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Romans and Britons in North-West England

Substantially revised and expanded edition

Momentous changes have occurred in recent years in our understanding of the Roman conquest in North-West England of frontier-development, of the interface between Romans and Britons and, perhaps most dramatically, of what we once called the 'end of Roman Britain'. New sites have emerged, and new excavations have taken place, some of which enhance accepted perceptions, whilst others revolutionise them. Some old questions are being answered; new challenges emerge. That is the excitement of the subject of this new substantially revised and expanded edition of Romans and Britons in North-West England.

  • Softback
  • Full Colour Cover
  • ISBN: 1-86220-152-8
  • 122 Black and White Figures
  • 14 detailed maps
  • 216 Pages

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Published by Centre for North-West Regional Studies, Lancaster University

About the Author
David Shottter is Professor Emeritus and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for North-West Regional Studies at Lancaster University. He has published widely in the fields of Roman Imperial History, Roman Britain and Roman Numismatics. His publication includes Rome and her Empire (Longman, 2003)

Extract from the Introduction

'What did the Romans do for us?' is a question that, in recent times, has been posed by Adam Hart-Davis in his series on BBC2 Television, and by the ‘People’s Front of Judaea’ in Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

The question itself echoes a gulf which appears to exist between the harsh condemnation of Romanisation put by Tacitus into the mouth of the Caledonian chieftain, Calgacus, before his fateful battle with the Romans under Agricola – (‘They create a desolation and they call it peace’) – and Tacitus’ own observation regarding the readiness of Britons to adopt the new culture that had been put before them.

Extract from the Introduction

Over recent decades, views on the condition of northern England before the Roman occupation have changed what was once seen as an inhospitable landscape dominated by dense forests is now appreciated as one which, in the last millennium B.C., saw extensive clearance-episodes resulting in the development of local economies - agricultural and industrial - which were, in late prehistory, more vibrant than was once thought.

The question itself echoes a gulf which appears to exist between the harsh condemnation of Romanisation put by Tacitus into the mouth of the Caledonian chieftain, Calgacus, before his fateful battle with the Romans under Agricola – (‘They create a desolation and they call it peace’) – and Tacitus’ own observation regarding the readiness of Britons to adopt the new culture that had been put before them.

Of course, discussion of the pre-Roman background is severely hampered by the absence of documentary records; further, classical authors, who are notoriously vague over matters of chronology and location and who are, in any case, given to stereotyping in their treatment of ‘barbarians’, have left us a collection of tribal names, but little else to facilitate the unravelling of the political, social and economic structures of the British who inhabited the north of England in the pre-Roman period.

The Northern Frontier

Our knowledge of events in Britain during the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98-117) is regrettably slight; much of the reign was taken up with warfare which was conducted at a considerable distance from Britain - across the Danube and in the east. Whether this had any effect in Britain - in terms, for example, of further troop-reductions - is not clear. It does appear, however, as we saw in the previous chapter, that consolidation proceeded in the north west, with the construction of new forts (as at Hardknott) and the rebuilding of older ones (as at Chester and Lancaster).

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