7.1 Introduction

This theme can be seen as the goal to which research from the other themes contribute: understanding people and societies in the Iron Age. As such, there is considerable overlap between the topics discussed in this section and the rest of the document, and the section as a whole is more aspirational – there are many more questions than answers. As seen in the earlier sections, the basic information for constructing a picture of later prehistoric life is available, despite many gaps. A wealth of data has been accumulated over the last 150 years or so. Some of the ‘black holes’ highlighted in the British Iron Age research framework (Haselgrove et al. 2001) have been partly filled (e.g. Poller 2005; Davies 2006). Much more is known about the houses, enclosures and landscapes that people lived in, but these pieces of evidence need to be knitted together into a broader picture. How scholars go about this has always proved problematic and subject to the vagaries of contemporary fashion in interpreting the past, which can be traced through the historiography of the subject (see Theme 2). The current theme aims to consider broad questions of people and society, moving from consideration of individuals and group identities to models of social structure, as well as exploring how groups interact. Finally, it will consider beliefs, from attitudes to death, to broader cosmologies, and how to develop a broader understanding of these through archaeology.

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