Bagendon has long been the poor relation of British late Iron Age oppida, lurking on the distribution’s western fringe. Its extensive, intermittent ramparts have long been known, but only in the 1950s did limited excavations reveal its character. Tom Moore’s book represents a huge step forward. Geophysical survey of the entire complex confirmed Late Iron Age activity clustered in one area, with smaller settlement enclosures revealing the site’s Middle Iron Age origins; the earliest ramparts were also of this date. Little of the Late Iron Age core has been dug, but the rich finds and environmental assemblage (well published with both detail and overviews) shows intense activity two decades either side of the Roman conquest. After the focus of activity moved to Cirencester, a series of Roman villas within the old complex drew on its past prestige. The work is full of interest, but Moore’s concluding chapters are masterful, with sensitive and thoughtful discussion of the site in its regional and national context.
A Biography of Power: research and excavations at the Iron Age oppidum of Bagendon, Gloucestershire (1979-2017), Tom Moore, Archaeopress, £85, ISBN 978-1789695342
Review by Fraser Hunter.