British Studies


Section 2

History of the British Isles

Class 6. Prehistoric and Roman Britain


Prehistoric Britain (ca 12,000 BC - 43 AD)


Although early human presence in Britain occured as early as 30,000 BC, the last Ice Age drove humans out to the continental Europe, and it was not until ca 12,000 BC when they returned back.


Key terms and notions: hunters-gatherers


The Neolithic and the Bronze Age (ca 4000 BC - 8th century BC)

The beginning of the Neolithic is marked by one of the most important changes in the human history - the invention of agriculture, which is often called Neolithic Revolution. Agriculture meant more stable and successful societies, which meant the birth of the human culture and civilisation.


Key terms and notions: stone circles

Geographic objects: Stonehedge, Avebury


The Iron Age, or the Celtic Britain (mid-8th century BC - 43 AD)

In the mid-8th century, iron working came to Britain from Europe. The people who either brought it, or followed it were Celts. By 500 BC, they dominated in the British Isles. Their culture was very different from the-Celtic population of Britain. They lived in organised tribal groups (clans), were in the a permanent state of war with each other and neighbours, and had a very powerful religious institution - the druids.


Key terms and notions: hill forts, druids


Roman Britain (43 AD - early 5th century)

In the mid-1st century BC, Julius Ceasar twice invaded the British Isles, but despite his military victories, Britain remain independent from the Roman Empire for almost a century. Yet in 43 AD Romans invaded Britain once again, this time with more determination, and by the end of the 1st century AD, the conquest of what is now England and Wales was over. Contemporary Scotland, as well as Ireland remain free from the Roman rule.


Since the 2nd century AD, Romans became more occupied with the defense of their territories, rather than the further expansion. Between 122 and 128, they built the Hadrian's Wall on the northern border of their province Britannia. Later, they constructed a number of coastal forts in the south to secure Britannia from pirate raids.


By the early 5th century BC, legions were required elsewhere in the Roman Empire, and in 407 last Roman soldiers left Britain.


Important events: Ceasar's invasions, invasion of 43 AD, Boudica's revolt, Roman departure (early 5th century)

Key terms and notions: urban growth, Christianisation of Britain, coastal forts, villas

Geographic objects: London, Bath, Colchester, York, Hadrian's Wall



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