The age of Hill Forts and Hill Tribes in Britain

1500 BC to the Roman Invasion in 43 AD

For some unexplained reason, Iron Age man started to change his living habits. They stopped building burial mounds and stone circles, stopped using the ancient sites like Stonehenge. Instead the Iron Age peoples took to farming in permanent fields and to living in protected hill forts.

The explanation might be that with the acquisition of the knowledge to make iron tools, then farming and tilling land became a viable proposition. Or perhaps iron weapons made man more aggressive and groups needed protection from maurauding bands of armed thugs.

maiden castle hill fort, dorset Maiden Castle in Dorset as it is seen today, was typical of a large protected hill fort, with its various ramparts

By around 150 BC there was a substantial trade between Britain and the continent. Involved were raw materials such as tin, silver or gold: finished goods like wine pottery and coins: and even slaves.

Julius Caesar made a landing in Britain in 55 BC, but only suceeded in establishing a tempory bridgehead. After another abortive attempt the next year, he sailed away and the Romans left Britain alone for another century, until they landed in force in 43 AD

By the eve of the Roman invasion, Britain was a series of small kingdoms, perhaps 20 of these large enough to have a regional influence, but with no one kingdom holding any real control over any large area of the country

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