Based on a range of new archaeological research (most of it carried out by the author herself), this book breaks new ground. It examines changes in the Western provinces in the fourth and early fifth centuries, which ultimately resulted in the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.
First, the author investigates regional variation within the late Roman West: important differences are found between the heavily militarised provinces of the frontier and those furthur west, and the general shift of focus from one area to another is clearly visible as the fourth century comes to its end. In combination with other burial evidence, the movement of people can be traced through the objects they were wearing, and the activity of the Roman military on the frontiers can be investigated through badges of office - the crossbow brooch and the belt set. Even in the fourth century, the increasing importance of the Germanic-style culture is becoming apparent, corresponding to the breakdown of much Roman-inspired culture in the fifth century.
All these strands are skillfully brought together in Dr Swift's new account of the end of the Roman West and its legacy to the post-Roman world.
Ellen Swift studied archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in London, where she was also awarded her PhD. She has worked on a variety of archaeological sites in Britain and abroad. This is her first full-length book.