A Brief History of Britain
of the earliest Britons is up for debate. A traditional view was that
early settlers were Celts who arrived between 700 and 500 BC from the
mainland of Europe, however a more recent theory suggests that the earliest
Britons were already here when the Celts landed. It is suggested that
these natives spoke another language entirely and therefore were probably
descendents of original neolithic inhabitants.
Roman Britain - 1st Century
Although it had long been known to the Mediterranean peoples as a source of tin, Great Britain did not enter the Roman world until Julius Caesar’s two expeditions to the island in 55 and 54 BC—as an afterthought to his conquest of Gaul. Caesar’s contact, however, was temporary; permanent occupation had to wait until Rome had solved more pressing problems at home.
Claudius I invaded Britain in force in AD 43. Roman
ports at Meols on the Wirral, and all around the coast were used to
supply inland military bases, such as at Chester. Nearly two decades passed
before the Romans had captured the nearby island of Anglesey in Wales,
headquarters of the Druids, and put down the revolt of Boudicca, the queen
of the Iceni. She had already wrought damage such as on the town at Colchester,
where the only known Roman Circus
in Britain was found. The Roman governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola won
the Battle of Mons Graupius (AD 84), somewhere in Scotland, but the northern
tribes proved hard to subdue. In 123, Hadrian’s
Wall, stretching 117 km (73 mi) from the Solway Firth to the River
Tyne, became the northern frontier.
Sub-Roman Britain - 5th Century
When the Romans withdrew their administrative network and central military support, the country began a period of technological and sociological decline. Standards of literacy and education fell, and knowledge of surveying, building and organisation evaporated over the generations. The influence of the Roman system cannot be overstated, and with their interest in the island gone, the country slid into ruin.
The Anglo-Saxons - 6th Century
The Angles, Saxons and Jutes were Germanic peoples who, in the 5th to 6th centuries AD, sailed to Britain across the North Sea from Netherlands, Germany and Norway. They conquered and occupied most of Britain, dividing the country up into Kingdoms eached ruled by their own Royal Family. This period started in the first half of the 5th century and by around AD 600 the five main Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were: Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, Kent and Anglia.
The Vikings - 8th Century
The Vikings also came from the east, or rather the north, hence their name Norse. They were a people who had not long migrated to the countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and after trying eke out a living amidst steep terrain in fjords, sailed to Britain where they landed on the east cost and formed their own nation, called the Danelaw, and travelled around the north of Scotland where they settled in Shetland, the West Coast of Scotland, and Ireland.
Norman Conquest - 1066 AD