Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Early Britain—Roman Britain.

B. 10.—­Now there is no reason for supposing that the Cam valley was in any way an exceptionally prosperous or populous district in the Roman period.  It contained but one Roman town of even third-class importance, Cambridge, and very few of the “villas” in which the great landed proprietors resided.  The wealth of remains which it has furnished is merely a by-product of the “coprolite” digging, and it is probable that equally systematic digging would have like results in almost any alluvial district in the island.  We may therefore regard it as fairly established that these districts were as thickly peopled under the Romans as at any other period of history, and that the agricultural population of our island has never been larger than in the 3rd and 4th centuries, till its great development in the 19th.


Fortification of towns late—­Chief Roman centres—­London—­York—­Chester—­Bath—­Silchester—­Remains there found—­Romano-British handicrafts—­Pottery—­Basket work—­Mining—­Rural life—­Villas—­Forests—­Hunting dogs—­Husbandry—­Britain under the Pax Romana.

C. 1.—­The profound peace which reigned in these rural districts is shown by the fact that Roman weapons are the rarest of all finds, far less common than the earlier British or the ensuing Saxon.[211] At the same time it is worthy of note that every Roman town which has been excavated has been found to be fortified, often on a most formidable scale.  Thus at London there still remains visible a sufficiently large fragment of the wall to show that it must have been at least thirty feet high, while that of Silchester was nine feet thick, with a fosse of no less than thirty yards in width.  And at Cirencester the river Churn or Corin (from which the town took its name Corinium) was made to flow round the ramparts, which consisted first of an outer facing of stone, then of a core of concrete, and finally an earthen embankment within, the whole reaching a width of at least four yards.  It is probable, however, that these defences, like those of so many of the Gallic cities, and like the Aurelian walls of Rome itself; belong to the decadent period of Roman power, and did not exist (except in the northern garrisons and the great legionary stations, York, Chester, and Caerleon) during the golden age of Roman Britain.[212]

C. 2.—­Their circuit, where it has been traced, furnishes a rough gauge of the comparative importance of the Roman towns of Britain.  Far at the head stands London, where the names of Ludgate, Newgate, Aldersgate, Moorgate, Bishopsgate, and Aldgate still mark the ancient boundary line, five miles in extent (including the river-front), nearly twice that of any other town.[213] And abundant traces of the existence of a flourishing suburb have been discovered on the southern bank of the river.  To London ran nearly all the chief Roman roads, and the shapeless block now called London Stone was once the Milliarium from which the distances were reckoned along their course throughout the land.[214]

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