Customer Review

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars unroman stuff, 21 April 2011
This review is from: UnRoman Britain: Exposing the Great Myth of Britannia (Hardcover)
I`ve read the reviews and the book too and my opinion is quite different. The book is a logical piece in Laycock`s books on how Britain fell into pieces along the lines of the tribal areas. Tribalism was strong throughout the roman period which is how this was possible. If tribalism was so strong then Britain can`t really have been very Roman, which is where this book fits into the set, but this whole myth the book promises to expose is not a myth, at least not in 2010. This argument that Roman Britain wasn`t so Roman at all is hardly new. Richard Reece came up with this more than 20 years ago and if you`ve read Mattingly`s excellent `An Imperial Possession, Britain in the Roman Empire`(2006), you`ll be surprised what this whole `wow, Laycock and Russell got it right` enthusiasm is about. Mattingly`s book is a difficult read, but you can find all the `most people lived in round houses`, `urbanism was a failure` etc. mantra there.

It`s interesting to note how the coin legend `RSR` `Satrunian Age returns` is interpreted as a message to the British subjects of Carausius (p.151). The legend I.N.P.C.D.A. (deciphered by Bedoyere) is somehow left out of the book. It stands for `Iam Nova Progenies Caelo Demittitur Alto` `now a generation is let down from heaven above`. My point is that since these are from Vergil`s Eclogue IV, I wonder how these unroman guys were able to understand the message? I can`t picture a Celtic-British lad reading Virgil in front of his round house. Unless you had proper Latin education these letters on the coins meant nothing to you and then of course the question `Who were these messages for?` springs to mind. Probably not the round house dwellers and if not then how can these coins lead you to the conclusion that Carausius was a British ruler? I wanted to check the very rare coins the book mentions, but there are no footnotes. Improper footnoting is a problem throughout the book. The argument is heavily weighted on the section on `non-villa` sites (pp. 119-129) referring to finds of several excavations without a single footnote. I`m sure what they conclude is correct, but if this is meant to be a kind of academic piece there should be footnotes, or a bibliography for each chapter.

But most of this is probably not so important for those who meet Roman Britain for the first time. The book is easy to follow, beautifully illustrated which is forward looking and the general reader will find it very interesting. A perfect present for sb who is interested in Roman history.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jun 2011 08:51:38 BDT
Quite a down to earth review here, thanks.

Posted on 30 Jun 2012 08:53:57 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jun 2012 08:54:22 BDT
But a code is a code - it doesn't necessarily need understanding of its origins to be understood as a subversive message by its intended target. Better say here that I have no agenda, it's just that the thought occurred to me that a lad needn't have read Virgil, in front of his round house or elsewhere, to be aware that a coded message is going round.

Posted on 26 Sep 2012 11:52:39 BDT
G Talboys says:
In respect of the coins, how many folk in the UK today can read the Latin on pound coins?

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Oct 2012 21:50:47 BDT
B. Santa says:
But why would you expect them to when with the exception of a few scholars/teachers etc. nobody understands Latin? This is the point. Why would Carausius try to win over the Celtic population with Roman slogans if he had a 'British' empire?
The other thing is that I wouldn't compare 2012 with the 3rd century in this respect. There was no mass communication back then. Coins conveyed messages about issues emperors considered important. These were often directed at the army and they were expected to be understood. They could be obvious things like Concordia Exercitum (concord of the army) or Roma Renascens (rebirth of Rome, after Domitian's tyranny), or the one I referred to, which hadn't been made sense of until quite recently. Coins/notes don't have this purpose now. Imagine a coin with Cameron's face with 'low inflation' written around it.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jan 2013 17:26:35 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jan 2013 17:31:54 GMT
JPS says:
Entirely agree with you B. Santa, and would even go much further than you. If you take a close look at the methods used in this book to make the authors' case, you will see to what extent they are "questionable" and to what extent they transform the book into a piece of spin rather than the carefully researched and rigorous book that it should have been. Does the case put by the authors have value? Yes. Have the authors' made a good job in promoting it and come up with a convincing narrative? Certainly not, quite the opposite in fact, and this is a pity and a shame.

This is not history anymore and this is why I had, like you, a rather (huge) problem. What makes it even worse, in my view of course, is that this book is targeted at "general readers" who will be unable to check each and every of the author's allegations and identify the authors' very biased and slanted narrative. Hence some of the somewhat "glowing" reviews that this book has attracted...
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