Featured Research Project: ‘In the Footsteps of Caesar’

Posted by ajw108 at Mar 22, 2018 04:15 PM |
Colin Haselgrove and Andrew Fitzpatrick, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, have been included as 'Featured Research Project' in the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities' Spring 2018 Research Bulletin.

Leverhulme Trust, £330,656

Haselgrove, Colin and Fitzpatrick, Andrew (School of Archaeology and Ancient History)

That Julius Caesar invaded Britain is well-known. Caesar himself described the landing and campaigns in his account of the Battle for Gaul, the 9-year long war that he fought across north-west Europe between 58 and 51 BC. Yet this opening chapter of the written history of Britain has been neglected by archaeologists and historians for over a century. It is often assumed that the invasions had little lasting effect on Iron Age Britain and they left few archaeological traces.

In the Footsteps of Caesar set out to challenge this view by systematically examining the archaeological evidence using a wide range of techniques, from surveying sites to studies of artefacts curated in museums. Most of the fieldwork has been in Kent, where Caesar landed in 55 and 54 BC. This research has been in partnership with Kent County Council whose community archaeologists have built a team of skilled volunteers. By working seven-day weeks, the project has allowed individuals to arrange their participation around daily life, fitting in their archaeology between the school run, over weekends, and even on the way home from working in France with UK Border Control! All are united in their enthusiasm for the past and for the opportunity to take part in a universityled research project with clearly defined objectives. They also enthusiastically consume copious quantities of cake!

In the Footsteps of Caesar
Excavations on the 54 BC landing site at Ebbsfleet with Pegwell Bay near Ramsgatein the background. The photograph was taken from a drone owned and operatedby volunteer Dean Barkley.

A video ‘Dig Diary’ has been made of the excavations. As the excavation sites cannot be made secure overnight, it was not practicable to use the diary in social media during the dig. Instead the Diary provided footage for a package in a TV programme about the project. Although the quality of the Diary can be variable, it is authentic and enables key discoveries to be recorded at the time. Broadcast at the end of 2017, the programme revealed Caesar’s landing site for his main invasion in 54 BC and the media blitz that followed once again showcased Leicester’s research to a global audience.

Archaeologists are fortunate that their discipline can make exciting discoveries that are accessible to a wide audience and, at the same time, a means by which to promote less televisual but arguably more important research. In the case of In the Footsteps of Caesar, it gave us a platform to advance the argument that the invasions had major consequences. The peace settlement that Julius Caesar imposed in 54 BC drew Britain into the Roman Empire by making clients of the British leaders. A century later in AD 43, the relationships established by Caesar helped the Emperor Claudius rapidly to conquer south-east England and set in train the permanent Roman occupation of Britain.

► See Colin Haselgrove's staff page

► See Andrew Fitzpatrick's staff page

Contact Details

College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Kathy Baddiley-Davidson
(PA to Head of College, Henrietta O'Connor):
+44 (0)116 252 2679

Denise Challinor
(PA to Director of Operations, Ruth Daly):
+44 (0)116 252 3875


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