Life-Spans and Oral Memory in Post-Roman Britain1

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F. Johnson


Three erroneous assumptions have plagued the study of Post-Roman Britain. That the maximum expected life-span has not changed between 500 and the modern era, that events occurring during the lifetime of the oldest person in a community were accurately remembered, and that the information was relayed to the “historian” accurately. Together these assumptions have led scholars to believe information written up to a century before the time of writing could be useful in reconstructing the period. All three premises will be challenged below, resulting in a significantly lower maximum life-span than the modern era, a realization that history is remembered within the active lifetime of an individual, and a more complex understanding of the accuracy of oral memory.

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Johnson, F. (2023). Life-Spans and Oral Memory in Post-Roman Britain1. International Journal of Anthropology, 38(1-2), 43-66.