Ch 01 Tribes and Legions

Iberians

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A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF ENGLAND
 
CHAPTER I: TRIBES & LEGIONS

SECTION 1: IBERIANS
 

 
EARLY MAPS SHOW BRITAIN AS A CLUSTER OF ISLANDS, SOME NEAR THE NORTH OF SPAIN, BUT NONE ON THE REGULAR TRADE ROUTES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN, WHICH LINKED CIVILISATION WITH THE NORTH.
 
IBERIAN OR MEGALITHIC MAN REACHED BRITAIN BETWEEN 3000–2000 BC.
 
THESE NEW STONE AGE MEN LEFT THEIR MARK MORE CLEARLY THAN THE CELT, ROMAN OR SAXON.
 
THE SIZE AND SPLENDOUR OF THEIR MONUMENTS SPEAK OF A NUMEROUS AND WELL ORGANISED PEOPLE, WHO STRETCHED OUT FROM THE SOUTH WEST, THROUGH THE IRISH SEA AND INTO THE OUTER HEBRIDES TO THE SHETLAND ISLANDS, COLONISING AREAS TO THE EAST OF IRELAND IN WALES, WEST OF ENGLAND AND WEST SCOTLAND.
 
THE ‘LONG BARROWS’, 200ft LONG, WERE THEIR BURIAL PLACES AND DEPENDED ON AN ABUNDANCE OF MEN WHOSE CHEAP, POSSIBLY SERVILE, LABOUR WAS AVAILABLE FOR SUCH WORKS.
 
THE PYRAMIDAL MOUNDS AT SILBURY AND MALBOROUGH WERE ALSO BARROWS FIT FOR CHIEFS OR NOBLES.
 
WE KNOW THESE IBERIANS WERE MAINLY UNWARLIKE, AS FEW FINDS CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS WEAPONS, AND NOT UNTIL THE CELT INVASIONS DO WE FIND EARTHWORKS AND DEFENCES OF THE LATE BRONZE AGE.
 
THE DIFFUSION OF IMPLEMENTS AND UTENSILS FOUND SHOWS CONSIDERABLE TRADE WENT ON BETWEEN BRITAIN AND SPAIN AND EVEN THE MEDITERRANEAN.
 
WHETHER METALS OTHER THAN GOLD, WHICH WAS MINED IN IRELAND, WERE KNOWN OF IS UNCERTAIN, SINCE IT IS DIFFICULT TO DRAW A LINE BETWEEN THE NEW STONE AGE AND EARLY BRONZE AGE, BUT WE DO KNOW THAT SOON AFTER 2000 BC A NEW RACE OF ALPINE STOCK ENTERED BRITAIN.
 
DUE TO THEIR CHARACTERISTIC POTTERY, WE NAMED THEM THE BEAKER FOLK.
 
THESE PEOPLE CERTAINLY USED BRONZE, AND IBERIANS AND BEAKER PEOPLES WORKED CLOSELY TOGETHER ALONG THE EAST COAST, EAST ANGLIA, THE THAMES VALLEY AND INTO WILTSHIRE
 
IT WAS THESE GROUPS THAT PRODUCED STONEHENGE AND SOMETIME BEFORE 1000 BC MINED TIN, COPPER AND LEAD IN CORNWALL AND WALES.
 
SO, ALTHOUGH A RESPECTABLE LEVEL OF CIVILISATION WAS REACHED BY THE MIDDLE BRONZE AGE, IT WAS ONLY SPREAD OVER A SMALL PART OF BRITAIN.
 
MOUNTAIN AREAS OF WALES AND THE NORTH WERE THINLY POPULATED, AND, MORE REMARKABLY, MUCH OF THE LOWLAND AREA THAT TODAY AFFORDS THE RICHEST AGRICULTURAL LAND WAS UNTOUCHED.
 
THESE AREAS WERE THEN COVERED WITH FORESTS OF OAK AND ASH, WITH THICK, UNPENETRABLE UNDERSCRUB.
 
SUCH FORESTS ON HEAVY WET CLAY SOIL WERE AN ABSOLUTE BARRIER TO MAN EQUIPPED WITH ONLY STONE OR BRONZE IMPLEMENTS AND, IN FACT, WERE NOT SERIOUSLY ATTACKED UNTIL ROMAN OCCUPATION AND NOT CLEARED UNTIL THE SAXON PERIOD.
 
PRE HISTORIC MAN KEPT TO THE DRY CHALK UPLANDS, NOT BECAUSE THEY WERE THE RICHEST, BUT BECAUSE THEY WERE THE BEST HE COULD OCCUPY WITH THE TOOLS AT HIS DISPOSAL.
 
NOT UNTIL THE ADVENT OF THE GREAT IRON AXE WERE THE RICHER AND MORE HEAVILY TIMBERED LOWLANDS CONQUERED.

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