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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STILL the Definitive Book on Roman Britain!, 18 Oct 2009
uncle barbar (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Roman Britain (Oxford History of England) (Hardcover)
I don't know what the paperback version is like but the 1981 Hardback version is still the best comprehensive overall one volume survey of Roman Britain.

The first few chapters are concerned with the first Roman Contacts:

The British Background
The Expeditions of Caesar
From Caesar to Claudius

Next is the Roman Conquest and its aftermath:

The Claudian Invasion
Resistance and Revolt
Recovery and Advance
Hadrianic Britain
The Antonines

Next is a section on "imperial Crisis and Recovery":

Civil War & its aftermath
From Caracalla to Diocletion
The Tetrarchy
Constantine the Great
The Middle of the Fourth Century
The Restoration of Order

Then the last of the sections on the consecutive history - Roman Britain in the Fifth Century World:

The Collapse of Imperial Rule
Britain, the end of the Western Europe & the successor states

The last section is more of a general view of Roman Britain, not in chronological order but by subject:

The assimilation of Britain
The Historical Georgaphy of Roman Britain
Town & Country
The Economy
Religion and Society
Then Appendices and Bibliography.

As you can see the book is really comprehensive. It covers everything you would want to know about Roman Britain in a scholarly way but clearly and concisely.

The only book you will need on Roman Britain... perhaps!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roman Britain! Oxford History!, 2 Mar 2011
Je Salter (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Roman Britain (Oxford History of England) (Hardcover)
A fantastic encyclopeadic volume that contains all the primary information you could wish to find about Roman Britain. Highly rcommended for those that are interested in the subject! The subjects are varied and vast as you would expect, a great reference!
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic work, 7 Jun 2005
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Roman Britain (Oxford History of England) (Hardcover)
'The Oxford History of England' first made its appearance in the 1930's and it was inevitable that its various volumes would, over time, require periodic updating, not to mention major revision. In particular, the pace of archaeological discovery and analysis made essential a wholly new history of the Roman period, hence Peter Salway's 1981 investigation of "Roman Britain".
Salway is a noted historian of the period; moreover, he writes with lucidity and fluidity. He has, however, to grapple with the essential problem at the heart of any inquiry into Roman Britain. This is part of the Oxford history of 'England', but its title covers Roman 'Britain'. 'England', of course, did not exist when this history begins - the English would not arrive until after the Romans had gone; 'England' would be forged by a series of new invaders from the Germanic and Scandinavian mainland, and finally tempered by the Norman conquest.
The Romans described the island as 'Britannia' - a name which may have come from the indigenous population. What is clear, however, is that the indigenous tribes - often described as the Celts or Britons - had no unifying concept of themselves as people sharing an island; it is, indeed, questionable, whether they even appreciated they lived on an island (the Romans, themselves, would only confirm this in Agricola's time).
While the southern tribes displayed some form of co-operation in the face of Roman invasion, while the tribes along the Pennine spine seem to have formed some sort of confederation as the Brigantes, and while the tribes of the far north - latterly described as Picts and Scots - also appear to have co-operated to drive the Romans back south, there can be no sense of any political, cultural, or linguistic unity across the island. They did not conceive of themselves as British or Britons. The name is a Roman invention.
And this is, perhaps, the most significant change which has taken place since the original Oxford History was produced - the term 'Britain' has become problematic in the face of Celtic nationalism in Scotland, Wales, even Ireland. It is creating a new perspective on the invasion and posing an insistent question - "What did the Romans ever do for us?"
Peter Salway writes for an educated, aware, but not a uniquely academic audience. The Romans brought history to the island - it was a preliterate world before them. Salway looks at the evidence for the political economy of the island, explores the different cultures and the tribal organisation of the islanders' pre-Roman world. How self-contained were they? How much contact did they have with Europe? Salway sifts the evidence and presents it well.
The island certainly came to the attention of the Romans some time before Caesar's abortive invasion. Salway offers a stimulating pen-portrait of Roman imperialism and argues why they needed to cross the Channel. After Caesar, there was a century of trade and political intrigue before the Claudian invasion.
Salway details the preparation, the campaigns and resistance, the process of the pacification of the south, the frontier garrison, the patterns of agriculture and economy which would come to dominate the occupied territories.
It's a very readable account - intelligent, informed, dense with information but comprehensible ... a hefty volume which can actually be read and enjoyed rather than simply used as a source of reference for essay writing. It's an excellent text for the student, and an excellent guidebook to the era for the historian.
The perspective, of course, is heavily Roman. The Britons left little written evidence. All the sources left accessible to the modern historian are Roman - we cannot hear the voices of the tribes except as echoes in Roman accounts. That is the major weakness of any history of the Roman centuries - the reader has to imagine as well as understand, has to speculate as well as comprehend.
A quarter of a century since its publication, Salway's epic volume may be beginning to show a crack or two. It remains, however, a brave piece of scholarship, an essential read for any student of the invasion, and a broad base which can be supplemented by more up-to-date analyses.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great place to start, 27 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Roman Britain (Oxford History of England) (Hardcover)
Up to the minute when first published, this book is getting long in the tooth now, but where else can you get a scholarly overview of the period in this kind of detail? Always careful not to push the usually scant and patchy evidence too far Prof. Salway provides an excellent starting point for beginning to understand a period of history which in recent years has begun to fragment into a number of specialisms.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Roman History - some new discoveries but still very relevant read, 23 Jun 2014
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The Oxford History of England series is really a history of all the U.K. The series is slightly dated now, and Oxford has brought out a new series, but I prefer reading this as it is fabulously well presented. There is very little to say more on the subjects than what these professors share. This by Salway is the first in the series and goes up to the time of the Anglo-Saxons. Not much history is known of U.K. before the arrival of the Romans, and their effect on Britain was to touch the nation and Europe for a millennium and a half. You get something of the trade of the country with the rest of Europe, migrations and how these affected the balance of powers, the multiple tribes and peoples that made up the island's residents, manufacturing and culture through Salway's in-depth research. It is a book with much detail and very broad. It does look at the fall of the Roman empire and its effects on other nations, rise of Christianity but mainly focuses on the U.K. and what happened here during the 500 years which composed of the sometimes despotic and shambolic but never uninteresting Roman rule.
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Roman Britain (Oxford History of England)
Roman Britain (Oxford History of England) by Peter Salway (Hardcover - 6 Aug 1981)
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