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The Iron Age Tribes of Britain - Page 1

The Iron Age Tribes of Britain - 1

The Dumnonii occupied all of Cornwall and most of Devon. Their capital was at Isca Dumnoniorum - present day Exeter. The tribe was engaged chiefly in metal working especially tin mining. The Dumnonii were bounded on the east by the Durotriges. The tourist attraction of St. Michael's Mount is thought to be the site of the ancient port of Ictis, where tin was traded with sea-faring traders such as the Phoenicians.

The Durotriges occupied East Devon, West Somerset, Dorset and South Wiltshire. Their capital was at Durnovaria - present day Dorchester. The tribe was noted for its well positioned large hillforts - such as at Maiden Castle. There was another walled settlement at Lindinis (Ilchester).

The Belgae occupied Hampshire and East Somerset. Their capital was at Venta Belgarum - present day Winchester. The tribe was mainly a loose grouping of Belgic peoples descended from the Northern Gauls. Their other main settlements are at Bath and at Vectis - the Isle of Wight. They were bounded to the northeast by the Dobunni and the east by the Atrebates.

The Dobunni occupied Gloucestershire and parts of East Somerset and Avon, stretching into the southern parts of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. Their capital was at Corinium Dobunnorum - present day Cirencester. The tribe were a grouping of Non-Belgic peoples also noted for their outstanding hillforts. Their other main settlements were Ariconium in the Forest of Dean and at Wanborough, Wiltshire - Durocornovium. They were bounded to the southeast by the Atrebates and to the north by the Cornovii.

The Atrebates tribe were a Belgic people descended from, and having close connection with, the tribes of north west Gaul (centered on the area around present-day Arras). They were based in eastern Hampshire and Berkshire as well as the western parts of Surrey and Sussex. Their capital was at Calleva Atrebatum - Silchester, Hampshire. The tribe was one of the few Celtic tribes to have issued coinage, just prior to the Roman invasion. One of their major chieftains was Commius... more can be read about him at the excellent The Atrebates were bounded to the north by the Catuvellauni and the east by the Cantii.

The Catuvellauni originally occupied Hertfordshire around Verulamium (St Albans). Under their strong leader Cunobelin, they attacked and eventually subjugated the Atrebates, becoming one of the major players in Southern Central Britain. The leader of the Atrebates, one Verica, son of Commius, a former client king of the Romans, fled to the continent and asked the Roman Emperor Claudius for help to repel the Catuvellauni. This gave Claudius just the excuse he needed to invade Britain in 43AD. Their kingdom was surrounded by the Dobunni, Atrebates, Coritani, the Iceni and the Cantii (Cantiaci).

The Cantii or Cantiaci, occupied the southeastern corner of Britain and gave their name to the present county of Kent. Their capital was at Durovernum Cantiacorum - Canterbury. The tribe had strong links with their Belgic cousins across the water but were also regarded by Caesar as the 'most civilised people in Britain' - maybe due to their proximity to continental Europe. Due to their empathy with the Romans, much more is known about these people than any other tribe in Britan. Their main settlements were at Durobrivae (Rochester) and Rutupiae (Richborough). Their main ports were at Dubris (Dover) and Lemanis (Lympne).

Who were the Celts?

The Rise of Rome & The Fall of Gaul

Iron Age Tribes of Britain - 2

The Roman Invason of Britain

Vortigern and the so called 'Anglo-Saxon Invasion'

Of Arthur and Merlin

Celtic Mythology and Belief

The Timeline of Arthurian Britain   

The Cornish Language


The 'Ancient Sites Directory'

Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro


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