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Viggen

Roman Opponents in Britain

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Today I received an email with a question that I put forward to the communty,

 

When the Romans went North into what we know today as Great Britain, Who were the oponents they faced?  Who were the ones wearing the Blue face paint? And did the Blue faced warroriers live in Ireland?

 

 

Romans never had any battle of note in Ireland, there is actually not much evidence that they had contact with Ireland at all.

 

The English part was settled by various celtic tribes, and further north were the Picts.

 

I am passing on the question for more indepth answers to the community.

 

regards

viggen

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The blue face paint, likely "ink" from woad, was worn by several Celtic and Brittanic tribes.

 

Julius Caesar in his "The Gallic Wars" said, "Omnes vero se Britanni vitro inficiunt, quod caeruleum efficit colorem." which is commonly translated as "all the Brittani, indeed, dye themselves with woad, which produces a dark blue coloring."

 

There is some debate to this and also debate to the naming of the Pict tribes which in Latin means "painted men". There is no question however, that many Brittanic tribes were tattooed or painted in some way. Julius Caesar also states in describing tribes from around where the Picts were, that they had, "designs carved into their faces by iron." So its possible that woad was not used and the markings on the bodies of the Britanni was actually ritual scarring of some sort.

 

As for the Roman enemies in Britain, the list is quite long, as nearly every Britannic tribe considered themselves enemies of Rome at some point. So the following is just a rough outline of the most famous that can be expanded upon. ....

 

55 - 54 BC - Caesar's Invasion - Many tribes resisted Roman invasion but the main unifying force were the Catuvellauni under the command of Cassivelaunus.

 

43 AD - Claudian Invasion - Again the Catuvellauni were a principal player under the command of Togodumnus and Caratacus.

 

60 AD - Queen Boudicca of the Iceni led a revolt against Roman occupation and destroyed several Roman colonies and the 9th legion before her defeat.

 

After the Boudiccan revolt the conquest of Britain essentially became a tribe by tribe Romanization plan. As the bulk of Britain south of Caledonia was subdued, Rome's principal enemies in Brittania were the northern Picts and Celtic tribes such as the Caledones.

 

Among the most famous leaders of these was Calgacus, who united many of the northern tribes against the invasion by Gnaeus Julius Agricola between 80 and 83 AD. A full account of this, by Tacitus, can be read at http://www.unrv.com/tacitus/tacitusagricola.php

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Was there a similar situation in Britain like in Germania at the time, meaning that some tribes would co-operate with romans?

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I read somewhere that the romans often inter married with the native tribes that we're there.

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Was there a similar situation in Britain like in Germania at the time, meaning that some tribes would co-operate with romans?

Aside from the Caledonians and some Welsh tribes, most of the Celtic tribes willingly bought into Romanization. Many found that the opportunity to increase their own wealth, influence and standing improved dramatically with the support and friendship of Rome. With the consolidation of the British conquest in the late 1st and early 2nd century, rebellion from within Roman controlled territory was rare. While there was a rather high concentration of 3 legions permanently stationed there (1 in Eburacum for the eastern wall, 1 in Deva for the western wall and northern wales, and 1 in Isca for southern Wales), cooperation from the natives was generally beneficial to them. (or at least a lesser evil than war.) The noted exception to this were the Brigantes who were a large and powerful tribe. Prior to the Romans, they held considerable sway over other tribes, so Roman influence was in direct competition to their own. The Brigantes revolted several times, until the late 2nd century, when the permanent presence of 2 legions within or near their territory certainly must've played a part.

 

By this time in history, the empire was heavily reliant on non latin recruits for the legions and British celts found new opportunities for advancement within the Roman system. Citizen rights and representation within the Senate was becoming more readily available. Many tribes were left to relative autonomy as far as customs went, provided they abided by Roman law. In fact, Britannia was divided into 2 provinces (4 later).. Superior in the south and Inferior in the north. Britannia Superior was considered as Roman and peaceful as any province within the empire. Inferior, however, always maintained some doubts.

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I'd like to add that prior to the military invasion strategy there was a highly efficient economic 'invasion'. Traders made sure that the British tribes (especially in the south) were quite familiar with the wealth and appliances the roman culture could bring them. So when the time came to take it a step further quite a few tribes were very unwilling to give up all the goodies as a result of military opposition to the romans. Whether this economic strategy was carried out on purpose I don't know, but it seems a very likely and efficient step towards a further expansion.

 

- JUG

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I see Jug, so there was already roman coins in circulation long before he romans invaded?

 

I also wonder how much the northern regions knew about the Romans at the time of the invasion, I mean how long would it take till people in Scotland (Picts, Brigantes) would have know that the Romans had invaded Britain. (if they actually cared)

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Not so sure about the coinage but the merchants went there and showed the tribes people things from rome such as luxary items and showed them what a bath is. This was done to show the tribes how great rome is and how much better off they would be if they joined the romans. I know that if i was a barbarian and i saw an aqueduct and a colluseum, i would join them.

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Werent the brits not merchant?

I mean wouldn't there be also celtic traders in the roman empire, say gallia?

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My guess would be there were very small numbers of Celtic traders operating in Roman lands, besides the tribes that co-operated with the romans, of which there were at least 3 in southern britain. I read a few months ago about the possibility of some trade from modern wales to germany and even the black sea, but there was no real evidence.

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Im sure there we're celtic traders but the amount of merchants of the roman empire to that of the celts isnt even nearly equal. The romans had stuff coming from iberia, the middle east, africa and other places whereas the celts probably couldnt ever get a great amount of these items but the romans could.

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Well depending on the materials in question, metal goods would most likely come from Celtic Lands. records show a great deal of Roman weapons, armour, tools, came from from places outside of Roman influence. I would not dismiss Celts as being backwards people who were behind the Romans in economics, Celtic trading and craftsmanship is in many cases shown to be superior than that of the Romans, even more so later in the 10th century after the fall of the empire. When scandanavian and traders from the british isles would have put any Roman, Islamic, or Oriental Trade network to shame.

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