At over 500 pages, David Mason’s volume on Roman activity in County Durham is the first comprehensive analysis of Roman military and civilian activity for this part of north-east England; many of the sites have not previously been examined in any depth, making the book a welcome addition to our knowledge of the hinterlands of Hadrian’s Wall. The volume covers all the main Roman sites and looks at the archaeological evidence for civilian and rural settlements, as well as agricultural, industrial, and religious activity. It includes analysis of the communications and administrative arrangements for this part of Britannia. The book goes on to look at the transformation of County Durham from a Roman province to an Anglian kingdom, before concluding with a summary of the Roman legacy in the region. Mason successfully brings together rigorous academic analysis in an approachable and understandable style, while also offering new insights into Roman activity in the eastern hinterlands of Hadrian’s Wall, making this an essential volume for anyone interested in life on the edge of the Roman Empire.
Roman County Durham: the eastern hinterland of Hadrian’s Wall, David J P Mason, Durham County Council, £37.50, ISBN 978-1907445712.
Review by Andrew Tibbs.