• Ancestors of many of the
people in Highland
Scotland, Wales, Ireland,
Cornwall. They arrived
around 700 BC.
• Many of them were tall, and
had fair or red hair and blue
• The Iberian people of Wales
and Cornwall took on the
new Celtic culture.
• Celtic languages are still
• The British today are often
described as Anglo-Saxon. It
would be better to call them
Celtic Tribes
• They were farmers, they used iron and produced
elaborately shaped metal jewellery
• They lived in ‘hill forts’ on the top of the hills
• trades were conducted by river and by sea
(London, Edinburgh), for money they used iron
bars (later Romans
• They were dressed in shirts and breeches
(=knee-length trousers), with striped or checked
cloaks fastened by a pin
Scottish tartan
• They were ruled by a warrior class
• The priests - Druids - were particularly
important members: they could not read or
write, but they memorised all the religious
teachings, the tribal laws, history and medicine;
• they used to meet once a year in sacred groves of
trees, on certain hills, by the rivers
• Stonehenge was probably a temple, even if the
Celts did not use to build them.
The Romans
• In 55 BC Julius Caesar first came to Britain [Fig.1:
Area of Deal Beach where Caesar's ships probably landed].
• Only a century later, though, a Roman army
actually occupied the country: their legion
counted about 40.000 men.
• They did not succeed in invading ‘Caledonia’
(Scotland) and to keep up raiders from the North
they built the Hadrian’s wall .
• In AD 409 Rome pulled its last soldiers out of
Britain (in 410 Rome fell to raiders and the
Empire collapsed).
• Towns (castra) were built: they were made of
stones and wood, streets were planned and so were
markets and shops;
• some buildings had even a central heating;
• 6 main roads met in London (founded by the
Romans in AD 60,- but the name has a Celtic
origin -), and which counted 20.000 people after 4
centuries of Roman rule.
The Invaders (Anglo-Saxon tribes =
Germanic invasions)
• At first they only raided
the coasts of Britain but
after AD 430 they settled;
the British Celts fought
them as well as they
could, but they were
eventually pushed in the
far west (‘Weallas’) Saxon
for WALES. Some Celts
stayed behind and many
became slaves .
• Saxons, Angles
(England=the land of the
Angles) and Jutes formed
several kingdoms between
the 5th and the 6th
centuries, but in mid 7th
ce. The most powerful
were 3:
• Northumbria
• Mercia
• Wessex
They invaded Britaina at first very slowly – some Saxons had been called
as mercenaries by the Roman-celtic populations which were threatened by
the Irish and the Picts
• They came from the
area of the actual
Schleswig (called
Angeln even
nowadays) and built
several reigns: Kent
by the Jutes, then
Sussex, Wessex and
Essex, i.e. Southern
Saxon land, etc
• At the beginning the Angles had
the supremacy of the island –
England (= the land of the
Angles);then a second raid
occurred, it was caried out by
• (the Vikings) who raided the
eastern coasts and the island
was divided into a NE part – or
Danelaw, left to the invaders –
and a SW area under the
Wessex King Alfred the Great
(871- 899)
• The Saxons created institutions which made the English
state strong for the next 500 years. One of these was the
King’s Council, called the Witan: it gave advice and
support on difficult matters - nowadays it is the Privy
• They divided the land into ‘shires’ (‘county’ is a Norman
word) and for each of them a local administrator was
appointed (a ‘shire reeve’ = a ‘sheriff’);
• Under their rule a class system began: it was made of king,
lords, soldiers , workers of the land and men of learning .
• We cannot know or when Christianity first reached Britain,
certainly before it was accepted by the Roman Emperor
Constantine in the early 4th century AD. It was largely
accepted by the Celtic areas (Welsh place-names beginning
or ending eith ‘llan’ mean the site of a small Celtic
monastery around which a village or town grew).
• The Church increased the power of the king, so that royal
power became unquestioned, as the kings had ‘God’s
approval’, in this way there was no uncertainty of the royal
succession, whereas previously he who had more soldiers
had the throne.
Round Table. The medieval idea, that the city of
Winchester was King Arthur's Camelot, is due to the
presence of this great, painted circular table which
hangs on the wall of the Great Hall of Winchester
• The Church increased the power of the English
state also with its monasteries, which were places
of learning and where men were trained to read
and write.
• Alfred the Great (he ruled Wessex from 871-899)
established a system of law, had people educated
and important matters written with the help of the
literate men of the Church.
• He started the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the most
important source for understanding that period.
The Vikings
• They invaded England at • In the 9th century,
the end of the 8th
however, the Danes
century (thanks to the
prevailed in two
continuous fights and
quarrels among the
and Mercia;
ruling kings). From the
• (the Vikings) raided
actual Norway,
the eastern coasts
Danemark and
and the island was
Scandinavia they moved
divided into a NE part
towards west
– or Danelaw, left to
the invaders – and a
SW area under the
Wessex King Alfred
the Great (871- 899)
For nearly 300 years, from the end of the eighth century AD until around
1100, the Vikings set out from Scandinavia on raids and voyages of
discovery and colonization across the northern world. Their pagan gods
were regarded with horror by the Christian countries of Europe, but the
archaeology of their settlements and burials and the literature of their
sagas reveal a complex and fascinating culture
Viking society was hierarchical and ruled by kings or chiefs, who owned
large farmsteads. It was divided into the free, who could carry arms and
speak at local assemblies, and the thralls, or slaves, who had no rights.
The free were divided into the noble class of jarls (earls) and, beneath
them, the farmers, whose status depended on how long their families had
owned their farms.
A Viking Brooch:
The sagas, mostly composed in Iceland in the thirteenth century, give
the impression of a violent society as rival families resorted to blood
feuds to settle disputes or avenge murder. The violence of the age is
reflected in the quantity of weapons found in male graves. However,
Viking raids were often seasonal affairs, after which the bands of
warriors would disperse to return to their farms. Trade and plunder
brought increasing prosperity to the region and skilled craftsmen
patronized by the élite produced objects of great artistic merit.
A brooch and a silver bracelet:
• The Norsemen came to Scotland looking for better farms; they slowly
changed their way of life to become more like the Scots. However they had
an influence where they settled most densly, as for example in Lewis where
all the villege names are Norse. They gradually became Christinas.
• The will be remembered mostly as the pirates who attacked monasteries for
their gold and villages looking for slaves. They also reached several parts of
Europe (Normandy) and even came into contact with Byzantium. They also
terrorised Paris and burnt Hamburg and many other german cities.
• Over 900 of the most common English words come from the Vikings. There
are over 600 village names in england which can be directly related to them