Roman Britain and the English Settlements

Roman Britain and the English Settlements

Roman Britain and the English Settlements

Roman Britain and the English Settlements

Excerpt

This volume is not a work of collaboration. It consists of two independent studies of two distinct, though interlocking, subjects. When the general scheme of the Oxford History of England was being discussed, the persons who undertook to write on the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods agreed in thinking that the abstruse and delicate problems of the English settlement ought to be handled by some third writer, specially qualified to act as an intermediary between them, and able to give such a generous allowance of time and labour to the subject as should result in advancing our knowledge of it by an appreciable amount. We thought ourselves fortunate in being thus associated with Mr. Myres; and the fruit of his researches appears as Book V of this volume. It is printed here, not in the volume which deals with the Anglo-Saxon period, because the scale of treatment makes it easier to find room for it here.

Thus each part of the present volume is a work for which its own author is individually responsible. We have, in fact, deliberately refrained from discussing the connexions between our two subjects until our manuscripts were almost complete, believing that perfect independence of treatment was, in this particular case, the best way of arriving at the truth. Each of us was already familiar enough with the other's mind, methods, and ideas to be sure that the results would be reasonably harmonious. If the reader can detect contradictions between the two works, he may be certain that they do not arise from incompatibilities of temperament or divergences of prejudice on the part of the writers, but from those differences of perspective which any period of history presents when approached from two different sides.

Histories of England traditionally begin with some account of prehistoric ages. In this work that subject has been omitted. The invasion of Julius Caesar has been taken as the starting- point, and the book begins with an attempt to describe the state of the country as it was when that invasion took place. The reason for this does not lie in any theoretical distinction between history and prehistory, for that distinction does not here arise; from the beginning of the Neolithic period at least, British chronology is determined by strictly historical methods . . .

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