The authority of classical texts was challenged in the mid-Victorian era through the unearthing of a very different "Rome" in the material remains under British soil. Developments in archaeology created a new picture of Roman Britain as wealthy and civilized - an image which sat more comfortably with the Victorians' own changing view of empire as they themselves became an imperial power. Changing intellectual ideas ensured that the Roman heritage could no longer be seen solely as the preserve of the classically educated upper class: excavating with a spade allowed a larger audience to participate and own the Roman past.
This book explores the whole phenomena, using archaeological activity in four British provincial towns (Caerleon, Cirencester, Colchester and Chester) to offer an explanation of how and why it happened, and providing authoritative and fresh insights into the way in which Victorian archaeology emerged, developed and altered how the modern world understood the ancient. In the process, it brings to the fore the frequently contradictory and confused ideas about Roman Britain in the Victorian imagination.
VIRGINIA HOSELITZ gained her PhD at the Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Bristol.