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‘Exeter’s first urban community in its European setting. A local perspective on mobile objects and cultural mélange in the early Roman West.’ - Dr Martin Pitts

Exeter’s origins as a fortress established by Legio II Augusta in the 50s AD are relatively well-known. The spectacular bath-house located beneath Cathedral Green was built to fulfil the needs of the soldiers stationed here (assumed to be of Italian origin), only to be demolished after the troops moved on c. 20 years later and the civilian city was established. Since the Roman army tends to be viewed as a somewhat homogenous entity in much modern scholarship, little attention has been given to understanding the range of cultural influences acting on a community such as this in Roman Britain. With particular emphasis on a couple of well-furnished ‘legionary graves’ from Exeter’s fortress phase, this paper will attempt to put Exeter’s first community into a much wider European context through a comparison of contemporary material culture and grave assemblages from a wider area spanning the territories of Belgica, S. Britannia and Germania Inferior. Can soldier-graves really be identified? What can mass-produced objects reveal about shared cultural imaginations in the early Roman West?

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Harrison Building 102