The History of Roman Britain (43 AD — 410 AD). Part 4

From this article you will know about the times when the British Isles were covered with forests and the greater part of them was very misty and cold. The stormy sea roared round them, and few travellers dared to swim asross the sea to explore the far away land.

The History of the Roman Britain (43 AD - 410 AD).

The History of Roman Britain (in short)

But there was a nation on  the shores of the Mediterranean sea who were learned and powerful. That was the Roman nation. In the century just before Christ (B.C.) the great soldier and ruler, Julius Caesar, with his army visited Great Britain two summers running and decribed it to the civilised world.

  • two summers running — два лета подряд
Do you know that the name “Britain” comes from the Greco-Roman word “Pretani”. This is how the Romans called the inhabitants of the British Isles. And they called the island “Britannia”.


  1. The Invasion of the Romans
  2. Celtic Revolts
  3. Hadrian’s Wall
  4. The Fall of Roman Britain
  5. The Roman influence on Britain (interesting facts)

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The most important proper names

  1. Julius Caesar — Юлий Цезарь
  2. the Celts – кельты
  3. the Britons – бритты (ист.)
  4. the Picts — пикты
  5. Queen Boadicea — Боудикка (королева воинов)
  6. the Emperor Hadrian – римский император Адриан
  7. Caledonia (Scotland) – Каледония (ист. название Шотландии)

The Invasion of the Romans. Вторжение римлян

  1. conquer – завоевать
  2. retreat – отступать
  3. pay tributes – платить дань
Julius Caesar in the History of Roman Britain

Julius Caesar (100BC — 44BC)

In the century BC the Romans were the great nation that succeeded in conquering many countries. First time in 55 BC the Roman emperor Julius Caesar at the head of the army of 10 thousand soldiers went to the British Isles. But they couldn’t conquer Britain and occupy the island. The channel storms and the Celts possessing iron-weapon made them retreat.
Next year Caesar repeated his invasion and succeeded. The 25-thousand army took possession of the probable capital  Camulodunum (Colchester — Колчестер), as a result Celtic chiefs promised to pay tributes to the Romans. Soon Caesar left the country and never came back.
In fact Caesar did not conquer Britain and the promised tribute was not paid. The actual conquest took place 90 years later in 43 AD. At that time Britain was no longer a mysterious country as Caesar had written books about his travels and described many particulars about the Britons. Almost a hundred years later the Emperor Claudius (император Клавдий) began to conquer the country of the plains. His 50 thousand warriors landed in Kent (Кент), crossed the Thames and conquered the southeastern territory of the country.

* * *

The Celtic Revolts. Восстания кельтов

  1. discontentнедовольство
  2. plunder – грабежи
  3. taxations – налоги
  4. revolt – бунт, мятеж, восстание
  5. suppress the revolts – подавить восстание
  6. Queen Boadicea — Боудикка (королева воинов)

The Celtic tribal chiefs recognized the Romans as their rulers, which cannot be said about the people. Their discontent caused by endless plunder and heavy taxations grew. The first revolt took place in 51 AD. The wild tribes of the North were headed by Caradoc (Caractacus), who tried to resist the Roman rule. The attempt failed, the Romans defeated the Britons and secured the southern areas.

Another famous revolt was organized by Queen Boadicea. She headed the Celtic tribe of Iceni (inhabitants of contemporary Norfolk) in 61 AD. Boadicea rushed at the invaders in her chariot with her daughters beside her. At first the revolt was very successful. They started it when the current governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was in the north of Wales leading a campaign against the island of Mona (modern Anglesey). Boadicea with her warriors managed to destroy Londinium (London), Camulodunum (Colchester) and Verulamium (St. Albans). During the revolt about 70 thousand Romans were killed. When this news reached Gaius Suetonius, he hurried back with his army and suppressed the rebellion. Boadicea did not want to become a prisoner, so she took poison together with her daughters. The name of the Queen Boadicea has remained in the history as well as in the people’s memory for her outstanding bravery. Her statue stands on the embankment by the Westminster Bridge in London.

The monument to the Queen Boadicea

Though the revolts failed, they had their result. It was not easy to suppress the revolts and now the Romans decided to think twice before violating Celtic people’s rights so aggressively.

 * * *

 Hadrian’s Wall. Вал Адриана

  1. raid — совершать набеги
  2. Roman governor — римский правитель
  3. Julius Agricola — Юлий Агрикола
  4. fortification — укрепление

The book about History of the Roman Britain
The Romans conquered only the southern part of the island, they never managed to conquer the Scottish Highlands . More than that from time to time the Picts from the north raided the Romans.
At the end of the 1st century AD the chief Roman governor of Britain was Julius Agricola (78-85 AD). He was a great general and pushed the conquest even further to Caledonia (Scotland). There were constant battles between the Romans and the Picts, so to keep out the Caledonians Agricola built a line of forts between two rivers the Forth and the Clyde.
The battles and the wild Picts attacking from Caledonia made a great impression upon the Romans, and in 121 AD the Emperor Hadrian decided to built a wall from the Tyne (река Тайн) to the Solway Firth (Солуэй-Ферт — залив в Ирландском море), that was called Hadrian wall. Hadrian wall was farther to the North from the Agricola’s Forth and the Clyde wall.

Hadrian wall was called in honour of Emperor Hadrian. It was made of stone and was 73 miles long, about 10 feet thick and 20 feet high. Each mile it had a tower with hundred soldiers. This was the strongest Roman fortification.

The Romans didn’t manage to conquer Scotland and the Caledonians continued to attack Roman Britain when it was weak.

* * *

The Fall of Roman Britain. Падение римской Британии

The history of the Roman Britain in short the map

Between the 3d and the 4th centuries the power of the Roman Empire gradually weakened.  The end of the 4th century was the time when the Germanic tribes started to invade the west of the Roman Empire. The safety of Rome itself was in question, and in the year of 407 the Roman legions were recalled from Britain.

The Romans came to Britain not to settle down there, and they did not return to Britain. The Celts were left alone absolutely leadless and defenseless.

During 410 years Britain was one of the remote provinces of the Roman Empire. This military occupation lasted 4 centuries and had a great influence on Britain.

* * *

 Interesting facts — The Roman Influence on Britain

The Romans occupied Britain for 4 centuries; their influence on the British culture was great. How did the Romans influence the Celtic culture?

1. Language

Very few people could read or write in Britain. It was the Romans who brought language, writing and numbers to Britain.  Nowadays you can find the marks of Roman influence in the English words of Latin origin, as we know the Romans spoke Latin. Among them are such words as school (schola), street (strata), port (porta), wall – (vallum), village (vicus), word “cheese” and “butter” also have Latin origin.

Many English towns are of Latin origin, English towns with the name ending in –chester, -cester, -caster was once a Roman camp or a city: Colchester, Leicester, Gloucester, Winchester, Silchester, Doncaster, Cirencester, Donchester.  Some towns such as Lincoln come from the Latin word  “colonia” – a colony.

The names of months have Latin origin:

  1. January – Janus (Roman god of gates and doorways)
  2. February – Februa (Roman festival of purification)
  3. March – Mars (Roman god of War)
  4. April – Aprilius (Latin verb “aperire” means «to open»)
  5. May – Maia (Roman goodess of spring and growth)
  6. June – Juno (Roman goodess of the moon)
  7. July – Julius (Julius Caesar’s month)
  8. August – Augustus (in honour of the Roman Emperor Augustur Caesar)
  9. September – Septima (means literally «seventh month»)
  10. October – Octavia («eighth month»)
  11. November – Novembris ( «nineth month»)
  12. December – December («tenth month»)

2. Roads

The Romans built first towns in Britain that were connected by Roman roads. The roads were made of mortal and gravel and were made so well they exist till now. These were long straight roads with milestones marking every mile (1000 paces).

Roman Milestone near Vindolanda (nothern England)

Roman Britain

Roman Milestone near Vindolanda (nothern England)

3. Towns

Before the Romans there had been no towns in Britain. The Romans were the first to build towns. In the Roman towns there were market places where merchants sold their goods. There were also temples and public baths in most of the towns. Among the largest towns were London, York, Colchester, St. Albans, Lincoln and about 50 smaller towns.

The houses in Roman towns had central heating and running water: the rich had water pipes in their houses and the poor took water from the public fountains.

4. Roman Baths

The Romans loved baths and they brought this tradition to Britain. Baths were not just places for washing the body; it was a kind of entertainment and besides a luxurious entertainment.

A usual bath had mirrors along the walls and the ceiling was all in glass. The pool was made of rich marble and mosaics covered the floor.

The first Roman baths were built in Bath. In the picture you can see a Roman bath in the city of Bath, in Somerset.

Roman Bath in Sommerset

Roman Bath in Sommerset

More information about Roman Baths.

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5. Roman London (AD 43 — AD 410)

London, York, Colchester, Westminster, Bath — all these cities were founded by the Romans. Among them London was the most important city in Roman times. London had a very fortunate position, it was a center of both external and internal trade.

When the Romans invaded England in AD 43, they landed in Kent and then sailed up the river Thames. They found it an advantageous position to build a settlement on the north bank of the river. Where the river was narrower they built a bridge (what is now London Bridge). They called London — ‘Londinium’.

In 61 AD the Boadicea with her supporters almost burn London to the ground. It took the Romans about 20 yeas to rebuild Londinium, since then the strong walls were built around London to ensure the safety of the city. This fort was situated where the Barbican centre is now.

More information about the history of London SOON


  1. М.С. Зимина, С.Б. Катенин «История Англии с древнейших времен до IV века» при участии Дж. Поллок (Великобритания), 2000, ISBN 5-7931-0133-0
  2. В.С. Кузнецова «England. History, Geography, Culture» (учебник для вузов), 1976
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