Two thousand years ago, the Romans sought to absorb into their empire what they regarded as a remote, almost mythical island on the very edge of the known world—Britain. The expeditions of Julius Caesar and the Claudian invasion of 43 CE, up to the traditional end of Roman Britain in the fifth century CE, brought fundamental and lasting changes to the island. Not least among these was a pantheon of new classical deities and religious systems, along with a clutch of exotic eastern cults, including Christianity. But what homegrown deities, cults, and cosmologies did the Romans encounter in Britain, and how did the British react to the changes? Under Roman rule, the old gods and their adherents were challenged, adopted, adapted, absorbed, and reconfigured.
Miranda Aldhouse- Green balances literary, archaeological, and iconographic evidence (and scrutinizes the shortcomings of each) to illuminate the complexity of religion and belief in Roman Britain. She examines the two-way traffic of cultural exchange and the interplay between imported and indigenous factions to reveal how this period on the cusp between prehistory and history knew many of the same tensions, ideologies, and issues of identity still relevant today.
Miranda Aldhouse-Green is Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University. She has published widely on the Celts, including for Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend, Exploring the World of the Druids, and The Celtic Myths.