(ORDO NEWS) — The peoples who inhabited the south and north of the British Isle were culturally different long before the Romans arrived.
There is an opinion that once the whole island, later called Great Britain, was inhabited by friendly and kindred tribes. But then the Romans conquered half of the island, divided it, established their own orders in the southern part and kept the defense from the representatives of the northern.
And the demarcation took place along the Hadrian’s Wall – a defensive fortification built at the beginning of the II century AD, approximately on the border of England and Scotland. Perhaps it was not at all like that.
In a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland , Scottish archaeologist Ronan Toolis analyzed the types of Iron Age structures in different parts of the country. He came to the conclusion that some buildings at that time were common in Scotland, but practically not represented south of the Tweed River (border with England). Let’s take a closer look at them.
Crannog is an artificial lake island on which a house was built. Scientists date the oldest known crannogs to the Neolithic (3800-3200 BC), its accepted name – Eilean Domhnuill , is located on one of the islands of the Outer Hebrides archipelago. Crannogs were common in Scotland and Ireland: they were built on shallow lakes.
Broch is a round fortress, built of stones without any mortar. Such structures are generally not found anywhere except in Scotland – more than a hundred of them were found there. The inner diameter of the brooches found is from five to 15 meters. Usually, the remains of residential buildings are found around them: that is, people lived in houses, and in case of danger they took refuge in a broch.
In addition to these two types of buildings, Ronan Tulis considers dun and suterren . They are not as unique as brooches. For example, the word dun is found in Gaul – that was just the name of the fortress on the hill. Then – apparently, together with the Celts – this concept appears in Britain, but quickly migrates to the north and remains behind Tweed, where it means a fortification on a hill.
Suterren is an underground structure, a dug hole, on top of which stone slabs are laid. It is believed that the suterrens were used as storage facilities (like a cellar). Such buildings are also found in Gaul and even in Cornwall (south-west of England). But in England, their finds are rare, while in Scotland, such depositories were very common.
Tullis believes that the difference in housing types in Scotland and England is a result of cultural choices made by households and communities, not environmental constraints. This suggests that the Iron Age societies north and south of the Tweed were notably dissimilar.
Such distinctive differences in the archaeological record are especially important, since we are talking about buildings of the 4th-2nd centuries BC, that is, the divergence occurred long before the arrival of the Romans in Britain and long before the Roman border zone could break societies.
This could play a crucial role in explaining why the Romans failed to incorporate Scotland into their empire, despite three major military campaigns. The failure is often attributed to a change in Rome’s political and military priorities, but it may have more to do with the nature of Iron Age society in Scotland, which Ronan Tulis believes was anarchic in nature – not chaotic, but composed of autonomous households and communities. deprived of general guidance. This set them apart from the tribal kingdoms that the Romans faced in the south.
Clear evidence of the adoption of Roman culture did not appear in Scotland until the 5th century AD, after the Romans had already left Britain. It was then in the south of Scotland that secular as well as church stones with Latin inscriptions were installed, containing the Latinized names of the indigenous people, as well as Christian terminology and symbolism.
“It only happened when Iron Age society in Scotland became hierarchical,” says Dr. Tulis. “This evidence suggests that Scotland’s communities were not passive participants in the adoption of a foreign culture: it only happened with their active participation and, probably, on their own initiative and on their own terms.
“Moreover, expressions of power and prestige characteristic of early medieval Scotland suggest Thus, according to the Scottish archaeologist, Hadrian’s Wall was not a cause, but a consequence of the existing cultural differences between the peoples living to the north and south of it. And this cultural divergence continued into the medieval period, leading to the formation of two different kingdoms, completely independent of the Roman division of the island.
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