When did urbanism first appear in Britain? What form did the pre-Roman centres of Britain take: towns, markets, ritual foci or royal estates? Why and how did they become Roman urban centres? To understand to the major changes which took place at the end of the Iron Age in Britain, archaeologists need to better understand the development and roles of the massive ditched complexes (oppida) which emerged at the end of the Iron Age worked.
This project, led by Dr Tom Moore, seeks to clarify the role of one of these monuments, Bagendon ‘oppidum’, Gloucestershire. During the early 1980s excavations at Bagendon in conjunction with work at Ditches ‘hillfort’, revealed evidence of a mid-first century AD industrial area and coin mint adjacent to earlier 1950s excavations (Clifford 1961). With the 1980s investigations of the Late Iron Age enclosure and early Roman villa at Ditches now published (Trow, James and Moore 2009), this project is analysing the unpublished 1980s Bagendon excavations and undertaking new fieldwork within the dyke complex.
This new project includes a major geophysical survey of the entire complex and additional surveys of Iron Age and Roman sites in the region. New excavations are also underway to place previous investigations in context. Combined, this will lead to a major reassessment of the Bagendon complex and Late Iron Age-Roman transition in the southern Cotswolds as a whole, building on recent surveys of the Iron Age in the area (Moore 2006; 2007). Initial indications suggest that Bagendon should be understood not as an isolated ‘site’ but as part of an integrated landscape and might be best placed amongst a broader range of polyfocal complexes which existed at the end of the Iron Age (Moore 2012). Further work includes completing survey of the complex and is exploring potential Late Iron Age sites in the environs of the complex.