Roman Britain

A Map of the World

The area of Roman Britain is set in the 5th century AD, at the time the Roman Legions were withdrawn to guard Rome, which was suffering from the depredations of the Goths. Britain had at this point been under Roman domination since Julius Caesar. Among the various things which the Romans brought to Britain were a system of laws, vast advancements in architecture, roads, schools, the Latin tongue, and of course public baths. The Romans, with their powerful military machine, pushed the native Britons, Gaels, and Picts to the remote regions of what is today Scotland and Wales. Garrisons were posted and walls built, such as Hadrian's Wall, to contain the 'barbarians.' The Romans also worked hard to eradicate the old druidic worship on the islands, eventually forcing it mostly back to Ireland and to the Isle of Man. With the loss of the legions, Britain became vulnerable to the advances of the Saxons and other Germanic tribes from across the North Sea. The Saxons quickly invaded along the eastern and southern shores, pillaging and plundering at first and then settling in as homesteaders. The Britain thus created was one of uneasy alliances and petty kings, with Britons in the wildernesses, Saxons encroaching on the shores, and the remnants of Roman rule huddling in the cities hoping to be rescued by a return of the Legions.

The Picts were a Briton tribe that once ranged through much of Britain. A small-bodied folk, they were worshippers of much the same gods as the related Gaelic tribes, a mythology brought from the continent in migrations across the centuries. Among the customs Picts are well known for is the habit of painting their bodies with woad paste, which gives a blue color, and the building of burial mounds which are internally markedly different from the externally similar mounds left by Germanic tribes. The Pict tribes were persecuted by the Romans and eventually hounded out of the lower parts of Britain, into the moors north of Hadrian's Wall. Among the legacies which we may have from them are the terms pixie, and the idea of the Little People, or faerie.

The Scoti were a Celtic people, descendants of families that left Ireland for new shores, fleeing wars and populating the northern sections of what is now Scotland and Wales. The best documented Scoti settlement is Dal Riada, a kingdom founded sometime between 503 and 508 AD by Fergus maqq Erc and 5 of his 12 brothers. It is known, however, that Scoti were present at this site for approximately 150 years before the Kingship of Fergus, although few details are available. The Scoti, much like the Picts, Saxons, and a number of other tribes, regularly raided into Britain, and even sacked Londinium during the Roman occupation. With the withdrawal of Roman troops in 410 AD, the Scoti raids became more frequent and thrust deeper inland than ever before.

Related Links

Info on Wales
Info on the United Kingdom
An Arthurian booklist
A guide to Ogham