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Durham e-Theses
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Glass Beads in Iron Age Britain: a social approach

FOULDS, ELIZABETH,MARIE (2014) Glass Beads in Iron Age Britain: a social approach. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 15 March 2019.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).

Abstract

Studies of Iron Age artefacts from Britain tend to be dominated either by the study of metalwork, or pottery. This thesis presents a study not only of a different material, but also a different type of object: glass beads. These are found in a range of different sizes, shapes, colours, and employ a variety of different decorative motifs. Thus far, glass beads have been studied through typology (Guido 1978a) and compositional analysis (Bertini 2012; Henderson 1982), yet a thorough analysis of the social context of glass beads remains absent.

Through an analysis of glass beads from four key study regions in Britain, this thesis aims not only to address regional differences in appearance and chronology, but also to explore the role that this object played within the networks and relationships that constructed Iron Age society. It seeks to understand how they were used during their lives and how they came to be deposited within the archaeological record, in order to establish the social processes that glass beads were bound within.

The results indicate that glass beads were a strongly regionalised artefact, potentially reflecting differing local preferences for colour and motif. In addition, glass beads, in combination with several other types of object, were integral to Middle Iron Age dress. Given that the first century BC is often seen as a turning point in terms of settlements and material culture, this supports the possibility of strong continental exchange during an earlier period for either glass beads or raw materials. However, by the Late Iron Age in the first century BC and early first century AD, their use had severely diminished.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Iron Age; Britain; Glass; Beads; Adornment; Dress; Identity; Brooch; Bracelet; Torc; Pin; Finger-ring
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Mar 2014 11:39

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