Considering their prominence in the archaeological record and the quantity of sites that have been excavated, it is surprising there has never been a book-length synthesis of Iron Age round-houses published before now. Rising admirably to the challenge, Harding has been Abercromby Professor of Prehistory at Edinburgh for the last thirty years, and here he presents a personal selection of sites drawn from this extensive experience.
Harding has excavated round-houses in environments as varied and remote as lowland Britain and the Western Isles, and this breadth of knowledge is employed to great effect. The book begins by situating Iron Age Britain in its European context, contrasting the settlement tradition of rectangular houses in Continental Europe, with the Central and Northern European evidence for houses of circular plan.
Working through the evidence, post-hole and foundation trench structures from lowland Britain are assessed alongside the substantial stone built Brochs and Wheel Houses of the Atlantic north and west. The engineering implications of these structures are examined in a chapter dedicated to experimental reconstruction, and the book concludes with a consideration of the social and political aspects of building circular houses, particularly in response to the Roman military occupation where circular structure could have been a potent symbol of opposition.
This is a meticulously researched and well-illustrated volume, and is a significant contribution to Iron Age studies.
The Iron Age Round-House by D.W. Harding
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