John B. White) in Stonhenge Decoded (Garden City, New York:Doubleday, 1965). Other immigrants followed and by 1500 BC theblending of traditions established the distinctive Wessex culture inBritain: an age of Bronze, an organized religion and priesthood, and atribal structure centered around a kinglike chief and a slowly evolvingaristocracy.
The Celtic Invaders
. The last of the early invaders were the Celts, thefirst of the conquerors about whom the Romans wrote. With the Celtscame the higher civilization of the Iron Age.
. The word “Celt”, in terms of British identity, is more amatter of civilization and language than of race. Threatened by rivalgroups, the Celtic-speaking tribes of France and western Germanymigrated to the British Isles to obtain relief from continental conflicts.During the last century before Christ, bands of Celtic invaders, armedwith battle-axes and double-edged swords, landed on the south andeast coasts and moved inland.
. The invaders wove cloth, shaved their bodies, andmade agriculture and grazing important industries for the first time.Communities of farmers lived in either hut villages or protectedhomesteads, and the clan became the center of their socialorganization. Over the years Celtic culture advanced as the tribesbecame expert in working tin, bronze, and iron; the pottery and theirmetal helmets indicate a growing interest and ability in the decorativearts and in ornamentation. The south Britons had a gold coinagesimilar to that of Macedon, and their tribal leaders led a revelrous life,enriched with imported wines and luxury goods. At least the Celtswere not just primitive savages, painted with blue dye, and beyondthe pale of civilization as was once thought.
. Druidism originated in England and spread to Gaul andIreland. The druids were an organized caste of priests who exercisedgreat power. They preached a religion of fear and immorality,worshipped various nature gods in sacred groves, and offered humansacrifices. Druid priests commanded prestige and served as judgesand leaders of tribal opinion.
Celtic Britain and Gaul
. Druidims, trade, and racial affinity were threeof the ties between Britain and Gaul. The link became even moredirect in 75 BC when the Belgic tribes of Gaul claimed southeastBritain (modern-day Kent, Middlesex, and Hertforshire) as theirkingdoms. These Gallic Celts dispersed the native Celts from the bestlands of the southeast and were the first tribe to face the nextinvader, Caesar.
Roman Conquest and Consolidation
In contrast to the earlier Celt or later Saxon invaders, the Romanscame to Britain to rule and exploit the island as part of a worldempire, not to disperse the inhabitants and settle in their place. TheRoman objectives in this new method of conquest produced quitedifferent results. Roman rule became urban and efficient, butremained alien, and therefore only temporary in its effects.