By the time of Caesar's first expedition to Britain in 55 B.C., migratory movements had established close ties of kinship and common interest between the peoples who lived in Gaul and some of the inhabitants of Britain. Because the source material is so meager for much of early British history, Mr. Blair is careful to explain just how scholars have arrived at an accurate kBy the time of Caesar's first expedition to Britain in 55 B.C., migratory movements had established close ties of kinship and common interest between the peoples who lived in Gaul and some of the inhabitants of Britain. Because the source material is so meager for much of early British history, Mr. Blair is careful to explain just how scholars have arrived at an accurate knowledge of the first 900 years.The real history of Britain begins with the Roman occupation, for the Romans were the first to leave substantial documentary and archaeological evidence. After the governorship of Agricola the written sources almost entirely disappear until the early Anglo-Saxon era of the fifth century; but archaeologists have been able to gather a great deal of information about the intervening centuries from excavations of old walled towns, roads, and fortresses dating from the Roman period. Mr. Blair skillfully describes the transition from Roman to Saxon England and shows why Rome's greatest legacy to her former colony—Christianity—flowered within Anglo-Saxon culture. The source material on Saxon England is mainly documentary, as these new inhabitants built in wood and little archaeological evidence has survived. However, Bede's Ecclesiatical History of the English Nation and other great Christian writings, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Beowulf, the stories of Caedmon, and other poems and epics in the Germanic minstrelsy tradition, have revealed much about English economic, social, and cultural life up to the accession of Alfred the Great....
|Title||:||Roman Britain & Early England 55 BC-AD 871|
|Number of Pages||:||292 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Roman Britain & Early England 55 BC-AD 871 Reviews
As a serious introduction to a hazy time period, I can not imagine how this could have been much better. As most know, the written sources are scarce and archaeological sites have yet to provide many conclusive offerings to our understanding of Roman Britain and Early England. Although I had read that Peter Hunter-Blair expounded a more traditional view of hoards of Saxons completely overwhelming Britain, I did not find that to be the case. He speaks of the “slow, continuing process of migration whereby the land of Britain gradually came into the possession of new owners.” I wondered about some of the things he chose to omit, such as the fact that Agricola was Tacitus's father-in-law or that we are not sure that Honorius truly sent a letter to Britain in 410A.D. telling them to take care of themselves. I suppose introductory material cannot cover all disputes, but it is interesting to note what is included and what is not.Overall, a satisfactory prelude to further reading.
This is a difficult period to cover since there aren't that many surviving sources. I was surprised to find myself interested in the first chapter in which Blair reviews what is available to a historian trying to piece the history of early Britain together. He doesn't speculate too much which is a frequent flaw in histories similarly lacking material but he does make suggestions as to possible interpretations of facts. The complexity of things is evident from the varied groups of invaders and the response to them of earlier inhabitants/invaders.
I did not look at the publication date when I bought this, and when I realized that it was written in the early '60's, I found it completely ironic that the author cautions the reader that in the last 30 years so much has been discovered that it may render old opinions and theories obsolete. That said, I did enjoy this book very much and found his ideas, based on archeological and documentary evidence, to make sense. No tortured and convoluted "reasoning" to promote a certain theory or interpretation. He points out that while it took the Romans a mere five years to conquer Britain, the Anglo-Saxon conquest took at least three hundred. Not really and "invasion." Unfortunately he gives short shrift to the Brythonic peoples who were already living Britain, so that it seemed to me that there was a vacuum which the conquerors walked into. His admiration for the Romans and Anglo-Saxons is apparent and not unjustified. But I again found it ironic that the heroic ideal of the Anglo-Saxons, which he describes, was the same as that of the Brythons, which I knew about from other sources.
Rather dry exposition of the facts regarding the historical period. But that is what I was looking for after reading so much historical fiction about the times. Gave me the perspective I was looking for. No Arthur material here (again, its the facts). A bit dated, so I wonder what has been discovered since.
Very good history of England under Roman rule. Book becomes a little less easily to read in describing life in post-Roman rule, though much of that is due to gaps in the historical record and the fragmentation of kingdoms that rise and fall through 871.
A little dry, but very informative.
Roman Britain & Early England by Peter Hunter Blair (1963)