Roman Britain And Early England

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Overview

"An excellent introduction to an obscure and difficult period." —The Economist
By the time of Caesar's first expedition to Britain in 55 B.C., migratory movements had established close ties of kinship and common interest between the peoples who lived in Gaul and some of the inhabitants of Britain. Because the source material is so meager for much of early British history, Mr. Blair is careful to explain just how scholars have arrived at an accurate knowledge of the first 900 ...

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More About This Book

Overview

"An excellent introduction to an obscure and difficult period." —The Economist
By the time of Caesar's first expedition to Britain in 55 B.C., migratory movements had established close ties of kinship and common interest between the peoples who lived in Gaul and some of the inhabitants of Britain. Because the source material is so meager for much of early British history, Mr. Blair is careful to explain just how scholars have arrived at an accurate knowledge of the first 900 years.
The real history of Britain begins with the Roman occupation, for the Romans were the first to leave substantial documentary and archaeological evidence. After the governorship of Agricola the written sources almost entirely disappear until the early Anglo-Saxon era of the fifth century; but archaeologists have been able to gather a great deal of information about the intervening centuries from excavations of old walled towns, roads, and fortresses dating from the Roman period. Mr. Blair skillfully describes the transition from Roman to Saxon England and shows why Rome's greatest legacy to her former colony—Christianity—flowered within Anglo-Saxon culture. The source material on Saxon England is mainly documentary, as these new inhabitants built in wood and little archaeological evidence has survived. However, Bede's Ecclesiatical History of the English Nation and other great Christian writings, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Beowulf, the stories of Caedmon, and other poems and epics in the Germanic minstrelsy tradition, have revealed much about English economic, social, and cultural life up to the accession of Alfred the Great.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393003611
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/1966
  • Series: Norton Library History of England Series
  • Pages: 322
  • Sales rank: 747,926
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 16, 2013

    Well-written and well-organized

    Blair's book is extremely readable and well-organized. There is a need for more maps and explanations of some of the locations; however, this is an inherent problem when dealing with large time spans and numerous events. I kept a marker by the map of Roman Britain on p. 59 and went there frequently in the first half of the book. The second half that covers the Anglo-Saxon settlements is somewhat better mapped out. The map of the 7th century kingdoms on p. 209 was especially helpful and is critical for the later history of English development. However, all the maps in the book could have more detail.

    The opening chapter on the Roman and early medieval sources is well done but there is one major problem with source material and that is what has been found, especially in archaeology, after the book's publication in 1966. I had the sense at times that the material could be updated, most notably regarding the Romans. The book has a useful Index but no footnotes. The "Further Reading" does not go beyond the early 60's.

    Nevertheless, Blair's use of Roman and Anglo-Saxon source material is effective. He is able to talk about the limitations of the sources in the book without that replacing the flow of his narrative. I learned a great deal not only about the Romans and early Christianity in England but also about the sources of names and the long-term legacy left by the Romans. Despite the problem of the book being over 40 years old, it is still an exceptionally well-organized and clear resource for the 900 years of Roman and Anglo-Saxon life in England up to Alfred.

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