A Dab of History

Currently I’m reading David Mattingly’s An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire (Penguin Non-classics). Mattingly gives the reader a run down of the social, economic and military characteristics of British society and culture during the time leading up to and during the Roman invasion of Britain. Much of the information provided uses either source documentation (Tacitus for example) or archaeological evidence to support assumptions and events presented in the book. Due to the nature of Roman advance and fort/town construction practices, much of the evidence used in the first third of the book is Roman centered. It is true that Roman activity would have been better documented and sources for British activity scarce, except, of course, where recorded in imperial writing.

Thus far the book has taken a look at the demographics of Britain during during the first centuries B.C. and A.D. noting where dominant groups or clusters of Britons were located. The Roman advance is then placed against this backdrop. There is discussion of the “client kingdoms”, those that were independent, but showed allegiance to the Emperor in Rome. The study of coinage and iconography at the time sheds much light on which kingdoms were closely associated with Rome and which were less so.

I have just finished a section on the Roman military, fort construction, and the Hadrian and Antonine walls. There is much evidence referred to based on archaeology and earthworks which give ample support to the Britano-Roman narrative.

I look forward to the rest of this book.

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