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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Professor Rebecca Gowland

Gowland, Rebecca (2016). Ideas of Childhood in Roman Britain: The Bioarchaeological and Material Evidence. In The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain. Millett, Martin, Revell, Louise & Moore, Alison Jane Oxford: Oxford University Press. 303-320.

Author(s) from Durham


Since the 1990s there has been a burgeoning focus on the experience and treatment of children in the ancient world. The majority of studies have utilized historical and iconographic sources more than the archaeological record, resulting in an image of Roman childhood that is dominated by the view from Rome. For Roman Britain, the archaeological context, especially the funerary domain, is a fruitful source of evidence concerning childhood. The bioarchaeological and material evidence from Romano-British cemeteries is reviewed here. Skeletal remains provide valuable evidence relating to the health and care of past children. The integration of the skeletal data with the material evidence from the funerary context can illuminate past perceptions of childhood and the social construction of this earlier part of the life course. Theoretical and methodological developments within archaeology are paving the way for a more complete understanding of Roman childhood.