Traces of the Roman Rule in BritainCategory: 00 Roman Britain
There are today many things in Britain to remind the people of the Romans. The wells which the Romans dug give water today, and the chief Roman roads are still among the highways of Modern England. Watling Street still runs from London to Chester. Long stretches of Hadrian’s Wall, the ruins of public baths and parts of the Roman bridges have remained to this day. The fragments of the old London wall built by the Romans can still be seen. Often, even now, when men are digging in England they find Roman pottery, glass, tiles, statues, armour, coins and other things that were used by the Romans in those old times. Many of these remains may be seen in British museums.
Besides, many words of Modern English have come from Latin. The words which the Romans left behind them in the language of Britain are for the most part the names of the things which they taught the Celts. For example, the word street came from the Latin strata which means “road”, port from the Latin portus, wall from vallum.
The names of many modern English towns are of Latin origin too. The Roman towns were strongly fortified and they were called castra which means “camps”. This word can be recognized in various forms in such names as Chester, Winchester, Manchester, Leicester, Gloucester, Doncaster, Lancaster. Any English town today with a name ending in “chester”, “cester” or “caster” was once a Roman camp or city. The town-name Lincoln comes from the Latin word colonia which means a “colony”; and Colchester (that is, Colne-chester) from both colonia and castra. The city of Bath was an important Roman watering-place although it has lost its Roman name.
But Roman influence in Britain was weaker than in other provinces because the province of Britain was separated from the mainland of Europe by the Channel and the North Sea. The Roman way of life influenced only the south-eastern part of the country. The Romans built most of their towns in the south and east. The slave villas of the Roman type were also concentrated in the south-eastern part of the country. The old way of life of the British Celts did not change very much. Only among the Celts of the South and East did the tribal chiefs and nobility become rich and adopt the Roman way of life. At the same time the Celts who lived in the country far away from the Roman towns and villas kept to their customs and Roman influence upon them was insignificant. In the remoter western parts of the country and especially in the North, which the Romans did not manage to conquer, the old tribal life went on, and villages of native tribes still living under the primitive system, were predominant.
NOTES AND MEANINGS
- Roman province. A country under Roman domination.
- The Ancient East. Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China.
- Tribute. A payment which the victors exacted from the conquered people.
- Legion. A. body of warriors in the Roman army. It included cavalry as well as infantry and numbered about 6,000 men.