Britain's forgotten Iron Age history

Until a few years ago, I had no idea that any history of Britain had survived from before the Roman period. I now know that this is totally untrue and nonsensical but why this has happened is not entirely clear but before I explore this further I would like to point something out.

The suppression of this history (for that is what it is) has until now been highly successful - if you don't know something exists how can you look for it? It has long been claimed that the internet - the information age - will revolutionise things, and nowhere is this more true than ancient, largely forgotten history, but once you know it is there it is only a few clicks away, but you need to know it is there first - you know now. It's in libraries too but so much is coming online, and more no doubt will follow, that I'm sure it's true to say that no scholar of any period would have access to as much of this material that we have now, as long as you are aware of it of course.

The problem 'the blockage' is to do with a medieval historian Geoffrey of Monmouth, many people, including intelligent ones, refuse to believe that any of his history is true (how likely is that?).

There is a problem with this early history and that is at first glance it seems improbable although the more you look into it the more reasonable it seems, but let us look at the 'history' of this history. It is normally said that no history of Britain existed before the Roman period - this is a lie - even if you accept the establishment's view that only history written down at the time is true (why??) there happens to be some Ancient Greek history of this pre-Roman period and that was written down at the time - do they teach that at school, is it on the TV? no. Fortunately it is on the web but you have to know where to look for it.

As you would expect the further you go back in time the less historical facts there are likely to be but actually, and very surprisingly, a virtually complete account of the period we would now call Late Bronze Age/Iron Age Britain has survived. Although this history is strange at first, especially some of the personal names it actually reads like an 'English' history and is nothing like say the 'Celtic' Irish histories/legends. There are very few dragons etc, it's all very sensible and does tie up remarkably well with what we now know of the archaeology of the time. What is most remarkable is how this history was a universally held view as can be seen from the table below, all the historians who deal with this pre-Roman history are in agreement about the key facts.

The history of Iron Age Britain starts in the present day North West Turkey with the fall of Troy. It is often assumed that Troy was just a city and all its inhabitants perished, in fact, Troy was more of a city-state and there must have been many refugees who escaped. It would seem that most of the Trojan aristocracy went to live in Italy and were to have a major role in the founding of Rome and the Romans.

It was an offshoot of this Trojan Diaspora that invaded/settled late Bronze Age Britain which ultimately kick-started the Iron Age and we even know the name of their leader, Prince Brutus. Some of this history has to be taken with a pinch of salt, like the claim that when he arrived there were no people living in Britain. The date of the arrival of the Trojans is approx 1,000BC and we know for a fact that people were already in Britain, but it is understandable that such a claim could be made long before modern dating methods.

However, back to Geoffrey of Monmouth, his history of this period is by far the most detailed and complete. It is often claimed that he was the first historian to mention King Arthur and it perhaps for this reason it is claimed he invented the entire history. If this were the case then he would have to be one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived, so rich and complex is his history (as real histories always are). But he did not make it up, his source was a 7th century Welsh monk (and saint no less!) St Tysilio.

Geoffrey of Monmouth was criticised by two of his contemporaries, Gerald of Wales and William of Newburgh but it is clear that they entirely accepted the Trojan origin of Britain.

Anyway I hope you enjoy this forbidden history, I'm still not clear why this history has been suppressed, a failure of imagination I would guess but it is worth knowing that this history was universally believed in until at least 1500s and not fully killed off until 1800s.

Historian Works Translation online?
(click for link)
Does it specifically deal with pre-Roman history? Does it mention Brutus? Does it mention Camber? Geographical description of Britain? Number of cities mentioned? Pre-Roman London mentioned?
Gildas, (died 570) On the Ruin of Britain
(De Excidio Britanniae)
yes no n/a n/a yes formally there were 28 cities Caer londein
(c. 494 or 516 - c. 570
History of Britain (Historia Brittonum) 809 (falsely attributed to Nennius) yes yes Brutus is mentioned as giving his name to Britain not mentioned yes 33 cities Trinovantum
Cair londein
Tysilio (c.548 - 640) Chronicle of the Early Britons yes yes yes yes, Kamber yes 33 cities New Troy then Troinovantum then Caerlud
Bede (c. 672 - 25 May 735) Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum) 1-731 AD yes no n/a n/a yes 28 ancient cities the strong city of Trinovantum
Asser (d. 908/909) Life of King Alfred 893 yes no n/a n/a no n/a n/a
anon. (c.970) Annales Cambriae, Annals of Wales 447-954 yes no n/a n/a no n/a n/a
Æthelweard (d. c998) Chronicle 1-975 partly no n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Eadmer, (c. 1060 - c. 1124) History of Recent Events (Historia novorum) 960-1109 can't find no n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
John of Worcester (d. c1140) Chronicon ex chronicis 0-1140 yes no n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
William of Malmesbury (c. 1080/1095 - c. 1143) Deeds of the Kings (Gesta regum) 449-1120 yes no n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Symeon of Durham (d. after 1129) History of the Kings (Historia regum) 616-1129 can't find no n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Henry of Huntingdon (c. 1080 - 1160) History of the English (Historia Anglorum) 55BC-1129 yes yes yes, spelt here Bruto but from the context it is clearly the same Brutus ? yes 28 cities not mentioned
Alfred of Beverley (d. ?) Annales sive Historia de gestis regum Britanniae 0-1129 can't find n/a yes, according to Wicipedia his history starts with Brutus n/a n/a n/a n/a
Orderic Vitalis (1075 - c. 1142) Ecclesiastical History (Historia Ecclesiastica) 1-1141 can't find n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
no individual historian named Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
yes yes, briefly not mentioned not mentioned yes, very brief not mentiomed not mentioned
anonymous Deeds of King Stephen (Gesta Stephani) 1-1154 can't find unlikely n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Geoffrey of Monmouth
(c. 1100 - c. 1155)
History of the Kings of Britain (Historia Regum Britannia) yes yes yes, Brute clearly the same as Brutus yes not as such, far fuller see above New Troy becommong Trinovantum then Kaerlud, that is, the City of Lud also Trinovant and Kaerlondon
William of Newburgh (1136? - 1198?) History of English Affairs (Historia rerum Anglicarum), 1066-1198 yes n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Gervase of Canterbury (c. 1141 - c. 1210) Chronicle (Chronicon), 1135-1199 can't find anything relevant n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Ralph de Diceto (d. c. 1202) Images of History (Imagines Historiarum), 1148-1202 can't find n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Roger of Hoveden,
(1174 - 1201)
Chronicle (Chronicon) 732-1201 yes unlikely n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Walter Map (b. 1140, d. c1208 - 1210) Trifles of the Court (De Nugis Curialium) can't find anything relevant no n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

Giraldus Cambrensis
(c. 1146 - c. 1223)

Itinerarium Cambriae 1191, Descriptio Cambriae 1194 yes yes, but only because it mentions the origins of the name of Wales yes yes no, only Wales n/a n/a
Ralph of Coggeshall (d. after 1227) Chronicle (Chronicon) 1066-1224 can't find n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Roger of Wendover (d. May 6, 1236) Flores Historiarum 1202-1235 yes unlikely n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Matthew Paris (c. 1200 - 1259) Chronica Majora (died 1259)  yes no n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Piers Langtoft, also known as Pierre de Langtoft (d. c1307) Langtoft's Chronicle (Chronicon) (died 1307) can't find unlikely n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Nicholas Trivet (or Trevet),
(c1257 - c1334),
Annales sex regum Angliae 1135-1307 can't find perhaps yes, according to Wicipedia his history starts with Brutus n/a n/a n/a n/a
Robert Mannyng or Robert de Brunne (c1275 - c1338) Chronicle (Chronica) (translations of earlier work, through 1338) can't find n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a


home | missing Roman road | The real Troy discovered | pre-Roman London | Britain's forbidden history | contact the author