Foot-fall and Hoof-hit. Agencies, Movements, Materialities, and Identities; and Later Prehistoric and Romano-British Trackways

Adrian Chadwick

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In archaeological considerations of Iron Age and Romano-British landscapes, trackways are usually interpreted in purely normative terms, merely as means of getting from one settlement to another, or as functional features to assist with the herding of animals. In these somewhat static expositions, the role of trackways as places in themselves, and their long-term importance in constructions of social identity and memory, are often overlooked, as are the complex relationships between people and animals within the landscape. Recent theoretical ideas concerning relational agency and identity, materiality and movement have much to offer in terms of our archaeological understandings of these features. This paper explores the interpretative potential of such approaches using case studies of Iron Age and Romano-British trackways from Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Integrating theories of identity, embodiment, materiality, relationality and practice highlights the sedentarism of previous explanations, and allows for much more nuanced accounts of highly dynamic, mobile meshworks, where agency resided in complex constraints and affordances between people, animals and the materiality of the lived-in landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-120
Number of pages28
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Issue number01
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016



  • Iron Age, Romano-British, trackways, movement, relational agency, memory

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