Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/271

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ROMANO-BRITISH WARWICKSHIRE I. Sketch of Roman Britain. 2. Sketch of Roman Warwickshire. 3. Places of settled occupation : Cave's Inn, High Cross, Mancetter, Chesterton, Alcester. 4. Other settled sites. 5. Roads. 6. Index. i. SKETCH OF ROMAN BRITAIN WITH the Romano-British period we begin to pass from the prehistoric into the historic. But we do not reach at once the domain of full history. We obtain guidance from the allusions or narratives of ancient writers, but we still depend very largely on archaeological evidence, and we cannot construct any narrative history of our subject. This is partly due to the fact that our knowledge is insufficient, but it arises still more from the nature of the subject. Roman Britain was not an independent unit : it was only a part of a vast and complex empire. Roman Warwickshire was still less an independent unit. It was a part of Roman Britain and a part not recognized as such by the Romans. In fact, the phrase Roman War- wickshire, though convenient from its brevity, is strictly speaking a contradiction in terms. When the Romans ruled our island, neither Warwickshire nor any other of our counties was yet in existence, nor was Britain divided into any districts geographically coinciding with them. Neither the boundaries of the Celtic tribes nor those of the Roman administrative areas, so far as we know them, agree with our existing county boundaries, and students of the Roman remains found in any one county have to deal with a division of land which for their purposes is accidental and arbitrary. Warwickshire to the archaeologist concerned with the Roman period is a meaningless area devoid of unity. He can describe it but he cannot write anything like a real history of it. It has seemed desirable, therefore, in the following paragraphs to diverge a little from the plan followed by most county historians in dealing with Roman antiquities. Hitherto it has been customary to give a narrative of the chief events recorded by ancient writers as 1 For the following article I have searched the literature for myself and have visited the chief sites and museums. I have to thank Mr. W. H. Stevenson and Mr. G. B. Grundy for various help, and also Mr. Willoughby Gardner, the Rev. J. H. Bloom, Mr. S. Stanley, and others named below. I may add that I have found the task of getting accurate information about details a far more laborious one than the length of this article or the importance of the subject might suggest. In the result, however, I have been able to include a good deal of unpublished material. 223