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A Brief History of Pre -Roman and Roman Britain. Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Britain#The_Late_pre-Roman_Iron_Age_.28LPRIA.29. Pre-Roman Britain.

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a brief history of pre roman and roman britain

A Brief History ofPre-Roman andRoman Britain

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Britain#The_Late_pre-Roman_Iron_Age_.28LPRIA.29

pre roman britain
Pre-Roman Britain

- Prior to Roman occupation, the British Isles (includes the areas we now know as England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland) were inhabited by various Celtic peoples.

Britons (South Eastern Britain)

Picts (Northern Britain and Scotland)

Gaels (Ireland)

Most historians believe that these Celtic tribes migrated from Continental Europe (Gaul) as they were driven out by Germanic Tribes and the Roman Armies.

( The Language of Literature: Teacher’s Edition)


United Kingdom – Current Map

Pre-Roman Britain – Brythonic Tribes

Image source: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/europe/united_kingdom_rel87.jpg

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brython

celtic influence

‘The Celtic culture as a whole, developing very early on about 1000 BC, and reaching its finest expression around 500 BC, is a fundamental part of Europe's past. This is not to underrate the subsequent influence of the Latin and Germanic peoples on this part of Europe. But the Celtic foundation was already present. Thus, European culture is inconceivable without the Celtic contribution. Even when the presence of the Celts in their original territory is no longer obvious, we must acknowledge the fact: they are at the root of the Western European peoples who have made history’

(Hermann Noelle, “Die Kelten und IhreStadtManching” cited in Cunliffe, 214).

Celtic Influence

celtic culture

Skilled in the art of warfare.

  • Created beautifully wrought and highly decorated shields, daggers, spears, helmets and swords.
  • Produced superb mirrors, toilet articles, drinking vessels and personal jewelry of exquisite form and decoration.
  • Developed a sophisticated plough that revolutionized agriculture in the rich, heavy soils of their new lands.
  • Society was well-organized in urban settlements, the capitals of the tribal chiefs.
  • Crafts were highly developed; bronze urns, bowls and torques illustrate their metalworking skills.
  • (Peter Williams, Ph. D. http://www.britannia.com/history/narprehist2.html)

Celtic Culture

celtic religion

Celtic religion focused on the priestly class known as the Druids.

  • Druids were the guardians of traditions and learning.
  • Preserved the oral tradition of literature and education.
  • Druids glorified the pursuits of war, feasting and horsemanship.
  • Druids controlled the calendar and the planting of crops.
  • Druids presided over the religious festivals and rituals that honored local deities.
  • ( The Language of Literature: Teacher’s Edition)

Celtic Religion

celtic language lit

The Celts in Britain used a language derived from a branch of Celtic known as either Brythonic or Goidelic.

  • Brythonic eventually gave rise to the Welsh, Cornish and Breton languages
  • Goidelic eventually gave rise to the Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx languages.
  • No evidence of written literature
  • Oral tradition
    • Legends
    • Myths
    • Tribal / family history
    • Religion
  • ( The Language of Literature: Teacher’s Edition)

Celtic Language & Lit

roman invasion

The first Roman invasion of the the British Isles took place in 55 B.C. under war leader Julius Caesar.

  • Caesar returned one year later, but this did not lead to permanent occupation.
  • Caesar’s comments concerning the natives included: "All the Britons paint themselves with woad, which gives their skin a bluish color and makes them look very dreadful in battle.”
  • 43 AD - expedition against Britain ordered by Emperor Claudius.
  • Claudius sent General AulusPlautius and an army of 40,000 men.
  • Led to a series of battles between the Roman army and the various Celtic tribes.
  • (Peter Williams, Ph.D. http://www.britannia.com/history/narromhist.html)

Roman Invasion

roman invasion cont d

Because of the greater discipline of the Roman Army and general lack of co-ordination between the leaders of the various Celtic tribes, the Romans subdued much of Britain in the short space of 40 years.

  • Romans built Hadrian’s Wall to keep out attackers from the North.
  • “Romanized” Britain by introducing cities, stone roads, written scholarship, and Christianity
  • Rome retains control in Britain for nearly 400 years until they are eventually driven out by Germanic tribes such as the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians
  • This era (known as the Dark Ages) gave rise to the legends of King Arthur.
  • (Peter Williams, Ph.D. http://www.britannia.com/history/narromhist.html)

Roman Invasion Cont’d