Accessibility statement

Life and Death in Iron Age Britain and Ireland


Module leader: Ian Armit



This module will introduce students to the archaeology of Iron Age Britain and Ireland from around 800 BC to the Roman incursions of the 1st century AD (continuing to around AD 400 in northern Britain and Ireland, beyond the Roman frontier). It will focus on the study of identity, cosmology and social relations, examining the ways in which different communities across the British Isles express these ideas through objects, landscapes, monumental domestic architecture, and treatments of the dead. Students will become familiar with the evidence from key areas, including the hillfort-dominated landscapes of Wessex; the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland, with their monumental broch towers; and the uplands of East Yorkshire with their rich barrow cemeteries.



  • To provide a critical examination of the archaeology of Iron Age Britain and Ireland, with a focus on identity, social relations and mortuary practice. 
  • To allow students to critically examine the key forms of archaeological evidence (including monumental domestic architecture, hillforts, art styles and funerary practices) that have been variously deployed to formulate ideas concerning past social and cultural identities.
  • To introduce students to formative and current debates underlying studies of Iron Age Britain and Ireland.

Learning Outcomes

Subject content

By the end of the module the students will be able to:

  • Discuss with confidence the nature and development of Iron Age societies in Britain and Ireland;
  • Critically evaluate the evidence for Iron Age domestic and funerary activity in Britain and Ireland with a focus on key regions;
  • Critically evaluate the different interpretative and methodological approaches used to understand the Iron Age;
  • Understand the nature and importance of regional variability within the British and Irish Iron Age;

Academic and graduate skills

  • Present ideas confidently in discussion and debate;
  • Work with a team to create presentations;
  • Convey complex ideas in an analytical framework through essay-writing.


Structure and content

Each week there will be a two-hour session; in most weeks, the first hour will be taken up by a lecture and the second hour will include group discussions and student presentations. All sessions will be led by Ian Armit. Students will spend the rest of the time allocated to this module in private study preparing for seminars and written pieces of work.



Lectures will be given by Ian Armit, with occasional guest lecturers where opportunity allows.  These will provide the backbone of the module and will provide you with orientation on the British Iron Age, key evidence and debates, as well as the lecturer's own perspective on these. It is your job, through the seminars and your reading, to critically assess these arguments. 



All students will be taught as a single group, run by Ian Armit.  Seminars will sometimes involve a whole-group discussion, but some weeks will include brief (c.15 min) presentations, break-out discussions, workshops, and other exercises.  You will be presenting in groups of two or three. Please see required reading and preparation for each session.