Ordovices were one of the Celtic tribes living in Great Britain
before the Roman invasion. Their tribal lands were located in
Wales and England between the
Silures to the south
Deceangli to the north-east. The
Ordovices were conquered by
the Roman governor
Gnaeus Julius Agricola
Gnaeus Julius Agricola in the campaign of AD
The Celtic name *ordo-wik- could be cognate with the words for
"hammer": Irish 'Ord', Welsh 'Gordd' (with a G- prothetic) and Breton
'Horzh' (with a H- prothetic).
Ordovices farmed and kept sheep, and built fortified strongholds
and hill forts. They were among the few British tribes that resisted
the Roman invasion. The resistance was mainly organised by the Celtic
leader Caratacus, exiled in their lands after the defeat of his tribe
in the Battle of the Medway.
Caratacus became the warlord of the
Ordovices and neighbouring Silures, and a Roman public enemy in the
50s AD. Following the Battle of Caer Caradoc, where governor Publius
Ostorius Scapula defeated Caratacus, the
Ordovices were no longer a
threat to Rome, probably due to heavy losses.
In the 70s, the
Ordovices rebelled against Roman occupation and
destroyed a cavalry squadron. This act of war provoked an equally
strong response from Agricola, who, according to Tacitus, exterminated
almost the whole tribe. No other mention of the tribe appears in
the historical records, but in view of the mountainous terrain of the
lands of the Ordovices, it is questionable whether Agricola could have
wiped out the entire population.
The name of this tribe appears to be preserved in the place name
Dinorwig ("Fort of the Ordovices") in North Wales.
Ordovician geological period was first described by Charles
Lapworth in 1879, based on rocks located in the lands of the
List of Celtic tribes
^ Agricola c. 18, caesaque prope universa gente, "with almost the
whole tribe having been cut down"
Ordovices at Roman-Britain.org
Ordovices at Romans in Britain
Iron Age tribes in Britain
Part of: Celti