Romano-British culture is the culture that arose in Britain under the
Roman Empire following the Roman conquest in AD 43 and the creation of
the province of Britannia. It arose as a fusion of the imported Roman
culture with that of the indigenous Britons, a people of Celtic
language and custom. It survived the 5th century Roman departure from
Britain. Scholars such as
Christopher Snyder believe that during
the 5th and 6th centuries – approximately from AD 410 when the Roman
legions withdrew, to AD 597 when St
Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury arrived
– southern Britain preserved an active sub-Roman culture that
survived the attacks from the
Anglo-Saxons and even used a vernacular
Latin when writing.
1 Arrival of the Romans
1.1 Roman citizenship
2 Roman departure from Britain
3 Post-Roman period
4 See also
7 External links
Arrival of the Romans
Roman coins findings clearly indicate the areas of biggest "cultural
romanisation" and presence in Roman Britain
Roman troops, mainly from nearby provinces, invaded the
Brythonic-Celtic land in AD 43, in what is now part of England, during
the reign of Emperor Claudius. Over the next few years the province of
Britannia was formed, eventually including the whole of what later
became England and
Wales and parts of Scotland. Thousands of Roman
businessmen and officials and their families settled in Britannia.
Roman troops from across the Empire, as far as Spain, Syria, Egypt,
and the Germanic provinces of Batavia and
Frisia (modern Netherlands,
Belgium, and the
Rhineland area of Germany), were garrisoned in Roman
towns, and many married local Britons. The
Roman army and their
families and dependents amounted to 125,000 people, out of Britannia's
total population of 3.6 million at the end of the fourth century.
There were also many migrants of other professions, such as sculptors
Syria and doctors from the
Eastern Mediterranean region.
This diversified Britannia's cultures and religions, while the
populace remained mainly Celtic, with a Roman way of life.
The bulk of the population was rural; from a total population of 3.6
million at the end of the fourth century, the urban population was
about 240,000 people, with the capital city of
about 60,000 people. Londonium was an ethnically diverse city
with inhabitants from across the Roman Empire, including natives of
Britannia, continental Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
There was also cultural diversity in other Roman-British towns, which
were sustained by considerable migration, both within
from other Roman territories, including North Africa, Syria, the
Eastern Mediterranean, and continental Europe.
Later, Britain was independent of the rest of the
Roman Empire for a
number of years, first as part of the Gallic Empire, then 20 years
later under the usurpers
Carausius and Allectus.
Christianity came to Britain in the 3rd century. One early figure was
Saint Alban, who (according to tradition) was martyred near the Roman
town of Verulamium, on the site of the modern St Albans, during the
reign of Emperor Decius.
One aspect of Roman influence seen in British life was the grant of
Roman citizenship. At first this was granted very selectively: to
the council members of certain classes of towns, whom Roman practice
made citizens; to veterans, either legionaries or soldiers in
auxiliary units; and to a number of natives whose patrons obtained
citizenship for them. Some of the local Brittonic kings, such as
Togidubnus, received citizenship in this manner. The number of
citizens steadily increased, as people inherited citizenship and more
grants were made. Eventually in 212, everybody except slaves and freed
slaves were granted citizenship by the Constitutio Antoniniana.
The other inhabitants of Britain, who did not enjoy citizenship, the
Peregrini, continued to live under the laws of their ancestors. The
principal handicaps were that they could not own land with a Latin
title, serve as a legionary in the army (although they could serve in
an auxiliary unit, and become a Roman citizen upon discharge), or, in
general, inherit from a Roman citizen. But for the majority of British
inhabitants, who were peasants tied to the soil, citizenship would not
dramatically alter their daily lives.
Roman departure from Britain
Main article: End of Roman rule in Britain
Britannia became one of the most loyal provinces of the Empire until
its decline, when Britannia's manpower was diverted by civil wars.
Eventually emperor Honorius ordered Roman troops back home to help
fight the invading hordes. Constantine III initially rebelled against
Honorius and took further troops to Gaul, but was later recognised as
a joint emperor.
After the Roman departure from Britain, the Romano-British were
commanded by Honorius to "look to their own defences". A written plea
to General Flavius Aëtius, known as the Groans of the Britons, may
have brought some brief naval assistance from the fading Roman Empire
of the West, but otherwise they were on their own.
Main article: Sub-Roman Britain
British settlements in the 6th century
In the early stages the lowlands and cities may have had some
organisation or "council" and the
Bishop of London
Bishop of London appears to have
played a key role, but they were divided politically as former
soldiers, mercenaries, nobles, officials and farmers declared
themselves kings, fighting amongst each other and leaving Britain open
to invasion. Two factions may have emerged: a pro-Roman faction and an
independence faction. The one leader at this time known by name is
Vortigern, who may have held the title of "High King". The
depredations of the
Picts from the north and Scotti (Scots) from
Ireland forced the Britons to seek help from pagan Germanic tribes of
Angles, Saxons and Jutes, who then decided to settle in Britain. Some
of the Romano-British people migrated to Brittany, the Kingdom of the
Suebi and possibly Ireland.
Anglo-Saxons obtained control of eastern England in the 5th
century. In the mid-6th century they started expanding into the
Midlands, then in the 7th century they expanded again into the
south-west and the north of England. The unconquered parts of southern
Britain, notably Wales, retained their Romano-British culture, in
particular retaining Christianity.
Some Anglo-Saxon histories (in context) refer to the Romano-British
people by the blanket term "Welsh". The term Welsh is derived from an
Old English word meaning 'foreigner', referring to the old inhabitants
of southern Britain. Historically,
Wales and the south-western
peninsula were known respectively as North
Wales and West Wales.
The Celtic north of England and southern
Scotland was referred to in
Hen Ogledd ("old north").
The struggles of this period have given rise to the legends of Uther
Pendragon and King Arthur. There are many theories, but it is
sometimes said that Ambrosius Aurelianus, the leader of the
Romano-British forces, was the model for the former, and that Arthur's
Camelot is an idealised Welsh and Cornish memory of pre-Saxon
Roman sites in the United Kingdom
^ Gerrard James, University Newcastle (2016). "Romano-British Pottery
in the Fifth Century". Internet Archaeology (41).
^ Snyder Christopher A., University Marymount, Virginia (1997). "A
gazetteer of Sub-
Roman Britain (AD 400-600): The British sites".
Internet Archaeology (3). doi:10.11141/ia.3.2. CS1 maint:
Multiple names: authors list (link)
^ Sub-Roman Britain. The-orb.net (2 June 2003).
^ Kinder, H. & Hilgemann W. The Penguin Atlas of World History,
Penguin Books, London 1978, ISBN 0-14-051054-0
^ a b Joan P. Alcock, A Brief History of Roman Britain, page 260,
^ a b David Shotter (2012), Roman Britain, page 37, Routledge
^ Will Durant (7 June 2011). Caesar and Christ: The Story of
Civilization. Simon and Schuster. pp. 468–.
^ Anne Lancashire (2002). London Civic Theatre: City Drama and
Pageantry from Roman Times to 1558. Cambridge University Press.
p. 19. ISBN 978-0-5216-3278-2.
^ DNA study finds London was ethnically diverse from start, BBC, 23
^ Ray Laurence (2012), Roman Archaeology for Historians, page 121,
^ Roman Citizenship. Romanempire.net.
^ Balderdash and flummery. World Wide Words (23 November 1996).
^ h2g2 – Maps of
Cornwall (Kernow) showing a Celtic or Distinct
Jones, Michael (1996) The End of Roman Britain. Ithaca: Cornell
Myres, John (1960) Pelagius and the End of Roman Rule in Britain. In:
Journal of Roman Studies, 50, 21–36.
Pryor, Francis (2004) Britain AD: a Quest for Arthur, England and the
Anglo-Saxons. London: Harper Collins ISBN 0-00-718186-8
Radford, C. A. Ralegh (1939) Tintagel Castle. London: H.M.S.O.
(Reprinted by English Heritage 1985)
Thomas, Charles (1993) Tintagel: Arthur and Archaeology. London:
The Romans in Britain
The Plague that made England
Google Book: The making of England of Richard Green (1881)
Ethnic and cultural consequences of the war between Saxons and