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CMW Seminars: Dr Rob Collins

Last Friday we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Rob Collins (Portable Antiquities Scheme/Newcastle University) for a new way of looking at identity in the Roman armies. After an enlightening trip to Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum to see the Antonine Wall: Rome’s Final Frontier exhibition, Rob introduced us to the ‘occupational communities’ on Hadrian’s Wall in the 4th century and beyond. By the late Roman period, life on these frontier stations was not just a job but a way of life as recruitment became more local, and positions became more hereditary. In contexts such as these, occupational identity often grew into self-identification, modifying both into something distinct and new, as a member of the audience with a military background could attest in the subsequent discussion. Rob highlighted place-making as a crucial element in this process, and indeed, the ‘Roman-ness’ of the archaeology began to change well before the end of Roman Britain, leading to new questions about where the Roman period ends and the early medieval begins in the north. Thanks to Rob for opening another route into identity for us!

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