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The Roman influence on our population - YeOldeVillage

The Roman influence on our population

I returned recently from the Vindolanda Archaeological dig up at Hadrian’s Wall, which got me thinking a little about the origins of the British population.

In AD 410 the Romans left the shores of Britain, 27 years after the Romans had pulled back from the north of Britain

Artists Impression of Vindolanda
Artists Impression of Vindolanda

Well that’s not strictly true, some of the Romans left, many stayed. Even then, as historians tend to do, the dates, events and people are all argued over and contested. Re-writing history seems to be a good way of selling a few books, so why not!

It’s often forgotten, that when you have an army, you can’t just have them on their own. They would inevitably get very bored, run out of food, drink, clothes, entertainment and health.

Because of this, an army need support, people to aid in all of these matters.

People are often surprised when I have given guided-tours of battlefields to the extent of the “city” that follows them. And it is just this; a city, not just a small encampment. Should the battle turn into a siege, a waiting game, or a hundred years war a huge support base will be needed. Maybe not so surprisingly these small matters are not very often shown in paintings and tapestries or described in texts.

Now part of this support base had come from Rome, and part from the locals. But again it isn’t as easy as this. The Roman legions were generally made up each from one specific area.

Generally speaking three Roman legions were present in Britain. Part of the most northerly legion, up at Hadrians wall during the 3rd Century was a 500 strong “numerus of Aurelian Moors“. This would not have been the first black people to visit Britain. Rome had annexed large sections of North Africa, and the black people from these countries integrated well into Roman culture, so much so a North African names Septimius Severus because Emperor from AD 145 to 211.

The Romans being present in Britain for such a long time, AD 43- AD 410, integrated well into the British population. Most of the Roman troops, upon retiring from service settled down in the country they had been based for the time of their service. This would have had a huge impact on the cultural and ethnic diversity of Britain.

Emperor Septimius Severus
Emperor Septimius Severus

Following the departure of the Romans from Britain, certainly the formal legions at any rate, a void was left in Britain. In the following years, the people from Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and Ireland all began to move more freely into England. Taxes to the Romans were removed and food became more plentiful without the drain of the mass of Roman soldiers.


Much of the technology of the Romans was lost, not just in Britain, but across all of Europe. Plenty remained, great roads, new cities, new ways of agriculture, transport and building techniques. However what strikes me as the most important change is the new ethnic diversity, previously which had only been a slow ebb and flow from neighboring countries, now quite dramatically changed.


Also if anyone wants to point out the BNP, that their Anglo-Saxon “British natives” came a few hundred years after the Black legionaries lived and integrated into Britain, be my guest!




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