roman

5.6.4 Stone

The decorative and epigraphic elements of sculpture and inscriptions have been extensively studied (RIB I; RIB III; Keppie and Arnold 1984), but less attention has been paid to their production and geological provenance. Where this has been done it seems predominantly local, but there are instances of imported stone (marble, also limestone) and enigmatic material (eg the white sandstone of the Cramond lioness) which may have been deliberately sought out (Hunter and Scott 2002; Hunter and Collard 1997). The Ingliston milestone (Maxwell 1984c), for instance, seems to be a non-local stone.

Stone was also used in a variety of other facets of life. The use of quernstones is perhaps the most obvious, but a range of other stone objects was also used, such as mortars, whetstones, or jewellery in jet or related materials. There has been little attempt to extract information from these (see Allason-Jones and Jones 1994 for what can be achieved with black organic-rich stones). Yet, to take querns as an example, while the bulk was supplied from imported stones from the Rhineland, there was also a range of other quern types, many using more local styles (including Iron Age traditions) and sources; this merits fuller research (e.g. MacKie 2007).

How extensive was decorative stone-carving among auxiliary units? Did it take place at every fort? What was the distribution of carved stone on a site - who had access to it, and who was the imagery intended to impress? What stone resources were exploited for this? (A question intimately connected to stone for building purposes; see section 5.3).

Research into stone tools and their raw materials' provenance is required. Querns would be a particularly good topic, looking beyond the Rhineland querns to the use of other local or imported stones.

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5.6.3 Glass: vessels and jewellery

There is rare evidence of the production of glass vessels in Scotland (e.g. at Camelon; Price 2002, 90), but it is exceedingly unusual. It seems this was not the kind of practice to be expected at every fort.

Selection of Romano-British / Roman Iron Age glass bangles.©NMS

Distribution of products (for instance, decorated melon beads at Newstead or, less specifically, glass bangles) suggests production of some items took place on or around fort sites. This is highly relevant to the understanding of interaction with local populations and especially thorny questions over the meaning of items such as glass bangles (Kilbride-Jones 1938; Stevenson 1956, 1976; Price 1985). It seems increasingly clear that these cannot be pigeon-holed as Roman or indigenous but represent a complex interaction between the two, some types perhaps pre-dating the Roman period, some being preferred on indigenous sites and others on Roman sites.

Understanding of vessel manufacture relies on broader-scale work on glass production in Britain. An updated Scotland-specific work is therefore needed.

A modern and theoretically-sensitive study of glass bangles would be of considerable value; it is over 20 years since the last, partial study was attempted.

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