[00:09.35]From its earliest days, Britain was an object of desire.
[00:25.79]Tacitus declared it "pretium victoriae" - worth the conquest,
[00:31.51]the best compliment that could occur to a Roman.
[00:36.59]He had never visited these shores
[00:39.31]but was nonetheless convinced that Britannia was rich in gold.
[00:46.39]Silver was abundant too. Apparently so were pearls,
[00:50.27]though Tacitus had heard they were grey,
[00:52.95]like the overcast, rain-heavy skies,
[00:56.07]and the natives only collected them when cast up on the shore.
[01:03.23]As far as the Roman historians were concerned,
[01:06.27]Britannia may be off at the edge of the world,
[01:09.19]but it was off the edge of their world, not in a barbarian wilderness.
[01:14.63]If those writers had been able to travel in time as well as space
[01:19.03]to the northernmost of our islands, the Orcades - our modern Orkney -
[01:23.83]they would have seen something much more astonishing than pearls:
[01:28.27]Signs of a civilisation thousands of years older than Rome.
[02:22.83]There are remains of Stone Age life all over Britain and Ireland.
[02:29.31]But nowhere as abundantly as Orkney, with its mounds, graves
[02:33.75]and its great circles of standing stones like here at Brodgar.
[02:38.75]Vast, imposing and utterly unknowable.
[02:46.11]Orkney has another Neolithic site, even more impressive than Brodgar,
[02:52.83]the last thing you would expect from the Stone Age,
[02:55.83]a shockingly familiar glimpse of ancient domestic life.
[03:00.31]Perched on the western coast of Orkney's main island,
[03:03.75]a village called Skara Brae.
[03:15.07]Beneath an area no bigger than the 18th green of a golf course
[03:19.63]lies Europe's most complete Neolithic community,
[03:23.75]preserved for 5,000 years under a blanket of sand and grass
[03:29.39]until uncovered in 1850 by a ferocious sea storm.
[03:44.31]This is a recognisable village.
[03:47.07]Neatly fitted into its landscape between pasture and sea,
[03:51.87]intimate, domestic and self-sufficient.
[03:55.27]Technically still the Stone Age and Neolithic period,
[03:59.35]these are not huts, they're true houses,
[04:02.19]built from sandstone slabs that lie all around the island
[04:06.07]and gave stout protection to villagers at Skara Brae,
[04:10.11]from their biting Orcadian winds.
[04:16.59]They were real neighbours, living cheek by jowl,
[04:21.07]their houses connected by walled, sometimes decorated alleyways.
[04:25.15]It is easy to imagine gossip travelling down those alleys
[04:30.11]after a hearty seafood supper.
[04:36.15]We have everything you could want from a village
[04:40.27]except a church and a pub.
[04:45.79]In 3,000 BC, the sea and air were warmer than they are now.
[04:51.35]Once they'd settled in their sandstone houses,
[04:54.79]they could harvest red bream and mussels and oysters
[04:58.27]that were abundant in the shallows.
[05:14.11]Cattle gave meat and milk and dogs were kept
[05:16.71]for hunting and for company.
[05:19.03]In Neolithic times there would have been a dozen houses,
[05:23.07]half-dug into the ground for comfort and safety.
[05:27.51]A thriving, bustling little community of 50 or 60.
[05:34.59]The real miracle of Skara Brae
[05:37.23]is that these houses were not mere shelters.
[05:40.59]They were built by people who had culture, who had style.
[05:47.79]Here's where they showed off that style.
[05:51.03]A fully equipped, all-purpose Neolithic living room,
[05:55.07]complete with luxuries and necessities.
[05:58.11]Necessities? Well, at the centre, a hearth,
[06:01.99]around which they warmed themselves and cooked.
[06:09.11]A stone tank in which to keep live fish bait.
[06:17.99]Some houses had drains underneath them,
[06:21.87]so they must have had, believe it or not, indoor toilets.
[06:25.79]Luxuries? The orthopaedically correct stone bed
[06:30.51]may not seem particularly luxurious,
[06:32.83]but the addition of heather and straw
[06:35.75]would have softened the sleeping surface
[06:38.47]and would have made this bed seem rather snug.
[06:44.15]At the centre of it all was this spectacular dresser
[06:48.11]on which our house-proud villagers would set out
[06:52.19]all their most precious stuff.
[06:57.43]Fine bone and ivory necklaces, beautifully carved stone objects,
[07:03.47]everything designed to make a grand interior statement.
[07:33.43]Given the rudimentary nature of their tools,
[07:36.59]it would have taken countless man hours to build
[07:39.91]not only these dwellings but the great circles of stone
[07:44.23]where they would have gathered to worship.
[07:46.95]Skara Brae wasn't just an isolated settlement of fishers and farmers.
[07:53.43]Its people must have belonged to some larger society,
[07:56.63]one sophisticated enough to mobilise the army
[07:59.91]of toilers and craftsmen needed, not just to make these monuments,
[08:04.47]but to stand them on end.
[08:06.75]They were just as concerned about housing the dead as the living.
[08:13.11]The mausoleum at Maes Howe, a couple of miles from Skara Brae,
[08:17.91]seems no more than a swelling on the grassy landscape.
[08:21.95]This is, as it were, a British pyramid
[08:24.67]and in keeping with our taste for understatement,
[08:27.63]it reserves all its impact for the interior.
[08:34.31]Imagine them open once more.
[08:36.71]A detail from a village given the job of pulling back the stone seals,
[08:41.75]lugging the body through the low opening in the earth.
[08:45.39]Up 36 feet of narrow, tight-fitting passageway,
[08:50.35]lit only once a year by the rays of the winter solstice.
[08:54.75]A death canal, constriction, smelling of the underworld.
[09:15.31]Finally the passageway opens up to this stupendous,
[09:19.19]high-vaulted masonry chamber.
[09:22.15]Some tombs would have been elaborately decorated
[09:25.43]with carvings in the form of circles or spirals,
[09:29.15]like waves or the breeze-pushed clouds.
[09:32.47]Others would have had neat stone stores or cubicles
[09:36.63]where the bodies would be laid out on shelves.
[09:44.39]The grandest tombs had openings cut in the wall,
[09:48.19]to create side chambers where the most important bodies
[09:51.47]could be laid out in aristocratic spaciousness
[09:55.15]like family vaults in a country church.
[10:01.99]Unlike medieval knights, these grandees
[10:05.75]were buried with eagles and dogs, or even treasure.
[10:09.83]The kind of thing the Vikings who broke into these tombs
[10:13.11]thousands of years later were quick to filch.
[10:19.43]In return, these early tomb raiders left their own legacy.
[10:24.35]These wonderful graffiti.
[10:27.47]These runes were carved by the most skilled rune carver
[10:31.11]in the western ocean.
[10:33.27]I bedded Thorny here.
[10:36.51]Ingegirth is one horny bitch.
[10:46.43]As for the Orcadian hoi polloi,
[10:49.35]they ranked space in a common chamber, on a floor carpeted
[10:54.23]with the bones of hundreds of their predecessors.
[10:57.83]A crowded waiting room to their afterworld.
[11:11.87]For centuries, life at Skara Brae must have continued in much the same way.
[11:17.63]Around 2,500 BC, the climate seems to have got colder and wetter.
[11:24.91]The red bream and stable environment
[11:28.51]the Orcadians had enjoyed for countless generations disappeared.
[11:32.91]Fields were abandoned, the farmers and fishers migrated,
[11:36.99]leaving their stone buildings and tombs
[11:39.75]to be covered by layers of peat, drifting sand and finally grass.
[11:48.11]The mainland too, of course, had its burial chambers,
[11:52.39]like the long barrow at West Kennet.
[12:04.23]There were also the great stone circles, the largest at Avebury.
[12:12.51]But the most spectacular of all at Stonehenge.
[12:22.47]By 1,000 BC, things were changing fast.
[12:27.03]All over the British landscape,
[12:29.27]a protracted struggle for good land was taking place.
[12:32.71]Forests were cleared so that Iron Age Britain was not,
[12:36.23]as was romantically imagined, an unbroken forest kingdom
[12:40.83]stretching from Cornwall to Inverness.
[12:43.95]It was rather a patchwork of open fields,
[12:46.47]dotted here and there with copses
[12:48.95]giving cover for game, especially wild pigs.
[12:54.63]And it was a crowded island.
[12:57.11]We now think that as many people lived on this land
[13:00.19]as during the reign of Elizabeth 1, 2,500 years later.
[13:05.59]Some archaeologists believe that almost as much land
[13:09.43]was being farmed in the Iron Age as in 1914.
[13:18.23]So it's no surprise to see one spectacular difference
[13:22.03]from the little world of Skara Brae. Great windowless towers.
[13:27.79]They were built in the centuries before the Roman invasions,
[13:31.23]when population pressure was most intense
[13:33.75]and farmers had growing need of protection,
[13:36.87]first from the elements, but later from each other.
[13:50.03]Many of those towers still survive but none are as daunting
[13:54.51]as the great stockade on Arran, off Ireland's west coast.
[14:03.43]They didn't just spring up around the edges of the British islands.
[14:07.67]All over the mainland too, the great hill forts of the Iron Age
[14:12.47]remain visible in terraced contours such as at Danebury and Maiden Castle.
[14:18.11]Lofty seats of power for the tribal chiefs,
[14:21.47]they were defended by rings of earthworks,
[14:24.07]timber palisades and ramparts.
[14:33.35]Behind those daunting walls was not a world in panicky retreat.
[14:41.91]The Iron Age Britain into which the Romans eventually crashed
[14:46.47]with such alarming force was a dynamic, expanding society.
[14:52.15]From their workshops came the spectacular metalwork
[14:55.27]with which the elite decorated their bodies.
[14:58.11]Armlets, pins, brooches and ornamental shields like this,
[15:02.39]the so-called Battersea Shield.
[15:24.55]Or the astonishing stylised bronze horses,
[15:27.95]endearingly melancholy in expression,
[15:30.79]like so many Eeyores resigned to a bad day in battle.
[15:40.51]With tribal manufacture came trade.
[15:44.63]The warriors, druid priests and artists of Iron Age Britain
[15:48.31]shipped their wares all over Europe,
[15:50.51]trading with the expanding Roman Empire.
[15:54.43]In return, with no home-grown grapes or olives,
[15:57.59]Mediterranean wine and oil arrived in large earthenware jars.
[16:07.43]Iron Age Britain was not the back of beyond.
[16:11.47]Its tribes may have led lives separated from each other by custom and language,
[16:16.15]and they may have had no great capital city
[16:18.39]but together they added up to something in the world,
[16:21.83]the bustling of countless productive, energetic beehives.
[16:26.15]What the bees made was not honey, but gold.
[16:32.47]The Romans would have known about this strange but alluring world
[16:36.75]of fat cattle and busy forges.
[16:39.55]Evidence of its refinement would have found its way to Rome.
[16:47.15]Along with the glittering metal ware came stories of alarming cults,
[16:52.19]which may have prompted the usual Roman dinner time discussions.
[16:57.19]"All very interesting, I daresay,
[16:59.91]"but would we really want to call them a civilisation?"
[17:12.27]Supposing they would have seen an ancient sculpture,
[17:16.55]like this haunting stone face with its archaic secretive smile,
[17:21.99]the eyes closed as if in a mysterious devotional trance.
[17:26.87]The nose flattened, the cheeks broad,
[17:29.11]the whole thing so spellbindingly reminiscent
[17:32.87]of things the Romans must have seen in Etruria or the Greek islands.
[17:37.27]Would they then have said, "Yes, this is a work of art"?
[17:40.91]Probably not. Sooner or later they would have noticed
[17:44.59]that the top of the head is sliced off, scooped out,
[17:47.99]like a boiled egg, to hold sacrificial offerings.
[17:52.07]Then they would have remembered stories
[17:54.55]that Rome told about the grisly brutality of the druids.
[17:59.19]Perhaps they would have even taken note of the stories
[18:02.95]told by the northern savages themselves,
[18:05.79]of decapitated heads who were said to speak mournfully
[18:10.15]to those who had parted them from the rest of their body,
[18:13.27]warning of vengeance to come.
[18:16.35]Then they would have thought, "Perhaps not.
[18:19.59]"Perhaps we don't want to have much to do with an island of talking heads."
[18:33.35]So why did the Romans come here, to the edge of the world,
[18:37.27]and run the gauntlet of all these ominous totems?
[18:42.35]There was the lure of treasure, of course,
[18:45.27]all the pearls that Tacitus believed lay around Britain in heaps.
[18:49.63]Even more seductive was what Roman generals craved the most,
[18:53.83]the prestige given to those who pacified the barbarian frontier.
[19:00.31]And so, in the written annals of Western history,
[19:03.63]the islands now had not only a name, Britannia, but a date.
[19:08.99]In 55 BC Julius Caesar launched his galleys across the Channel.
[19:18.95]Julius Caesar must have supposed
[19:21.51]that all he had to do was land his legions in force
[19:25.95]and the Britons, cowed by the spectacle of the glittering helmets
[19:30.67]and eagle standards, would simply queue up to surrender.
[19:35.11]They'd understand that history always fought on the side of Rome.
[19:40.07]The trouble was, geography didn't.
[19:44.95]Not once but twice, Julius Caesar's plans were sabotaged
[19:50.19]by that perennial secret weapon of the British, the weather.
[19:54.67]On the first go round in 55 BC, a cavalry transport
[19:58.71]that had already missed the high tide and got itself four days late,
[20:02.87]finally got going only to run directly into a storm
[20:06.59]and be blown right back to Gaul.
[20:12.75]A century later, Claudius, the club-foot stammerer,
[20:16.87]on the face of it, the most unlikely conqueror of all,
[20:20.07]was determined to get it right.
[20:22.59]If it was going to be done at all, Claudius reckoned,
[20:25.75]it had to be done in such massive force that there was no chance
[20:29.51]of repeating the embarrassments of Julius.
[20:32.43]Claudius's invasion force was immense, some 40,000 troops.
[20:38.43]The kind of army that could barely be conceived of,
[20:41.55]much less encountered in Iron Age Britain.
[20:46.71]Claudius did succeed where Julius Caesar had failed,
[20:50.63]through a brilliant strategy of carrot and stick.
[20:57.55]He would seize the largely undefended oppida or towns
[21:02.15]and strike at the heart of British aristocracy,
[21:05.03]its places of status, prestige and worship.
[21:10.27]For the chieftains sensible enough to reach for the olive branch
[21:14.23]rather than the battle javelin, Claudius had another plan.
[21:17.51]Give them, or rather their sons, a trip to Rome,
[21:21.35]a taste of the dolce vita, and watch their resistance melt.
[21:29.59]While in Rome, many must have begun to notice
[21:33.79]that life for your average patrician was exceptionally sweet.
[21:39.27]Before long they began to hunger for a taste of it themselves.
[21:43.83]If there were sumptuous country villas
[21:46.55]amidst the olive groves of the Roman countryside,
[21:49.75]why could there not be equally sumptuous country villas
[21:53.31]amidst the pear orchards of the South Downs?
[21:56.15]Just fall in line, be a little reasonable,
[21:59.71]some judicious supports here and there
[22:02.87]and see what results - the spectacular palace at Fishbourne.
[22:15.07]The man who built it was Togidubnus,
[22:17.75]king of the Regnenses in what would be Sussex,
[22:21.03]and one of the quickest to sign up as Rome's local ally.
[22:24.79]He was rewarded with enough wealth to build himself
[22:27.95]something fit for a Roman.
[22:30.27]Only the extraordinary mosaic floors survive
[22:33.27]but it was as big as four football pitches,
[22:36.19]grand enough for someone who now gloried in the name
[22:39.79]of Tiberius Claudius Cogidumnus.
[22:44.43]He couldn't have been the only British chief
[22:46.67]to realise on which side his bread was buttered.
[22:49.87]All over Britain were rulers who thought a Roman connection
[22:53.47]would do more good than harm in their pursuit of power and status.
[22:59.51]The person we usually think of as embodying
[23:02.39]British national resistance to Rome,
[23:04.55]Queen Boudicca of the East Anglian tribe of the Iceni,
[23:08.07]actually came from a family of happy, even eager collaborators.
[23:12.35]It only took a policy of incredible stupidity,
[23:16.11]arrogance and brutality on the part of the local Roman governor
[23:20.39]to turn her from a warm supporter of Rome to its most dangerous enemy.
[23:27.51]In a show of brutal arrogance, the local governor
[23:31.31]had East Anglia declared a slave province.
[23:34.27]To make the point about who exactly owned whom,
[23:36.87]Boudicca was treated to a public flogging
[23:39.95]while her two daughters were raped in front of her.
[23:45.51]In 60 AD, Boudicca rose up in furious revolt,
[23:49.75]quickly gathering an army bent on vengeance.
[23:53.11]With the cream of the Roman troops tied down
[23:55.79]suppressing an insurgency in north Wales,
[23:58.79]Boudicca's army marched towards the place which symbolised
[24:02.55]the now-hated Roman colonisation of Britain, Colchester.
[24:07.27]It helped that it was lightly garrisoned.
[24:10.39]After a firestorm march through eastern England,
[24:13.39]burning Roman settlements one by one, it was the city's turn.
[24:18.03]The frightened Roman colonists had to fall back
[24:21.19]to the one place they were sure they were going to be protected
[24:24.71]by their emperor and their gods - the great temple of Claudius.
[24:35.83]If the terrified Romans thought they were going to escape
[24:39.15]the implacable anger of Boudicca, they were seriously out of luck.
[24:43.83]With thousands of them huddled terrified
[24:46.55]in the temple above these foundations, she began to set light to it.
[24:51.27]They must have been able to smell the scorch and smoke
[24:54.59]and fire coming towards them, as their new imperial city burned
[25:00.27]with themselves and everything else buried in smoke and ash.
[25:05.55]Thousands died in this place. Boudicca had her revenge.
[25:22.39]But her triumph couldn't last.
[25:29.55]The lightly-defended civilians of Colchester were one thing
[25:32.91]but now she would have to face a disciplined Roman army,
[25:36.39]fully prepared for all she could throw at them.
[25:44.07]Sure enough, when the two forces met,
[25:47.03]her swollen and unwieldy army was no match for the legions.
[25:53.47]Her great insurrection ended in a gory chaotic slaughter.
[26:03.15](SHOUTS AND CRIES)
[26:34.31]Boudicca took her own life
[26:37.23]rather than fall into the hands of the Romans.
[26:47.19]Lessons had been learned the hard way, at least for some.
[26:50.87]When barbarians started attacking Roman forts in the north,
[26:55.03]the Romans knew exactly what to do.
[26:59.19]On 79 AD, an enormous pitched battle took place
[27:02.87]on the slopes of an unidentified Highland mountain,
[27:05.95]which Tacitus calls Mons Graupius.
[27:09.35]The result was another slaughter,
[27:12.15]but not before the Caledonian general, Calgacus,
[27:16.19]delivered the first great anti-imperialist speech on Scotland's soil.
[27:23.15]Here at the world's end, on its last inch of liberty,
[27:28.43]we have lived unmolested to this day
[27:32.23]defended by our remoteness and obscurity.
[27:36.03]But there are no other tribes to come, nothing but sea and cliffs
[27:43.27]and these more deadly Romans whose arrogance you cannot escape
[27:47.79]by obedience and self-restraint, to plunder, butcher, steal.
[27:53.31]These things they misname empire,
[27:56.51]they make a desolation and they call it peace.
[28:08.47]Of course, Calgacus never said any such thing.
[28:12.39]This was a speech written long after the event by Tacitus
[28:15.87]and it's entirely Roman, not Scottish.
[28:18.87]Yet this burning sentiment would echo down the generations.
[28:23.55]Like Britannia itself, the idea of free Caledonia
[28:27.63]was from the first, a Roman invention.
[28:32.03]There was one emperor, Spanish by birth, who understood
[28:35.83]that even the world's biggest empire needed to know its limits.
[28:39.51]He of course was destined, in Britain at any rate,
[28:42.83]to be remembered by a wall.
[28:48.39]When we think of Hadrian's Wall, we think of the Romans
[28:52.19]rather like US cavalrymen deep in Indian country, defending the flag,
[28:56.95]peering through the cracks and waiting nervously
[28:59.63]for war drums and smoke signals.
[29:01.83]A place where paranoia sweated from every stone.
[29:05.03]It wasn't really like that at all.
[29:07.71]As ambitious as this was, stretching 73 miles
[29:11.67]from coast to coast from the Solway to the Tyne,
[29:16.23]and though he probably conceived it in response to a rebellion
[29:20.27]on the part of the people the Romans loftily referred to as Brittunculi -
[29:25.87]wretched little Brits - almost certainly, he didn't mean it
[29:29.59]as an impermeable barrier against barbarian onslaught from the north.
[29:39.39]The wall was studded with milecastles and turrets
[29:42.79]and forts like this one at Housesteads.
[29:45.87]But as Britain settled down in the second century AD,
[29:49.51]these places became up-country hill stations
[29:53.35]more like social centres and business centres
[29:56.15]than really grim, heavily-manned barracks.
[30:01.47]These forts were not to prevent people going to and fro
[30:05.99]so much as to control and observe them.
[30:09.07]The forts in particular, became a place
[30:11.23]where a kind of customs scam was imposed on those
[30:14.63]trying to do business on one side or the other.
[30:17.79]It's better to think of the wall not so much as a fence
[30:21.23]but rather a spine around which control
[30:24.63]of northern Britain toughened, hardened and prospered.
[30:30.99]If we can imagine Hadrian's Wall as not such a bad posting,
[30:35.03]it's because our sense of what life was like at the time
[30:38.11]has been transformed by one of the most astonishing finds
[30:41.35]of recent archaeology - the so-called Vindolanda Tablets.
[30:45.59]They're scraps of Roman correspondence, jottings,
[30:49.55]scribblings and drafts of letters thrown away as rubbish
[30:52.79]by their authors almost 2,000 years ago.
[30:56.27]For 25 years, archaeologists have been digging up these letters,
[31:00.95]1,300 of them, from seven metres below the ground.
[31:04.95]Up they've come, lovingly separated from dirt,
[31:08.99]debris and each other and painstakingly deciphered.
[31:13.31]At once poignantly fragile and miraculously enduring,
[31:16.75]the voices of the Roman frontier in the windy North Country,
[31:21.15]loud, clear and strong.
[31:25.47]From Masculus to Tribune Serianus. Greeting.
[31:30.19]Please instruct as to what you want us to do tomorrow.
[31:33.59]Are we all to return with the standard or only half of us?
[31:36.35]My troops have no beer. Please order some to be sent.
[31:40.03]I sent you two pairs of socks and sandals,
[31:42.71]and two pairs of underpants.
[31:44.87]Greet Elpus Tetricus and your messmates,
[31:47.31]with whom I pray you get on.
[31:49.39]He beat me and threatened to pour my goods down the drain.
[31:52.27]I implore your mercifulness not to allow me,
[31:54.75]an innocent from overseas, to be beaten by rods as if a criminal.
[31:59.51]I warmly invite you to my birthday party on the third day
[32:02.39]before the Ides of September. Please come,
[32:05.47]as it will be so much more enjoyable if you were here.
[32:11.35]A world of garrisons and barracks had now become a society in its own right.
[32:22.75]From the middle of the second century,
[32:25.39]it makes sense to talk about a Romano-British culture,
[32:28.79]and not just as a colonial veneer imposed on the resentful natives,
[32:32.75]but as a genuine fusion.
[32:41.59]Nowhere was this clearer than here in Bath.
[32:59.95]Bath was the quintessential Romano-British place.
[33:04.19]At once mod con and mysterious cult,
[33:07.87]therapy and luxury, a marvel of hydraulic engineering
[33:12.47]and a showy theatre of the waters of healing.
[33:16.43]The spa was an extravaganza of buildings constructed over a spring
[33:21.11]that gushed a third of a million gallons of hot water
[33:24.99]into the baths every day.
[33:59.79]When you soaked in a bath, you washed your body and your soul,
[34:04.67]ablution and devotion at the same time.
[34:07.91]Much of the bathing, the flirting, the gossip and the deal making
[34:12.59]went on in this austerely grandiose Great Bath.
[34:19.63]The spiritual heart of the place was the sacred spring -
[34:24.67]a ferny grotto where water collected
[34:27.79]and where the devotees of the presiding goddess, Sulis Minerva,
[34:32.31]could look through a window at the altar erected in her honour
[34:38.27]and occasionally could throw gift offerings in her way.
[34:45.79]Bath was not the only place where Romano-Britons
[34:49.07]could wallow in the well-being of the province.
[34:57.31]In Dover, the Romans built this 96-bedroom hotel,
[35:01.51]now 20 feet below street level but the last word in luxury
[35:05.75]for any VIP disembarking from Gaul.
[35:12.67]By the fourth century, however, Rome was in deep trouble,
[35:17.35]attacked by barbarians and undermined by political turmoil.
[35:22.07]Britannia couldn't remain detached
[35:24.59]from the fate of the rest of the empire forever.
[35:28.99]At some point, Dover's significance for Britannia changed
[35:33.31]from a port of entry to a defensive stronghold.
[35:36.51]The "Welcome" mat gave way to the "Keep Out" sign,
[35:39.79]in the shape of massive walls, built through the Grand Hotel's lobby.
[35:48.91]This is the sort of wall the Romans built at Dover.
[35:55.03]This is Portchester, a Roman shore fort,
[35:58.39]a truly colossal structure that makes all too clear
[36:01.91]the scale of threat the Romans felt the barbarians posed.
[36:08.59]Inside it lies a Norman castle, built 1,000 years later
[36:12.95]and now completely dwarfed by it.
[36:18.55]It was one of several forts strung out along the south and east coasts.
[36:26.11]Not even fortifications like those of Portchester
[36:29.27]or Hadrian's Wall in the north, could work without adequate troops.
[36:33.95]As more and more legionaries were sucked back to fight on the continent,
[36:38.35]and as Picts and Saxons, spotting weakness,
[36:41.11]started their own raids from the north and east,
[36:44.39]Britannia couldn't help but feel the chill of vulnerability.
[36:49.83]When, in the year 410, Alaric the Goth sacked Rome
[36:54.71]and the last two legions departed to prop up the tottering empire,
[36:59.51]that chill developed into an acute anxiety attack.
[37:08.11]This was one of the genuinely fateful moments in British history,
[37:12.07]the legions departing.
[37:14.15]It wasn't like Hong Kong in 1997, no flags flying or pipers piping.
[37:20.71]The Governor wasn't driving around his courtyard seven times pledging to return.
[37:25.55]Doubtless, many of the Romano-British did hope and expect to see the eagles back.
[37:32.87]The tax collectors, magistrates, town councillors,
[37:36.99]poets, potters, musicians and the newly-Christian priests
[37:42.07]all said to themselves, "Well, this couldn't go on forever.
[37:46.19]"We couldn't always look to Mother Rome, and she is half-infested with barbarians.
[37:51.39]"We can handle this.
[37:53.35]"We've got the Saxon shore forts.
[37:55.51]"We can hire barbarians to deal with the other barbarians. We can handle this.
[38:00.67]"We CAN handle this."
[38:09.91]For the less confident, there was only one thing to do:
[38:13.59]Bury their treasure and head for the hills...
[38:18.43]planning, as refugees always do,
[38:21.39]to return when the worst was over and dig it all up again.
[38:27.15]In the case of this particular hoard of 15,000 coins,
[38:31.43]gems, medals, and this exquisite silver tigress, they never did.
[38:43.67]It was instead discovered in 1992 at Hoxne in Suffolk
[38:48.79]and is now kept in the British Museum.
[38:58.51]Some sort of force was badly needed to stop the barbarians
[39:02.95]in the north and west from exploiting the vacuum of power
[39:07.75]left by the exit of the legions.
[39:12.87]At first, the warriors from north Germany and Denmark,
[39:16.15]sailing up-river in their wave horses, seemed a boon, not a curse.
[39:21.67]When one local despot, Vortigern, naively imagined
[39:25.15]he could use the imported barbarians as his own military muscle
[39:29.55]but neglected to pay them as per the contract,
[39:32.99]he made one of the more spectacular blunders in British history.
[39:37.67]Furious at being stiffed,
[39:40.27]the Saxons turned on the local population they'd been hired to defend.
[39:44.47]After burning and pillaging, they took land in lieu of pay,
[39:48.67]settling down amidst the understandably dismayed native population.
[39:56.27]Dismayed, but not, I think, terrified.
[39:59.47]Though the earliest chroniclers of the coming of the Saxons
[40:02.83]thought of Vortigern's faux pas as heralding a sort of final apocalypse,
[40:07.99]no one had turned the lights out on Roman Britannia
[40:11.75]and declared the Dark Ages to have begun.
[40:14.27]The long process by which Roman Britannia morphed
[40:18.39]into the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms was gradual not sudden,
[40:22.07]an adaptation, not an annihilation.
[40:27.31]For a long time the Saxons were a tiny minority,
[40:31.35]numbered in hundreds rather than thousands,
[40:34.23]and lived in an overwhelmingly Romano-British population.
[40:39.19]As different as these cultures were, they were still neighbours.
[40:43.63]The vast majority tried and succeeded to live a sort of Roman life.
[40:52.67]Here at Wroxeter, Shropshire, the Roman Veraconium,
[40:56.55]there's wonderful evidence of this make-do, hybrid, improvised world
[41:00.99]poised between Roman ruins and Anglo-Saxon beginnings.
[41:05.15]When the bath house stopped functioning,
[41:07.63]the citizens took the tiles and used them for paving.
[41:11.15]When the roof of the great basilica threatened to fall in,
[41:15.35]the citizens went and demolished the building themselves.
[41:18.99]Inside the shell they put up a new timber structure
[41:22.79]spacious and elegant enough to give them the sense
[41:25.55]they were still living some sort of Roman lifestyle,
[41:28.71]although in an increasingly phantom Britannia.
[41:34.75]Eventually the adaptations became ever more makeshift,
[41:39.47]the fabric of Roman life increasingly threadbare,
[41:43.27]until it did indeed fall apart altogether.
[41:48.55]The island was now divided into three utterly different realms.
[41:53.51]The remains of Britannia hung on in the west.
[41:58.07]North of the abandoned walls and forts
[42:00.63]the Scottish tribes for the most part, stayed pagan.
[42:04.51]England, the realm of the Anglo-Saxons and Jutes,
[42:08.59]was planted in the east, all the way from Kent
[42:12.07]to the kingdom of Bernicia in Northumbria.
[42:21.27]The Saxon chiefs often built their settlements
[42:24.31]on the ruined remains of old Roman British towns,
[42:27.63]not least of course London.
[42:29.63]Like many invaders, they hankered after what they had destroyed.
[42:34.91]The showier pieces of their armour often bear
[42:37.99]startling resemblances to Roman armour
[42:40.51]and their leaders aspired to be something more than war chiefs.
[42:44.39]They wanted to be known as "dux", a Roman duke.
[42:48.87]In one crucial respect, the Germanic tribal societies
[42:53.07]were utterly different from the Romans.
[42:56.15]Theirs was a culture based on the blood feud and punishment by ordeal.
[43:01.35]An entire social system, its plunder was the glue of loyalty.
[43:16.95]The Saxons were no more immune to change than the Romans before them.
[43:23.19]To look at the relics recovered from Sutton Hoo burial site
[43:27.55]is to be teased by a powerful question:
[43:30.51]Did the Saxon lord buried here find his resting place
[43:34.63]in a pagan Valhalla or in a Christian Paradise?
[43:40.83]The history of the conversions between the sixth and eighth centuries
[43:45.11]is another crucial turning point in the history of the British Isles.
[43:56.39]But while the legions had long gone,
[43:59.11]the shadow of Rome fell once again on these islands.
[44:03.19]This time though, it was an invasion of the soul
[44:06.75]and the warriors were carrying Christian gospels rather than swords.
[44:14.55]The process began in a country that had never been touched
[44:18.07]by Roman rule in the first place -
[44:20.31]the land the Romans called Hibernia - Ireland.
[44:24.87]We have to remember that the most famous
[44:27.47]of the early missionaries to Ireland, St Patrick,
[44:30.11]was a Romano-British aristocrat,
[44:32.91]the patrician - or Patricius - as he called himself.
[44:37.55]So there was nothing remotely Irish about the teenager
[44:40.27]who was kidnapped and sold into slavery by Irish raiders,
[44:44.23]in the early fifth century.
[44:50.15]It was only after he escaped, probably to Brittany,
[44:54.11]and ordained, then visited by prophetic dreams,
[44:57.71]that he returned to Ireland as a messenger of the gospel.
[45:06.67]Patrick understood that the monastic ideal of retreat
[45:10.11]was perfectly matched with the needs of local royal clans.
[45:16.95]So monasteries like Arran, off the gull-swept Irish coast,
[45:20.59]with their beehive cells and encircling stone walls,
[45:25.07]looked like a stronghold, an encampment for God.
[45:37.71]What about the dragon slayers on the mainland?
[45:41.39]Who converted them?
[45:48.87]One man gives us the answer.
[45:53.07]To all schoolchildren of my generation, growing up in the 1950s,
[45:58.23]he will always be the Venerable Bede.
[46:03.47]Bede was not just the founding father of English history.
[46:07.83]Arguably, he was the first consummate storyteller in all of English literature.
[46:13.07]He was not exactly well travelled.
[46:15.71]He spent virtually his entire life here in Jarrow.
[46:19.63]But in a few luminous lines he could conjure up
[46:22.87]not just the world of holy men and hermits
[46:25.55]but the world of the great timbered halls of Saxon kings,
[46:29.47]with their firelight and roasting meat,
[46:32.27]or the death throes of a great war-horse.
[46:35.19]It was this masterful grip on narrative
[46:37.95]that made Bede not just an authentic historian
[46:40.95]but also a brilliant propagandist for the early church.
[46:47.11]Bede sees without any starry-eyed sentimentality
[46:51.43]what could overcome the deep mistrust of the pagan kings
[46:55.11]when asked to abandon their traditional gods.
[46:58.95]According to the most touching speech in Bede's entire history,
[47:02.39]the clinching moment of persuasion for one noble
[47:05.79]was nothing more than a gambler's bet.
[47:09.51]It seems to me, my Lord, that the present life of men on earth
[47:13.83]is as though a sparrow in winter should come to a house
[47:17.47]and swiftly fly through it, entering at one window
[47:21.59]and then passing out through another, while you sit at dinner
[47:25.55]with your captains in a hall made warm with a great fire,
[47:28.87]while outside are the raging tempests of winter rain and snow.
[47:33.59]For that short time it be within the house,
[47:37.35]the bird feels no smart of the winter storm, but soon passes again
[47:42.59]from winter back to winter and escapes your sight.
[47:46.31]So the life of man here appears for a little season,
[47:50.51]but what follows or has gone before, that surely we do not know.
[47:55.35]If this new learning has brought us any certainty,
[47:59.31]methinks it is worthy to be followed.
[48:05.43]Typically, Bede put these words in the mouth of a nobleman.
[48:09.55]The church in Anglo-Saxon England
[48:11.71]was just really a branch of the aristocracy.
[48:14.67]St Wilfred, the aristocratic Bishop of York,
[48:18.23]deliberately used part of Hadrian's Wall to build at Hexham
[48:21.95]a basilica worthy of Roman authority.
[48:26.51]For Bede and St Wilfred, it was crucial
[48:29.43]that the Roman, not the Irish Celtic church, won over Britain.
[48:34.91]What they passionately desired was the reconnection
[48:38.19]of a converted country with its Roman mother.
[48:41.79]A true homecoming.
[48:45.51]The authority of the Roman Saxon church
[48:48.39]didn't guarantee protection.
[48:51.23]Bede had had forebodings before he died in 735.
[48:56.11]Sure enough, half a century later, in 793,
[49:00.07]the Anglo-Saxon chronicle reports...
[49:02.59]Dire portents appeared over Northumbria.
[49:05.39]Immense whirlwinds and flashes of lightning
[49:08.11]and fiery dragons were seen flying through the air.
[49:11.35]A great famine followed.
[49:13.51]A little after, on the 8th June, the ravages of heathen men
[49:18.87]miserably destroyed God's church at Lindisfarne.
[49:24.71]The heathen men were of course, the Vikings.
[49:38.99]If you look long and hard enough at any culture
[49:42.87]you'll find something good about it.
[49:45.35]Historians of the Vikings, understandably distressed
[49:49.11]at the rape and pillage stereotype,
[49:51.59]have asked us lately to think of things other than sail, land,
[49:55.35]burn and plunder to say about the Vikings.
[49:57.75]They've said, "Look at their metalwork, their ships, the great poetic sagas."
[50:02.91]Now we know the Vikings did come
[50:05.19]bearing something other than a nasty attitude.
[50:07.87]They came carrying amber, fur and walrus ivory.
[50:11.99]Somehow, though, this vision of the Vikings
[50:15.55]as rapid-transit, long-distance commercial travellers,
[50:19.39]singing their sagas as they sail to a new market opening,
[50:23.15]wouldn't have cut much ice with the priests
[50:25.63]here at the cathedral of Bradwell-on-Sea,
[50:28.75]just a crab scuttle away from the area
[50:31.15]where I grew up, on the Essex shore.
[50:38.67]There'd been a church at Bradwell-on-Sea for over 200 years.
[50:43.43]It was originally built on the remains of an old Roman fort.
[50:47.59]The priests would have found
[50:49.95]those stone defences reassuring as they waited nervously
[50:55.55]for the Viking raids that they knew could strike
[50:58.83]hard and fierce at any moment.
[51:07.23]In addition to land, Vikings were keen on another kind of merchandise...
[51:11.91]people - whom they sold as slaves.
[51:16.59]A thousand slaves were taken from Armagh in one raid alone.
[51:22.75]A burial dated 879 contained a Viking warrior with his sword,
[51:28.31]two ritually murdered slave girls
[51:30.79]and the bones of hundreds of men, women and children, his very own body count,
[51:35.71]to take with him to Valhalla.
[51:48.27]On the positive side, there was one thing
[51:50.83]that the Vikings did manage to do, however inadvertently.
[51:54.31]They created England.
[51:56.75]By smashing the power of most of the Saxon kingdoms,
[52:00.03]the Vikings accomplished what, left to themselves,
[52:02.95]the warring tribes could never have managed -
[52:05.99]some semblance of alliance against a common foe.
[52:12.03]To push back the Viking onslaught,
[52:14.19]to repair some of the terrible damage they'd done,
[52:16.71]would need more than just a competent tribal warrior chief.
[52:20.67]It would need someone with a vision,
[52:22.83]not just of victory, but of government;
[52:25.83]someone who could harness Anglo-Saxon energy and determination
[52:29.15]to Roman military discipline.
[52:31.63]It was going to need, in fact, a local Charlemagne,
[52:34.95]with the intelligence and imagination of a truly Roman ruler.
[52:44.19]He, of course, was Alfred.
[52:47.79]Our cherished image of Alfred is of the hero on the run,
[52:51.31]up against steep odds, muddling through,
[52:54.03]taking it on the chin when scolded for burning the cakes.
[52:58.31]But the story which really tells you all you need to know about Alfred
[53:03.39]isn't set in the swamps of Somerset
[53:06.19]but on the Palatine Hill of Rome
[53:08.91]and is more startling and illuminating - and it happens to be true.
[53:16.83]As a small boy, Alfred's father, King Aethelwulf,
[53:20.31]sent him on a special mission to Rome to see Pope Leo IV,
[53:24.27]probably to ask the Pope's help in the struggle against the Vikings.
[53:29.15]In a ceremony, the Pope dressed the little fellow
[53:32.75]in the imperial purple of a Roman consul
[53:35.83]and wound a sword belt around his waist,
[53:39.31]turning little Alfred into a true Roman Christian warrior.
[53:47.31]On a second trip, Alfred spent a whole year in the Eternal City,
[53:51.59]along with his father, walking the ruins of the empire and the sacred sites.
[53:56.79]It was surely this experience which made him what he was -
[54:00.99]a philosopher prince, who, in more than a literal sense,
[54:05.03]translated the works of Roman wisdom for Anglo-Saxon consumption.
[54:10.79]Through Alfred, England got something it hadn't had
[54:14.19]since the legions departed:
[54:16.07]An authentic vision of a realm governed by law and education,
[54:20.59]a realm which, since Alfred commissioned a translation of Bede into Anglo-Saxon,
[54:25.87]understood its past and its special destiny
[54:29.35]as the western bastion of a Christian Roman world.
[54:36.15]First, he had to win those battles.
[54:38.79]He took the throne of Wessex at a time when,
[54:41.35]despite a recent victory, the collapse of his kingdom seemed imminent,
[54:45.59]and with it the entirety of Anglo-Saxon England.
[54:50.67]It was here amidst the reeds of Athelney Island
[54:53.59]that the heroic legend of Alfred, the fugitive on the run,
[54:57.63]finally turning the tide against his enemies, was born.
[55:04.07]By the spring of 878, Alfred had managed to piece together
[55:08.43]an improvised alliance of resistance.
[55:10.83]At King Egbert's stone on the borders of Wiltshire and Somerset,
[55:14.55]near the site of this 19th-century folly celebrating it,
[55:18.11]he took command of an army which two days later,
[55:21.67]fought and defeated Guthrum's Vikings.
[55:30.35]Alfred's victory was a holding operation,
[55:33.27]forcing the Vikings to settle for less than half the country.
[55:38.91]But when in 886 Alfred entered London,
[55:42.31]rebuilt over the old Roman site,
[55:44.75]something of a deep significance did happen.
[55:48.15]He was acclaimed as the sovereign lord
[55:50.91]of all the English people not under subjection to the Danes.
[55:55.19]So it appears that during Alfred's lifetime
[55:58.03]the idea of a united English kingdom
[56:01.15]had become conceivable and even desirable.
[56:08.95]The exquisite Alfred Jewel found not far from Athelney
[56:12.63]has inscribed on its edge: "Aelfred mec heht gewyrcan" -
[56:17.15]"Alfred caused me to be made." And the same might well be said
[56:21.39]of his reinvention of the English monarchy.
[56:24.39]The enormous haunting eyes which dominate the figure
[56:27.63]are said to be symbols of wisdom or sight,
[56:31.15]apt qualities for a ruler whose ambitions were so lofty.
[56:36.59]Alfred's special gift was to be able to see clearly
[56:41.15]England's place in the scheme of things,
[56:44.55]the debt of his realm to antiquity his bequest to posterity.
[56:51.79]With his realm transformed, Alfred made possible
[56:55.55]a true Anglo-Saxon renaissance in the 10th century,
[56:59.59]creating stunning works of Christian art and architecture.
[57:03.87]But the long shadow of Rome still fell over all this brilliance.
[57:08.51]Alfred's grandson would be crowned the first King of England
[57:12.87]in a great Roman-style coronation.
[57:15.87]Where did this momentous event happen? Where else but Bath?
[57:27.71]We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves.
[57:30.11]England has been conceived, not yet born.
[57:33.11]To the north, Pictland has even further to go
[57:35.71]before it's recognisably a kingdom of Scotland.
[57:38.63]For a generation or two it did look as though
[57:41.99]the grafting of Anglo-Saxon culture onto the enduring legacy of Roman Britain
[57:46.95]had produced an extraordinary flowering.
[57:50.39]The shoots were still green, the buds were tender and vulnerable,
[57:54.99]and before this new kingdom had a chance to mature,
[57:58.23]it would be cut down by the devastating blow of an invader's axe.
Beginnings（3100 B.C.——1000 A.D.）
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