The Tribes:
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The Brigantes

The Brigantes were a Celtic tribe who in pre-Roman times controlled the largest section of what would become Northern England and a significant part of the Midlands; their kingdom is sometimes called Brigantia and it was centred in what was later known as Yorkshire; their territory was bordered by that of four other Celtic tribes: the Carvetii, to whom they may have been related, to the North-West, the Parisi to the East and the Corieltauvi & Cornovii.to the South; to the North was the territory of the Votadini, which straddled the present day border between England and Scotland.

The name Brigantes is cognate to that of the goddess Brigantia; the name is from a root meaning "high, elevated" and it is unclear whether settlements called Brigantium were so named as "high ones" in a metaphorical sense of nobility, or literally as "highlanders", referring to the Pennines, or inhabitants of physically elevated fortifications.

Brigantes Warrior


There are no written records of the Brigantes before the Roman conquest of Britain; it is therefore hard to assess how long they had existed as a political entity prior to that; most key archaeological sites in the region seem to show continued, undisturbed occupation from an early date, so their rise to power may have been gradual rather than a sudden, dramatic conquest, or it may be linked to the burning of the large hill fort at Castle Hill, Huddersfield, c.430 BC.

Territorially the largest tribe in Britain, the Brigantes encompassed several sub-tribes or septs such as the Gabrantovices on the Yorkshire Coast, the Textoverdi further North near Hadrian's Wall, the Setantii located on the Lancashire coast and the Lopocares near the River Tyne.

 



The Votadini:

The Votadini were a people and civitas of Roman Britain living in what is now south east Scotland and north east England; their territory extended south of the Firth of Forth and extended from the Stirling area down to the English River Tyne, including at its peak what are now the Falkirk, Lothian and Borders regions of eastern Scotland and Northumberland in north east England.

In the 1st century the Romans recorded the Votadini as a British tribe, which came under direct Roman military rule as occupants of the region between Hadrian's and the Antonine Walls; their capital was probably the Traprain Law hill fort in East Lothian, until that was abandoned in the early 400s, and Din Eidyn (Edinburgh) became the capital.

When the Romans drew back to Hadrian's Wall the Votadini became a friendly buffer state, getting the rewards of alliance with Rome without being under its rule, until about 400 when the Romans withdrew from southern Great Britain.

The Carvetii:

The Carvetii were a people and civitas of Roman Britain living in what is now Cumbria and North Lancashire in north-west England; they are known only from inscriptions found in Penrith and Temple Sowerby in Cumbria; their capital is presumed to have been Luguvalium (Carlisle), the only walled town known in the region; they may have been part of the neighbouring Brigantes confederation and some have speculated that Venutius, husband of the Brigantian queen Cartimandua and later an important British resistance leader in the 1st century, may have been a Carvetian.

The Parisi

The Parisi tribe inhabited North Humberside and were surrounded to the north, west and south-west by the Brigantes and on the south by the Coritani; the burials of the Parisi were quite distinctive; generally they were without grave-goods, but some have been found with swords or even chariots; a number of the richer graves are enclosed within small, rectangular earthworks; these burial practices are mirrored by the Gallic tribes of the Seine valley, but are very uncommon elsewhere in Britain; it is possible that Eburacum (York) was originally attributed to the Parisi, but became detached from Parisian rule by the establishment of the colonia.

The Cornovii:

The Cornovii appear to have been more of an export tribe than a warring one, who constructed Hillforts, but offered little or no resistance to Roman rule; they adopted the urban Roman way when they took over the ownership of Wroxeter (Viriconium Corniovorum) after the XXth legion left for Chester (Deva) and kept the city going until the early 6th century.

The Coritani:

The Coritani, also thought to be called the Corieltauvi and sometimes referred to as the Corieltavi, were a tribe of people living in Britain prior to the Roman conquest and thereafter a civitas of Roman Britain; their territory was in what is now the English East Midlands, in the counties of Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Rutland and Northamptonshire; they were bordered by the Brigantes to the North, the Cornovii to the West, the Dobunni and Catuvellauni to the South and the Iceni to the East; their capital was called Ratae Corieltauvorum, known today as Leicester.

The Corieltauvi were a largely agricultural people who had few strongly defended sites or signs of centralised government; they appear to have been a federation of smaller, self-governing tribal groups; they seem to have offered little or no resistance to Roman rule; Ratae was captured c. AD 44 and the IX Hispana legion was garrisoned there; the Fosse Way, a Roman road and the effective early boundary of the Roman province, passed through their territory.

From the beginning of the 1st century, they began to produce inscribed coins: almost all featured two names and one series had three, suggesting they had multiple rulers; the names on the earliest coins are so abbreviated as to be unidentifiable; later coins feature the name of Volisios, apparently the paramount king of the region, together with names of three presumed sub-kings, Dumnocoveros, Dumnovellaunus and Cartivelios, in three series minted ca. 45 AD; the Corieltauvi had an important mint and possibly a tribal centre, at Sleaford; the discovery in 2000 of the Hallaton Treasure more than doubled the total number of Corieltauvian coins previously recorded.

The Roman Interaction:

During the Roman invasion, in 47 AD, the governor of Britain, Publius Ostorius Scapula, was forced to abandon his campaign against the Deceangli of North Wales because of "disaffection" among the Brigantes, whose leaders had been allies of Rome; a few of those who had taken up arms were killed and the rest were pardoned.

In 51, the defeated resistance leader Caratacus sought sanctuary with the Brigantian queen, Cartimandua, but she showed her loyalty to the Romans by handing him over in chains; she and her husband Venutius are described as loyal and "defended by Roman arms", but they later divorced, Venutius taking up arms first against his ex-wife, then against her Roman protectors; during the governorship of Aulus Didius Gallus (52 to 57) he gathered an army and invaded her kingdom; the Romans sent troops to defend Cartimandua and they defeated Venutius' rebellion; after the divorce, Cartimandua married Venutius' armour-bearer, Vellocatus and raised him to the kingship.

Venutius staged another rebellion in 69, taking advantage of Roman instability in the Year of four emperors; this time the Romans were only able to send auxiliaries, who succeeded in evacuating Cartimandua but left Venutius and his anti-Roman supporters in control of the kingdom; later on after the accession of Vespasian, Quintus Petillius Cerialis was appointed governor of Britain and the conquest of the Brigantes was begun, but it seems to have taken many decades to complete.

Gnaeus Julius Agricola (governor 78 to 84) appears to have engaged in warfare in Brigantian territory; the Roman poet Juvenal, writing in the early 2nd century, depicts a Roman father urging his son to win glory by destroying the forts of the Brigantes; it is possible that one of the purposes of Hadrian's Wall was to keep the Brigantes from making discourse with the tribes in what is now the lowlands of Scotland on the other side; the emperor Antoninus Pius (138 to 161) is said by Pausanias to have defeated them after they began an unprovoked war against Roman allies, perhaps as part of the campaign that led to the building of the Antonine Wall (142 to 144).



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