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Ancient Britain

  • Celts
    From Dictionary of British History
    A prehistoric people of Britain. The Celts, who used iron instruments and weapons, occupied extensive areas of central and western Europe, including the British Isles.
  • Ogham
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    Ancient Celtic alphabet of one of the Irish runic languages. It was used by the druids and abandoned after the first few centuries of the Christian era.
  • Ordovices
    From Cassell's Peoples, Nations and Cultures
    Ancient Bitons who inhabited present-day north Wales. Their name is thought to mean ‘hammer warriors’. The Ordovices put up stiff resistance to the Romans for nearly 20 years until they were finally pacified by Agricola in AD 78.
  • Picts
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    Ancient inhabitants of central and N Scotland, of uncertain origin. First mentioned (A.D. 297) by the Roman writer Eumenius as northern invaders of Roman Britain, they were probably descendants of late Bronze Age and early Iron Age invaders of Britain.

Anglo-Saxon Britain

  • Alfred the Great (849 - 899)
    From Reader's Guide to British History
    Alfred the Great, king of Wessex from 871 to 899, is the most celebrated of all Anglo-Saxon rulers. His reign coincided with Danish raiding and later settlement of England, but by a combination of military reforms and shrewd diplomacy, he was able to defend Wessex from the Vikings and save England from being completely overrun by them.
  • Anglo-Saxons: Topic Page
    Name given to the Germanic-speaking peoples who settled in England after the decline of Roman rule there. They were first invited by the Celtic King Vortigern, who needed help fighting the Picts and Scots.
  • Beowulf: Topic Page
    Generally agreed to be the finest example of OLD ENGLISH literature, Beowulf, a poem of 3,182 lines, survives in a single manuscript.
  • Caedmon (658 - 680)
    From Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature
    Cædmon is widely regarded as the first English poet, and “Cædmon’s Hymn” or the “Hymn of Creation” is the earliest surviving example of Anglo-Saxon vernacular verse. Most of what is known of Cædmon comes from the religious historian BEDE, in his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum.
  • Cynewulf b. c. 770; d. 840
    from Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature
    Cynewulf, an Anglo-Saxon poet writing sometime during the 8th-9th cs., created a unique fusion of Christian religious themes and the oral-formulaic style of OLD ENGLISH poetry in his Fates of the Apostles, Ascension, Juliana, and Elene.
  • Danelaw
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    Originally the body of law that prevailed in the part of England occupied by the Danes after the treaty of King Alfred with Guthrum in 886.
  • Heptarchy
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    name traditionally applied to the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England in the period prior to the Danish conquests of the 9th century.
  • Jutes (A.S. = Yte)
    From The Routledge Companion to British History
    Jutes, a Germanic people speaking a language akin to Frisian, inhabited Schleswig and were perhaps northern neighbours of the Angles, with whom they (or some of them) and the Saxons invaded Britain in the 5th cent.
  • Mercia
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    One of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, consisting generally of the region of the Midlands. It was settled by Angles c.500, probably first along the Trent valley.
  • Runes
    From he Columbia Encyclopedia
    ancient characters used in Teutonic, Anglo-Saxon, and Scandinavian inscriptions. They were probably first used by the East Goths (c.300), who are thought to have derived them from Helleno-Italic writing. The runes were adapted to carving on wood and stone; they consisted of perpendicular, oblique, and a few curved lines. The first six runic signs were for f, u, th, o (a), r, c (k), hence the name Futhorc for the runic alphabets. There were two alphabets, one of 16 signs and the other of 24 (the same 16 with 8 additional signs). They were used extensively throughout N Europe, Iceland, England, Ireland, and Scotland until the establishment of Christianity. From then on the use of runes was reviled as a pagan practice. In Scandinavia their use persisted even after the Middle Ages; there they were used for manuscripts as well as inscriptions. The word rune is derived from an early Anglo-Saxon word meaning secret or mystery.
  • Sutton Hoo
    From Encyclopedia of Archaeology: History and Discoveries
    Sutton Hoo, a site located in Suffolk, England, was the cemetery of the Anglo-Saxon kings of East Anglia. It has been argued that it is the burial of the sixth-century king Raedwald (a.d. 599–635).
  • Wessex: Topic Page
    One of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England. It may have been settled as early as 495 by Saxons under Cerdic, who is reputed to have landed in Hampshire.

Roman Britain

  • Aquae Sulis
    From A Guide to the Ancient World
    A town in the county of Somerset, southwestern England. The Roman settlement, founded c AD 75, stood at the intersection of several roads, at a point where the river Avon was crossed by the Fosse Way. But it owed its existence and significance, then and later, to its hot springs, which reached the surface through three vents.
  • Barbarian conspiracy
    From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia
    Joint attack in AD 367 on Roman Britain from the north by Picts, Scots and Attacotti, and from Continental Europe by Franks and Saxons.
  • Boudicea
    From Dictionary of British History
    Queen of the Iceni, who led a revolt against the Romans (61). Prasutagas, her husband, left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the emperor, but this did not prevent Roman agents from seizing the kingdom.
  • Brigantes
    From The Routledge Companion to British History
    This large British tribe occupied most of northern England except Humberside. At the coming of the Romans it was much divided by factions led by members of the royal family, some of whom intrigued with outside powers.
  • Caledonia
    From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
    The Roman name for Scotland but now used only in poetry and in a few commercial or geographical connections, such as the Caledonian Hotel or the Caledonian Canal.
  • Caratacus (1st Century)
    From The Routledge Companion to British HIstory
    Caratacus was a British king, a son of Cunobelinus, king of the Catuvellauni and the Trinovantes. With his brother Togodumnus he resisted the Roman occupation in AD 43 and fought against Vespasian on the Medway.
  • Catuvellauni
    From The Routledge Companion to British History
    A powerful Belgic tribe which migrated to Britain in about 120 B.C. Its capital was at Wheathampstead (Herts) at the time of Caesar's invasions (55-4 B.C.) when its King was Cassivelaunus; he was followed by Tasciovanus, who in or about A.D. 5 was succeeded by Cunobelinus ('Cymbeline').
  • Iceni
    From The Routledge Companion to British History
    A wealthy British tribe inhabiting Norfolk and Suffolk at the time of the Roman Conquest. Their chief town was Caister-by-Norwich.
  • Publius Ostorius Scapula (1st Century)
    From Who's Who in the Roman World
    Ostorius after a suffect consulship was appointed legate (governor) of Britain in 47 in succession to Aulus Plautius (1). His time in Britain was passed in struggling with the peoples then inhabiting Wales.
  • Silures
    From The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales
    The Iron Age tribe of south-east Wales, the Silures provided the most implacable resistance to Roman expansion of any of the British tribes.
  • Verulamium: Topic Page
    Romano-British town near St Albans, Hertfordshire, occupied until about AD 450. Verulamium superseded a nearby Belgic settlement and was first occupied by the Romans in 44-43 BC.
  • Vespasian (9 - 79): Topic Page
    Latin name Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus. 9-79 AD, Roman emperor (69-79), who consolidated Roman rule, especially in Britain and Germany.
  • Vindolanda
    From A Guide to the Ancient World
    A fort in northern Britannia (Northumberland, England). Founded by Cnaeus Julius Agricola as part of his (Stanegate) defence system c AD 80, Vindolanda was abandoned when the garrison was moved up to Hadrian's new Wall (122–26), but reoccupied under Antoninus Pius (c 163).
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