Roman occupation of Britain
   HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

Roman Britain was the period in
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
when large parts of the island of
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island and the List of is ...
were under
occupation Occupation commonly refers to: *Occupation (human activity), or job, one's role in society, often a regular activity performed for payment *Occupation (protest), political demonstration by holding public or symbolic spaces *Military occupation, th ...
by the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
. The occupation lasted from AD 43 to AD 410. During that time, the territory conquered was raised to the status of a
Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. Each province was ruled ...
.
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in Caes ...
invaded Britain in 55 and 54 BC as part of his
Gallic Wars The Gallic Wars were waged between 58 and 50 BC by the Roman general Julius Caesar against the peoples of Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celts, Celtic and A ...
. According to Caesar, the
Britons British people or Britons, also known colloquially as Brits, are the citizens of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies.: British nationality ...
had been overrun or culturally assimilated by other Celtic tribes during the
British Iron Age The British Iron Age is a conventional name used in the archaeology of Great Britain, referring to the prehistoric and protohistoric phases of the Iron Age culture of the main island and the smaller islands, typically excluding prehistoric Ire ...
and had been aiding Caesar's enemies. He received tribute, installed the friendly king
Mandubracius Mandubracius or Mandubratius was a king of the Trinovantes of south-eastern Britain in the 1st century BC. History Mandubracius was the son of a Trinovantian king, named Imanuentius in some manuscripts of Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Cae ...
over the
Trinovantes The Trinovantēs (Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and Br ...
, and returned to
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celts, Celtic and Aquitani tribes, encompassing present-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy (only dur ...
. Planned invasions under
Augustus Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Roman Pri ...
were called off in 34, 27, and 25 BC. In 40 AD,
Caligula Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (31 August 12 – 24 January 41), better known by his nickname Caligula (), was the third Roman emperor, ruling from 37 until his assassination in 41. He was the son of the popular Roman general Germanicu ...
assembled 200,000 men at the Channel on the continent, only to have them gather seashells ('' musculi'') according to
Suetonius Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (), commonly referred to as Suetonius ( ; c. AD 69 – after AD 122), was a Roman historian who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre ...
, perhaps as a symbolic gesture to proclaim Caligula's victory over the sea. Three years later,
Claudius Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor, ruling from AD 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Claudius was born to Nero Claudius Drusus, Drusu ...
directed four legions to invade Britain and restore the exiled king
Verica Verica (early 1st century AD) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people British people or Britons, also known colloquially as Brits, are the citizens of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom o ...
over the
Atrebates The Atrebates (Gaulish language, Gaulish: *''Atrebatis'', 'dwellers, land-owners, possessors of the soil') were a Belgae, Belgic tribe of the Iron Age Europe, Iron Age and the Roman Empire, Roman period, originally dwelling in the Artois region. ...
. The Romans defeated the
Catuvellauni The Catuvellauni (Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and B ...
, and then organized their conquests as the Province of Britain (). By 47 AD, the Romans held the lands southeast of the
Fosse Way The Fosse Way was a Roman road built in Roman Britain, Britain during the first and second centuries AD that linked Isca Dumnoniorum (Exeter) in the southwest and Lindum Colonia (Lincoln, England, Lincoln) to the northeast, via Lindinis (Ilches ...
. Control over Wales was delayed by reverses and the effects of Boudica's uprising, but the Romans expanded steadily northward. The conquest of Britain continued under command of
Gnaeus Julius Agricola Gnaeus Julius Agricola (; 13 June 40 – 23 August 93) was a Roman general and politician responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain refers to the conquest of the island of Great Britain, Britain by ...
(77–84), who expanded the Roman Empire as far as
Caledonia Caledonia (; ) was the Latin name used by the Roman Empire to refer to the part of Great Britain () that lies north of the River Forth, which includes most of the land area of Scotland. Today, it is used as a romantic or poetic name for all ...
. In mid-84 AD, Agricola faced the armies of the
Caledonians The Caledonians (; la, Caledones or '; grc-gre, Καληδῶνες, ''Kalēdōnes'') or the Caledonian Confederacy were a Brittonic languages, Brittonic-speaking (Insular Celts, Celtic) tribal confederacy in what is now Scotland during the ...
, led by
Calgacus According to Tacitus, Calgacus (sometimes Calgacos or Galgacus) was a chieftain of the Caledonian Confederacy who fought the Ancient Rome, Roman army of Gnaeus Julius Agricola at the Battle of Mons Graupius in northern Scotland in AD 83 or 84. Hi ...
, at the
Battle of Mons Graupius The Battle of Mons Graupius was, according to Tacitus, a Roman Empire, Roman military victory in what is now Scotland, taking place in AD 83 or, less probably, 84. The exact location of the battle is a matter of debate. Historians have long que ...
. Battle casualties were estimated by
Tacitus Publius Cornelius Tacitus, known simply as Tacitus ( , ; – ), was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historiography, Roman historians by modern scholars. The surviving portions of his t ...
to be upwards of 10,000 on the Caledonian side and about 360 on the Roman side. The bloodbath at Mons Graupius concluded the forty-year conquest of Britain, a period that possibly saw between 100,000 and 250,000 Britons killed. In the context of pre-industrial warfare and of a total population of Britain of 2 million, these are very high figures. Under the 2nd-century emperors
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Trâiānus Hadriānus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born in Italica (close to modern Santiponce in Spain), a Roman ''municipium'' founded by Italic peoples, Italic settlers ...
and
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (Latin: ''Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius''; 19 September 86 – 7 March 161) was Roman emperor from 138 to 161. He was the fourth of the Five Good Emperors from the Nerva–Antonine dynasty. Born into a senatorial ...
, two walls were built to defend the Roman province from the Caledonians, whose realms in the
Scottish Highlands The Highlands ( sco, the Hielands; gd, a’ Ghàidhealtachd , 'the place of the Gaels') is a historical region of Scotland. Culturally, the Highlands and the Scottish Lowlands, Lowlands diverged from the Late Middle Ages into the modern period ...
were never controlled. Around 197 AD, the Severan Reforms divided Britain into two provinces:
Britannia Superior Britannia Superior (Latin for "Upper Roman Britain, Britain") was a Roman province, province of Roman Britain created after the civil war between Septimius Severus and Clodius Albinus, Claudius Albinus. Although Herodian credits Severus with divi ...
and
Britannia Inferior Britannia Inferior (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
. During the Diocletian Reforms, at the end of the 3rd century, Britannia was divided into four provinces under the direction of a
vicarius ''Vicarius'' is a Latin word, meaning ''substitute'' or ''deputy''. It is the root of the English word "vicar". History Originally, in ancient Rome, this office was equivalent to the later English "viceroy, vice-" (as in "wikt:deputy, deputy" ...
, who administered the . A fifth province, Valentia, is attested in the later 4th century. For much of the later period of the Roman occupation, Britannia was subject to
barbarian A barbarian (or savage) is someone who is perceived to be either uncivilized or primitive. The designation is usually applied as a generalization based on a popular stereotype In social psychology, a stereotype is a generalized belief ...
invasions and often came under the control of imperial usurpers and imperial pretenders. The final Roman withdrawal from Britain occurred around 410; the native kingdoms are considered to have formed
Sub-Roman Britain Sub-Roman Britain is the period of late antiquity in Great Britain between the End of Roman rule in Britain, end of Roman rule and the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, Anglo-Saxon settlement. The term was originally used to describe archaeo ...
after that. Following the conquest of the Britons, a distinctive
Romano-British culture The Romano-British culture arose in Britain under the Roman Empire following the Roman conquest of Britain, Roman conquest in AD 43 and the creation of the Roman Britain, province of Britannia. It arose as a fusion of the imported Roman culture ...
emerged as the Romans introduced improved
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
,
urban planning Urban planning, also known as town planning, city planning, regional planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, ...
,
industrial production Industrial production is a measure of output of the industrial sector In macroeconomics, the secondary sector of the economy is an economic sector in the Three-sector model, three-sector theory that describes the role of manufacturing. It enc ...
, and
architecture Architecture is the art and technique of designing and building, as distinguished from the skills associated with construction. It is both the process and the product of sketching, conceiving, planning, designing, and construction, constructin ...
. The Roman goddess
Britannia Britannia () is the national personification of United Kingdom, Britain as a helmeted female warrior holding a trident and shield. An image first used in classical antiquity, the Latin ''Britannia'' was the name variously applied to the Britis ...
became the female personification of Britain. After the initial invasions, Roman historians generally only mention Britain in passing. Thus, most present knowledge derives from
archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, sites, and cultural landscapes ...
investigations and occasional
epigraphic Epigraphy () is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the wr ...
evidence lauding the Britannic achievements of an
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), ...
. Roman citizens settled in Britain from many parts of the Empire.


History


Early contact

Britain was known to the
Classical world Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (derived ) is the systematic study and the documentation of the human activity. The time period of event before ...
. The
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group and nation indigenous to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, namely Greece, Greek Cypriots, Cyprus, Greeks in Albania, Albania, Greeks in Italy, ...
, the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
ns and the
Carthaginians The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
traded for Cornish
tin Tin is a chemical element with the Chemical symbol, symbol Sn (from la, :la:Stannum, stannum) and atomic number 50. Tin is a silvery-coloured metal. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand wit ...
in the 4th century BC. The Greeks referred to the ', or "tin islands", and placed them near the west coast of Europe. The Carthaginian sailor Himilco is said to have visited the island in the 6th or 5th century BC and the Greek explorer
Pytheas Pytheas of Massalia (; Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the followin ...
in the 4th. It was regarded as a place of mystery, with some writers refusing to believe it existed. The first direct Roman contact was when
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in Caes ...
undertook two expeditions in 55 and 54 BC, as part of his conquest of
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celts, Celtic and Aquitani tribes, encompassing present-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy (only dur ...
, believing the Britons were helping the Gallic resistance. The first expedition was more a reconnaissance than a full invasion and gained a foothold on the coast of
Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River ...
but was unable to advance further because of storm damage to the ships and a lack of cavalry. Despite the military failure, it was a political success, with the
Roman Senate The Roman Senate ( la, Senātus Rōmānus) was a governing and advisory assembly in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the Rome, city of Rome (traditionally found ...
declaring a 20-day public holiday in Rome to honour the unprecedented achievement of obtaining hostages from Britain and defeating Belgic tribes on returning to the continent. The second invasion involved a substantially larger force and Caesar coerced or invited many of the native Celtic tribes to pay tribute and give hostages in return for peace. A friendly local king,
Mandubracius Mandubracius or Mandubratius was a king of the Trinovantes of south-eastern Britain in the 1st century BC. History Mandubracius was the son of a Trinovantian king, named Imanuentius in some manuscripts of Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Cae ...
, was installed, and his rival,
Cassivellaunus Cassivellaunus was a historical Celtic Britons, British military leader who led the defence against Caesar's invasions of Britain, Julius Caesar's second expedition to Britain in 54 BC. He led an alliance of tribes against Ancient Rome, Roman for ...
, was brought to terms. Hostages were taken, but historians disagree over whether any tribute was paid after Caesar returned to Gaul. Caesar conquered no territory and left no troops behind, but he established clients and brought Britain into Rome's sphere of influence.
Augustus Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Roman Pri ...
planned invasions in 34, 27 and 25 BC, but circumstances were never favourable, and the relationship between Britain and Rome settled into one of diplomacy and trade.
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. The father of Pompey was called "Pompeius Strabo". A native of Sicily so clear-sighted that he could see ...
, writing late in Augustus's reign, claimed that taxes on trade brought in more annual revenue than any conquest could. Archaeology shows that there was an increase in imported luxury goods in southeastern Britain. Strabo also mentions British kings who sent embassies to Augustus, and Augustus's own ' refers to two British kings he received as refugees. When some of
Tiberius Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus (; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March AD 37) was the second Roman emperor. He reigned from AD 14 until 37, succeeding his stepfather, the first Roman emperor Augustus. Tiberius was born in Rome in 42 BC. His father ...
's ships were carried to Britain in a storm during his campaigns in
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
in 16 AD, they came back with tales of monsters. Rome appears to have encouraged a balance of power in southern Britain, supporting two powerful kingdoms: the
Catuvellauni The Catuvellauni (Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and B ...
, ruled by the descendants of
Tasciovanus Tasciovanus (died c. 9 AD) was a historical king of the Catuvellauni The Catuvellauni (Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a ...
, and the
Atrebates The Atrebates (Gaulish language, Gaulish: *''Atrebatis'', 'dwellers, land-owners, possessors of the soil') were a Belgae, Belgic tribe of the Iron Age Europe, Iron Age and the Roman Empire, Roman period, originally dwelling in the Artois region. ...
, ruled by the descendants of
Commius Commius (Commios, Comius, Comnios) was a king of the Belgae, Belgic nation of the Atrebates, initially in Gaul, then in Prehistoric Britain, Britain, in the 1st century BC. Ally of Caesar When Julius Caesar conquered the Atrebates in Gaul in 57 ...
. This policy was followed until 39 or 40 AD, when
Caligula Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (31 August 12 – 24 January 41), better known by his nickname Caligula (), was the third Roman emperor, ruling from 37 until his assassination in 41. He was the son of the popular Roman general Germanicu ...
received an exiled member of the Catuvellaunian dynasty and planned an invasion of Britain that collapsed in farcical circumstances before it left Gaul. When
Claudius Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor, ruling from AD 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Claudius was born to Nero Claudius Drusus, Drusu ...
successfully invaded in 43 AD, it was in aid of another fugitive British ruler,
Verica Verica (early 1st century AD) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people British people or Britons, also known colloquially as Brits, are the citizens of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom o ...
of the Atrebates.


Roman invasion

The invasion force in 43 AD was led by
Aulus Plautius Aulus Plautius was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', sh ...
, but it is unclear how many legions were sent. The ', commanded by future emperor
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from AD 69 to 79. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empir ...
, was the only one directly attested to have taken part. The ', the ' (later styled ') and the ' (later styled ') are known to have served during the
Boudican Revolt The Boudican revolt was an armed uprising by native Celtic tribes against the Roman Empire. It took place c. 60–61 AD in the Roman Britain, Roman province of Britain, and was led by Boudica, the Queen of the Iceni. The uprising was motivated ...
of 60/61, and were probably there since the initial invasion. This is not certain because the
Roman army The Roman army (Latin language, Latin: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of Ancient Rome, from the Roman Kingdom (c. 500 BC) to the Roman Republic (500–31 BC) and the Roman Empire (31 BC–395 AD), and its ...
was flexible, with units being moved around whenever necessary. The ' may have been permanently stationed, with records showing it at
Eboracum Eboracum () was a castra, fort and later a coloniae, city in the Roman province of Roman Britain, Britannia. In its prime it was the largest town in northern Britain and a provincial capital. The site remained occupied after the decline of the ...
(
York York is a cathedral city with Roman Britain, Roman origins, sited at the confluence of the rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Foss, Foss in North Yorkshire, England. It is the historic county town of Yorkshire. The city has many hist ...
) in 71 and on a building inscription there dated 108, before being destroyed in the east of the Empire, possibly during the
Bar Kokhba revolt The Bar Kokhba revolt ( he, , links=yes, ''Mereḏ Bar Kōḵḇāʾ‎''), or the 'Jewish Expedition' as the Romans named it ( la, Expeditio Judaica), was a rebellion by the Jews of the Judea (Roman province), Roman province of Judea, led b ...
. The invasion was delayed by a troop mutiny until an imperial
freedman A freedman or freedwoman is a formerly enslaved person who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, enslaved people were freed by manumission (granted freedom by their captor-owners), emancipation (granted freedo ...
persuaded them to overcome their fear of crossing the
Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% of Water distribution on Earth, Earth's water. An ocean can also refer to any of the ...
and campaigning beyond the limits of the known world. They sailed in three divisions, and probably landed at
Richborough Richborough () is a settlement north of Sandwich, Kent, Sandwich on the east coast of the county of Kent, England. Richborough lies close to the Isle of Thanet. The population of the settlement is included in the civil parish of Ash, Dover, A ...
in
Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River ...
; at least part of the force may have landed near
Fishbourne, West Sussex Fishbourne is a village and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lo ...
. The Catuvellauni and their allies were defeated in two battles: the first, assuming a Richborough landing, on the
river Medway The River Medway is a river in South East England. It rises in the High Weald AONB, High Weald, East Sussex and flows through Tonbridge, Maidstone and the Medway conurbation in Kent, before emptying into the Thames Estuary near Sheerness, a to ...
, the second on the
river Thames The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and th ...
. One of their leaders,
Togodumnus Togodumnus (died AD 43) was king of the British Catuvellauni tribe, whose capital was at St. Albans, at the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, Roman conquest. He can probably be identified with the legendary British king Guiderius. He is usual ...
, was killed, but his brother
Caratacus Caratacus ( Brythonic ''*Caratācos'', Middle Welsh ''Caratawc''; Welsh ''Caradog''; Breton ''Karadeg''; Greek ''Καράτακος''; variants Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic bra ...
survived to continue resistance elsewhere. Plautius halted at the Thames and sent for Claudius, who arrived with reinforcements, including artillery and elephants, for the final march to the Catuvellaunian capital,
Camulodunum Camulodunum (; la, ), the Roman Empire, Ancient Roman name for what is now Colchester in Essex, was an important Castra, castrum and city in Roman Britain, and the first capital of the province. A temporary "strapline" in the 1960s identifying ...
(
Colchester Colchester ( ) is a city status in the United Kingdom, city in Essex, in the East of England. It had a population of 122,000 in 2011. The demonym is Colcestrian. Colchester occupies the site of Camulodunum, the first Colonia (Roman), major c ...
). Vespasian subdued the southwest,
Cogidubnus Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus (or Togidubnus, Togidumnus or similar; see naming difficulties) was a 1st-century king of the Regni The Regni, Regini, or Regnenses were a Tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer ...
was set up as a friendly king of several territories, and treaties were made with tribes outside direct Roman control.


Establishment of Roman rule

After capturing the south of the island, the Romans turned their attention to what is now
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
. The
Silures The Silures ( , ) were a powerful and warlike tribe or tribal confederation of Iron Age Britain, ancient Britain, occupying what is now south east Wales and perhaps some adjoining areas. They were bordered to the north by the Ordovices; to the e ...
,
Ordovices The Ordovīcēs (Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and Britt ...
and
Deceangli The Deceangli or Deceangi (Welsh: Tegeingl) were one of the Celtic tribes living in Great Britain, Britain, prior to the Roman invasion of Britain, Roman invasion of the island. The tribe lived in the region near the modern city of Chester but i ...
remained implacably opposed to the invaders and for the first few decades were the focus of Roman military attention, despite occasional minor revolts among Roman allies like the
Brigantes The Brigantes were Ancient Britons who in pre-Roman times controlled the largest section of what would become Northern England. Their territory, often referred to as Brigantia, was centred in what was later known as Yorkshire. The Greek ge ...
and the
Iceni The Iceni ( , ) or Eceni were a Celtic Britons, Brittonic tribe of eastern Britain during the British Iron Age, Iron Age and early Roman Britain, Roman era. Their territory included present-day Norfolk and parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, an ...
. The Silures were led by
Caratacus Caratacus ( Brythonic ''*Caratācos'', Middle Welsh ''Caratawc''; Welsh ''Caradog''; Breton ''Karadeg''; Greek ''Καράτακος''; variants Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic bra ...
, and he carried out an effective guerrilla campaign against Governor
Publius Ostorius Scapula file:Roman baths ostorius 01.JPG, Publius Ostorius Scapula standing at the terrace of the Roman Baths (Bath) Publius Ostorius Scapula (died 52) was a Roman empire, Roman statesman and general who governed Roman Britain, Britain from 47 until his ...
. Finally, in 51, Ostorius lured Caratacus into a set-piece battle and defeated him. The British leader sought refuge among the Brigantes, but their queen,
Cartimandua Cartimandua or Cartismandua (reigned ) was a 1st century in Roman Britain, 1st-century queen of the Brigantes, a Celts, Celtic people living in what is now northern England. She came to power around the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, and ...
, proved her loyalty by surrendering him to the Romans. He was brought as a captive to Rome, where a dignified speech he made during Claudius's triumph persuaded the emperor to spare his life. The Silures were still not pacified, and Cartimandua's ex-husband
Venutius Venutius was a 1st-century king of the Brigantes The Brigantes were Ancient Britons who in pre-Roman times controlled the largest section of what would become Northern England. Their territory, often referred to as Brigantia, was centre ...
replaced Caratacus as the most prominent leader of British resistance. On
Nero Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus ( ; born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68), was the fifth Roman emperor and final emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, reigning from AD 54 unti ...
's accession Roman Britain extended as far north as Lindum.
Gaius Suetonius Paulinus Gaius Suetonius Paulinus (fl. AD 41–69) was a Roman people, Roman general best known as the commander who defeated the rebellion of Boudica. Early life Little is known of Suetonius' family, but it likely came from Pisaurum (modern Pesaro), a to ...
, the conqueror of
Mauretania Mauretania (; ) is the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) ar ...
(modern day
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religi ...
and
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
), then became governor of Britain, and in 60 and 61 he moved against Mona (
Anglesey Anglesey (; cy, (Ynys) Môn ) is an island off the north-west coast of Wales. It forms a Local government in Wales, principal area known as the Isle of Anglesey, that includes Holy Island, Anglesey, Holy Island across the narrow Cymyran Strai ...
) to settle accounts with
Druid A druid was a member of the high-ranking class in ancient Celts, Celtic cultures. Druids were religious leaders as well as legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. Druids left no written accoun ...
ism once and for all. Paulinus led his army across the
Menai Strait The Menai Strait ( cy, Afon Menai, the "river Menai") is a narrow stretch of shallow tidal water about long, which separates the island of Anglesey from the mainland of Wales. It varies in width from from Fort Belan to Abermenai Point to from ...
and massacred the Druids and burnt their sacred groves. While Paulinus was campaigning in Mona, the southeast of Britain rose in revolt under the leadership of
Boudica Boudica or Boudicca (, known in Latin chronicles as Boadicea or Boudicea, and in Welsh language, Welsh as ()), was a queen of the Celtic Britons, ancient British Iceni tribe, who led a Boudican Rebellion, failed uprising against the Roman Bri ...
. She was the widow of the recently deceased king of the Iceni, Prasutagus. The Roman historian Tacitus reports that Prasutagus had left a will leaving half his kingdom to Nero in the hope that the remainder would be left untouched. He was wrong. When his will was enforced, Rome responded by violently seizing the tribe's lands in full. Boudica protested. In consequence, Rome punished her and her daughters by flogging and rape. In response, the Iceni, joined by the
Trinovantes The Trinovantēs (Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and Br ...
, destroyed the Roman colony at Camulodunum (
Colchester Colchester ( ) is a city status in the United Kingdom, city in Essex, in the East of England. It had a population of 122,000 in 2011. The demonym is Colcestrian. Colchester occupies the site of Camulodunum, the first Colonia (Roman), major c ...
) and routed the part of the IXth Legion that was sent to relieve it. Paulinus rode to
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...
(then called
Londinium Londinium, also known as Roman London, was the capital of Roman Britain during most of the period of Roman rule. It was originally a settlement established on the current site of the City of London around AD 47–50. It sat at a key cross ...
), the rebels' next target, but concluded it could not be defended. Abandoned, it was destroyed, as was
Verulamium Verulamium was a town in Roman Britain. It was sited southwest of the modern city of St Albans in Hertfordshire, England. A large portion of the Roman city remains unexcavated, being now park and agricultural land, though much has been built upon ...
(St. Albans). Between seventy and eighty thousand people are said to have been killed in the three cities. But Paulinus regrouped with two of the three legions still available to him, chose a battlefield, and, despite being outnumbered by more than twenty to one, defeated the rebels in the
Battle of Watling Street The Boudican revolt was an armed uprising by native Celtic tribes against the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Repu ...
. Boudica died not long afterwards, by self-administered poison or by illness. During this time, the Emperor Nero considered withdrawing Roman forces from Britain altogether. There was further turmoil in 69, the "
Year of the Four Emperors The Year of the Four Emperors, AD 69, was the first civil war of the Roman Empire, during which four emperors ruled in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian. It is considered an important interval, marking the transition from the ...
". As civil war raged in Rome, weak governors were unable to control the legions in Britain, and Venutius of the Brigantes seized his chance. The Romans had previously defended Cartimandua against him, but this time were unable to do so. Cartimandua was evacuated, and Venutius was left in control of the north of the country. After Vespasian secured the empire, his first two appointments as governor,
Quintus Petillius Cerialis Quintus Petillius Cerialis Caesius Rufus ( AD 30 — after AD 83), otherwise known as Quintus Petillius Cerialis, was a Ancient Rome, Roman general and administrator who served in Roman Britain, Britain during Boudica's rebellion and went on to par ...
and
Sextus Julius Frontinus Sextus Julius Frontinus (c. 40 – 103 AD) was a prominent Roman Empire, Roman civil engineer, author, soldier and senator of the late 1st century AD. He was a successful general under Domitian, commanding forces in Roman Britain, and on the Rh ...
, took on the task of subduing the Brigantes and Silures respectively. Frontinus extended Roman rule to all of
South Wales South Wales ( cy, De Cymru) is a Regions of Wales, loosely defined region of Wales bordered by England to the east and mid Wales to the north. Generally considered to include the Historic counties of Wales, historic counties of Glamorgan and Mon ...
, and initiated exploitation of the mineral resources, such as the gold mines at
Dolaucothi The Dolaucothi Gold Mines (; cy, Mwynfeydd Aur Dolaucothi) (), also known as the Ogofau Gold Mine, are ancient Ancient Rome, Roman surface and underground mining, mines located in the valley of the River Cothi, near Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire, ...
. In the following years, the Romans conquered more of the island, increasing the size of Roman Britain. Governor
Gnaeus Julius Agricola Gnaeus Julius Agricola (; 13 June 40 – 23 August 93) was a Roman general and politician responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain refers to the conquest of the island of Great Britain, Britain by ...
, father-in-law to the historian
Tacitus Publius Cornelius Tacitus, known simply as Tacitus ( , ; – ), was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historiography, Roman historians by modern scholars. The surviving portions of his t ...
, conquered the
Ordovices The Ordovīcēs (Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and Britt ...
in 78. With the ' legion, Agricola defeated the
Caledonians The Caledonians (; la, Caledones or '; grc-gre, Καληδῶνες, ''Kalēdōnes'') or the Caledonian Confederacy were a Brittonic languages, Brittonic-speaking (Insular Celts, Celtic) tribal confederacy in what is now Scotland during the ...
in 84 at the
Battle of Mons Graupius The Battle of Mons Graupius was, according to Tacitus, a Roman Empire, Roman military victory in what is now Scotland, taking place in AD 83 or, less probably, 84. The exact location of the battle is a matter of debate. Historians have long que ...
, in north-east Scotland. This was the high-water mark of Roman territory in Britain: shortly after his victory, Agricola was recalled from Britain back to Rome, and the Romans initially retired to a more defensible line along the
Forth Forth or FORTH may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Forth magazine, ''forth'' magazine, an Internet magazine * Forth (album), ''Forth'' (album), by The Verve, 2008 * ''Forth'', a 2011 album by Proto-Kaw * Radio Forth, a group of independent lo ...
Clyde Clyde may refer to: People * Clyde (given name) Clyde is a given name. Notable people with this name include: * Clyde Arbuckle (1903–1998), American historian * Clyde Barrow (1909–1934), of the infamous American criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde ...
isthmus, freeing soldiers badly needed along other frontiers. For much of the history of Roman Britain, a large number of soldiers were garrisoned on the island. This required that the emperor station a trusted senior man as governor of the province. As a result, many future emperors served as governors or legates in this province, including
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from AD 69 to 79. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empir ...
,
Pertinax Publius Helvius Pertinax (; 1 August 126 – 28 March 193) was Roman emperor for the first three months of 193. He succeeded Commodus to become the first emperor during the tumultuous Year of the Five Emperors. Born the son of a freed slave, ...
, and
Gordian I Gordian I ( la, Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus; 158 – April 238 AD) was Roman emperor for 22 days with his son Gordian II in 238, the Year of the Six Emperors. Caught up in a rebellion against the Emperor Maximinus Thrax, he ...
.


Occupation of and retreat from southern Scotland

There is no historical source describing the decades that followed Agricola's recall. Even the name of his replacement is unknown. Archaeology has shown that some Roman forts south of the Forth–Clyde isthmus were rebuilt and enlarged; others appear to have been abandoned. By 87 the frontier had been consolidated on the
Stanegate The Stanegate (meaning "stone road" in Northumbrian dialect) was an important Roman road built in what is now northern England. It linked many forts including two that guarded important river crossings: Corstopitum (Corbridge) on the River Tyne ...
. Roman coins and pottery have been found circulating at native settlement sites in the
Scottish Lowlands The Lowlands ( sco, Lallans or ; gd, a' Ghalldachd, , place of the foreigners, ) is a cultural and historical region of Scotland. Culturally, the Lowlands and the Scottish Highlands, Highlands diverged from the Late Middle Ages into the moder ...
in the years before 100, indicating growing
Romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of text from a different writing system to the Latin script, Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing writ ...
. Some of the most important sources for this era are the writing tablets from the fort at
Vindolanda Vindolanda was a Roman Empire, Roman auxiliaries (Roman military), auxiliary fort (''Castra, castrum'') just south of Hadrian's Wall in northern England, which it originally pre-dated.British windo- 'fair, white, blessed', landa 'enclosure/mead ...
in
Northumberland Northumberland () is a ceremonial counties of England, county in Northern England, one of two counties in England which border with Scotland. Notable landmarks in the county include Alnwick Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Hadrian's Wall and Hexham Ab ...
, mostly dating to 90–110. These tablets provide evidence for the operation of a Roman fort at the edge of the Roman Empire, where officers' wives maintained polite society while merchants, hauliers and military personnel kept the fort operational and supplied. Around 105 there appears to have been a serious setback at the hands of the tribes of the
Picts The Picts were a group of peoples who lived in what is now northern and eastern Scotland (north of the Firth of Forth) during Sub-Roman Britain, Late Antiquity and the Scotland in the Early Middle Ages, Early Middle Ages. Where they lived an ...
: several Roman forts were destroyed by fire, with human remains and damaged
armour Armour ( British English) or armor ( American English; see spelling differences) is a covering used to protect an object, individual, or vehicle from physical injury or damage, especially direct contact weapons or projectiles during combat, or ...
at '' Trimontium'' (at modern Newstead, in SE Scotland) indicating hostilities at least at that site. There is also circumstantial evidence that auxiliary reinforcements were sent from Germany, and an unnamed British war of the period is mentioned on the gravestone of a
tribune Tribune () was the title of various elected officials in ancient Rome. The two most important were the Tribune of the Plebs, tribunes of the plebs and the military tribunes. For most of Roman history, a college of ten tribunes of the plebs ac ...
of Cyrene.
Trajan's Dacian Wars The Dacian Wars (101–102, 105–106) were two military campaigns fought between the Roman Empire and Dacia during Roman Emperor, Emperor Trajan's rule. The conflicts were triggered by the constant Dacian threat on the Danube, Danubian Roman P ...
may have led to troop reductions in the area or even total withdrawal followed by slighting of the forts by the Picts rather than an unrecorded military defeat. The Romans were also in the habit of destroying their own forts during an orderly withdrawal, in order to deny resources to an enemy. In either case, the frontier probably moved south to the line of the
Stanegate The Stanegate (meaning "stone road" in Northumbrian dialect) was an important Roman road built in what is now northern England. It linked many forts including two that guarded important river crossings: Corstopitum (Corbridge) on the River Tyne ...
at the SolwayTyne isthmus around this time. A new crisis occurred at the beginning of
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Trâiānus Hadriānus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born in Italica (close to modern Santiponce in Spain), a Roman ''municipium'' founded by Italic peoples, Italic settlers ...
's reign (117): a rising in the north which was suppressed by
Quintus Pompeius Falco Quintus Pompeius Falco (c. 70after 140 AD) was a Roman Empire, Roman Roman Senate, senator and general of the early 2nd century AD. He was governor of several Roman province, provinces, most notably Roman Britain, where he hosted a visit to the pr ...
. When Hadrian reached Britannia on his famous tour of the Roman provinces around 120, he directed an extensive defensive wall, known to posterity as
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province of Roman Britain, Britannia, begun in AD 122 in the reign of the Empe ...
, to be built close to the line of the Stanegate frontier. Hadrian appointed
Aulus Platorius Nepos Aulus Platorius Nepos was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'' ...
as governor to undertake this work who brought the ' legion with him from '. This replaced the famous ', whose disappearance has been much discussed. Archaeology indicates considerable political instability in Scotland during the first half of the 2nd century, and the shifting frontier at this time should be seen in this context. In the reign of
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (Latin: ''Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius''; 19 September 86 – 7 March 161) was Roman emperor from 138 to 161. He was the fourth of the Five Good Emperors from the Nerva–Antonine dynasty. Born into a senatorial ...
(138–161) the Hadrianic border was briefly extended north to the Forth–Clyde isthmus, where the
Antonine Wall The Antonine Wall, known to the Romans as ''Vallum Antonini'', was a turf fortification on stone foundations, built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, coun ...
was built around 142 following the military reoccupation of the Scottish lowlands by a new governor,
Quintus Lollius Urbicus Quintus Lollius Urbicus was a Numidians, Numidian Berbers, Berber governor of Roman Britain between the years 139 and 142, during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Emperor Antoninus Pius. He is named in the ''Historia Augusta'', although it is not ...
. The first Antonine occupation of Scotland ended as a result of a further crisis in 155–157, when the
Brigantes The Brigantes were Ancient Britons who in pre-Roman times controlled the largest section of what would become Northern England. Their territory, often referred to as Brigantia, was centred in what was later known as Yorkshire. The Greek ge ...
revolted. With limited options to despatch reinforcements, the Romans moved their troops south, and this rising was suppressed by Governor Gnaeus Julius Verus. Within a year the Antonine Wall was recaptured, but by 163 or 164 it was abandoned. The second occupation was probably connected with Antoninus's undertakings to protect the
Votadini The Votadini, also known as the ''Uotadini'', ''Wotādīni'', ''Votādīni'', or ''Otadini'' were a Celtic Britons, Brittonic people of the British Iron Age, Iron Age in Great Britain. Their territory was in what is now south-east Scotland and ...
or his pride in enlarging the empire, since the retreat to the Hadrianic frontier occurred not long after his death when a more objective strategic assessment of the benefits of the Antonine Wall could be made. The Romans did not entirely withdraw from Scotland at this time: the large fort at Newstead was maintained along with seven smaller outposts until at least 180. During the twenty-year period following the reversion of the frontier to Hadrian's Wall in 163/4, Rome was concerned with continental issues, primarily problems in the Danubian provinces. Increasing numbers of
hoard A hoard or "wealth deposit" is an archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, ...
s of buried coins in Britain at this time indicate that peace was not entirely achieved. Sufficient Roman silver has been found in Scotland to suggest more than ordinary trade, and it is likely that the Romans were reinforcing treaty agreements by paying tribute to their implacable enemies, the
Picts The Picts were a group of peoples who lived in what is now northern and eastern Scotland (north of the Firth of Forth) during Sub-Roman Britain, Late Antiquity and the Scotland in the Early Middle Ages, Early Middle Ages. Where they lived an ...
. In 175, a large force of
Sarmatian The Sarmatians (; grc, Σαρμαται, Sarmatai; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber ar ...
cavalry, consisting of 5,500 men, arrived in Britannia, probably to reinforce troops fighting unrecorded uprisings. In 180, Hadrian's Wall was breached by the Picts and the commanding officer or governor was killed there in what
Cassius Dio Lucius Cassius Dio (), also known as Dio Cassius ( ), was a Roman historian and senator of maternal Greek origin. He published 80 volumes of the History of ancient Rome, history on ancient Rome, beginning with the arrival of Aeneas in Italy. The ...
described as the most serious war of the reign of
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor who ruled from 177 to 192. He served jointly with his father Marcus Aurelius from 176 until the latter's death in 180, and thereafter he reigned alone until his assassination. H ...
. Ulpius Marcellus was sent as replacement governor and by 184 he had won a new peace, only to be faced with a mutiny from his own troops. Unhappy with Marcellus's strictness, they tried to elect a legate named
Priscus Priscus of Panium (; el, Πρίσκος; 410s AD/420s AD-after 472 AD) was a 5th-century Eastern Roman Empire, Eastern Roman diplomat and Byzantine Greeks, Greek historian and rhetorician (or Sophist (dialogue), sophist)...: "For information a ...
as usurper governor; he refused, but Marcellus was lucky to leave the province alive. The Roman army in Britannia continued its insubordination: they sent a delegation of 1,500 to Rome to demand the execution of
Tigidius Perennis Sextus Tigidius Perennis (died 185) served as Praetorian Prefect under the Roman Emperor, Roman emperor Commodus. Perennis exercised an outsized influence over Commodus and was the effective ruler of the Roman Empire. In 185, Perennis was implic ...
, a
Praetorian prefect The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders be ...
who they felt had earlier wronged them by posting lowly
equites The ''equites'' (; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public p ...
to legate ranks in Britannia. Commodus met the party outside Rome and agreed to have Perennis killed, but this only made them feel more secure in their mutiny. The future emperor
Pertinax Publius Helvius Pertinax (; 1 August 126 – 28 March 193) was Roman emperor for the first three months of 193. He succeeded Commodus to become the first emperor during the tumultuous Year of the Five Emperors. Born the son of a freed slave, ...
was sent to Britannia to quell the mutiny and was initially successful in regaining control, but a riot broke out among the troops. Pertinax was attacked and left for dead, and asked to be recalled to Rome, where he briefly succeeded
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor who ruled from 177 to 192. He served jointly with his father Marcus Aurelius from 176 until the latter's death in 180, and thereafter he reigned alone until his assassination. H ...
as emperor in 192.


3rd century

The death of Commodus put into motion a series of events which eventually led to civil war. Following the short reign of Pertinax, several rivals for the emperorship emerged, including
Septimius Severus Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present-day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa (Roman province), Africa. As a young man he advanced thro ...
and
Clodius Albinus Decimus Clodius Albinus ( 150 – 19 February 197) was a Roman imperial pretender between 193 and 197. He was proclaimed Roman emperor, emperor by the legions in Roman Britain, Britain and Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain ...
. The latter was the new governor of Britannia, and had seemingly won the natives over after their earlier rebellions; he also controlled three legions, making him a potentially significant claimant. His sometime rival Severus promised him the title of
Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in Caes ...
in return for Albinus's support against
Pescennius Niger Gaius Pescennius Niger (c. 135 – 194) was Roman Emperor from 193 to 194 during the Year of the Five Emperors. He claimed the imperial throne in response to the murder of Pertinax and the elevation of Didius Julianus, but was defeated by a rival ...
in the east. Once Niger was neutralised, Severus turned on his ally in Britannia; it is likely that Albinus saw he would be the next target and was already preparing for war. Albinus crossed to
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celts, Celtic and Aquitani tribes, encompassing present-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy (only dur ...
in 195, where the provinces were also sympathetic to him, and set up at
Lugdunum Lugdunum (also spelled Lugudunum, ; modern Lyon, France) was an important Colonia (Roman), Roman city in Gaul, established on the current site of Lyon, France, Lyon. The Roman city was founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, but contin ...
. Severus arrived in February 196, and the ensuing battle was decisive. Albinus came close to victory, but Severus's reinforcements won the day, and the British governor committed suicide. Severus soon purged Albinus's sympathisers and perhaps confiscated large tracts of land in Britain as punishment. Albinus had demonstrated the major problem posed by Roman Britain. In order to maintain security, the province required the presence of three legions, but command of these forces provided an ideal power base for ambitious rivals. Deploying those legions elsewhere would strip the island of its garrison, leaving the province defenceless against uprisings by the native Celtic tribes and against invasion by the
Picts The Picts were a group of peoples who lived in what is now northern and eastern Scotland (north of the Firth of Forth) during Sub-Roman Britain, Late Antiquity and the Scotland in the Early Middle Ages, Early Middle Ages. Where they lived an ...
and Scots. The traditional view is that northern Britain descended into anarchy during Albinus's absence. Cassius Dio records that the new Governor, Virius Lupus, was obliged to buy peace from a fractious northern tribe known as the
Maeatae The Maeatae were a confederation of tribes that probably lived beyond the Antonine Wall in Roman Britain. The historical sources are vague as to the exact region they inhabited, but an association is thought to be indicated in the names of two h ...
. The succession of militarily distinguished governors who were subsequently appointed suggests that enemies of Rome were posing a difficult challenge, and Lucius Alfenus Senecio's report to Rome in 207 describes barbarians "rebelling, over-running the land, taking loot and creating destruction". In order to rebel, of course, one must be a subject – the Maeatae clearly did not consider themselves such. Senecio requested either reinforcements or an Imperial expedition, and Severus chose the latter, despite being 62 years old. Archaeological evidence shows that Senecio had been rebuilding the defences of Hadrian's Wall and the forts beyond it, and Severus's arrival in Britain prompted the enemy tribes to sue for peace immediately. The emperor had not come all that way to leave without a victory, and it is likely that he wished to provide his teenage sons
Caracalla Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (born Lucius Septimius Bassianus, 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), better known by his nickname "Caracalla" () was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Emperor Se ...
and Geta with first-hand experience of controlling a hostile barbarian land. An invasion of Caledonia led by Severus and probably numbering around 20,000 troops moved north in 208 or 209, crossing the Wall and passing through eastern Scotland on a route similar to that used by Agricola. Harried by punishing guerrilla raids by the northern tribes and slowed by an unforgiving terrain, Severus was unable to meet the Caledonians on a battlefield. The emperor's forces pushed north as far as the
River Tay The River Tay ( gd, Tatha, ; probably from the conjectured Common Brittonic, Brythonic ''Tausa'', possibly meaning 'silent one' or 'strong one' or, simply, 'flowing') is the longest List of rivers of Scotland, river in Scotland and the Longest r ...
, but little appears to have been achieved by the invasion, as peace treaties were signed with the Caledonians. By 210 Severus had returned to York, and the frontier had once again become Hadrian's Wall. He assumed the title ' but the title meant little with regard to the unconquered north, which clearly remained outside the authority of the Empire. Almost immediately, another northern tribe, the Maeatae, went to war. Caracalla left with a
punitive expedition A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a political entity or any group of people outside the borders of the punishing sovereign state, state or political union, union. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived di ...
, but by the following year his ailing father had died and he and his brother left the province to press their claim to the throne. As one of his last acts, Severus tried to solve the problem of powerful and rebellious governors in Britain by dividing the province into ' and '. This kept the potential for rebellion in check for almost a century. Historical sources provide little information on the following decades, a period known as the Long Peace. Even so, the number of buried hoards found from this period rises, suggesting continuing unrest. A string of forts were built along the coast of southern Britain to control piracy; and over the following hundred years they increased in number, becoming the
Saxon Shore Forts The Saxon Shore ( la, litus Saxonicum) was a military command of the late Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, ...
. During the middle of the 3rd century, the Roman Empire was convulsed by barbarian invasions, rebellions and new imperial pretenders. Britannia apparently avoided these troubles, but increasing
inflation In economics, inflation is an increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a reductio ...
had its economic effect. In 259 a so-called
Gallic Empire The Gallic Empire or the Gallic Roman Empire are names used in modern historiography for a breakaway part of the Roman Empire that functioned ''de facto'' as a separate state from 260 to 274. It originated during the Crisis of the Third Century, w ...
was established when
Postumus Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus was a Roman commander of Batavi (Germanic tribe), Batavian origin, who ruled as Emperor of the splinter state of the Roman Empire known to modern historians as the Gallic Empire. The Roman army in Gaul threw ...
rebelled against
Gallienus Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus (; c. 218 – September 268) was Roman emperor with his father Valerian (emperor), Valerian from 253 to 260 and alone from 260 to 268. He ruled during the Crisis of the Third Century that nearly caused the col ...
. Britannia was part of this until 274 when
Aurelian Aurelian ( la, Lucius Domitius Aurelianus; 9 September 214 October 275) was a Roman emperor, who reigned during the Crisis of the Third Century, from 270 to 275. As emperor, he won an unprecedented series of military victories which reunited th ...
reunited the empire. Around the year 280, a half-
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people British people or Britons, also known colloquially as Brits, are the citizens of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Britis ...
officer named Bonosus was in command of the Roman's Rhenish fleet when the
Germans , native_name_lang = de , region1 = , pop1 = 72,650,269 , region2 = , pop2 = 534,000 , region3 = , pop3 = 157,000 3,322,405 , region4 = , pop4 = ...
managed to burn it at anchor. To avoid punishment, he proclaimed himself emperor at
Colonia Agrippina Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium was the Roman colony A Roman (plural ) was originally a Roman outpost established in conquered territory to secure it. Eventually, however, the term came to denote the highest status of a Roman city. It ...
(
Cologne Cologne ( ; german: Köln ; ksh, Kölle ) is the largest city of the German western States of Germany, state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the List of cities in Germany by population, fourth-most populous city of Germany with 1.1 m ...
) but was crushed by
Marcus Aurelius Probus Marcus Aurelius Probus (; 230–235 – September 282) was Roman emperor from 276 to 282. Probus was an active and successful general as well as a conscientious administrator, and in his reign of six years he secured prosperity for the inner pro ...
. Soon afterwards, an unnamed
governor A governor is an administrative leader and head of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized s ...
of one of the British provinces also attempted an uprising. Probus put it down by sending irregular troops of
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The ...
and
Burgundians The Burgundians ( la, Burgundes, Burgundiōnes, Burgundī; on, Burgundar; ang, Burgendas; grc-gre, Βούργουνδοι) were an early Germanic peoples, Germanic tribe or group of tribes. They appeared in the middle Rhine region, near the R ...
across the Channel. The Carausian Revolt led to a short-lived Britannic Empire from 286 to 296.
Carausius Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius (died 293) was a military commander of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. He was a Menapii, Menapian from Gallia Belgica, Belgic Gaul, who Roman usurper, usurped power in 286, during the Carausian Revolt, decl ...
was a Menapian
naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval warfare, naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral zone, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and ...
commander of the Britannic fleet; he revolted upon learning of a death sentence ordered by the emperor
Maximian Maximian ( la, Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus; c. 250 – c. July 310), nicknamed ''Herculius'', was Roman emperor from 286 to 305. He was ''Caesar (title), Caesar'' from 285 to 286, then ''Augustus (title), Augustus'' from 286 to 305. He ...
on charges of having abetted
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks, a Germanic tribe and their culture ** Frankish language or its modern descendants, Franconian languages * Francia, a post-Roman state in France and Germany * East Francia, the successor state to Francia in Germany ...
and
Saxon The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of Germanic peoples, Germanic * * * * peoples whose name was given in the early Middle Ages to a large country (Old Saxony, la, Saxo ...
pirates Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, v ...
and having embezzled recovered treasure. He consolidated control over all the provinces of Britain and some of northern Gaul while Maximian dealt with other uprisings. An invasion in 288 failed to unseat him and an uneasy peace ensued, with Carausius issuing coins and inviting official recognition. In 293, the junior emperor
Constantius Chlorus Flavius Valerius Constantius "Chlorus" ( – 25 July 306), also called Constantius I, was Roman emperor from 305 to 306. He was one of the four original members of the Tetrarchy established by Diocletian, first serving as Caesar (title), ca ...
launched a second offensive, besieging the rebel port of Gesoriacum (
Boulogne-sur-Mer Boulogne-sur-Mer (; pcd, Boulonne-su-Mér; nl, Bonen; la, Gesoriacum or ''Bononia''), often called just Boulogne (, ), is a coastal city in Northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department of Pas-de-Calais Pas-de-Calais (, "s ...
) by land and sea. After it fell, Constantius attacked Carausius's other Gallic holdings and Frankish allies and Carausius was usurped by his treasurer,
Allectus Allectus (died 296) was a Britannic Empire, Roman-Britannic Roman usurper, usurper-Roman emperors, emperor in Roman Britain, Britain and northern Gaul from 293 to 296. History Allectus was treasurer to Carausius, a Menapii, Menapian officer in the ...
.
Julius Asclepiodotus Julius Asclepiodotus was a Roman Empire, Roman praetorian prefect who, according to the ''Historia Augusta'', served under the Roman emperor, emperors Aurelian, Marcus Aurelius Probus, Probus and Diocletian, and was List of late imperial Roman consu ...
landed an invasion fleet near
Southampton Southampton () is a port City status in the United Kingdom, city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire in southern England. It is located approximately south-west of London and west of Portsmouth. The city forms part of the South Hampshire, S ...
and defeated Allectus in a land battle.


Diocletian's reforms

As part of Diocletian's reforms, the provinces of Roman Britain were organized as a
diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, pro ...
governed by a ''
vicarius ''Vicarius'' is a Latin word, meaning ''substitute'' or ''deputy''. It is the root of the English word "vicar". History Originally, in ancient Rome, this office was equivalent to the later English "viceroy, vice-" (as in "wikt:deputy, deputy" ...
'' under a
praetorian prefect The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders be ...
who, from 318 to 331, was Junius Bassus who was based at
Augusta Treverorum Trier Trier ( , ; lb, Tréier ), formerly known in English as Trèves ( ;) and Triers (see also Names of Trier in different languages, names in other languages), is a city on the banks of the Moselle (river), Moselle in Germany. It lies in a ...
(
Trier Trier ( , ; lb, Tréier ), formerly known in English as Trèves ( ;) and Triers (see also Names of Trier in different languages, names in other languages), is a city on the banks of the Moselle (river), Moselle in Germany. It lies in a valley b ...
). The ''vicarius'' was based at Londinium as the principal city of the diocese. Londinium and Eboracum continued as provincial capitals and the territory was divided up into smaller provinces for administrative efficiency. Civilian and military authority of a province was no longer exercised by one official and the governor was stripped of military command which was handed over to the ''
Dux Britanniarum ''Dux Britanniarum'' was a military post in Roman Britain, probably created by Emperor Diocletian or Constantine I during the late third or early fourth century. The ''Dux'' (literally, "(military) leader" was a senior officer in the late Roman ...
'' by 314. The governor of a province assumed more financial duties (the procurators of the Treasury ministry were slowly phased out in the first three decades of the 4th century). The Dux was commander of the troops of the Northern Region, primarily along Hadrian's Wall and his responsibilities included protection of the frontier. He had significant autonomy due in part to the distance from his superiors. The tasks of the ''vicarius'' were to control and coordinate the activities of governors; monitor but not interfere with the daily functioning of the Treasury and Crown Estates, which had their own administrative infrastructure; and act as the regional quartermaster-general of the armed forces. In short, as the sole civilian official with superior authority, he had general oversight of the administration, as well as direct control, while not absolute, over governors who were part of the prefecture; the other two fiscal departments were not. The early-4th-century
Verona List The ''Laterculus Veronensis'' or Verona List is a list of Roman provinces The Roman provinces (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was o ...
, the late-4th-century work of Sextus Rufus, and the early-5th-century List of Offices and work of Polemius Silvius all list four provinces by some variation of the names Britannia I, Britannia II,
Maxima Caesariensis Maxima Caesariensis (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around p ...
, and Flavia Caesariensis; all of these seem to have initially been directed by a
governor A governor is an administrative leader and head of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized s ...
(''
praeses ''Praeses'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-d ...
'') of equestrian rank. The 5th-century sources list a fifth province named Valentia and give its governor and Maxima's a
consular A consul is an official representative of the government of one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
rank.
Ammianus Ammianus Marcellinus (occasionally anglicised Anglicisation is the process by which a place or person becomes influenced by Culture of England, English culture or Culture of the United Kingdom, British culture, or a process of cultural and/o ...
mentions Valentia as well, describing its creation by
Count Theodosius Flavius Theodosius (died 376), also known as Count Theodosius ( la, Theodosius comes) or Theodosius the Elder ( la, Theodosius Major), was a senior military officer serving Valentinian I () and the western Roman empire during Late Antiquity. Unde ...
in 369 after the quelling of the
Great Conspiracy The Great Conspiracy was a year-long state of war and disorder that occurred near the end of Roman Britain. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus described it as a ''barbarica conspiratio'', which capitalised on a depleted military force in the p ...
. Ammianus considered it a re-creation of a formerly lost province, leading some to think there had been an earlier fifth province under another name (may be the enigmatic "Vespasiana"?), and leading others to place Valentia beyond
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province of Roman Britain, Britannia, begun in AD 122 in the reign of the Empe ...
, in the territory abandoned south of the
Antonine Wall The Antonine Wall, known to the Romans as ''Vallum Antonini'', was a turf fortification on stone foundations, built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, coun ...
. Reconstructions of the provinces and provincial capitals during this period partially rely on
ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor


Religion


Pagan

The
druid A druid was a member of the high-ranking class in ancient Celts, Celtic cultures. Druids were religious leaders as well as legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. Druids left no written accoun ...
s, the Celtic priestly caste who were believed to originate in Britain, were outlawed by
Claudius Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor, ruling from AD 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Claudius was born to Nero Claudius Drusus, Drusu ...
, and in 61 they vainly defended their
sacred grove Sacred groves or sacred woods are grove (nature), groves of trees and have special religious importance within a particular culture. Sacred groves feature in various cultures throughout the world. They were important features of the mythological ...
s from destruction by the Romans on the island of Mona (
Anglesey Anglesey (; cy, (Ynys) Môn ) is an island off the north-west coast of Wales. It forms a Local government in Wales, principal area known as the Isle of Anglesey, that includes Holy Island, Anglesey, Holy Island across the narrow Cymyran Strai ...
). Under Roman rule the Britons continued to worship native Celtic deities, such as Ancasta, but often conflated with their Roman equivalents, like
Mars Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, only being larger than Mercury. In the English language, Mars is named for the Roman god of war. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosph ...
Rigonemetos at Nettleham. The degree to which earlier native beliefs survived is difficult to gauge precisely. Certain European ritual traits such as the significance of the number 3, the importance of the head and of water sources such as springs remain in the archaeological record, but the differences in the
votive offering A votive offering or votive deposit is one or more objects displayed or deposited, without the intention of recovery or use, in a sacred place for religious purposes. Such items are a feature of modern and ancient societies and are generally ...
s made at the baths at
Bath, Somerset Bath () is a city in the Bath and North East Somerset unitary area in the ceremonial counties of England, county of Somerset, England, known for and named after its Roman Baths (Bath), Roman-built baths. At the 2021 Census, the population was 1 ...
, before and after the Roman conquest suggest that continuity was only partial. Worship of the Roman emperor is widely recorded, especially at military sites. The founding of a
Roman temple Ancient Roman temples were among the most important buildings in culture of ancient Rome, Roman culture, and some of the richest buildings in Architecture of ancient Rome, Roman architecture, though only a few survive in any sort of complete ...
to
Claudius Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor, ruling from AD 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Claudius was born to Nero Claudius Drusus, Drusu ...
at
Camulodunum Camulodunum (; la, ), the Roman Empire, Ancient Roman name for what is now Colchester in Essex, was an important Castra, castrum and city in Roman Britain, and the first capital of the province. A temporary "strapline" in the 1960s identifying ...
was one of the impositions that led to the revolt of
Boudica Boudica or Boudicca (, known in Latin chronicles as Boadicea or Boudicea, and in Welsh language, Welsh as ()), was a queen of the Celtic Britons, ancient British Iceni tribe, who led a Boudican Rebellion, failed uprising against the Roman Bri ...
. By the 3rd century, Pagans Hill Roman Temple in Somerset was able to exist peaceably and it did so into the 5th century. Pagan religious practices were supported by priests, represented in Britain by votive deposits of priestly regalia such as chain crowns from
West Stow West Stow is a small village and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a territorial designation which i ...
and Willingham Fen. Eastern cults such as
Mithraism Mithraism, also known as the Mithraic mysteries or the Cult of Mithras, was a Roman Empire, Roman mystery religion centered on the god Mithras. Although inspired by Iranian peoples, Iranian worship of the Zoroastrian divinity (''yazata'') Mit ...
also grew in popularity towards the end of the occupation. The
London Mithraeum The London Mithraeum, also known as the Temple of Mithras, Walbrook, is a Roman Britain, Roman Mithraeum that was discovered in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, during a building's construction in 1954. The entire site was relocated to ...
is one example of the popularity of
mystery religions Mystery religions, mystery cults, sacred mysteries or simply mysteries, were religious schools of the Greco-Roman world for which participation was reserved to initiation rite, initiates ''(mystai)''. The main characterization of this religion i ...
among the soldiery. Temples to
Mithras Mithraism, also known as the Mithraic mysteries or the Cult of Mithras, was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman peopl ...
also exist in military contexts at Vindobala on
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province of Roman Britain, Britannia, begun in AD 122 in the reign of the Empe ...
(the Rudchester Mithraeum) and at
Segontium Segontium ( owl, Cair Segeint) is a Roman fort on the outskirts of Caernarfon in Gwynedd, North Wales. The fort, which survived until the end of the End of Roman rule in Britain, Roman occupation of Britain, was garrisoned by Roman auxiliary, Rom ...
in
Roman Wales The Roman era in the area of modern Wales began in 48 AD, with a military invasion by the Roman governor, imperial governor of Roman Britain. The conquest was completed by 78 AD, and Roman rule endured until the End of Roman rule in Britain, re ...
(the Caernarfon Mithraeum).


Christianity

It is not clear when or how Christianity came to Britain. A 2nd-century "word square" has been discovered in
Mamucium Mamucium, also known as Mancunium, is a former Roman fort in the Castlefield Castlefield is an inner-city conservation area in Manchester, North West England. The conservation area which bears its name is bounded by the River Irwell, A34 ro ...
, the Roman settlement of
Manchester Manchester () is a city in Greater Manchester, England. It had a population of 552,000 in 2021. It is bordered by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and the neighbouring city of City of Salford, Salford to ...
. It consists of an anagram of
PATER NOSTER The Lord's Prayer, also called the Our Father or Pater Noster, is a central Christian prayer Christian prayer is an important activity in Christianity, and there are several different forms used for this practice. Christian prayers are div ...
carved on a piece of
amphora An amphora (; grc, , }; English ) is a type of container with a pointed bottom and characteristic shape and size which fit tightly (and therefore safely) against each other in storage rooms and packages, tied together with rope and delivered ...
. There has been discussion by academics whether the "word square" is a Christian artefact, but if it is, it is one of the earliest examples of
early Christianity Early Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major reli ...
in Britain. The earliest confirmed written evidence for Christianity in Britain is a statement by
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christianity, early Christian author from Roman Carthage, Carthage in the Africa (Roman province), Roman province of Africa. He was th ...
, 200 AD, in which he described "all the limits of the Spains, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the haunts of the Britons, inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ". Archaeological evidence for Christian communities begins to appear in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Small timber churches are suggested at Lincoln and
Silchester Silchester is a village and civil parishes in England, civil parish about north of Basingstoke in Hampshire. It is adjacent to the county boundary with Berkshire and about south-west of Reading, Berkshire, Reading. Silchester is most notable ...
and
baptismal font A baptismal font is an article of church furniture used for baptism. Aspersion and affusion fonts The fonts of many Christian denominations are for baptisms using a non-immersive method, such as aspersion (sprinkling) or affusion (pouring). T ...
s have been found at
Icklingham Icklingham is a village and civil parish in the West Suffolk (district), West Suffolk district of Suffolk in eastern England. It is located about north-west of Bury St Edmunds, south-east of Mildenhall, Suffolk, Mildenhall and south-west of Th ...
and the Saxon Shore Fort at
Richborough Richborough () is a settlement north of Sandwich, Kent, Sandwich on the east coast of the county of Kent, England. Richborough lies close to the Isle of Thanet. The population of the settlement is included in the civil parish of Ash, Dover, A ...
. The Icklingham font is made of lead, and visible in the British Museum. A Roman Christian graveyard exists at the same site in Icklingham. A possible Roman 4th-century church and associated burial ground was also discovered at Butt Road on the south-west outskirts of
Colchester Colchester ( ) is a city status in the United Kingdom, city in Essex, in the East of England. It had a population of 122,000 in 2011. The demonym is Colcestrian. Colchester occupies the site of Camulodunum, the first Colonia (Roman), major c ...
during the construction of the new police station there, overlying an earlier pagan cemetery. The
Water Newton Treasure The Water Newton Treasure is a hoard of fourth-century Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient ...
is a hoard of Christian silver church plate from the early 4th century and the
Roman villa A Roman villa was typically a farmhouse or country house built in the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, sometimes reaching extravagant proportions. Typology and distribution Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) distinguished two kinds of villas n ...
s at
Lullingstone Lullingstone is a village in the county of Kent, England. It is best known for its Lullingstone Castle, castle, Lullingstone Roman Villa, Roman villa and its public golf course. Lullingstone was a civil parishes in England, civil parish until 195 ...
and
Hinton St Mary Hinton St Mary is a village and Civil parishes in England, civil parish in Dorset, southern England. It is sited on a low Corallian Limestone, Corallian limestone ridge beside the River Stour, Dorset, River Stour, north of the market town Sturm ...
contained Christian wall paintings and mosaics respectively. A large 4th-century cemetery at
Poundbury Poundbury is an experimental planned community or urban development, urban extension on the western outskirts of Dorchester, Dorset, Dorchester in the Counties of England, county of Dorset, England. The development is led by the Duchy of Cornwal ...
with its east–west oriented burials and lack of
grave goods Grave goods, in archaeology and anthropology, are the items buried along with the body. They are usually personal possessions, supplies to smooth the deceased's journey into the afterlife or offerings to the gods. Grave goods may be classed as a ...
has been interpreted as an early Christian burial ground, although such burial rites were also becoming increasingly common in pagan contexts during the period. The Church in Britain seems to have developed the customary diocesan system, as evidenced from the records of the
Council of Arles Arles Arles (, , ; oc, label= Provençal, Arle ; Classical la, Arelate) is a coastal city and commune in the South of France, a subprefecture in the Bouches-du-Rhône department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, in the former ...
in Gaul in 314: represented at the council were
bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally responsible for the governance of dioceses. The role or offic ...
s from thirty-five
sees See or SEE may refer to: * Sight Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding Biophysical environment, environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color vision, scotopic vision (night vision), and mesopic vision (twi ...
from Europe and North Africa, including three bishops from Britain, Eborius of York, Restitutus of London, and Adelphius, possibly a
bishop of Lincoln The Bishop of Lincoln is the Ordinary (officer), ordinary (diocesan bishop) of the Church of England Diocese of Lincoln in the Province of Canterbury. The present diocese covers the county of Lincolnshire and the unitary authority areas of North ...
. No other early sees are documented, and the material remains of early church structures are far to seek. The existence of a church in the forum courtyard of Lincoln and the ' of
Saint Alban Saint Alban (; la, Albanus) is venerated as the first-recorded Britons (Celtic people), British Christianity, Christian Christian martyrs, martyr, for which reason he is considered to be the British protomartyr. Along with fellow Saints Juli ...
on the outskirts of Roman
Verulamium Verulamium was a town in Roman Britain. It was sited southwest of the modern city of St Albans in Hertfordshire, England. A large portion of the Roman city remains unexcavated, being now park and agricultural land, though much has been built upon ...
are exceptional. Alban, the first British Christian martyr and by far the most prominent, is believed to have died in the early 4th century (some date him in the middle 3rd century), followed by Saints Julius and Aaron of
Isca Augusta Isca, variously specified as Isca Augusta or Isca Silurum, was the site of a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the ...
. Christianity was legalised in the Roman Empire by Constantine I in 313.
Theodosius I Theodosius I ( grc-gre, Θεοδόσιος ; 11 January 347 – 17 January 395), also called Theodosius the Great, was Roman emperor from 379 to 395. During his reign, he succeeded in a crucial Gothic War (376–382), war against the Got ...
made Christianity the state religion of the empire in 391, and by the 5th century it was well established. One belief labelled a
heresy Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ...
by the church authorities —
Pelagianism Pelagianism is a Christian theology, Christian theological position that holds that the original sin did not taint human nature and that humans by divine grace have free will to achieve human perfection. Pelagius ( – AD), an ascetic and ...
 — was originated by a British monk teaching in Rome:
Pelagius Pelagius (; c. 354–418) was a British theologian known for promoting a system of doctrines (termed Pelagianism by his opponents) which emphasized human choice in salvation and denied original sin. Pelagius and his followers abhorred the moral s ...
lived 354 to 420/440. A letter found on a lead tablet in
Bath, Somerset Bath () is a city in the Bath and North East Somerset unitary area in the ceremonial counties of England, county of Somerset, England, known for and named after its Roman Baths (Bath), Roman-built baths. At the 2021 Census, the population was 1 ...
, datable to c. 363, had been widely publicised as documentary evidence regarding the state of Christianity in Britain during Roman times. According to its first translator, it was written in
Wroxeter Wroxeter is a village in Shropshire, England, which forms part of the Civil parishes in England, civil parish of Wroxeter and Uppington, beside the River Severn, south-east of Shrewsbury. ''Viroconium Cornoviorum'', the fourth largest city ...
by a Christian man called Vinisius to a Christian woman called Nigra, and was claimed as the first epigraphic record of Christianity in Britain. This translation of the letter was apparently based on grave paleographical errors, and the text has nothing to do with Christianity, and in fact relates to pagan rituals.


Environmental changes

The Romans introduced a number of species to Britain, including possibly the now-rare Roman nettle ('' Urtica pilulifera''), said to have been used by soldiers to warm their arms and legs, and the edible
snail A snail is, in loose terms, a shelled gastropod. The name is most often applied to land snails, terrestrial molluscs, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod molluscs. However, the common name ''snail'' is also used for most of the members of the m ...
''
Helix pomatia ''Helix pomatia'', common names the Roman snail, Burgundy snail, or escargot, is a species of large, edible, air-breathing land snail, a pulmonate gastropod terrestrial mollusc in the family Helicidae.MolluscaBase eds. (2021). MolluscaBase. Helix ...
''. There is also some evidence they may have introduced rabbits, but of the smaller southern mediterranean type. The
European rabbit The European rabbit (''Oryctolagus cuniculus'') or coney is a species of rabbit native to the Iberian Peninsula (including Spain, Portugal, and Geography of France, southwestern France), western France, and the northern Atlas Mountains in northw ...
(''Oryctolagus cuniculus'') prevalent in modern Britain is assumed to have been introduced from the continent after the Norman invasion of 1066. Box (''
Buxus sempervirens ''Buxus sempervirens'', the common box, European box, or boxwood, is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of Taxonomy (biology), classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species i ...
'') is rarely recorded before the Roman period, but becomes a common find in towns and villas.


Legacy

During their occupation of Britain the Romans built an extensive network of roads which continued to be used in later centuries and many are still followed today. The Romans also built water supply,
sanitation Sanitation refers to public health conditions related to clean drinking water and treatment and disposal of Human waste, human excreta and sewage. Risk management, Preventing human contact with feces is part of sanitation, as is hand washing wi ...
and
wastewater Wastewater is water generated after the use of Fresh water, freshwater, raw water, drinking water or saline water in a variety of deliberate applications or processes. Another definition of wastewater is "Used water from any combination of domesti ...
systems. Many of Britain's major cities, such as
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...
(
Londinium Londinium, also known as Roman London, was the capital of Roman Britain during most of the period of Roman rule. It was originally a settlement established on the current site of the City of London around AD 47–50. It sat at a key cross ...
),
Manchester Manchester () is a city in Greater Manchester, England. It had a population of 552,000 in 2021. It is bordered by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and the neighbouring city of City of Salford, Salford to ...
(
Mamucium Mamucium, also known as Mancunium, is a former Roman fort in the Castlefield Castlefield is an inner-city conservation area in Manchester, North West England. The conservation area which bears its name is bounded by the River Irwell, A34 ro ...
) and
York York is a cathedral city with Roman Britain, Roman origins, sited at the confluence of the rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Foss, Foss in North Yorkshire, England. It is the historic county town of Yorkshire. The city has many hist ...
(
Eboracum Eboracum () was a castra, fort and later a coloniae, city in the Roman province of Roman Britain, Britannia. In its prime it was the largest town in northern Britain and a provincial capital. The site remained occupied after the decline of the ...
), were founded by the Romans, but the original Roman settlements were abandoned not long after the Romans left. Unlike many other areas of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court; in particular, this term is used in historiography to describe the period fr ...
, the current majority language is not a
Romance language The Romance languages, sometimes referred to as Latin languages or Neo-Latin languages, are the various modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin. They are the only extant subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European languages, I ...
, or a language descended from the pre-Roman inhabitants. The British language at the time of the invasion was
Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and Brittany. It is a form of Insular Celtic ...
, and remained so after the Romans withdrew. It later split into regional languages, notably
Cumbric Cumbric was a variety (linguistics), variety of the Common Brittonic language spoken during the Early Middle Ages in the ''Hen Ogledd'' or "Old North" in what is now the counties of Westmorland, Cumberland and northern Lancashire in Northern E ...
, Cornish, Breton and Welsh. Examination of these languages suggests some 800 Latin words were incorporated into Common Brittonic (see
Brittonic languages The Brittonic languages (also Brythonic or British Celtic; cy, ieithoedd Brythonaidd/Prydeinig; kw, yethow brythonek/predennek; br, yezhoù predenek) form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic languages, Insular Celtic language famil ...
). The current majority language, English, is based on the languages of the Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe from the 5th century onwards.


See also

*
Wales in the Roman era The Roman era in the area of modern Wales began in 48 AD, with a military invasion by the Roman governor, imperial governor of Roman Britain. The conquest was completed by 78 AD, and Roman rule endured until the End of Roman rule in Britain, re ...
*
History of the British Isles The British Isles have witnessed intermittent periods of competition and cooperation between the people that occupy the various parts of Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Ireland, the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the ...
*
Prehistoric Britain Several species of humans have intermittently occupied Great Britain for almost a million years. The earliest evidence of human occupation around 900,000 years ago is at Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast, with stone tools and Happisburgh foot ...


Notes


References


Further reading


General survey

* . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * .


Iron Age background

* . * .


Historical sources and inscriptions

* . * . * . * . * . * . * . * .


Trade

* . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * .


Economy

* . * . * . * . * . * . * * . * . * . * . * .


Provincial government

* .


Provincial development

* . * . * . * . * .


The Roman military in Britain

* . * * . * . * . * . * . * .


Urban life

* . * . * .


Rural life

* . * . * . * .


Religion

* . * .


Art

* .


Sources

* * in . * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * in . * in . * in . * in . * in . * in . * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

*
Timeline of Roman Britain
at
BBC #REDIRECT BBC
Here i going to introduce about the best teacher of my life b BALAJI sir. He is the precious gift that I got befor 2yrs . How has helped and thought all the concept and made my success in the 10th board exam. ...

The Romans in Britain
– Information on the Romans in Britain, including everyday life
Roman Britain
– everything to do with Roman Britain, especially geographic, military, and administrative
The Roman Army and Navy in Britain
by Peter Green
Roman Britain
by Guy de la Bédoyère
Roman Britain at LacusCurtius
* by Kevin Flude
Roman Britain – History

Roman Colchester

Roman Wales RCAHMWThe Rural Settlement of Roman Britain
- database of excavated evidence for rural settlements {{Authority control 1st century in England 2nd century in England 3rd century in England 4th century in England 5th century in England States and territories established in the 40s States and territories disestablished in the 5th century * * 410 disestablishments
Britain Britain most often refers to: * The United Kingdom, a sovereign state in Europe comprising the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands * Great Britain, the largest island in the United King ...
4th century in Wales 5th century in Wales Former countries in the British Isles History of England by period