Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/273

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ROMANO-BRITISH WARWICKSHIRE In the first place, Britain like all the provinces of the western Empire became Romanized. Perhaps its Romanization was com- paratively late in date and imperfect in extent. But in the end the Britons generally adopted the Roman speech and civilization, and in our island, as in all western Europe, the difference between Roman and provincial practically vanished. When the Roman rule in Britain ended (about A.D. 410), the so-called departure of the Romans did not mean what the end of English rule in India or French rule in Algeria would mean to-day. It was not an emigration of alien officials, soldiers and traders ; it was more administrative than racial. The gap between Briton and Roman, visible enough in the first century, had become obliterated by the fourth century. Probably the country folk in the remoter parts of Britain continued to speak some Celtic during the Roman period. But the townspeople and the educated seem to have used Latin, and on the side of material civilization the Roman element reigns supreme. Before the Claudian invasion there existed in our island a Late Celtic art of considerable merit, best known for its metal work and earthenware, and dis- tinguished by its fantastic use of plant and animal forms, its employment of the ' returning spiral ' (fig. i), and its enamelling. This art and the culture which went with it vanished before the Roman. In a few places, as in the New Forest, its products survived as local manufactures ; in general it met the fate of every picturesque but semi-civilized art FIG. i. LATE CELTIC when confronted by an organized and coherent cul- ORNAMENT ILLUSTRATING . ,. T THE RETURNING SPIRAL. ture. Almost every important feature in Romano- British life was Roman. The commonest good pottery, the so-called Samian or Terra Sigillata, was copied directly from an Italian original and shows no trace of native influences ; it was indeed principally imported from abroad. The mosaic pavements and painted stuccoes which adorned the houses, the hypocausts which warmed them, and the bathrooms which increased their luxury, were equally borrowed from Italy. Nor were these features confined to the mansions of the wealthy. Samian bowls and coarsely coloured plaster and makeshift hypocausts occur even in outlying hamlets. 1 But though the Romanization was thus tolerably complete, it must be further qualified as a Romanization on a low scale. The more elaborate and wealthy features of the Italian civilization, whether material or intellectual or administrative, were rare or unknown in Britain. The finest objects of continental manufacture in glass and pottery and gold-work came rarely to the island, and the objects of local fabric rarely attained a high degree of merit. The choicer marbles and the finer statuary are still rarer, and the Romano-British mosaics are 1 Compare R. Colt Hoare, Ancient Wilts, Roman jEra, p. 127 : 'On some of the highest of our [Wiltshire] downs I have found stuccoed and painted walls as well as hypocausts introduced into the rude ^ t dements of the Britons.' The discoveries of the late General Pitt-Rivers fully confirm this. I 225 29