Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about Early BritainRoman Britain.
in some the Commons had set up “Tyrants” of their own.  It was this general unrest which contributed in no small degree to the Roman conquest of Gaul.  And the same state of things seems to have been begun in Britain also.  The earliest inscribed British coins bear, some of them the names of Kings and Princes, others those of peoples, others again designations which seem to point to Tyrants.  To the first class belong those of Commius, Tincommius, Tasciovan, Cunobelin, etc.; to the second those of the Iceni and the Cassi; to the last the northern mintage of Volisius, a potentate of the Parisii, who calls himself Domnoverus, which, according to Professor Rhys,[45] literally signifies “Demagogue.”

SECTION G.

Clans at Julian invasion—­Permanent natural boundaries—­Population—­Celtic settlements—­“Duns”—­Maiden Castle.

G. 1.—­The earliest of these inscribed coins, however, take us no further back than the Julian invasion; and it is to Caesar’s Commentaries that we are indebted for the first recorded names of any British tribes.  It is no part of his design to give any regular list of the clans or their territories; he merely makes incidental mention of such as he had to do with.  Thus we learn of the four nameless clans who occupied Kent (a region which has kept its territorial name unchanged from the days of Pytheas), and also of the Atrebates, Cateuchlani, Trinobantes, Cenimagni, Segontiaci, Ancalites, Bibroci, and Cassi.

G. 2.—­To the localities held by these tribes Caesar bears no direct evidence; but from his narrative, as well as from local remains and later references, we know that the Trinobantes possessed Essex, and the Cenimagni (i.e. “the Great Iceni” as they were still called,[46] though their power was on the wane), East Anglia; while the Cateuchlani, already beginning to be known as the Cassivellauni (or Cattivellauni), presumably from their heroic chieftain Caswallon (or Cadwallon),[47] corresponded roughly to the later South Mercians, between the Thames and the Nene.  The Segontiaci, Ancalites, Bibroci, and Cassi were less considerable, and must evidently have been situated on the marches between their larger neighbours.  The name of the Cassi may still, perhaps, cling to their old home, in the Cashio Hundred and Cassiobury, near Watford; while conjecture finds traces of the Ancalites in Henley, and of the Bibroci in Bray, on either side of the Thames.

G. 3.—­The Atrebates, who play a not unimportant part (as will be seen in the next chapter) in Caesar’s connection with Britain, were apparently in possession of the whole southern bank of the Thames, from its source right down to London—­the river then, as in Anglo-Saxon times, being a tribal boundary throughout its entire length.  This would make the Bibroci a sub-tribe of the Atrebatian Name, and also the Segontiaci, if Henry of Huntingdon (writing in the 12th century with access to various sources of information now lost) is right in identifying Silchester, the Roman Calleva, with their local stronghold Caer Segent.

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Early Britain—Roman Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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