4500 years ago the people who lived in these islands built some remarkable structures – one of which was StonehengeWe know very little about these people but by 250 BCE (before the birth of Jesus) we know that people we call Celts, because of the language they spoke, lived in most of Western Europe. One of these groups of Celts/tribes were called Britanni. They lived in the area we call Britain today. Most British people today have Celtic genes Celts were famers who were loyal to the chief of their tribe.
Celts were skilled metal workers – we have found some of the things they made – coins, helmets, shields We know that fighting was an important part of their culture. Mostly they fought each other but in 387 BCE (about 2400 years ago) a tribe of Celts, called Gauls, captured Rome. The Romans had to give them a lot of gold before they agreed to go home. We don’t know what Celts looked like or what clothes they wore. We can only guess.
The Romans became the rulers of most of Europe and the land around the Mediterranean. Many people in Europe today: France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Romania speak languages similar to the langusge of the Romans - Latin In the year 43 AD the Roman army arrived in Britain and ruled the country for the next 400 years.
The Romans occupied most of Britain but not Scotland or Ireland. Rich people decorated their houses with stone floors called mosaic. They built luxury villas with baths (you can visit Bath and see a Roman bath) They built cities like London, Colchester, St Albans (Verulamium), Chester and York as military bases and they built roads to connect them. Not all the British tribes were happy to be ruled by the Romans. In 61 AD the Iceni tribe of Queen Boudicca rebelled and destroyed the Roman city of Colchester Boudicca was captured and executed but, two thousand years later we remember her as a great British leader and you can see a statue of her near Parliament
Picts were a war-like Celtic people who lived in the country we call Scotland today The Roman emperor Hadrian decided that it would be a good idea to keep them out of the rest of Britain so he built a wall across the country in 122 AD from sea to sea You can still see the wall today if you go to Northumberland (but don’t worry you won’t be attacked by Picts!)
in 410 AD the Romans left Britain because Rome was being attacked by German tribes Other German tribes called Angles, Jutes and Saxons began to attack Britain and settle there as farmers. Many British people stayed and accepted the new rulers Other areas; Wales, Scotland and Ireland and Cornwall remained Celtic speaking. Many places in the country have ‘Anglo – Saxon’ names – East Anglia (East Angles), Essex (East Saxons), Sussex (South Saxons) Gradually the area where the Angles, Saxons and Jutes settled became known as Angle Land (England)
Anglo – Saxon language was similar to German and are almost the same as many English words we use today
Anglo Saxons had their own alphabet; they wrote poems and loved telling stories. Around the year 600 AD, priests sent by the Pope converted the King of Wessex to Christianity, but it was Irish priests who brought Christianity to northern England. ‘England’ was not a united country. There were separate Ango Saxon kings in areas like Wessex (Southern England) Mercia (The Midlands) and Northumberland (Northern England) We have found beautiful things made out of gold made specially for Anglo Saxon Kings. Some have writing from the Christian bible engraved on them
From the 8th to the 11th Century the Anglo Saxons were almost permanently at war with fierce Scandinavians called ‘Vikings’. Many of the Vikings settled with their families in the North West of England and parts of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. We know that one Saxon king, ‘Alfred,’ King of Wessex was successful in keeping the Vikings out of Southern England
In 1066 the King of England, Harold, had to fight against a Scandinavian king, William who ruled Normandy in Northern France William crossed the sea with his army and defeated the English and captured London William became King of England The new rulers of England spoke French. English was the language of the ordinary people. So the people of England spoke two different languages and couldn’t understand each other