Sunday, 7 June 2020

Roman Britain

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The following recently rediscovered verse is a prequel to "Anglo Saxons, Celts and Vikings".

The Romans eyed Britannia,
Which they coveted with greed.
Caesar tried to grab it,
Though he didn't quite succeed.

But about two thousand years ago,
In 43 AD,
Yet another bunch of Romans,
Set sail across the sea.

To capture this fair island
Was their obvious intent.
Where they landed isn't certain:
It was probably in Kent.

Of subsequent resistance
There are many thrilling tales,
Like the stance of King Caratacus
(Of what we know as Wales).

Or the valiant Iceni tribe,
Whose leader showed no fear.
They knew her as Queen Boudica,
(Oft misnamed Boadicea).

The Romans' skills in battle
Eventually prevailed,
Then they tried to conquer Scotland -
Where, initially, they failed.

In time, they got to Inverness,
But then came to their senses:
What they stood to gain would fall far short
Of garrison expenses.

As the Scottish Picts were deemed a threat,
Defence was thus a need.
"We must build a wall to stop them,"
Emperor Hadrian decreed.

The Romans, whilst in Britain
Imported much of merit.
What exactly was the legacy?
Just what did we inherit?

They brought the modern calendar,
Complete with Leap Year trick...
The amazing quick-fire catapult...
And concrete, glass and brick.

They brought turnips, grapes and carrots,
Pears and apples... apricots.
They had strange new ways of cooking food,
By using separate pots.

They constructed mighty aqueducts,
In which clean water flowed.
And, between each major settlement,
A long straight Roman road.

On a small spot named Londinium,
They made an early start.
It developed very quickly
To become the nation's heart.

They were very fond of bathing
But it seems, once they had gone,
That their rituals of cleanliness
Had never quite caught on.

They left us in 410 AD,
And headed straight back home.
The soldiers perhaps were needed,
To defend their native Rome.

Or economic gloom here
May has caused them to withdraw.
Why they went is still a puzzle.
Historians aren't sure.

The Brits were never viewed as tamed,
They'd not quite thrown the hat in.
They were not completely docile,
And they never mastered Latin.

Until post the Norman Conquest,
When French proved to our liking,
Old English was a mixture,
Of Celtic/German/Viking.

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