A long and illustrious history
Stone Age and Iron Age
During the Stone Age, Britain was mostly inhabited by hunter-gatherers. Also, during this time, Britain was connected to the main continent by a land bridge. It was not until 10,000 years later that Britain was permanently separated to the main continent.
6,000 years ago, the first farmers arrived in Britain. Most of these farmers came from southeastern Europe. They built houses, tombs, and monuments, some of which, like the Stonehenge, are still seen today.
The Stonehenge, according to historians, were used for seasonal ceremonies.
Other Stone Age sites survive until today, such as the Skara Brae on Orkney, which is one of the best preserved prehistoric villages in northern Europe.
4,000 years ago, people learned how to make bronze, signaling the end of the Stone Age and the flourishing of the new Bronze Age. The quality of life improved significantly, as most of their items are now made from bronze and gold, which are far more durable and usable than stone. Tools, ornaments, and weapons were made with these materials, thus improving their quality of life by a whole lot.
The Iron Age came to be after a few hundred years. This, again, improved the quality of life of the people. People learned to form communities, defending their territories through hill forts, and learned how to make items out of iron.
One fort that has survived up to this day can be seen at Maiden Castle in Dorset.
People during these times spoke the Celtic language, which is still used by some people in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
The Iron Age is also the time when people were able to make coins that are to be used as a currency form. Some of these coins are inscribed with the names of the Iron Age kings. This marks the beginning of British history.
In 55 BC, Julius Caesar led a Roman invasion of the British colonies. However, he was unsuccessful and Britain was a free country for the next 100 years.
In 43 AD, the new Emperor, Claudius, led another Roman invasion of the British colonies. While most British tribes defended their territories tooth and nail, they were unsuccessful and majority of British territories were under the control of the Roman Empire.
One of the most well-known adversaries of the Roman Empire was Boudicca, the queen of Iceni (now eastern England). Today, a statue is erected in her honor in Westminster Bridge in London, near the Houses of Parliament.
Some parts of British territories (now Scotland) were not successfully colonized by the Roman Empire. Emperor Hadrian constructed a wall in order to keep out Picts (ancestors of Scottish people). Parts of this wall, called Hadrian’s Wall, can still be seen and are a popular tourist spot.
The Romans remained in Britain for 400 years. Britain, during that time, evolved into a better community as Romans built roads, public buildings, and houses, while at the same time introducing the concept of law and order. They also introduced new plants and animals, both beneficial for British people. During the 3rd and 4th centuries of their reign, the first Christian communities arrived in Britain.
In 410 AD, the Romans left Britain to defend their other territories and never came back. During this time, Britain was free, but not for long. Tribes from northern Europe, the Jutes, the Angles, and the Saxons, arrived and occupied Britain.
Britain tribes tried and fought them, but in 600 AD, the northern Europe tribes defeated the defenders and established Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain. These kingdoms were established in the areas of today’s England.
The only Britain territories that were free from the Anglo-Saxon rule are the west of Britain, which is now currently some parts of Wales and Scotland.
Anglo-Saxons were not Christians, but ever since missionaries regularly came to parts of Britain, some of them were converted to Christianity. Among the most famous of these Christians is St. Patrick, who would later become the patron saint of Ireland, St. Columba, who founded a monastery in Iona, and St. Augustine, who spread Christianity to the South and later become the first Archbishop of Canterbury.