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Welcome to the HistoryExtra Academy course on Roman Britain

In this four-week course, you’ll discover everything you need to know about Roman Britain, guided by Rob Collins, professor of frontier archaeology at Newcastle University.

Each week, you’ll receive an email outlining the learning for that week, as well as a video mini-lecture by Dr Collins that gives an overview of the topic for that week. At the end of the course, you’ll be able to download a certificate of completion.

The course begins on Monday 17 June and is exclusive to members of HistoryExtra.
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Course syllabus

Week one: Joining the Empire (from 17 June)

Week two: The Humble and the Proud – the People of Roman Britain (from 24 June)

Week three: War and Peace (from 1 July)

Week four: Leaving the Empire (from 8 July)

About the expert
Dr Rob Collins is professor of frontier archaeology at Newcastle University, specialising in the material culture of the northern frontier. His works include Living on the Edge of Empire: The Objects and People of Rome’s Northern Frontier, co-written with B Birley, A Croom, J Laskey, F McIntosh, T Padley, A Parkin and E Price (Routledge, 2020) and, most recently, Fabric of the Frontier: Prospection, Use and Re-Use of Stone from Hadrian’s Wall, co-written with I Kille and K O’Donnell (Oxbow, 2023)

Week three: war and peace in Roman Britain

Prof Rob Collins: This week, we examine the different settlements that could be found across Roman Britain: farmsteads, villas, towns and forts. These are the main types of archaeological site that provide the evidence that allow us to understand people in Roman Britain – the buildings and structures where they lived and worked, and the objects they used for clothing, tools, and decoration. These sites are the building blocks of Roman Britain.

Week two – the people of Roman Britain

Prof Rob Collins: This week, we consider the type of society that could be found in Roman Britain, including the different legal statuses and ranks a person could hold. We also look at specific types of evidence – inscriptions and writing tablets – that provide insights and personal details of specific individuals and events. These sources underscore that Roman Britain had a very mixed population, with individuals drawn from across the Roman empire, but separated into a very hierarchical society.

Week one – joining the Roman empire

Prof Rob Collins: Roman Britain has been described as the most researched province in the entire Roman empire, and there is an incredible amount of interesting and exciting information about the era – discovered by archaeologists, written about by ancient historians, and that can be seen in museums and at historic sites. The Roman period was the first time in Britain’s history that its varied regions and people became more unified and joined a larger, international empire. Between AD 43 – the year of Emperor Claudius’ invasion and the start of the conquest of Britain – up until about the year AD 410, Britain was part of the Roman empire. Across these 370 years, the island saw considerable change. This week we take a look late-Iron Age Britain, to better understand what life was like for Britons before being forcibly added to the Roman empire. We'll look at Julius Caesar’s expeditions, and the Claudian conquest, as well as Boudica’s famous rebellion.