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Assessing How Representation of the Roman Past Impacts Public Perceptions of the Province of Britain

Hingley, Richard (2021) 'Assessing How Representation of the Roman Past Impacts Public Perceptions of the Province of Britain.', Public Archaeology, 18 (4). pp. 241-260.


There is a lack of detailed research into the attitudes of the public in Britain to the Roman past. Information and views about the Roman period are communicated to people in the UK through education at school and also by the media (TV, films, the Internet). Museums and other heritage centres also provide interpretations for visitors, although these venues tend to cater for people who have progressed to a fairly advanced level in the educational system. This paper explores the public debate resulting from the BBC cartoon of a ‘Roman family’ in Britain (Beard, 2017). It argues that some of the extreme reactions to the idea that people came from North Africa to settle and to live in Roman Britain may have drawn upon some old-fashioned ideas about the past that have persisted in school education in England. It appears to be difficult for certain members of the public to understand that ideas about the past that they learnt at school were interpretations rather than ‘facts’ and that knowledge is constantly changing. That society in the Roman empire was highly mobile provides particularly informative parallels for modern Britons. To exploit this potential, however, will require archaeologists to take a more direct interest in communicating their research to a broader range of audiences.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:20 July 2021
Date deposited:09 August 2021
Date of first online publication:06 August 2021
Date first made open access:09 August 2021

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