Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about Early BritainRoman Britain.

ROMAN BRITAIN

CHAPTER I

PRE-ROMAN BRITAIN

SECTION A.

Palaeolithic Age—­Extinct fauna—­River-bed men—­Flint implements—­Burnt stones—­Worked bones—­Glacial climate.

A. 1.—­All history, as Professor Freeman so well points out, centres round the great name of Rome.  For, of all the great divisions of the human race, it is the Aryan family which has come to the front.  Assimilating, developing, and giving vastly wider scope to the highest forms of thought and religion originated by other families, notably the Semitic, the various Aryan nationalities form, and have formed for ages, the vanguard of civilization.  These nationalities are now practically co-extensive with Christendom; and on them has been laid by Divine Providence “the white man’s burden”—­the task of raising the rest of mankind along with themselves to an ever higher level—­social, material, intellectual, and spiritual.

A. 2.—­Aryan history is thus, for all practical purposes, the history of mankind.  And a mere glance at Aryan history shows how entirely its great central feature is the period during which all the leading forces of Aryanism were grouped and fused together under the world-wide Empire of Rome.  In that Empire all the streams of our Ancient History find their end, and from that Empire all those of Modern History take their beginning.  “All roads,” says the proverb, “lead to Rome;” and this is emphatically true of the lines of historical research; for as we tread them we are conscious at every step of the Romani Nominis umbra, the all-pervading influence of “the mighty name of Rome.”

A. 3.—­And above all is this true of the history of Western Europe in general and of our own island in particular.  For Britain, History (meaning thereby the more or less trustworthy record of political and social development) does not even begin till its destinies were drawn within the sphere of Roman influence.  It is with Julius Caesar, that great writer (and yet greater maker) of History, that, for us, this record commences.

A. 4.—­But before dealing with “Britain’s tale” as connected with “Caesar’s fate,” it will be well to note briefly what earlier information ancient documents and remains can afford us with regard to our island and its inhabitants.  With the earliest dwellers upon its soil of whom traces remain we are, indeed, scarcely concerned.  For in the far-off days of the “River-bed” men (five thousand or five hundred thousand years ago, according as we accept the physicist’s or the geologist’s estimate of the age of our planet) Britain was not yet an island.  Neither the Channel nor the North Sea as yet cut it off from the Continent when those primaeval savages herded beside the banks of its streams, along with elephant and hippopotamus,

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