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A Brief Visit Back to Britannicus

By Leslie Weddell  (UK)


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In the 400 years (or thereabouts) that the mighty conquering Roman Army occupied the mainland of 'Britannicus' (better known today as Britain) all they wanted to do after a hard decade or two of killing, pillaging and raping the whole place, was to just settle down to a quiet life of ruling the country.

And the Romans certainly did this in England; teaching the uncouth inhabitants how to bathe, write, be able and useful as farmers, carpenters, butchers, and tradesmen. They even paid them a wage.


The Roman Governors and their underling Officers used their skilled soldiers in charge of each sector of the countryside to full effect, and besides showing the inhabitants how to do things, busied themselves showing off their skills by building arrow-straight roads mostly named Watling Street or Watling Road, plus fantastic load bearing aqueducts to carry water from the rivers in the hills to the towns and villages. They even introduced the first latrines, communal they might have been, but real 'loos'.

And to boot, they had central heating in the important buildings by using 24/7 wood or peat burning fires under specially constructed brick floors.

They even introduced wonderful food, and created what today we would term a healthy diet, goading the peasants under their control to eat fish and bran or oat dishes, steamed vegetables, and fruit.

It must have been heaven in the cold winter months in Britannicus with this wonderful technology.

But during those 400 years not all was well in this idyllic picture of serenity and cultured society, for there was a problem that the Romans just could not seem to handle, even with all their superior skills and efficiency, for it came in the form of the constant appearance of the meandering Scots rebels who kept raiding the roman towns and forts in the lowlands of 'Caledonia' (Scotland)

Even though the Romans had invaded Scotland up as far as the Firth of Forth (Edinburgh district to you and me) and made several attempts over the years to go into the Highlands of Scotland, they kept coming up against these die hard individuals that did not seem to want the niceties that the Roman Empire could offer.

This went on for years, and eventually the Romans withdrew to the boarders, along a line across England starting from the ancient City of Carlisle.

One lovely summer's day a new General from Rome named Hadrian stepped foot on the jetty alongside the small Roman river town of 'Londinium' (London).

He had been appointed as the new Governor of the Northern hemisphere of Britannicus.

After what must have been a harrowing journey up to 'Eboracum' (York) or 'Pons Aelti' (Newcastle) (It is not recorded exactly were he went, but some historians believe it was Newcastle) in the North East of England, Hadrian settled into his new appointment and began to make his mark on the area.

He erected towns and forts with radical new construction ideas brought from the homeland, using skilled artisans. Hadrian did good things to improve the regions, such as building schools for the thousands of soldiers under his command that came from all parts of the Roman Empire including Germans, French, Spanish, Serbians, and many others.

They in turn introduced their own culture and foods to the new Roman Society in Britannicus, and to this day there is evidence of food dishes and other traditional ways of doing things credited back to that era.

But I digress, so let's get back to our pal Governor Hadrian.

He got so cheesed off with these raids by the Scots rebels across the boarder that he ordered the construction of a wall winding its way across England from Newcastle to Carlisle to keep them out. Quite a considerable distance of several hundred miles, and most of the wall and the mini forts the soldiers spent their long period of duty on are still evident today, nearly 2000 years on.

So was the wall built to keep the Scots out?

That's one theory.

I tend to go with the other school of thought that suggests that Hadrian's wall was built as a means of keeping thousands of home sick Roman soldiers meanfully occupied so that they would not revolt, in what must have seemed to them after the warmth of the Mediterranean, a God forsaken wilderness in the long winter months.
It is well recorded that as the years of roman domination in Britain rolled by many of the roman soldiers married local girls and brought up families that lasted generations, and indeed, today many people in the United Kingdom can trace their heritage back to the Roman Conquerors.

What must have it been like to be alive in Roman Britain? Let's think about this for a moment.

Depending on the year of course, you would probably be better off living about 200 years after the Armies came, for by that time everything would pretty much be settled in, and providing you were a good person willing to learn and show willingness to work, you would be treated in a decent manner by the Romans, and even given a good basic education and a skill to earn your living.

Of course there was class distinction, but as long as you kept your station in life you would have been treated in a fair manner, for there is evidence that the Roman governmental authorities in Britannicus encouraged good community relationships to retain harmony.

Just think again for a moment about the long void of several centuries after the Romans withdrew from Britain; when nothing but anarchy was strife between rival regional tribe leaders before the gradual establishment of government rule returned?

So all in all, it must have been a pleasant experience for many people to experience the many wonders of the Roman World in that era. It would be many centuries before latrines, central heating, and engineering skills of the magnitude of the Roman Empire, would be re-invented in the Victorian era.

I am lucky to be a resident of the United Kingdom of today, and to be able to wiz up a modern highway or side roads of England, Wales and Scotland, enjoying the same fantastic scenery that the Romans must have seen, only in the comfort of my air conditioning in summer or heated car, in winter.

But I have one thing to confess. I am a Scotsman, and although I live in a beautiful part of England because of my work, I never cease to wonder at the beauty of Scotland on my frequent visits to the land of the waters of life, knowing that the Romans of so long ago enjoyed the same timeless beauty of that country too, despite the Scots not wanting them!

Thankfully, today, Scotland welcomes everyone from every corner of this wonderful Planet.
The Scots no longer have to raid England. Instead, they have something English people love, and indeed, famous the World over for.


The waters of life. I rest my case.