they are).
> If the villae were the only farms working on a large scale crop economy and the rest where on subsistence then given the number of villae that we have found (or even given a extrapolated number to cover the south) then the Roman province would have starved, yet we know from classical sources that the province exported grain and other materials.
> Villae are concentrated in the south and particularly within the same distribution of Catuvellanian/Trinovantian coins during the late 1st century. These being the tribes that were pro-roman during the beginning of Roman Occupation.
> Further north recorded field systems seem to be very large but not associated with the classic "Villa" structure. I'd suggest that given the economic recession in Roman Britain in the late 1st and through the 2nd century that these isolated farmsteads in the Northern half of Britain should be seen as the same as villa farms in terms of agricultural practice and that they lacked the early investment in their buildings during the initial Roman Occupation prior to the economic downturn through the 2nd century.
> This is further supported in that many of the villa structures in the midlands and to some degree in the North, that develop during the 3rd and early 4th centuries (when the economic situation improved) have Romano-British farmstead precursors underlying them.
> Mr. A.D. Holland B.Sc. M.Sc. AIFA.
> Education Project Officer (11 - 18),
> Council for British Archaeology,
> Tel: 01904 671417
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Guillermo-Sven Reher Díez
> Sent: 11 July 2008 08:02
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Land capability maps and rural settlement
> This has been done often but a few things should be kept in mind:
> 1-Land with less than 3% grade was un-tillable in ancient times. That tends to leave out most of your 'grade 1 or 2' at valley-floors.
> 2-We can not apply the concept of optimisation for just about anything in the ancient world. Maybe barley was better suited, but if wheat was wanted, wheat was planted. Also, the situation could be very different between villae and farmsteads. The first do tend to have a more commercial mentality, planting things that can be sold well. The second would tend to subsistence, therefore planting anything needed in their land.
> 3-Herding is something that probably used more land than we think in those settlements.
> 4-There is plenty of work on rural settlement patterns using this type of info. Let me suggest the regional study by A. Orejas: Estructura social y territorio (1995) on a region in northwestern Spain. I also recall some recent articles on ancient and medieval settlement patterns from this point of view on one of the Elsevier journals.
> 5-Naturally, only palinological analyses can tell you if there was, in fact, intensive agriculture in areas with good conditions. Seek those out.
> > Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 14:28:09 +0100
> > From: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: [BRITARCH] Land capability maps and rural settlement
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Dear All,
> > This may sound a little 'deterministic' but has anyone any experience
> > of/any thoughts on using 'Agricultural Land Capability Maps' to investigate
> > Roman or medieval rural settlement patterns? I'm looking at Roman
> > settlement in the south-Wales and have noticed that the majority of villa
> > sites lie on land classified as grade 1 or 2. I know the maps are modern
> > and farming practices have changed dramatically over the last few hundred
> > years but there does seem to be a correlations between modern land
> > capability and Roman settlement - or maybe its just a case of these being
> > the areas under arable and so producing the evidence for settlement :S. Any
> > comments most welcome.
> > Andy
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