Britain under Roman Rule

By the end of the first century, British Celts were nearly fully Romanised after years of Roman occupation.  Roman towns were springing up often built in grid designs, many close to garrisons, with streets made of gravel and side drains for drainage.

Were the Roman’s trusting to build towns, with little outer protection, or did they feel if garrisons were close by, no one would dare attack.  Whatever the reason, by the end of the first century, some had lines of ditches, earth ramparts and wooden palisades, whilst larger towns opted for stone walls.

Roman town designs were similar from one to another; a rectangular space known as the Forum, lined by shops and a basilica (public building).

In Roman times their baths were more than a place to wash, it was also a place to meet friends and conduct business.  They consisted of a Frigidarium (Cold Room), Tepidarium (Warm Room) and a Calderium (Hot Room).  These Romans rubbed their skins with oils and scraped it off using a strigil.

Larger towns also had an Amphitheatre, where cock fighting and gladiators fought to the death. 

In the latter part of the first century and early part of the second century, the Romans practised the art of cremation, and by the third century had moved on to burying their dead.

Roman Britain was an agricultural and mining land, which only saw a small number of people live in the towns.  Large towns like Colchester, London and St.Albans could have up to 30,000 residents, whilst smaller towns barely 5,000.

As with any land, you had the upper class, and Britain was no different, as rich Celts followed the Roman ways.  They built villa’s, had hypocaust central heating which seeped through the floors and walls, and employed slaves to keep it loaded with fuel.

If one had wealth, your house would be adorned with mosaics, finely carved furniture and running water.  Your children would go to school, be taught to read and write, mathematics and literature.  They would wear a Bulla necklace often made of gold; a boy would retain his until manhood, a girl would discard hers upon marriage.

The poorer children would live in plain roofed houses, heated by a brazier, and wear jewellery made from basic metals.

Romans introduced celery, cabbage and many green foods that could be grown from the land, and how foods could be cooked using charcoal stoves.

Oils and grapes were imported from the East as our climate was not warm enough to generate the heat required to ripen plants.  Roman’s had a delicacy; Oysters, which was exported back to their homeland of Italy in bulk.

These invaders built a network of roads, which criss-crossed their way across this land of ours.  The rich rode these roads upon hoseback or in covered wagons, the poor trudged these roads.

They built the “Cortia” large merchant ships designed to carry some 1,000 tons of cargo, powered by sail, and steered by oars.

Britain’s poor under Roman rule saw little difference, life continued as before, with new masters and lived in simple huts, as they had done before.

Romans kept slaves, and they were simply a piece of property which could be bought or sold.

A first century Roman legionnaire wore Armour (Lorica Segmentata) fought with a Pilum (Spear) and a Gladius (Sword) protected by a shield.  By the third century, they built forts on the shoreline to ward off raiders from the sea.

Romans had been tolerant in accepting most religions, but clashed with these Druids… for these Druids had political and social influence with the people.  For this reason they were banned from these lands.

Roman and Celtic religion was so similar, which led to temples being built and being dedicated to both faiths.  By the third century Mithraism a Roman religion was introduced into Britain, and it gained support amongst the Celtic’s.  This form of worshipping was dedicated to the God Mithras; God of Light and Sun.

Christianity arrived in Britain by the second century much to the dislike of the Romans, which led to the persecution of Christians.

St.Alban was martyred at the Roman town of Verlamium (St.Albans).

By the year 395 Christianity had become the officially recognised religion of the Roman Empire.

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