|Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition||Public Domain via Project Gutenberg|
(Gr. Πρετανικαὶ νῆσοι, Βρεττανία; Lat. Britannia, rarely Brittania), the anglicized form of the classical name of England, Wales and Scotland, sometimes extended to the British Isles as a whole (Britannicae Insulae). The Greek and Roman forms are doubtless attempts to reproduce a Celtic original, the exact form of which is still matter of dispute. Brittany (Fr. Bretagne) in western France derived its name from Britain owing to migrations in the 5th and 6th century A.D. The personification of Britannia as a female figure may be traced back as far as the coins of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius (early 2nd century A.D.); its first appearance on modern coins is on the copper of Charles II. (see Numismatics).
In what follows, the archaeological interest of early Britain is dealt with, in connexion with the history of Britain in Pre-Roman, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon days; this account being supplementary to the articles England; English History; Scotland, &c.
Geologists are not yet agreed when and by whom Britain was first peopled. Probably the island was invaded by a succession of races. The first, the Paleolithic men, may have died out or retired before successors arrived. During the Neolithic and Bronze Ages we can dimly trace further immigrations. Real knowledge begins with two Celtic invasions, that of the Goidels in the later part of the Bronze Age, and that of the Brythons and Belgae in the Iron Age. These invaders brought Celtic civilization and dialects. It is uncertain how far they were themselves Celtic in blood and how far they were numerous enough to absorb or obliterate the races which they found in Britain. But it is not unreasonable to think that they were no mere conquering caste, and that they were of the same race as the Celtic-speaking peoples of the western continent. By the age of Julius Caesar all the inhabitants of Britain, except perhaps some tribes of the far north, were Celts in speech and customs. Politically they were divided into separate and generally warring tribes, each under its own princes. They dwelt in hill forts with walls of earth or rude stone, or in villages of round huts sunk into the ground and resembling those found in parts of northern Gaul, or in subterranean chambered houses, or in hamlets of pile-dwellings constructed among the marshes. But, at least in the south, market centres had sprung up, town life was beginning, houses of a better type were perhaps coming into use, and the southern tribes employed a gold coinage and also a currency of iron bars or ingots, attested by Caesar and by surviving examples, which weigh roughly, some two-thirds of a pound, some 2⅔ lb, but mostly 1⅓ lb. In religion, the chief feature was the priesthood of Druids, who here, as in Gaul, practised magical arts and barbarous rites of human sacrifice, taught a secret lore, wielded great influence, but, at least as Druids, took ordinarily no part in politics. In art, these tribes possessed a native Late Celtic fashion, descended from far-off Mediterranean antecedents and more directly connected with the La-Tène culture of the continental Celts. Its characteristics were a flamboyant and fantastic treatment of plant and animal (though not of human) forms, a free use of the geometrical device called the "returning spiral," and much skill in enamelling. Its finest products were in bronze, but the artistic impulse spread to humbler work in wood and pottery. The late Celtic age was one which genuinely delighted in beauty of form and detail. In this it resembled the middle ages rather than the Roman empire or the present day, and it resembled them all the more in that its love of beauty, like theirs, was mixed with a feeling for the fantastic and the grotesque. The Roman conquest of northern Gaul (57-50 B.C.) brought Britain into definite relation with the Mediterranean. It was already closely connected with Gaul, and when Roman civilization and its products invaded Gallia Belgica, they passed on easily to Britain. The British coinage now begins to bear Roman legends, and after Caesar's two raids (55, 54 B.C.) the southern tribes were regarded at Rome, though they do not seem to have regarded themselves, as vassals. Actual conquest was, however, delayed. Augustus planned it. But both he and his successor Tiberius realized that the greater need was to consolidate the existing empire, and absorb the vast additions recently made to it by Pompey, Caesar and Augustus.
I. The Roman Conquest.—The conquest of Britain was undertaken by Claudius in A.D. 43. Two causes coincided to produce the step. On the one hand a forward policy then ruled at Rome, leading to annexations in various lands. On the other hand, a probably philo-Roman prince, Cunobelin (known to literature as Cymbeline), had just been succeeded by two sons, Caractacus (q.v.) and Togodumnus, who were hostile to Rome. Caligula, the half-insane predecessor of Claudius, had made in respect to this event some blunder which we know only through a sensational exaggeration, but which doubtless had to be made good. An immediate reason for action was the appeal of a fugitive British prince, presumably a Roman partisan and victim of Cunobelin's sons. So Aulus Plautius with a singularly well equipped army of some 40,000 men landed in Kent and advanced on London. Here Claudius himself appeared—the one reigning emperor of the 1st century who crossed the waves of ocean,—and the army, crossing the Thames, moved forward through Essex and captured the native capital, Camulodūnum, now Colchester. From the base of London and Colchester three corps continued the conquest. The left wing, the Second Legion (under Vespasian, afterwards emperor), subdued the south; the centre, the Fourteenth and Twentieth Legions, subdued the midlands, while the right wing, the Ninth Legion, advanced through the eastern part of the island. This strategy was at first triumphant. The lowlands of Britain, with their partly Romanized and partly scanty population and their easy physical features, presented no obstacle. Within three or four years everything south of the Humber and east of the Severn had been either directly annexed or entrusted, as protectorates, to native client-princes.
A more difficult task remained. The wild hills and wilder tribes of Wales and Yorkshire offered far fiercer resistance. There followed thirty years of intermittent hill fighting (A.D. 47-79). The precise steps of the conquest are not known. Legionary fortresses were established at Wroxeter (for a time only), Chester and Caerleon, facing the Welsh hills, and at Lincoln in the northeast. Monmouthshire, and Flintshire with its lead mines, were early overrun; in 60 Suetonius Paulinus reached Anglesea. The method of conquest was the establishment of small detached forts in strategic positions, each garrisoned by 500 or 1000 men, and it was accompanied by a full share of those disasters which vigorous barbarians always inflict on civilized invaders. Progress was delayed too by the great revolt of Boadicea (q.v.) and a large part of the nominally conquered Lowlands. Her rising was soon crushed, but the government was obviously afraid for a while to move its garrisons forward. Indeed, other needs of the empire caused the withdrawal of the Fourteenth Legion about 67. But the decade A.D. 70-80 was decisive. A series of three able generals commanded an army restored to its proper strength by the addition of Legio II. Adiutrix, and achieved the final subjugation of Wales and the first conquest of Yorkshire, where a legionary fortress at York was substituted for that at Lincoln.
The third and best-known, if not the ablest, of these generals, Julius Agricola, moved on in A.D. 80 to the conquest of the farther north. He established between the Clyde and Forth a frontier meant to be permanent, guarded by a line of forts, [v.04 p.0584]two of which are still traceable at Camelon near Falkirk, and at Bar Hill. He then advanced into Caledonia and won a "famous victory" at Mons Graupius (sometimes, but incorrectly, spelt Grampius), probably near the confluence of the Tay and the Isla, where a Roman encampment of his date, Inchtuthill, has been partly examined (see Galgacus). He dreamt even of invading Ireland, and thought it an easy task. The home government judged otherwise. Jealous possibly of a too brilliant general, certainly averse from costly and fruitless campaigns and needing the Legio II. Adiutrix for work elsewhere, it recalled both governor and legion, and gave up the more northerly of his nominal conquests. The most solid result of his campaigns is that his battlefield, misspelt Grampius, has provided to antiquaries, and through them to the world, the modern name of the Grampian Hills.
What frontier was adopted after Agricola's departure, whether Tweed or Cheviot or other, is unknown. For thirty years (A.D. 85-115) the military history of Britain is a blank. When we recover knowledge we are in an altered world. About 115 or 120 the northern Britons rose in revolt and destroyed the Ninth Legion, posted at York, which would bear the brunt of any northern trouble. In 122 the second reigning emperor who crossed the ocean, Hadrian, came himself to Britain, brought the Sixth Legion to replace the Ninth, and introduced the frontier policy of his age. For over 70 m. from Tyne to Solway, more exactly from Wallsend to Bowness, he built a continuous rampart, more probably of turf than of stone, with a ditch in front of it, a number of small forts along it, one or two outposts a few miles to the north of it, and some detached forts (the best-known is on the hill above Maryport) guarding the Cumberland coast beyond its western end. The details of his work are imperfectly known, for though many remains survive, it is hard to separate those of Hadrian's date from others that are later. But that Hadrian built a wall here is proved alike by literature and by inscriptions. The meaning of the scheme is equally certain. It was to be, as it were, a Chinese wall, marking the definite limit of the Roman world. It was now declared, not by the secret resolutions of cabinets, but by the work of the spade marking the solid earth for ever, that the era of conquest was ended.
But empires move, though rulers bid them stand still. Whether the land beyond Hadrian's wall became temptingly peaceful or remained in vexing disorder, our authorities do not say. We know only that about 142 Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius, acting through his general Lollius Urbicus, advanced from the Tyne and Solway frontier to the narrower isthmus between Forth and Clyde, 36 m. across, which Agricola had fortified before him. Here he reared a continuous rampart with a ditch in front of it, fair-sized forts, probably a dozen in number, built either close behind it or actually abutting on it, and a connecting road running from end to end. An ancient writer states that the rampart was built of regularly laid sods (the same method which had probably been employed by Hadrian), and excavations in 1891-1893 have verified the statement. The work still survives visibly, though in varying preservation, except in the agricultural districts near its two ends. Occasionally, as on Croyhill (near Kilsyth), at Westerwood, and in the covers of Bonnyside (3 m. west of Falkirk), wall and ditch and even road can be distinctly traced, and the sites of many of the forts are plain to practised eyes. Three of these forts have been excavated. All three show the ordinary features of Roman castella, though they differ more than one would expect in forts built at one time by one general. Bar Hill, the most completely explored, covers three acres—nearly five times as much as the earlier fort of Agricola on the same site. It had ramparts of turf, barrack-rooms of wood, and a headquarters building, storehouse and bath in stone: it stands a few yards back from the wall. Castle Cary covers nearly four acres: its ramparts contain massive and well-dressed masonry; its interior buildings, though they agree in material, do not altogether agree in plan with those of Bar Hill, and its north face falls in line with the frontier wall. Rough Castle, near Falkirk, is very much smaller; it is remarkable for the astonishing strength of its turf-built and earthen ramparts and ravelins, and for a remarkable series of defensive pits, reminiscent of Caesar's lilia at Alesia, plainly intended to break an enemy's charge, and either provided with stakes to impale the assailant or covered over with hurdles or the like to deceive him. Besides the dozen forts on the wall, one or two outposts may have been held at Ardoch and Abernethy along the natural route which runs by Stirling and Perth to the lowlands of the east coast. This frontier was reached from the south by two roads. One, known in medieval times as Dere Street and misnamed Watling Street by modern antiquaries, ran from Corbridge on the Tyne past Otterburn, crossed Cheviot near Makendon Camps, and passed by an important fort at Newstead near Melrose, and another at Inveresk (outside of Edinburgh), to the eastern end of the wall. The other, starting from Carlisle, ran to Birrens, a Roman fort near Ecclefechan, and thence, by a line not yet explored and indeed not at all certain, to Carstairs and the west end of the wall. This wall was in addition to, and not instead of, the wall of Hadrian. Both barriers were held together, and the district between them was regarded as a military area, outside the range of civilization.
The work of Pius brought no long peace. Sixteen years later disorder broke out in north Britain, apparently in the district between the Cheviots and the Derbyshire hills, and was repressed with difficulty after four or five years' fighting. Eighteen or twenty years later (180-185) a new war broke out with a different issue. The Romans lost everything beyond Cheviot, and perhaps even more. The government of Commodus, feeble in itself and vexed by many troubles, could not repair the loss, and the civil wars which soon raged in Europe (193-197) gave the Caledonians further chance. It was not till 208 that Septimius Severus, the ablest emperor of his age, could turn his attention to the island. He came thither in person, invaded Caledonia, commenced the reconstruction of the wall of Hadrian, rebuilding it from end to end in stone, and then in the fourth year of his operations died at York. Amid much that is uncertain and even legendary about his work in Britain, this is plain, that he fixed on the line of Hadrian's wall as his substantive frontier. His successors, Caracalla and Severus Alexander (211-235), accepted the position, and many inscriptions refer to building or rebuilding executed by them for the greater efficiency of the frontier defences. The conquest of Britain was at last over. The wall of Hadrian remained for nearly two hundred years more the northern limit of Roman power in the extreme west.
II. The Province of Britain and its Military System.—Geographically, Britain consists of two parts: (1) the comparatively flat lowlands of the south, east and midlands, suitable to agriculture and open to easy intercourse with the continent, i.e. with the rest of the Roman empire; (2) the district consisting of the hills of Devon and Cornwall, of Wales and of northern England, regions lying more, and often very much more, than 600 ft. above the sea, scarred with gorges and deep valleys, mountainous in character, difficult for armies to traverse, ill fitted to the peaceful pursuits in agriculture. These two parts of the province differ also in their history. The lowlands, as we have seen, were conquered easily and quickly. The uplands were hardly subdued completely till the end of the 2nd century. They differ, thirdly, in the character of their Roman occupation. The lowlands were the scene of civil life. Towns, villages and country houses were their prominent features; troops were hardly seen in them save in some fortresses on the edge of the hills and in a chain of forts built in the 4th century to defend the south-east coast, the so-called Saxon Shore. The uplands of Wales and the north presented another spectacle. Here civil life was almost wholly absent. No country town or country house has been found more than 20 m. north of York or west of Monmouthshire. The hills were one extensive military frontier, covered with forts and strategic roads connecting them, and devoid of town life, country houses, farms or peaceful civilized industry. This geographical division was not reproduced by Rome in any administrative partitions of the province. At first the whole was governed by one legatus Augusti of consular standing. [v.04 p.0585]Septimius Severus made it two provinces, Superior and Inferior, with a boundary which probably ran from Humber to Mersey, but we do not know how long this arrangement lasted. In the 5th century there were five provinces, Britannia Prima and Secunda, Flavia and Maxima Caesariensis and (for a while) Valentia, ruled by praesides and consulares under a vicartus, but the only thing known of them is that Britannia Prima included Cirencester.
The army which guarded or coerced the province consisted, from the time of Hadrian onwards, of (1) three legions, the Second at Isca Silurum (Caerleon-on-Usk, q.v.), the Ninth at Eburācum (q.v.; now York), the Twentieth at Deva (q.v.; now Chester), a total of some 15,000 heavy infantry; and (2) a large but uncertain number of auxiliaries, troops of the second grade, organized in infantry cohorts or cavalry alae, each 500 or 1000 strong, and posted in castella nearer the frontiers than the legions. The legionary fortresses were large rectangular enclosures of 50 or 60 acres, surrounded by strong walls of which traces can still be seen in the lower courses of the north and east town-walls of Chester, in the abbey gardens at York, and on the south side of Caerleon. The auxiliary castella were hardly a tenth of the size, varying generally from three to six acres according to the size of the regiment and the need for stabling. Of these upwards of 70 are known in England and some 20 more in Scotland. Of the English examples a few have been carefully excavated, notably Gellygaer between Cardiff and Brecon, one of the most perfect specimens to be found anywhere in the Roman empire of a Roman fort dating from the end of the 1st century A.D.; Hardknott, on a Cumberland moor overhanging Upper Eskdale; and Housesteads on Hadrian's wall. In Scotland excavation has been more active, in particular at the forts of Birrens, Newstead near Melrose, Lyne near Peebles, Ardoch between Stirling and Perth, and Castle Cary, Rough Castle and Bar Hill on the wall of Pius. The internal arrangements of all these forts follow one general plan. But in some of them the internal buildings are all of stone, while in others, principally (it seems) forts built before 150, wood is used freely and only the few principal buildings seem to have been constructed throughout of stone.
We may illustrate their character from Housesteads, which, in the form in which we know it, perhaps dates from Septimius Severus. This fort measures about 360 by 600 ft. and covers a trifle less than 5 acres. Its ramparts are of stone, and its north rampart coincides with the great wall of Hadrian. Its interior is filled with stone buildings. Chief among these (see fig. 1), and in the centre of the whole fort, is the Headquarters, in Lat. Principia or, as it is often (though perhaps less correctly) styled by moderns, Praetorium. This is a rectangular structure with only one entrance which gives access, first, to a small cloistered court (x. 4), then to a second open court (x. 7), and finally to a row of five rooms (x. 8-12) containing the shrine for official worship, the treasury and other offices. Close by were officers' quarters, generally built round a tiny cloistered court (ix., xi., xii.), and substantially built storehouses with buttresses and dry basements (viii.). These filled the middle third of the fort. At the two ends were barracks for the soldiers (i.-vi., xiii.-xviii.). No space was allotted to private religion or domestic life. The shrines which voluntary worshippers might visit, the public bath-house, and the cottages of the soldiers' wives, camp followers, &c., lay outside the walls. Such were nearly all the Roman forts in Britain. They differ somewhat from Roman forts in Germany or other provinces, though most of the differences arise from the different usage of wood and of stone in various places.
Forts of this kind were dotted all along the military roads of the Welsh and northern hill-districts. In Wales a road ran from Chester past a fort at Caer-hyn (near Conway) to a fort at Carnarvon (Segontium). A similar road ran along the south coast from Caerleon-on-Usk past a fort at Cardiff and perhaps others, to Carmarthen. A third, roughly parallel to the shore of Cardigan Bay, with forts at Llanio and Tommen-y-mur (near Festiniog), connected the northern and southern roads, while [v.04 p.0586]the interior was held by a system of roads and forts not yet well understood but discernible at such points as Caer-gai on Bala Lake, Castle Collen near Llandrindod Wells, the Gaer near Brecon, Merthyr and Gellygaer. In the north of Britain we find three principal roads. One led due north from York past forts at Catterick Bridge, Piers Bridge, Binchester, Lanchester, Ebchester to the wall and to Scotland, while branches through Chester-le-Street reached the Tyne Bridge (Pons Aelius) at Newcastle and the Tyne mouth at South Shields. A second road, turning north-west from Catterick Bridge, mounted the Pennine Chain by way of forts at Rokeby, Bowes and Brough-under-Stainmoor, descended into the Eden valley, reached Hadrian's wall near Carlisle (Luguvallium), and passed on to Birrens. The third route, starting from Chester and passing up the western coast, is more complex, and exists in duplicate, the result perhaps of two different schemes of road-making. Forts in plenty can be detected along it, notably Manchester (Mancunium or Mamucium), Ribchester (Bremetennacum), Brougham Castle (Brocavum), Old Penrith (Voreda), and on a western branch, Watercrook near Kendal, Waterhead near the hotel of that name on Ambleside, Hardknott above Eskdale, Maryport (Uxellodūnum), and Old Carlisle (possibly Petriana). In addition, two or three cross roads, not yet sufficiently explored, maintained communication between the troops in Yorkshire and those in Cheshire and Lancashire. This road system bears plain marks of having been made at different times, and with different objectives, but we have no evidence that any one part was abandoned when any other was built. There are signs, however, that various forts were dismantled as the country grew quieter. Thus, Gellygaer in South Wales and Hardknott in Cumberland have yielded nothing later than the opening of the 2nd century.
From Social England, by permission of Cassell & Co., Ltd.
Besides these detached forts and their connecting roads, the north of Britain was defended by Hadrian's wall (figs. 2 and 3). The history of this wall has been given above. The actual works are threefold. First, there is that which to-day forms the most striking feature in the whole, the wall of stone 6-8 ft. thick, and originally perhaps 14 ft. high, with a deep ditch in front, and forts and "mile castles" and turrets and a connecting road behind it. On the high moors between Chollerford and Gilsland its traces are still plain, as it climbs from hill to hill and winds along perilous precipices. Secondly, there is the so-called "Vallum," in reality no vallum at all, but a broad flat-bottomed ditch out of which the earth has been cast up on either side into regular and continuous mounds that resemble ramparts. Thirdly, nowhere very clear on the surface and as yet detected only at a few points, there are the remains of the "turf wall," constructed of sods laid in regular courses, with a ditch in front. This turf wall is certainly older than the stone wall, and, as our ancient writers mention two wall-builders, Hadrian and Septimius Severus, the natural inference is that Hadrian built his wall of turf and Severus reconstructed it in stone. The reconstruction probably followed in general the line of Hadrian's wall in order to utilize the existing ditch, and this explains why the turf wall itself survives only at special points. In general it was destroyed to make way for the new wall in stone. Occasionally (as at Birdoswald) there was a deviation, and the older work survived. This conversion of earthwork into stone in the age of Severus can be paralleled from other parts of the Roman empire.
The meaning of the vallum is much more doubtful. John Hodgson and Bruce, the local authorities of the 19th century, supposed that it was erected to defend the wall from southern insurgents. Others have ascribed it to Agricola, or have thought it to be the wall of Hadrian, or even assigned it to pre-Roman natives. The two facts that are clear about it are, that it is a Roman work, no older than Hadrian (if so old), and that it was not intended, like the wall, for military defence. Probably it is contemporaneous with either the turf wall or the stone wall, and marked some limit of the civil province of Britain. Beyond this we cannot at present go.
III. The Civilization of Roman Britain.—Behind these formidable garrisons, sheltered from barbarians and in easy contact with the Roman empire, stretched the lowlands of southern and eastern Britain. Here a civilized life grew up, and Roman culture spread. This part of Britain became Romanized. In the lands looking on to the Thames estuary (Kent, Essex, Middlesex) the process had perhaps begun before the Roman conquest. It was continued after that event, and in two ways. To some extent it was definitely encouraged by the Roman government, which here, as elsewhere, founded towns peopled with Roman citizens—generally discharged legionaries—and endowed them with franchise and constitution like those of the Italian municipalities. It developed still more by its own automatic growth. The coherent civilization of the Romans was accepted by the Britons, as it was by the Gauls, with something like enthusiasm. Encouraged perhaps by sympathetic Romans, spurred on still more by their own instincts, and led no doubt by their nobles, they began to speak Latin, to use the material resources of Roman civilized life, and in time to consider themselves not the unwilling subjects of a foreign empire, but the British members of the Roman state. The steps by which these results were reached can to some extent be dated. Within a few years of the Claudian invasion a colonia, or municipality of time-expired soldiers, had been planted in the old native capital of Colchester (Camulodūnum), and though it served at first mainly as a fortress and thus provoked British hatred, it came soon to exercise a civilizing influence. At the same time the British town of Verulamium (St Albans) was thought sufficiently Romanized to deserve the municipal status of a municipium, which at this period differed little from that of a colonia. Romanized Britons must now have begun to be numerous. In the great revolt of Boadicea (60) the nationalist party seem to have massacred many thousands of them along with actual Romans. Fifteen or twenty years later, the movement increases. Towns spring up, such as Silchester, laid out in Roman fashion, furnished with public buildings of Roman type, and filled with houses which are Roman in fittings if not in plan. The baths of Bath (Aquae Sulis) are exploited. Another colonia is planted at Lincoln (Lindum), and a third at Gloucester (Glevum) in 96. A new "chief judge" is appointed for increasing civil business. The tax-gatherer and recruiting officer begin to make their way into the hills. During the 2nd century progress was perhaps slower, hindered doubtless by the repeated risings in the north. It was not till the 3rd century that country houses and farms became common in most parts of the civilized area. In the beginning of the [v.04 p.0587]4th century the skilled artisans and builders, and the cloth and corn of Britain were equally famous on the continent. This probably was the age when the prosperity and Romanization of the province reached its height. By this time the town populations and the educated among the country-folk spoke Latin, and Britain regarded itself as a Roman land, inhabited by Romans and distinct from outer barbarians.
The civilization which had thus spread over half the island was genuinely Roman, identical in kind with that of the other western provinces of the empire, and in particular with that of northern Gaul. But it was defective in quantity. The elements which compose it are marked by smaller size, less wealth and less splendour than the same elements elsewhere. It was also uneven in its distribution. Large tracts, in particular Warwickshire and the adjoining midlands, were very thinly inhabited. Even densely peopled areas like north Kent, the Sussex coast, west Gloucestershire and east Somerset, immediately adjoin areas like the Weald of Kent and Sussex where Romano-British remains hardly occur.
The administration of the civilized part of the province, while subject to the governor of all Britain, was practically entrusted to local authorities. Each Roman municipality ruled itself and a territory perhaps as large as a small county which belonged to it. Some districts belonged to the Imperial Domains, and were administered by agents of the emperor. The rest, by far the larger part of the country, was divided up among the old native tribes or cantons, some ten or twelve in number, each grouped round some country town where its council (ordo) met for cantonal business. This cantonal system closely resembles that which we find in Gaul. It is an old native element recast in Roman form, and well illustrates the Roman principle of local government by devolution.
In the general framework of Romano-British life the two chief features were the town, and the villa. The towns of the province, as we have already implied, fall into two classes. Five modern cities, Colchester, Lincoln, York, Gloucester and St Albans, stand on the sites, and in some fragmentary fashion bear the names of five Roman municipalities, founded by the Roman government with special charters and constitutions. All of these reached a considerable measure of prosperity. None of them rivals the greater municipalities of other provinces. Besides them we trace a larger number of country towns, varying much in size, but all possessing in some degree the characteristics of a town. The chief of these seem to be cantonal capitals, probably developed out of the market centres or capitals of the Celtic tribes before the Roman conquest. Such are Isurium Brigantum, capital of the Brigantes, 12 m. north-west of York and the most northerly Romano-British town; Ratae, now Leicester, capital of the Coritani; Viroconium, now Wroxeter, near Shrewsbury, capital of the Cornovii; Venta Silurum, now Caerwent, near Chepstow; Corinium, now Cirencester, capital of the Dobuni; Isca Dumnoniorum, now Exeter, the most westerly of these towns; Durnovaria, now Dorchester, in Dorset, capital of the Durotriges; Venta Belgarum, now Winchester; Calleva Atrebatum, now Silchester, 10 m. south of Reading; Durovernum Cantiacorum, now Canterbury; and Venta Icenorum, now Caistor-by-Norwich. Besides these country towns, Londinium (London) was a rich and important trading town, centre of the road system, and the seat of the finance officials of the province, as the remarkable objects discovered in it abundantly prove, while Aquae Sulis (Bath) was a spa provided with splendid baths, and a richly adorned temple of the native patron deity, Sul or Sulis, whom the Romans called Minerva. Many smaller places, too, for example, Magna or Kenchester near Hereford, Durobrivae or Rochester in Kent, another Durobrivae near Peterborough, a site of uncertain name near Cambridge, another of uncertain name near Chesterford, exhibited some measure of town life.
As a specimen we may take Silchester, remarkable as the one town in the whole Roman empire which has been completely and systematically uncovered. As we see it to-day, it is an open space of 100 acres, set on a hill with a wide prospect east and south and west, in shape an irregular hexagon, enclosed in a circuit of a mile and a half by the massive ruins of a city wall which still stands here and there some 20 ft. high (fig. 4). Outside, on the north-east, is the grassy hollow of a tiny amphitheatre; on the west a line of earthworks runs in wider circuit than the walls. The area within the walls is a vast expanse of cultivated land, unbroken by any vestige of antiquity; yet the soil is thick with tile and potsherd, and in hot summers the unevenly growing corn reveals the remains of streets beneath the surface. Casual excavations were made here in 1744 and 1833; more systematic ones intermittently between 1864 and 1884 by the Rev. J.G. Joyce and others; finally, in May 1890, the complete uncovering of the whole site was begun by Mr G.E. Fox and others. The work was carried on with splendid perseverance, and the uncovering of the interior was completed in 1908.
The chief results concern the buildings. Though these have vanished wholly from the surface, the foundations and lowest courses of their walls survive fairly perfect below ground: thus the plan of the town can be minutely recovered, and both the character of the buildings which make up a place like Calleva, and the character of Romano-British buildings generally, become plainer. Of the buildings the chief are:—
1. Forum.—Near the middle of the town was a rectangular block covering two acres. It comprised a central open court, 132 ft. by 140 ft. in size, surrounded on three sides by a corridor or cloister, with rooms opening on the cloister (fig. 5). On the fourth side was a great hall, with rooms opening into it from behind. This hall was 270 ft. long and 58 ft. wide; two rows of Corinthian columns ran down the middle, and the clerestory roof may have stood 50 ft. above the floor; the walls were frescoed or lined with marble, and for ornament there were probably statues. Finally, a corridor ran round outside the whole block. Here the local authorities had their offices, justice was administered, traders trafficked, citizens and idlers gathered. Though we cannot apportion the rooms to their precise uses, the great hall was plainly the basilica, for meetings and business; the rooms behind it were perhaps law courts, and some of the rooms on the other three sides of the quadrangle may have been shops. Similar municipal buildings existed in most towns of the western Empire, whether they were full municipalities or (as probably Calleva was) of lower rank. The Callevan Forum seems in general simpler than others, but its basilica is remarkably large. Probably the British climate compelled more indoor life than the sunnier south.
2. Temples.—Two small square temples, of a common western-provincial type, were in the east of the town; the cella of the larger measured 42 ft. sq., and was lined with Purbeck marble. A third, circular temple stood between the forum and the south gate. A fourth, a smaller square shrine found in 1907 a little east of the [v.04 p.0588]forum, yielded some interesting inscriptions which relate to a gild (collegium) and incidentally confirm the name Calleva.
3. Christian Church.—Close outside the south-east angle of the forum was a small edifice, 42 ft. by 27 ft., consisting of a nave and two aisles which ended at the east in a porch as wide as the building, and at the west in an apse and two flanking chambers. The nave and porch were floored with plain red tesserae: in the apse was a simple mosaic panel in red, black and white. Round the building was a yard, fenced with wooden palings; in it were a well near the apse, and a small structure of tile with a pit near the east end. No direct proof of date or use was discovered. But the ground plan is that of an early Christian church of the "basilican" type. This type comprised nave and aisles, ending at one end in an apse and two chambers resembling rudimentary transepts, and at the other end in a porch (narthex). Previous to about A.D. 420 the porch was often at the east end and the apse at the west, and the altar, often movable, stood in the apse—as at Silchester, perhaps, on the mosaic panel. A court enclosed the whole; near the porch was a laver for the ablutions of intending worshippers. Many such churches have been found in other countries, especially in Roman Africa; no other satisfactory instance is known in Britain.
4. Town Baths.—A suite of public baths stood a little east of the forum. At the entrance were a peristyle court for loungers and a latrine: hence the bather passed into the Apodyterium (dressing-room), the Frigidarium (cold room) fitted with a cold bath for use at the end of the bathing ceremony, and a series of hot rooms—the whole resembling many modern Turkish baths. In their first form the baths of Silchester were about 160 ft. by 80 ft., but they were later considerably extended.
5. Private Houses.—The private houses of Silchester are of two types. They consist either of a row of rooms, with a corridor along them, and perhaps one or two additional rooms at one or both ends, or of three such corridors and rows of rooms, forming three sides of a large square open yard. They are detached houses, standing each in its own garden, and not forming terraces or rows. The country houses of Roman Britain have long been recognized as embodying these (or allied) types; now it becomes plain that they were the normal types throughout Britain. They differ widely from the town houses of Rome and Pompeii: they are less unlike some of the country houses of Italy and Roman Africa; but their real parallels occur in Gaul, and they may be Celtic types modified to Roman use—like Indian bungalows. Their internal fittings—hypocausts, frescoes, mosaics—are everywhere Roman; those at Silchester are average specimens, and, except for one mosaic, not individually striking. The largest Silchester house, with a special annexe for baths, is usually taken to be a guest-house or inn for travellers between London and the west (fig. 6). Altogether, the town probably did not contain more than seventy or eighty houses of any size, and large spaces were not built over at all. This fact and the peculiar character of the houses must have given to Silchester rather the appearance of a village with scattered cottages, each in its own plot facing its own way, than a town with regular and continuous streets.
6. Industries.—Shops are conjectured in the forum and elsewhere, but were not numerous. Many dyers' furnaces, a little silver refinery, and perhaps a bakery have also been noticed.
7. Streets, Roads, &c.—The streets were paved with gravel: they varied in width up to 28½ ft. They intersect regularly at right angles, dividing the town into square blocks, like modern Mannheim or Turin, according to a Roman system usual in both Italy and the provinces: plainly they were laid out all at once, possibly by Agricola (Tac. Agr. 21) and most probably about his time. There were four chief gates, not quite symmetrically placed. The town-walls are built of flint and concrete bonded with ironstone, and are backed with earth. In the plans, though not in the reports, of the excavations, they are shown as built later than the streets. No traces of meat-market, theatre or aqueduct have come to light: water was got from wells lined with wooden tubs, and must have been scanty in dry summers. Smaller objects abound—coins, pottery, window and bottle and cup glass, bronze ornaments, iron tools, &c.—and many belong to the beginnings of Calleva, but few pieces are individually notable. Traces of late Celtic art are singularly absent; Roman fashions rule supreme, and inscriptions show that even the lower classes here spoke and wrote Latin. Outside the walls were the cemeteries, not yet explored. Of suburbs we have as yet no hint. Nor indeed is the neighbourhood of Calleva at all rich in Roman remains. In fact, as well as in Celtic etymology, it was "the town in the forest." A similar absence of remains may be noticed outside other Romano-British towns, and is significant of their economic position. Such doubtless were most of the towns of Roman Britain—thoroughly Romanized, peopled with Roman-speaking citizens, furnished with Roman appurtenances, living in Roman ways, but not very large, not very rich, a humble witness to the assimilating power of the Roman civilization in Britain.
The country, as opposed to the towns, of Roman Britain seems to have been divided into estates, commonly (though perhaps incorrectly) known as "villas." Many examples survive, some of them large and luxurious country-houses, some mere farms, constructed usually on one of the two patterns described in the account of Silchester above. The inhabitants were plainly as various—a few of them great nobles and wealthy landowners, others small farmers or possibly bailiffs. Some of these estates were worked on the true "villa" system, by which the lord occupied the "great house," and cultivated the land close round it by slaves, while he let the rest to half-free coloni. But other systems may have prevailed as well. Among the most important country-houses are those of Bignor in west Sussex, and Woodchester and Chedworth in Gloucestershire.
The wealth of the country was principally agrarian. Wheat and wool were exported in the 4th century, when, as we have said, Britain was especially prosperous. But the details of the trade are unrecorded. More is known of the lead and iron mines which, at least in the first two centuries, were worked in many districts—lead in Somerset, Shropshire, Flintshire and Derbyshire; iron in the west Sussex Weald, the Forest of Dean, and (to a slight extent) elsewhere. Other minerals were less notable. The gold mentioned by Tacitus proved scanty. The Cornish tin, according to present evidence, was worked comparatively little, and perhaps most in the later Empire.
Lastly, the roads. Here we must put aside all idea of "Four Great Roads." That category is probably the invention of [v.04 p.0589]antiquaries, and certainly unconnected with Roman Britain (see Ermine Street). Instead, we may distinguish four main groups of roads radiating from London, and a fifth which runs obliquely. One road ran south-east to Canterbury and the Kentish ports, of which Richborough (Rutupiae) was the most frequented. A second ran west to Silchester, and thence by various branches to Winchester, Exeter, Bath, Gloucester and South Wales. A third, known afterwards to the English as Watling Street, ran by St Albans Wall near Lichfield (Letocetum), to Wroxeter and Chester. It also gave access by a branch to Leicester and Lincoln. A fourth served Colchester, the eastern counties, Lincoln and York. The fifth is that known to the English as the Fosse, which joins Lincoln and Leicester with Cirencester, Bath and Exeter. Besides these five groups, an obscure road, called by the Saxons Akeman Street, gave alternative access from London through Alchester (outside of Bicester) to Bath, while another obscure road winds south from near Sheffield, past Derby and Birmingham, and connects the lower Severn with the Humber. By these roads and their various branches the Romans provided adequate communications throughout the lowlands of Britain.
IV. The End of Roman Britain.—Early in the 4th century it was necessary to establish a special coast defence, reaching from the Wash to Spithead, against Saxon pirates: there were forts at Brancaster, Borough Castle (near Yarmouth), Bradwell (at the mouth of the Colne and Blackwater), Reculver, Richborough, Dover and Lymme (all in Kent), Pevensey in Sussex, Porchester near Portsmouth, and perhaps also at Felixstowe in Suffolk. After about 350, barbarian assaults, not only of Saxons but also of Irish (Scoti) and Picts, became commoner and more terrible. At the end of the century Magnus Maximus, claiming to be emperor, withdrew many troops from Britain and a later pretender did the same. Early in the 5th century the Teutonic conquest of Gaul cut the island off from Rome. This does not mean that there was any great "departure of Romans." The central government simply ceased to send the usual governors and high officers. The Romano-British were left to themselves. Their position was weak. Their fortresses lay in the north and west, while the Saxons attacked the east and south. Their trained troops, and even their own numbers, must have been few. It is intelligible that they followed a precedent set by Rome in that age, and hired Saxons to repel Saxons. But they could not command the fidelity of their mercenaries, and the Saxon peril only grew greater. It would seem as if the Romano-Britons were speedily driven from the east of the island. Even Wroxeter on the Welsh border may have been finally destroyed before the end of the 5th century. It seems that the Saxons though apparently unable to maintain their hold so far to the west, were able to prevent the natives from recovering the lowlands. Thus driven from the centres of Romanized life, from the region of walled cities and civilized houses, into the hills of Wales and the north-west, the provincials underwent an intelligible change. The Celtic element, never quite extinct in those hills and, like most forms of barbarism, reasserting itself in this wild age—not without reinforcement from Ireland—challenged the remnants of Roman civilization and in the end absorbed them. The Celtic language reappeared; the Celtic art emerged from its shelters in the west to develop in new and medieval fashions.
Authorities.—The principal references to early Britain in classical writers occur in Strabo, Diodorus, Julius Caesar, the elder Pliny, Tacitus, Ptolemy and Cassius Dio, and in the lists of the Antonine Itinerary (probably about A.D. 210-230; ed. Parthey, 1848), the Notitia Dignitatum (about A.D. 400; ed. Seeck, 1876), and the Ravennas (7th-century rechauffé; ed. Parthey 1860). The chief passages are collected in Petrie's Monumenta Hist. Britann. (1848), and (alphabetically) in Holder's Altkeltische Sprachschatz (1896-1908). The Roman inscriptions have been collected by Hübner, Corpus Inscriptionum Latin. vii. (1873), and in supplements by Hübner and Haverfield in the periodical Ephemeris epigraphica; see also Hübner, Inscript. Britann. Christianae (1876, now out of date), and J. Rhys on Pictish, &c., inscriptions, Proceedings Soc. Antiq. Scotland, xxvi., xxxii.
Of modern works the best summary for Roman Britain and for Caesar's invasions is T.R. Holmes, Ancient Britain (1907), who cites numerous authorities. See also Sir John Evans, Stone Implements, Bronze Implements, and Ancient British Coins (with suppl.); Boyd Dawkins, Early Man in Britain (1880); J. Rhys, Celtic Britain (3rd ed., 1904). For late Celtic art see J.M. Kemble and A.W. Franks' Horae Ferales (1863), and Arthur J. Evans in Archaeologia, vols. lii.-lv. Celtic ethnology and philology (see Celt) are still in the "age of discussion." For ancient earthworks see A. Hadrian Allcroft, Earthwork of England (1909).
For Roman Britain see, in general, Prof. F. Haverfield, The Romanization of Roman Britain (Oxford, 1906), and his articles in the Victoria County History; also the chapter in Mommsen's Roman Provinces; and an article in the Edinburgh Review, 1899. For the wall of Hadrian see John Hodgson, History of Northumberland (1840); J.C. Bruce, Roman Wall (3rd ed., 1867); reports of excavations by Haverfield in the Cumberland Archaeological Society Transactions (1894-1904); and R.C. Bosanquet, Roman Camp at Housesteads (Newcastle, 1904). For the Scottish Excavations see Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, xx.-xl., and especially J. Macdonald, Bar Hill (reprint, Glasgow, 1906). For other forts see R.S. Ferguson, Cumberland Arch. Soc. Trans. xii., on Hardknott; and J. Ward, Roman Fort of Gellygaer (London, 1903). For the Roman occupation of Scotland see Haverfield in Antonine Wall Report (1899); J. Macdonald, Roman Stones in Hunterian Mus. (1897); and, though an older work, Stuart's Caledonia Romana (1852). For Silchester, Archaeologia (1890-1908); for Caerwent (ib. 1901-1908); for London, Charles Roach Smith, Roman London (1859); for Christianity in Roman Britain, Engl. Hist. Rev. (1896); for the villages, Gen. Pitt-Rivers' Excavations in Cranborne Chase, &c. (4 vols., 1887-1908), and Proc. Soc. of Ant. xviii. For the end of Roman Britain see Engl. Hist. Rev. (1904); Prof. Bury's Life of St Patrick (1905); Haverfield's Romanization (cited above); and P. Vinogradoff, Growth of the Manor (1905), bk. i.
(F. J. H.)
1. History.—The history of Britain after the withdrawal of the Roman troops is extremely obscure, but there can be little doubt that for many years the inhabitants of the provinces were exposed to devastating raids by the Picts and Scots. According to Gildas it was for protection against these incursions that the Britons decided to call in the Saxons. Their allies soon obtained a decisive victory; but subsequently they turned their arms against the Britons themselves, alleging that they had not received sufficient payment for their services. A somewhat different account, probably of English origin, may be traced in the Historia Brittonum, according to which the first leaders of the Saxons, Hengest and Horsa, came as exiles, seeking the protection of the British king, Vortigern. Having embraced his service they quickly succeeded in expelling the northern invaders. Eventually, however, they overcame the Britons through treachery, by inducing the king to allow them to send for large bodies of their own countrymen. It was to these adventurers, according to tradition, that the kingdom of Kent owed its origin. The story is in itself by no means improbable, while the dates assigned to the first invasion by various Welsh, Gaulish and English authorities, with one exception all fall within about a quarter of a century, viz. between the year 428 and the joint reign of Martian and Valentinian III. (450-455).
For the subsequent course of the invasion our information is of the most meagre and unsatisfactory character. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the kingdom of Sussex was founded by a certain Ella or Ælle, who landed in 477, while Wessex owed its origin to Cerdic, who arrived some eighteen years later. No value, however, can be attached to these dates; indeed, in the latter case the story itself is open to suspicion on several grounds (see Wessex). For the movements which led to the foundation of the more northern kingdoms we have no evidence worth consideration, nor do we know even approximately when they took place. But the view that the invasion was effected throughout by small bodies of adventurers acting independently of one another, and that each of the various kingdoms owes its origin to a separate enterprise, has little probability in its favour. Bede states that the invaders belonged to three different nations, Kent and southern Hampshire being occupied by Jutes (q.v.), while Essex, Sussex and Wessex were founded by the Saxons, and the remaining kingdoms by the Angli (q.v.). The peculiarities of social organization in Kent certainly tend to show that this kingdom had a different origin from the rest; but the evidence for the distinction between the Saxons and the Angli is of a much less satisfactory character (see Anglo-Saxons). [v.04 p.0590]The royal family of Essex may really have been of Saxon origin (see Essex), but on the other hand the West Saxon royal family claimed to be of the same stock as that of Bernicia, and their connexions in the past seem to have lain with the Angli.
We need not doubt that the first invasion was followed by a long period of warfare between the natives and the invaders, in which the latter gradually strengthened their hold on the conquered territories. It is very probable that by the end of the 5th century all the eastern part of Britain, at least as far as the Humber, was in their hands. The first important check was received at the siege of "Mons Badonicus" in the year 517 (Ann. Cambr.), or perhaps rather some fifteen or twenty years earlier. According to Gildas this event was followed by a period of peace for at least forty-four years. In the latter part of the 6th century, however, the territories occupied by the invaders seem to have been greatly extended. In the south the West Saxons are said to have conquered first Wiltshire and then all the upper part of the Thames valley, together with the country beyond as far as the Severn. The northern frontier also seems to have been pushed considerably farther forward, perhaps into what is now Scotland, and it is very probable that the basin of the Trent, together with the central districts between the Trent and the Thames, was conquered about the same time, though of this we have no record. Again, the destruction of Chester about 615 was soon followed by the overthrow of the British kingdom of Elmet in south-west Yorkshire, and the occupation of Shropshire and the Lothians took place perhaps about the same period, that of Herefordshire probably somewhat later. In the south, Somerset is said to have been conquered by the West Saxons shortly after the middle of the 7th century. Dorset had probably been acquired by them before this time, while part of Devon seems to have come into their hands soon afterwards.
The area thus conquered was occupied by a number of separate kingdoms, each with a royal family of its own. The districts north of the Humber contained two kingdoms, Bernicia (q.v.) and Deira (q.v.), which were eventually united in Northumbria. South of the Humber, Lindsey seems to have had a dynasty of its own, though in historical times it was apparently always subject to the kings of Northumbria or Mercia. The upper basin of the Trent formed the nucleus of the kingdom of Mercia (q.v.), while farther down the east coast was the kingdom of East Anglia (q.v.). Between these two lay a territory called Middle Anglia, which is sometimes described as a kingdom, though we do not know whether it ever had a separate dynasty. Essex, Kent and Sussex (see articles on these kingdoms) preserve the names of ancient kingdoms, while the old diocese of Worcester grew out of the kingdom of the Hwicce (q.v.), with which it probably coincided in area. The south of England, between Sussex and "West Wales" (eventually reduced to Cornwall), was occupied by Wessex, which originally also possessed some territory to the north of the Thames. Lastly, even the Isle of Wight appears to have had a dynasty of its own. But it must not be supposed that all these kingdoms were always, or even normally, independent. When history begins, Æthelberht, king of Kent, was supreme over all the kings south of the Humber. He was followed by the East Anglian king Raedwald, and the latter again by a series of Northumbrian kings with an even wider supremacy. Before Æthelberht a similar position had been held by the West Saxon king Ceawlin, and at a much earlier period, according to tradition, by Ella or Ælle, the first king of Sussex. The nature of this supremacy has been much discussed, but the true explanation seems to be furnished by that principle of personal allegiance which formed such an important element in Anglo-Saxon society.
2. Government.—Internally the various states seem to have been organized on very similar lines. In every case we find kingly government from the time of our earliest records, and there is no doubt that the institution goes back to a date anterior to the invasion of Britain (see Offa; Wermund). The royal title, however, was frequently borne by more than one person. Sometimes we find one supreme king together with a number of under-kings (subreguli); sometimes again, especially in the smaller kingdoms, Essex, Sussex and Hwicce, we meet with two or more kings, generally brothers, reigning together apparently on equal terms. During the greater part of the 8th century Kent seems to have been divided into two kingdoms; but as a rule such divisions did not last beyond the lifetime of the kings between whom the arrangement had been made. The kings were, with very rare exceptions, chosen from one particular family in each state, the ancestry of which was traced back not only to the founder of the kingdom but also, in a remoter degree, to a god. The members of such families were entitled to special wergilds, apparently six times as great as those of the higher class of nobles (see below).
The only other central authority in the state was the king's council or court (þeod, witan, plebs, concilium). This body consisted partly of young warriors in constant attendance on the king, and partly of senior officials whom he called together from time to time. The terms used for the two classes by Bede are milites (ministri) and comites, for which the Anglo-Saxon version has þegnas and gesiðas respectively. Both classes alike consisted in part of members of the royal family. But they were by no means confined to such persons or even to born subjects of the king. Indeed, we are told that popular kings like Oswine attracted young nobles to their service from all quarters. The functions of the council have been much discussed, and it has been claimed that they had the right of electing and deposing kings. This view, however, seems to involve the existence of a greater feeling for constitutionalism than is warranted by the information at our disposal. The incidents which have been brought forward as evidence to this effect may with at least equal probability be interpreted as cases of profession or transference of personal allegiance. In other respects the functions of the council seem to have been of a deliberative character. It was certainly customary for the king to seek their advice and moral support on important questions, but there is nothing to show that he had to abide by the opinion of the majority.
For administrative purposes each of the various kingdoms was divided into a number of districts under the charge of royal reeves (cyninges gerefa, praefectus, praepositus). These officials seem to have been located in royal villages (cyninges tun, villa regalis) or fortresses (cyninges burg, urbs regis), which served as centres and meeting-places (markets, &c.) for the inhabitants of the district, and to which their dues, both in payments and services had to be rendered. The usual size of such districts in early times seems to have been 300, 600 or 1200 hides.1 In addition to these districts we find mention also of much larger divisions containing 2000, 3000, 5000 or 7000 hides. To this category belong the shires of Wessex (Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, &c.), each of which had an earl (aldormon, princeps, dux) of its own, at all events from the 8th century onwards. Many, if not all, of these persons were members of the royal family, and it is not unlikely that they originally bore the kingly title. At all events they are sometimes described as subreguli.
3. Social Organization.—The officials mentioned above, whether of royal birth or not, were probably drawn from the king's personal retinue. In Anglo-Saxon society, as in that of all Teutonic nations in early times, the two most important principles were those of kinship and personal allegiance. If a man suffered injury it was to his relatives and his lord, rather than to any public official, that he applied first for protection and redress. If he was slain, a fixed sum (wergild), varying according to his station, had to be paid to his relatives, while a further but smaller sum (manbot) was due to his lord. These principles applied to all classes of society alike, and though strife within the family was by no means unknown, at all events in royal families, the actual slaying of a kinsman was regarded as the most heinous of all offences. Much the same feeling applied to the slaying of a lord—an offence for which no compensation could be rendered. How far the armed followers of a lord were entitled to compensation when the latter was slain [v.04 p.0591]is uncertain, but in the case of a king they received an amount equal to the wergild. Another important development of the principle of allegiance is to be found in the custom of heriots. In later times this custom amounted practically to a system of death-duties, payable in horses and arms or in money to the lord of the deceased. There can be little doubt, however, that originally it was a restoration to the lord of the military outfit with which he had presented his man when he entered his service. The institution of thegnhood, i.e. membership of the comitatus or retinue of a prince, offered the only opening by which public life could be entered. Hence it was probably adopted almost universally by young men of the highest classes. The thegn was expected to fight for his lord, and generally to place his services at his disposal in both war and peace. The lord, on the other hand, had to keep his thegns and reward them from time to time with arms and treasure. When they were of an age to marry he was expected to provide them with the means of doing so. If the lord was a king this provision took the form of a grant, perhaps normally ten hides, from the royal lands. Such estates were not strictly hereditary, though as a mark of favour they were not unfrequently re-granted to the sons of deceased holders.
The structure of society in England was of a somewhat peculiar type. In addition to slaves, who in early times seem to have been numerous, we find in Wessex and apparently also in Mercia three classes, described as twelfhynde, sixhynde and twihynde from the amount of their wergilds, viz. 1200, 600 and 200 shillings respectively. It is probable that similar classes existed also in Northumbria, though not under the same names. Besides these terms there were others which were probably in use everywhere, viz. gesiðcund for the two higher classes and ceorlisc for the lowest. Indeed, we find these terms even in Kent, though the social system of that kingdom seems to have been of an essentially different character. Here the wergild of the ceorlisc class amounted to 100 shillings, each containing twenty silver coins (sceattas), as against 200 shillings of four (in Wessex five) silver coins, and was thus very much greater than the latter. Again, there was apparently but one gestiðcund class in Kent, with a wergild of 300 shillings, while, on the other hand, below the ceorlisc class we find three classes of persons described as laetas, who corresponded in all probability to the liti or freedmen of the continental laws, and who possessed wergilds of 80, 60 and 40 shillings respectively. To these we find nothing analogous in the other kingdoms, though the poorer classes of Welsh freemen had wergilds varying from 120 to 60 shillings. It should be added that the differential treatment of the various classes was by no means confined to the case of wergilds. We find it also in the compensations to which they were entitled for various injuries, in the fines to which they were liable, and in the value attached to their oaths. Generally, though not always, the proportions observed were the same as in the wergilds.
The nature of the distinction between the gesiðcund and ceorlisc classes is nowhere clearly explained; but it was certainly hereditary and probably of considerable antiquity. In general we may perhaps define them as nobles and commons, though in view of the numbers of the higher classes it would probably be more correct to speak of gentry and peasants. The distinction between the twelfhynde and sixhynde classes was also in part at least hereditary, but there is good reason for believing that it arose out of the possession of land. The former consisted of persons who possessed, whether as individuals or families, at least five hides of land—which practically means a village—while the latter were landless, i.e. probably without this amount of land. Within the ceorlisc class we find similar subdivisions, though they were not marked by a difference in wergild. The gafolgelda or tributarius (tribute-payer) seems to have been a ceorl who possessed at least a hide, while the gebur was without land of his own, and received his outfit as a loan from his lord.
4. Payments and Services.—We have already had occasion to refer to the dues which were rendered by different classes of the population, and which the reeves in royal villages had to collect and superintend. The payments seem to have varied greatly according to the class from which they were due. Those rendered by landowners seem to have been known as feorm or fostor, and consisted of a fixed quantity of articles paid in kind. In Ine's Laws (cap. 70) we find a list of payments specified for a unit of ten hides, perhaps the normal holding of a twelfhynde man—though on the other hand it may be nothing more than a mere fiscal unit in an aggregate of estates. The list consists of oxen, sheep, geese, hens, honey, ale, loaves, cheese, butter, fodder, salmon and eels. Very similar specifications are found elsewhere. The payments rendered by the gafolgelda (tributarius) were known as gafol (tributuni), as his name implies. In Ine's Laws we hear only of the hwitel or white cloak, which was to be of the value of six pence per household (hide), and of barley, which was to be six pounds in weight for each worker. In later times we meet with many other payments both in money and in kind, some of which were doubtless in accordance with ancient custom. On the other hand the gebur seems not to have been liable to payments of this kind, presumably because the land which he cultivated formed part of the demesne (inland) of his lord. The term gafol, however, may have been applied to the payments which he rendered to the latter.
The services required of landowners were very manifold in character. Probably the most important were military service (fird, expeditio) and the repairing of fortifications and bridges—the trinoda necessitas of later times. Besides these we find reference in charters of the 9th century to the keeping of the king's hunters, horses, dogs and hawks, and the entertaining of messengers and other persons in the king's service. The duties of men of the sixhynde class, if they are to be identified with the radcnihtas (radmanni) of later times, probably consisted chiefly in riding on the king's (or their lord's) business. The services of the peasantry can only be conjectured from what we find in later times. Presumably their chief duty was to undertake a share in the cultivation of the demesne land. We need scarcely doubt also that the labour of repairing fortifications and bridges, though it is charged against the landowners, was in reality delegated by them to their dependents.
5. Warfare.—All classes are said to have been liable to the duty of military service. Hence, since the ceorls doubtless formed the bulk of the population, it has been thought that the Anglo-Saxon armies of early times were essentially peasant forces. The evidence at our disposal, however, gives little justification for such a view. The regulation that every five or six hides should supply a warrior was not a product of the Danish invasions, as is sometimes stated, but goes back at least to the beginning of the 9th century. Had the fighting material been drawn from the ceorlisc class a warrior would surely have been required from each hide, but for military service no such regulation is found. Again, the fird (fyrd) was composed of mounted warriors during the 9th century, though apparently they fought on foot, and there are indications that such was the case also in the 7th century. No doubt ceorls took part in military expeditions, but they may have gone as attendants and camp-followers rather than as warriors, their chief business being to make stockades and bridges, and especially to carry provisions. The serious fighting, however, was probably left to the gesiðcund classes, who possessed horses and more or less effective weapons. Indeed, there is good reason for regarding these classes as essentially military.
The chief weapons were the sword and spear. The former were two-edged and on the average about 3 ft. long. The hilts were often elaborately ornamented and sometimes these weapons were of considerable value. No definite line can be drawn between the spear proper and the javelin. The spear-heads which have been found in graves vary considerably in both form and size. They were fitted on to the shaft, by a socket which was open on one side. Other weapons appear to have been quite rare. Bows and arrows were certainly in use for sporting purposes, but there is no reason for believing that they were much used in warfare before the Danish invasions. They are very seldom met with in graves. The most common article of defensive armour was the shield, which was small and circular and apparently of quite thin lime-wood, the edge being formed [v.04 p.0592]probably by a thin band of iron. In the centre of the shield, in order to protect the hand which held it, was a strong iron boss, some 7 in. in diameter and projecting about 3 in. It is clear from literary evidence that the helmet (helm) and coat of chain mail (byrne) were also in common use. They are seldom found in graves, however, whether owing to the custom of heriots or to the fact that, on account of their relatively high value, they were frequently handed on from generation to generation as heirlooms. Greaves are not often mentioned. It is worth noting that in later times the heriot of an "ordinary thegn" (medema þegn)—by which is meant apparently not a king's thegn but a man of the twelfhynde class—consisted of his horse with its saddle, &c. and his arms, or two pounds of silver as an equivalent of the whole. The arms required were probably a sword, helmet, coat of mail and one or two spears and shields. There are distinct indications that a similar outfit was fairly common in Ine's time, and that its value was much the same. One would scarcely be justified, however, in supposing that it was anything like universal; for the purchasing power of such a sum was at that time considerable, representing as it did about 16-20 oxen or 100-120 sheep. It would hardly be safe to credit men of the sixhynde class in general with more than a horse, spear and shield.
6. Agriculture and Village Life.—There is no doubt that a fairly advanced system of agriculture must have been known to the Anglo-Saxons before they settled in Britain. This is made clear above all by the representation of a plough drawn by two oxen in one of the very ancient rock-carvings at Tegneby in Bohuslän. In Domesday Book the heavy plough with eight oxen seems to be universal, and it can be traced back in Kent to the beginning of the 9th century. In this kingdom the system of agricultural terminology was based on it. The unit was the sulung (aratrum) or ploughland (from sulh, "plough"), the fourth part of which was the geocled or geoc (jugum), originally a yoke of oxen. An analogy is supplied by the carucata of the Danelagh, the eighth part of which was the bouata or "ox-land." In the 10th century the sulung seems to have been identified with the hide, but in earlier times it contained apparently two hides. The hide itself, which was the regular unit in the other kingdoms, usually contained 120 acres in later times and was divided into four girda (virgatae) or yardlands. But originally it seems to have meant simply the land pertaining to a household, and its area in early times is quite uncertain, though probably far less. For the acre also there was in later times a standard length and breadth, the former being called furhlang (furlong) and reckoned at one-eighth of a mile, while the aecerbraedu or "acre-breadth" (chain) was also a definite measure. We need not doubt, however, that in practice the form of the acre was largely conditioned by the nature of the ground. Originally it is thought to have been the measure of a day's ploughing, in which case the dimensions given above would scarcely be reached. Account must also be taken of the possibility that in early times lighter teams were in general use. If so the normal dimensions of the acre may very well have been quite different.
The husbandry was of a co-operative character. In the 11th century it was distinctly unusual for a peasant to possess a whole team of his own, and there is no reason for supposing the case to have been otherwise in early times; for though the peasant might then hold a hide, the hide itself was doubtless smaller and not commensurate in any way with the ploughland. The holdings were probably not compact but consisted of scattered strips in common fields, changed perhaps from year to year, the choice being determined by lot or otherwise. As for the method of cultivation itself there is little or no evidence. Both the "two-course system" and the "three-course system" may have been in use; but on the other hand it is quite possible that in many cases the same ground was not sown more than once in three years. The prevalence of the co-operative principle, it may be observed, was doubtless due in large measure to the fact that the greater part of England, especially towards the east, was settled not in scattered farms or hamlets but in compact villages with the cultivated lands lying round them.
The mill was another element which tended to promote the same principle. There can be little doubt that before the Anglo-Saxons came to Britain they possessed no instrument for grinding corn except the quern (cweorn), and in remote districts this continued in use until quite late times. The grinding seems to have been performed chiefly by female slaves, but occasionally we hear also of a donkey-mill (esolcweorn). The mill proper, however, which was derived from the Romans, as its name (mylen, from Lat. molina) indicates, must have come into use fairly early. In the 11th century every village of any size seems to have possessed one, while the earliest references go back to the 8th century. It is not unlikely that they were in use during the Roman occupation of Britain, and consequently that they became known to the invaders almost from the first. The mills were presumably driven for the most part by water, though we have a reference to a windmill as early as the year 833.
All the ordinary domestic animals were known. Cattle and sheep were pastured on the common lands appertaining to the village, while pigs, which (especially in Kent) seem to have been very numerous, were kept in the woods. Bee-keeping was also practised. In all these matters the invasion of Britain had brought about no change. The cultivation of fruit and vegetables on the other hand was probably almost entirely new. The names are almost all derived from Latin, though most of them seem to have been known soon after the invasion, at all events by the 7th century.
From the considerations pointed out above we can hardly doubt that the village possessed a certain amount of corporate life, centred perhaps in an ale-house where its affairs were discussed by the inhabitants. There is no evidence, however, which would justify us in crediting such gatherings with any substantial degree of local authority. So far as the limited information at our disposal enables us to form an opinion, the responsibility both for the internal peace of the village, and for its obligations to the outside world, seems to have lain with the lord or his steward (gerefa, villicus) from the beginning. A quite opposite view has, it is true, found favour with many scholars, viz. that the villages were orginally settlements of free kindreds, and that the lord's authority was superimposed on them at a later date. This view is based mainly on the numerous place-names ending in -ing, -ingham, -ington, &c., in which the syllable -ing is thought to refer to kindreds of cultivators. It is more probable, however, that these names are derived from persons of the twelfhynde class to whom the land had been granted. In many cases indeed there is good reason for doubting whether the name is a patronymic at all.
The question how far the villages were really new settlements is difficult to answer, for the terminations -ham, -ton, &c. cannot be regarded as conclusive evidence. Thus according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ann. 571) Bensington and Eynsham were formerly British villages. Even if the first part of Egonesham is English—which is by no means certain—it is hardly sufficient reason for discrediting this statement, for Canterbury (Cantwaraburg) and Rochester (Hrofes ceaster) were without doubt Roman places in spite of their English names. On the whole it seems likely that the cultivation of the land was not generally interrupted for more than a very few years; hence the convenience of utilizing existing sites of villages would be obvious, even if the buildings themselves had been burnt.
7. Towns.—Gildas states that in the time of the Romans Britain contained twenty-eight cities (civitates), besides a number of fortresses (castetta). Most of these were situated within the territories eventually occupied by the invaders, and reappear as towns in later times. Their history in the intervening period, however, is wrapped in obscurity. Chester appears to have been deserted for three centuries after its destruction early in the 7th century, and in most of the other cases there are features observable in the situation and plan of the medieval town which suggest that its occupation had not been continuous. Yet London and Canterbury must have recovered a certain amount of importance quite early, at all events within two centuries after the invasion, and the same is probably true of York, [v.04 p.0593]Lincoln and a few other places. The term applied to both the cities and the fortresses of the Romans was ceaster (Lat. castra), less frequently the English word burg. There is little or no evidence for the existence of towns other than Roman in early times, for the word urbs is merely a translation of burg, which was used for any fortified dwelling-place, and it is improbable that anything which could properly be called a town was known to the invaders before their arrival in Britain. The Danish settlements at the end of the 9th century and the defensive system initiated by King Alfred gave birth to a new series of fortified towns, from which the boroughs of the middle ages are mainly descended.
8. Houses.—Owing to the fact that houses were built entirely of perishable materials, wood and wattle, we are necessarily dependent almost wholly upon literary evidence for knowledge of this subject. Stone seems to have been used first for churches, but this was not before the 7th century, and we are told that at first masons were imported from Gaul. Indeed wood was used for many churches, as well as for most secular buildings, until a much later period. The walls were formed either of stout planks laid together vertically or horizontally, or else of posts at a short distance from one another, the interstices being filled up with wattlework daubed with clay. It is not unlikely that the houses of wealthy persons were distinguished by a good deal of ornamentation in carving and painting. The roof was high-pitched and covered with straw, hay, reeds or tiles. The regular form of the buildings was rectangular, the gable sides probably being shorter than the others. There is little evidence for partitions inside, and in wealthy establishments the place of rooms seems to have been supplied by separate buildings within the same enclosure. The windows must have been mere openings in the walls or roof, for glass was not used for this purpose before the latter part of the 7th century. Stoves were known, but most commonly heat was obtained from an open fire in the centre of the building. Of the various buildings in a wealthy establishment the chief were the hall (heall), which was both a dining and reception room, and the "lady's bower" (brydbur), which served also as a bedroom for the master and mistress. To these we have to add buildings for the attendants, kitchen, bakehouse, &c., and farm buildings. There is little or no evidence for the use of two-storeyed houses in early times, though in the 10th and 11th centuries they were common. The whole group of buildings stood in an enclosure (tun) surrounded by a stockade (burg), which perhaps rested on an earthwork, though this is disputed. Similarly the homestead of the peasant was surrounded by a fence (edor).
9. Clothes.—The chief material for clothing was at first no doubt wool, though linen must also have been used and later became fairly common. The chief garments were the coat (roc), the trousers (brec), and the cloak, for which there seem to have been a number of names (loða, hacele, sciccing, pad, hwitel). To these we may add the hat (haet), belt (gyrdel), stockings (hosa), shoes (scoh, gescy, rifeling) and gloves (glof). The crusene was a fur coat, while the serc or smoc seems to have been an undergarment and probably sleeveless. The whole attire was of national origin and had probably been in use long before the invasion of Britain. In the great bog-deposit at Thorsbjaerg in Angel, which dates from about the 4th century, there were found a coat with long sleeves, in a fair state of preservation, a pair of long trousers with remains of socks attached, several shoes and portions of square cloaks, one of which had obviously been dyed green. The dress of the upper classes must have been of a somewhat gorgeous character, especially when account is taken of the brooches and other ornaments which they wore. It is worth noting that according to Jordanes the Swedes in the 6th century were splendidly dressed.
10. Trade.—The few notices of this subject which occur in the early laws seem to refer primarily to cattle-dealing. But there can be no doubt that a considerable import and export trade with the continent had sprung up quite early. In Bede's time, if not before, London was resorted to by many merchants both by land and by sea. At first the chief export trade was probably in slaves. English slaves were to be obtained in Rome even before the end of the 6th century, as appears from the well-known story of Gregory the Great. Since the standard price of slaves on the continent was in general three or four times as great as it was in England, the trade must have been very profitable. After the adoption of Christianity it was gradually prohibited by the laws. The nature of the imports during the heathen period may be learned chiefly from the graves, which contain many brooches and other ornaments of continental origin, and also a certain number of silver, bronze and glass vessels. With the introduction of Christianity the ecclesiastical connexion between England and the continent without doubt brought about a large increase in the imports of secular as well as religious objects, and the frequency of pilgrimages by persons of high rank must have had the same effect. The use of silk (seoluc) and the adoption of the mancus (see below) point to communication, direct or indirect, with more distant countries. In the 8th century we hear frequently of tolls on merchant ships at various ports, especially London.
11. Coinage.—The earliest coins which can be identified with certainty are some silver pieces which bear in Runic letters the name of the Mercian king Æthelred (675-704). There are others, however, of the same type and standard (about 21 grains) which may be attributed with probability to his father Penda (d. 655). But it is clear from the laws of Æthelberht that a regular silver coinage was in use at least half a century before this time, and it is not unlikely that many unidentified coins may go back to the 6th century. These are fairly numerous, and are either without inscriptions or, if they do bear letters at all, they seem to be mere corruptions of Roman legends. Their designs are derived from Roman or Frankish coins, especially the former, and their weight varies from about 10 to 21 grains, though the very light coins are rare. Anonymous gold coins, resembling Frankish trientes in type and standard (21 grains), are also fairly common, though they must have passed out of use very early, as the laws give no hint of their existence. Larger gold coins (solidi) are very rare. In the early laws the money actually in use appears to have been entirely silver. In Offa's time a new gold coin, the mancus, resembling in standard the Roman solidus (about 70 grains), was introduced from Mahommedan countries. The oldest extant specimen bears a faithfully copied Arabic inscription. In the same reign the silver coins underwent a considerable change in type, being made larger and thinner, while from this time onwards they always bore the name of the king (or queen or archbishop) for whom they were issued. The design and execution also became remarkably good. Their weight was at first unaffected, but probably towards the close of Offa's reign it was raised to about 23 grains, at which standard it seems to have remained, nominally at least, until the time of Alfred. It is to be observed that with the exception of Burgred's coins and a few anonymous pieces the silver was never adulterated. No bronze coins were current except in Northumbria, where they were extremely common in the 9th century.
Originally scilling ("shilling") and sceatt seem to have been the terms for gold and silver coins respectively. By the time of Ine, however, pending, pen(n)ing ("penny"), had already come into use for the latter, while, owing to the temporary disappearance of a gold coinage, scilling had come to denote a mere unit of account. It was, however, a variable unit, for the Kentish shilling contained twenty sceattas (pence), while the Mercian contained only four. The West Saxon shilling seems originally to have been identical with the Mercian, but later it contained five pence. Large payments were generally made by weight, 240-250 pence being reckoned to the pound, perhaps from the 7th century onwards. The mancus was equated with thirty pence, probably from the time of its introduction. This means that the value of gold relatively to silver was 10:1 from the end of Offa's reign. There is reason, however, for thinking that in earlier times it was as low as 6:1, or even 5:1. In Northumbria a totally different monetary system prevailed, the unit being the tryms, which contained three sceattas or pence. As to the value of the bronze coins we are without information.
The purchasing power of money was very great. The sheep was valued at a shilling in both Wessex and Mercia, from early times till the 11th century. One pound was the normal price of a slave and half a pound that of a horse. The price of a pig was twice, and that of an ox six times as great as that of a sheep. Regarding the prices of commodities other than live-stock we have little definite information, though an approximate estimate may be made of the value of arms. It is worth noticing that we often hear of payments in gold and silver vessels in place of money. In the former case the mancus was the usual unit of calculation.
12. Ornaments.—Of these the most interesting are the brooches which were worn by both sexes and of which large numbers have been found in heathen cemeteries. They may be classed under eight leading types: (1) circular or ring-shaped, (2) cruciform, (3) square-headed, (4) radiated, (5) S-shaped, (6) bird-shaped, (7) disk-shaped, (8) cupelliform or saucer-shaped. Of these Nos. 5 and 6 appear to be of continental origin, and this is probably the case also with No. 4 and in part with No. 7. But the last-mentioned type varies greatly, from rude and almost plain disks of bronze to magnificent gold specimens studded with gems. No. 8 is believed to be peculiar to England, and occurs chiefly in the southern Midlands, specimens being usually found in pairs. The interiors are gilt, often furnished with detachable plates and sometimes set with brilliants. The remaining types were probably brought over by the Anglo-Saxons at the time of the invasion. Nos. 1 and 3 are widespread outside England, but No. 2, though common in Scandinavian countries, is hardly to be met with south of the Elbe. It is worth noting that a number of specimens were found in the cremation cemetery at Borgstedterfeld near Rendsburg. In England it occurs chiefly in the more northern counties. Nos. 2 and 3 vary greatly in size, from 2½ to 7 in. or more. The smaller specimens are quite plain, but the larger ones are gilt and generally of a highly ornamental character. In later times we hear of brooches worth as much as six mancusas, i.e. equivalent to six oxen.
Among other ornaments we may mention hairpins, rings and ear-rings, and especially buckles which are often of elaborate workmanship. Bracelets and necklets are not very common, a fact which is rather surprising, as in early times, before the issuing of a coinage, these articles (beagas) took the place of money to a large extent. The glass vessels are finely made and of somewhat striking appearance, though they closely resemble contemporary continental types. Since the art of glass-working was unknown, according to Bede, until nearly the end of the 7th century, it is probable that these were all of continental or Roman-British origin.
13. Amusements.—It is clear from the frequent references to dogs and hawks in the charters that hunting and falconry were keenly pursued by the kings and their retinues. Games, whether indoor or outdoor, are much less frequently mentioned, but there is no doubt that the use of dice (taefl) was widespread. At court much time was given to poetic recitation, often accompanied by music, and accomplished poets received liberal rewards. The chief musical instrument was the harp (hearpe), which is often mentioned. Less frequently we hear of the flute (pipe) and later also of the fiddle (fiðele). Trumpets (horn, swegelhorn, byme) appear to have been used chiefly as signals.
14. Writing.—The Runic alphabet seems to have been the only form of writing known to the Anglo-Saxons before the invasion of Britain, and indeed until the adoption of Christianity. In its earliest form, as it appears in inscriptions on various articles found in Schleswig and in Scandinavian countries, it consisted of twenty-four letters, all of which occur in abecedaria in England. In actual use, however, two letters soon became obsolete, but a number of others were added from time to time, some of which are found also on the continent, while others are peculiar to certain parts of England. Originally the Runic alphabet seems to have been used for writing on wooden boards, though none of these have survived. The inscriptions which have come down to us are engraved partly on memorial stones, which are not uncommon in the north of England, and partly on various metal objects, ranging from swords to brooches. The adoption of Christianity brought about the introduction of the Roman alphabet; but the older form of writing did not immediately pass out of use, for almost all the inscriptions which we possess date from the 7th or following centuries. Coins with Runic legends were issued at least until the middle of the 8th century, and some of the memorial stones date probably even from the 9th. The most important of the latter are the column at Bewcastle, Cumberland, believed to commemorate Alhfrith, the son of Oswio, who died about 670, and the cross at Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, which is probably about a century later. The Roman alphabet was very soon applied to the purpose of writing the native language, e.g. in the publication of the laws of Æthelberht. Yet the type of character in which even the earliest surviving MSS. are written is believed to be of Celtic origin. Most probably it was introduced by the Irish missionaries who evangelized the north of England, though Welsh influence is scarcely impossible. Eventually this alphabet was enlarged (probably before the end of the 7th century) by the inclusion of two Runic letters for th and w.
15. Marriage.—This is perhaps the subject on which our information is most inadequate. It is evident that the relationships which prohibited marriage were different from those recognized by the Church; but the only fact which we know definitely is that it was customary, at least in Kent, for a man to marry his stepmother. In the Kentish laws marriage is represented as hardly more than a matter of purchase; but whether this was the case in the other kingdoms also the evidence at our disposal is insufficient to decide. We know, however, that in addition to the sum paid to the bride's guardian, it was customary for the bridegroom to make a present (morgengifu) to the bride herself, which, in the case of queens, often consisted of a residence and considerable estates. Such persons also had retinues and fortified residences of their own. In the Kentish laws provision is made for widows to receive a proportionate share in their husbands' property.
16. Funeral Rites.—Both inhumation and cremation were practised in heathen times. The former seems to have prevailed everywhere; the latter, however, was much more common in the more northern counties than in the south, though cases are fairly numerous throughout the valley of the Thames. In Beowulf cremation is represented as the prevailing custom. There is no evidence that it was still practised when the Roman and Celtic missionaries arrived, but it is worth noting that according to the tradition given in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Oxfordshire, where the custom seems to have been fairly common, was not conquered before the latter part of the 6th century. The burnt remains were generally, if not always, enclosed in urns and then buried. The urns themselves are of clay, somewhat badly baked, and bear geometrical patterns applied with a punch. They vary considerably in size (from 4 to 12 in. or more in diameter) and closely resemble those found in northern Germany. Inhumation graves are sometimes richly furnished. The skeleton is laid out at full length, generally with the head towards the west or north, a spear at one side and a sword and shield obliquely across the middle. Valuable brooches and other ornaments are often found. In many other cases, however, the grave contained nothing except a small knife and a simple brooch or a few beads. Usually both classes of graves lie below the natural surface of the ground without any perceptible trace of a barrow.
17. Religion.—Here again the information at our disposal is very limited. There can be little doubt that the heathen Angli worshipped certain gods, among them Ti (Tig), Woden, Thunor and a goddess Frigg, from whom the names Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are derived. Ti was probably the same god of whom early Roman writers speak under the name Mars (see Týr), while Thunor was doubtless the thunder-god (see Thor). From Woden (q.v.) most of the royal families traced their descent. Seaxneat, the ancestor of the East Saxon dynasty, was also in all probability a god (see Essex, Kingdom of).
Of anthropomorphic representations of the gods we have no clear evidence, though we do hear of shrines in sacred enclosures, at which sacrifices were offered. It is clear also that there were persons specially set apart for the priesthood, who were not allowed to bear arms or to ride except on mares. Notices of sacred trees and groves, springs, stones, &c., are much more frequent than those referring to the gods. We hear also a good deal of witches and valkyries, and of charms and magic; as an instance we may cite the fact that certain (Runic) letters were credited, as in the North, with the power of loosening bonds. It is probable also that the belief in the spirit world and in a future life was of a somewhat similar kind to what we find in Scandinavian religion. (See Teutonic Peoples, §6.)
The chief primary authorities are Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae, and Nennius, Historia Britonum (ed. San-Marte, Berlin, 1844); Th. Mommsen in Mon. Germ. Hist., Auct. Antiquiss., tom. xiii. (Berlin, 1898); Bede, Hist. Eccl. (ed. C. Plummer, Oxford, 1896); the Saxon Chronicle (ed. C. Plummer, Oxford, 1892-1899); and the Anglo-Saxon Laws (ed. F. Liebermann, Halle, 1903), and Charters (W. de G. Birch, Cartularium Saxonicum, London, 1885-1893). Modern authorities: Sh. Turner, History of the Anglo-Saxons (London, 1799-1805; 7th ed., 1852); Sir F. Palgrave, Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth (London, 1831-1832); J.M. Kemble, The Saxons in England (London, 1849; 2nd ed., 1876); K. Maurer, Kritische Überschau d. deutschen Gesetzgebung u. Rechtswissenschaft, vols. i.-iii. (Munich, 1853-1855); J.M. Lappenberg, Geschichte von England (Hamburg, 1834); History of England under the Anglo-Saxon Kings (London, 1845; 2nd ed., 1881); J.R. Green, The Making of England (London, 1881); T. Hodgkin, History of England from the Earliest Times to the Norman Conquest (vol. i. of The Political History of England) (London, 1906); F. Seebohm, The English Village Community (London, 1883); A. Meitzen, Siedelung und Agrarwesen d. Westgermanen, u. Ostgermanen, &c. (Berlin, 1895); Sir F. Pollock and F.W. Maitland, History of English Law (Cambridge, 1895; 2nd ed., 1898); F.W. Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond (Cambridge, 1897); F. Seebohm, Tribal Custom in Anglo-Saxon Law (London, 1903); P. Vinogradoff, The Growth of the Manor (London, 1905); H.M. Chadwick, Studies on Anglo-Saxon Institutions (Cambridge, 1905); The Origin of the English Nation (ib., 1907); M. Heyne, Über die Lage und Construction der Halle Heorot (Paderborn, 1864); R. Henning, Das deutsche Haus (Quellen u. Forschungen, 47) (Strassburg, 1882); M. Heyne, Deutsche Hausaltertümer, i., ii., iii. (Leipzig, 1900-1903); G. Baldwin Brown, The Arts in Early England (London, 1903); C.F. Keary, Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Coins in the British Museum, vol. i. (London, 1887); C. Roach Smith, Collectanea Antiqua (London, 1848-1868); R.C. Neville, Saxon Obsequies (London, 1852); J.Y. Akerman, Remains of Pagan Saxondom (London, 1855); Baron J. de Baye, Industrie anglo-saxonne (Paris, 1889); The Industrial Arts of the Anglo-Saxons (London, 1893); G. Stephens, The Old Northern Runic Monuments (London and Copenhagen, 1866-1901); W. Vietor, Die northumbrischen Runensteine (Marburg, 1895). Reference must also be made to the articles on Anglo-Saxon antiquities in the Victoria County Histories, and to various papers in Archaeologia, the Archaeological Journal, the Journal of the British Archaeological Society, the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, the Associated Architectural Societies' Reports, and other antiquarian journals.
(H. M. C.)