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The Dominance of the Roman Army in Northern Britain and Subsequent Rift between Roman and Briton on the Military Frontier


Huber, Christopher Ryan. “The Dominance of the Roman Army in Northern Britain and Subsequent Rift between Roman and Briton on the Military Frontier.” (Under the direction of Dr. S. Thomas Parker.)

Britain was a province far from the Roman heartland. An accomplishment in its mere inclusion within the Roman Empire, such distance made Britain a difficult prize to claim. Unable to successfully conquer the entirety of the island, the Romans established a permanent zone of military occupation that varied throughout the northern half of Britain. Under military governance, Roman interaction with local Britons remained limited, and no opportunity existed for the enfranchisement of the British aristocracy within the military administration. With minimal interaction between occupier and local, urban development, the foundation for Roman administration never took hold in the north, thus preventing the development of civil administrations or familiarity with the highpoints of Roman culture. The presence of Roman civilians on the frontier similarly remained limited. Civil settlements developed, in close association with military forts, but their administration and demographics remain unclear. Though drawing upon an ever increasing body of archaeological and epigraphic evidence to better understand the presence of Britons within the Roman military frontier, the cultural gap between native and occupier becomes similarly more apparent. With the withdrawal of Roman forces and authority in the early fifth century AD, most of Britain returned to a form that had been present during much of the Iron Age. In the north such a change was less drastic, as fewer aspects of Roman culture and society had taken hold due to the exclusion of Britons from administrative roles. Like the rest of Britain, those of the north returned to ways of life that had previously developed to fit the specific challenges of British life.

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