By Stephen Harrison, BA, MPil Phd, Consultant Archaeologist
Bronze Age
Iron Age
Early Modern

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ROMANO-BRITISH (c.AD 71 - 410)

Up until AD 71, the northern Roman frontier lay along the south bank of the River Humber. In that year, the Roman army crossed the river and began the incorporation of northern Britain into the Empire, a move prompted by a rebellion of the Brigantes, a native tribe whose territory lay immediately to the north and west of East Yorkshire.

Once across the Humber, a military base was established at Brough from where a road network was constructed northwards. From Brough, a major route ran north, through present-day South Cave, to Market Weighton, where it divided: one branch going north-west, via Shiptonthorpe and Hayton, to York, where a legionary fortress and civil settlement were established; the other route continuing north, across the Wolds, to Malton, where a fort, and, subsequently, a town were founded. Many other minor roads were also established, some of which used pre-existing routeways.

In general, the settlements of the Parisi were probably little disturbed by the occupation, but many of the native population adopted, over time, the distinctive traits of Roman material culture and, to some degree, became Romanised.

Ladder settlements are also attributable to this period. Villa sites are known on the Wolds at Rudston, Harpham, Brantingham, Welton, and Wharram-le-Street. Excavations at several of these sites (eg Welton and Rudston) have demonstrated that they were constructed in the second and third centuries AD on the sites of earlier, Iron Age, farmsteads.

The Roman Conquest had a significant impact on the economy of the region. Evidence suggests that the agricultural base witnessed a shift from pastoral farming to one where the emphasis was placed on cereal production - presumably, to supply the local military garrisons and the urban populations. Also, new industries were established, particularly those concerned with ironworking and pottery manufacture, eg as at Crambeck and in the Holme-on-Spalding Moor area. A further notable feature of this period was the importation, and widespread availability, of "exotic" goods from across the Roman Empire.

With the decline and eventual collapse of centralised Roman power during the fourth and fifth centuries AD, remote provinces such as Britain were increasingly left to defend themselves against attacks by tribes living beyond the boundaries of the Empire. This process continued, perhaps, for a century, during which time effective control of the country passed into the hands of new colonisers.

Pathaeolithic c.250,000 - 8,300 BC
Mesolithic c.8,300 - 4,000 BC
Neolithic c.4,000 - 2,000 BC
Bronze Agec.2,000 - 800 BC
Iron Agec.800 BC - AD 71
Romano-British c.AD 71 - 410
Anglo-Saxon and Vikingc.AD 410 - 1066
Medieval c.AD 1066 - 1540
Early Modernc.1600 -1800
Modern c.1800 to the present day

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