Roman Britain: A Very Short Introduction (2nd Edition)
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For four centuries Britain was an integral part of the Roman Empire, a political system stretching from Turkey to Portugal and from the Red Sea to the Tyne and beyond. Its involvement with Rome started long before the Conquest launched by the Emperor Claudius in 43 AD, and it continued to be a part of the Roman world for some time after the final break with Roman rule. Bringing together archaeological investigation and historical scholarship, Peter Salway explores
some of the key issues arising from this period in Britain's history, discussing the question of identity at this time and analysing the importance of widespread literacy in Roman Britain. Covering the period from Julius Caesar's first forays into Britain and Claudius' subsequent conquest, as well as
Britain under the later Roman Empire, Salway outlines the key events of this time period, providing a focus on society in Roman Britain, and offering a thoughtful consideration of the aftermath of Roman rule.
In the new edition of this Very Short Introduction, Peter Salway makes a number of essential updates in light of recent research in the area. He looks at issues of ethnicity, 'Britishness', and post-colonialism, provides alternative theories to the end of the Roman period in Britain, and draws parallels between the history of Roman Britain and a wide range of other periods, territories, and themes, including the modern experience of empires and national stereotypes.
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About the Author
Peter Salway has been a Special Advisor on Roman Britain to the National Trust Chedworth Roman Villa Development Project since the early 1990s to the present. He has written a 5-year excavation plan and a 15-year research agenda for the next stage of the project. He is the author of The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain (OUP, 1993) and The Frontier People of Roman Britain (CUP, 2009).
Forest. Wide variations occurred in the character of settlement across the regions. In broad terms, England from the Humber to the West Country (certainly as far as and including Somerset) and the eastern part of South Wales had a similar pattern of closely spaced agricultural settlements, in form mostly derived from Iron Age predecessors with some new elements, including a fairly small minority of examples of development into Roman-style villas. It is becoming clear from the material remains
centuries, except for the early examples in the south-east. The construction of the road network over the second half of the 1st century, initially for military and security purposes, introduced new factors into the rural economy, including the development of large roadside villages or small towns (Map 6). These provided local markets for the countryside, through which Roman consumer goods trickled down to the country population. There were important exceptions to this largely farming scene.
the land. There, the estate system which under the Late Republic had relied on a ready supply of cheap slaves from foreign wars had, in the course of the Early Empire, moved extensively to letting-out to large numbers of free tenant farmers on short leases. The disastrous economic conditions of the 3rd century over large parts of the empire encouraged drift from the land. In reply, Diocletian more or less created a tied peasantry (the coloni) by law, though the details and extent are obscure.
The British provincials successfully took on the barbarian invaders by themselves, and henceforth—as it turned out—ceased forever to be under Roman rule. That leaves us with the fascinating question of whether the permanent break was inevitable. It is critical to recall that the revolt was against a usurper. Britain had been under usurping regimes before, and there is no reason to suppose that anyone in Britain would have imagined that normality would never be restored. They had been part of the
though often with insular variations. This has led to unresolved debate among the prehistorians as to whether the changes that succeeded one another primarily reflect actual invasions on a substantial scale, the arrival of relatively small numbers of influential or conquering newcomers (such as the later Normans), or the exchange of ideas through travel and trade. But whatever the mechanism, Britain had reached the point by Caesar’s time where, as he himself says, the tribes he met in the parts