Dress and Identity in Iron Age Britain A study of glass beads and other objects of personal adornment
by Elizabeth M. Foulds. xiv+338 pages; illustrated throughout in black & white with 16 colour plates. 301 2017. Available both in printed and e-versions.
Printed ISBN 9781784915261. £50.00 (No VAT). Epublication ISBN 9781784915278. £19.00 (Inc. UK VAT)
Studies of Iron Age artefacts from Britain tend to be dominated either by the study of metalwork, or pottery. This book presents a study not only of a different material, but also a different type of object: glass beads. These are found in a range of different sizes, shapes, colours, and employ a variety of different decorative motifs.
Through an analysis of glass beads from four key study regions in Britain, the book aims not only to address regional differences in appearance and chronology, but also to explore the role that this object played within the networks and relationships that constructed Iron Age society. It seeks to understand how they were used during their lives and how they came to be deposited within the archaeological record, in order to establish the social processes that glass beads were bound within.
The results indicate that glass beads were a strongly regionalised artefact, potentially reflecting differing local preferences for colour and motif. In addition, glass beads, in combination with several other types of object, were integral to Middle Iron Age dress. Given that the first century BC is often seen as a turning point in terms of settlements and material culture, this supports the possibility of strong continental exchange during an earlier period for either glass beads or raw materials. However, by the Late Iron Age in the first century BC and early first century AD, their use had severely diminished.