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4.6 out of 5 stars20
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 8 February 2014
Guy de la Bedoyere is well known to us from his appearances in 'all things Roman' in the excellent Time Team programmes on television. Now, sadly, terminated.
This book was first published in 2006 when I borrowed it from my local library. Demand has justifiably caused it to have been reprinted a number of times until 2013 when the writer again brought the content up to date and a revised publication was published. This edition was a Christmas present from my daughter and I am now pleased to add it to my book shelf.
Archaeology is continuously finding more information from the ground and we are extremely fortunate to have Mr. Bedoyere on hand to collate all this information and present it to us in such a readable way.
Any one with just a mild interest in this fascinating part of British History will do well to read it.
Heartily recommended!
Les Evans. (Gower)
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on 31 July 2014
Over the last couple of years there have been a number of really exceptional books about Roman Britain which offer a variety of different approaches from a military / political perspective, narrative approaches, studies based upon archaeological evidence and even thoroughly revisionist efforts like "Un-Roman Britain." I've enjoyed reading all of these books as they have opened the window on to a world I hadn't fully appreciated. However, for a comprehensive and rounded history of this era, I would have to say that Guy de la Bedoyere's effort is essential reading and the ideal starting point.

This books scores on so many levels. It is easy to read and doesn't assume any prior knowledge. The illustrations and photographs are excellent and the "bullet points" within each chapter throw an interesting light on topics such as London, treasure hoards, Mithras, pottery and baths. The structure of the book leaves no stone unturned with chapters offering a narrative history of Roman Britain, information about towns and villas, the organisation of the army, religion, industry and commerce as well as a well-considered conclusion on the demise of Roman life in these islands which is neither sensational or controversial. In fact, this balanced and well-thought out book seems to cover practically everything that is currently known and if the subject still remains illusive, this is indicative of how little we actually know after the beginning of the 2nd century and the fact that the archaeological record is imbalanced insofar that perishable materials and structures are absent with the exception of staggering finds like the VIndolanda tablets. I found the explanation of how to read Latin tombs fascinating and this was no means unique is providing a wider understanding of things that I had previously taken for granted or not truly appreciated when I had seen exhibits in museums. Having ploughed through a good 2/3rd of the book prior to visiting a Roman museum in Lyon, the book even proved to be of benefit in appreciating some things I had previously been very familiar after previous visits.

All in all, this is the book to go for regarding Roman Britain. It is a fascinating subject already yet the writer manages to make a pretty mysterious part of our history come to life in a way the other books don't quite match. The brilliant illustrations help yet the commentary offers balanced judgements and contrasting opinions on so many issues that it totally fulfilled my ideal criteria for the perfect history book. Unfortunately the historical record ensures that we can never fully understand Roman Britain - Guy de la Bedoyere's effort is about as close as we can get to a comprehensive guide to what went on between Caesar's first expedition in 55BC and the crumbling of Roman governance in the 5th Century. All that is needed now is a companion volume to Roman Gaul to make my holiday's in France that little bit more rewarding. Impossible to award this book anything less than five stars.
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on 24 July 2015
Picked this book up to add to my library on Roman Britain. As somebody who attends digs in the UK but only as an amateur digger, it is the perfect book for me. If it were possible to remember every facet of information presented in the book then the reader would be left with a very comprehensive knowledge of Roman Britain indeed.
Have this gem on your shelf and at a glance one can look up the dates for a governor of Britannia, find the number of men in a typical legion or read the most up to date postulations about key events in the Roman occupation.
I can't recommend this book enough, the only thing I will say is that you may find it spends a lot of time on loan to family and friends, good as it is.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 February 2016
This book is an excellent introduction and starting point for whoever is interested in Roman Britain. It offers a good and comprehensive overview with lavish and numerous illustrations, photos and maps. Its eleven chapters cover the topic both chronologically and thematically.

The first chapter addresses Britain before the Roman invasion. The two following ones cover the conquest and Late Roman Britain from the mid-second century AD to the end of the fourth century while the book’s last chapter (titled “the aftermath”) addresses the end of Roman Britain and the decades post AD 410.

The rest of the book – the seven chapters that make the core of it – is divided into themes. The titles of the thematic chapters clearly describe the topics addressed. These are: Governing Britain, Military installations, Towns in Roman Britain, Industry, Commerce and Production, The Countryside and Villas, People and places and Religion. Within each chapter, the author mentions or alludes to the various theories that have been presented. He also makes heavy use of archaeological findings and treasure hordes. Particularly interesting are the multiple boxes and vignettes included, with these making the book particularly entertaining to read, especially when combined with illustrations and reconstitutions.

While the author’s grasp of his subject is obvious, this is never displayed. One of the qualities of this book is in fact that the author freely admits how little we really know. He does not pretend to have found “the” answers to controversial debates that have excited and divided historians and archaeologists for decades. He is also excellent at showing to what extent the “fashionable” views of Britain and its treatment as part of the Roman Empire have varied over time from the benevolent and civilising version during Victorian and British colonial times to the cruel and oppressive version that emerged during the 1970s and 1980s.

One of the most interesting pieces here is the author’s own and relatively balanced view, and his ability to question received ideas. Clearly, Rome could and at times clearly was oppressive, especially during the conquest phase but, as the author shows, it could not be only that and would not have lasted as long as it did if it had not managed to “Romanise” and integrate most of the pre-existing population of Britain, starting with its elites.

He also notes and shows to what extent Britain became populated and prosperous, especially its Southern part, and underlines that such levels would not be reached again before the end of the Middle Ages or even the early 18th century, depending on areas. Another interesting discussion, which the bibliography also allows the reader to pursue should there be an interest, is whether and to what extent Roman Britain was in any way “exceptional” when compared to other Roman provinces of Western Europe. In all of these cases, and many others, the author’s responses are well-articulated and nuanced, making this book into a particularly valuable item for anyone interested in “things Roman”.

Five well-deserved stars, without any hesitation, for a book that I can recommend to just about anyone, from the general reader who might know next to nothing on Roman Britain, to the “fan” or undergraduate who has chosen this topic and has a specific and strong interest in it
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on 27 November 2015
I’ve recently been poring over a lot of Roman Britain History books and have found this one of the best so far. This will be a great ‘go to for reference’ book for me in the future when I want to revisit something the author has included. The writing style makes it very easy to read, and the information is given in a continuously absorbing manner. The illustrations are excellent and best of all I like that the author doesn’t fudge any issues. When the evidence for something is thin on the ground- archaeologically speaking- he states it quite clearly and makes no bones about the resultant speculation being just that –speculation. One of the aspects I love about reading Roman Britain texts is the varied interpretations the author puts on something depending on their own viewpoint.
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on 5 November 2015
Must-have for anyone interested in the period of Roman occupation of Britain - very readable history for non-academics like myself with an interest in social history
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on 1 October 2015
A thorough and detailed account of Britain's Roman history.
He knows his stuff and tells the story well.
Best book on the subject
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on 8 January 2016
Really enjoyed the book. As a relative novice to Roman history in Britain, the author managed to write in a way that makes me want to learn more. I particularly enjoyed his at times direct acknowledgement that there is much we don't know and never will. There is a lot of information here though, easy ton understand, and some great illustrations/photos too.
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on 3 June 2014
This book met every requirement. This was purchased by my wife for a Latin/Roman history course she is presently undertaking. It was recommended by the course tutor and contains some good illustrations.
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on 20 November 2014
Guys books are usually agood read so looking forward to it. Updates previous books
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