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The Romans and the Celts

The Romans ruled with the maxim "Divide and rule". They offered protection and the advantages of their civilisaton to friendly communities. The Romanised Celts were protected from the wild tribes of Picts and Scots not only by the walls but also by the Roman army.

The first years of Roman occupation saw various revolts of the British tribes, who tried to stop the invaders. The most famous of these attacks is the revolt of the Iceni tribe headed by their queen Boadicea. While the Roman army was fighting in the North Wales, Queen Boadicea with 100,000 armed men burned to the ground Colchester, Londinium and St Albans. The revolt was completely suppressed by the Roman army ten times less than the army of Boadicea. The rebellious Queen took poison after her defeat.

The Roman Conquest influenced the life of Britons greatly. The most important of these influences was Christianity. During the 4th century, when Christian religion became the religion of the Roman Empire, it was also spread in Britain. Christianity was a religion of the book, so together with it literacy was spread. The power of new religion was so strong, that it even reached those parts of the British Isles, where the Romans had never been.

At the end of the 4th century, the Roman Empire started to decline. This destruction happened due to a unique combination of internal and external causes. The slave-owning system slowed the development of the state. Unproductive slave labour led to the economic decline of the empire. Constant revolts of the slaves weakened the empire too. They were coupled with the attacks of the barbarian tribes from outside.


Early History

Thus in 407, the Romans had to leave Britain because they needed to defend their own country. They left the Celts, who now were rom-anised and the country, which had civilisaton similar to the rest of the Empire. Very soon the attacks of barbaric tribes destroyed the signs of this remarkable development.

Task 5. Study the table and add information to the text.


55 BC Roman army of 10,000 men led by Julius Caesar crossed the Channel but was repulsed by the iron-weapon-possessing Celts
54 BC Caesar repeated his expedition with larger forces (25,000). Some of the chiefs submitted and promised to pay tribute to Rome
43 AD Roman army led by the Emperor Claudis occupied southeast of Britain
51 AD The wild tribes of the Celtic North rose against Romans' rule. They were defeated and the Druids were expelled from the island of Mona (now Anglesey) where they had their religious centre
59-61 AD The rebellion headed by Queen Boadicea burnt Roman military camps to the ground, defeated separate Roman detachments, destroyed and burnt down Roman towns
The 80's AD Caledonia was invaded, the chief of the Picts, Galgacus, was killed
121 AD Emperor Hadrian erected a wall from the Tyne to the Solway Firth. "Hadrian's Wall" protected Roman province from the Northern Britons
141 AD The Romans advanced north. From the Forth to the Clyde the wall of Antonine was built. Later it was called Grime's Dyke
The 2nd–5th centuries AD The Picts and Scots continued to attack the Romans
407 AD The Romans ceased to defend Britain and to control it

Cultural Focus: Roman Names in English

Though the relics of Roman occupation in Britain were completely destroyed, today we can see them in a number of names, which were preserved in the English language. These names can be divided into two distinct groups — historical and poetic names and names of places.

The names of the first group were used by the Romans in everyday speech, with the course of time they lost their importance and got new shadows of meaning. To this group belong:

Albion — a word used to refer to England in poetic context. The Romans took this name from the Greek language and said that it meant "white", because the first view for most visitors crossing the Channel was the white cliffs near Dover.

Britannia — the name used by the Romans to refer to the occupied territory. Later this name was given to the female embodiment of Britain, who is always shown wearing a helmet and holding a trident — a symbol of the sea power.

Briton — the name given to the Celtic tribe, who lived in England before and after the Roman occupation. Today this word is used in official contexts to describe a citizen of Great Britain.

Caledonia — the Roman name for Scotland.

Cambria — the Roman name for Wales.

Hibernia — the Roman name for Ireland.

Today these names are often used hi scholarly classifications and for the names of organisations. For example, different types of the languages used on the territory of Great Britain are called "Hiberno-English", "Cambrian-English" and "Hiberno-Celtic". You may often come across such names as the airline "British Caledonian", Caledonian Channel or Cambrian Mountains. The citizens of Scotland, Wales and Ireland are sometimes called Caledonians, Cambrians and Hibernians.

The names of the second group were used by the Romans to call towns and roads. As the towns were mostly fortified and also served like camps, they contained the component caster, Chester or carter derived from the Latin word "castra" — a camp. Today one may find these components in the names like Winchester, Dancaster, Leicester and many others. The stem "coin" or "col" is found in the names, which denoted colonies (from Latin "colonia") like in Lincoln, sometimes both stems were used in one word — Colchester.

Task 6.Read the list of events below and try to put them in the correct order.

a)Rome wanted to conquer all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

b)The Celtic tribal chiefs had to recognise the Romans as their rulers, though wide masses of people openly expressed discontent.

c)The Gauls, who inhabited the territory of the present-day France, were at war with Rome for eight years.

d)During 90 years after it trading contacts between Britain and Rome developed.

e)Julius Caesar found that the Britons helped the Gauls.

f) After the rebellion headed by Queen Boadicea, the Romans built the wall around Londinium, which was about 2 and a half metres thick at the base.

g)The Britons dyed their hair and moustaches red and painted their legs and arms blue. With loud shouts they attacked the Romans in chariots and the invincible army had to return to Gaul.

Task 7. Compare the distinctive features of early British societies:


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