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pre medieval

Doggerland is now a piece of distant history to the inhabitants of these islands. Warrior farmers from the east have settled. To farm, structured societies must exist as labour needs to be organised. With the constant threat of attack defences need to be built and the builders need to be fed. Evidence is scarce as much of the building during these times would be completed in wood but probably consisted of small fortified compounds to protect both inhabitants and livestock.

Stonehenge, a ceremonial site, was completed around 4000 years ago, I expect the builders said it would be done quicker but "We had problems with some of them sarsen stones guv." Imagine the scale of the operation, the population was counted in thousands rather than the millions of today. The land was still covered by forest and yet projects such as Stonehenge and Avebury could be undertaken - impressive! Communication, planning, knowledge of materials and where to source them, food and accommodation, all had to be managed just so a few hippies can stay up all night twice a year.

Trade routes were being established, tools, pottery, wine and food were imported as well as exported and people travelled. "Ötzi" the ice mummy found on the Schnalstal Glacier had tattoos on the site of old injuries and one theory is that these were his medical records. As Ötzi moved over the Alps the shaman could read what injuries he had suffered from and been treated for. Yet more evidence of a contemporary complex society.

Iron replaces bronze as the metal of choice and then, about 2,750 years ago, Celts turned up from Eastern Europe, many different tribes, many different languages. It seems that when they weren't farming they enjoyed nothing better than a good punch-up. To confuse matters more, when the Romans turned up in AD43, they called the Celts "Britons".

Julius Caesar described them thus ... "Most of the inland inhabitants [of Britain] do not sow corn, but live on milk and flesh, and are clad with skins. All the Britons indeed, dye themselves with woad, which occasions a bluish colour, and thereby have a more terrible appearance in fight. They wear their hair long, and have every part of their body shaved except their head and upper lip. " ... sounds just like the mother-in-law!

It looks like we may have taken a step back with the arrival of the barbarians, doesn't sound much like a society capable of building Stonehenge which is some 1500 years old by now.

The Romans first invaded in 55BC but didn't stay. They came back and did the job properly in 43AD. We are the product of that second invasion. Our language of administration and law, medical practice, roads and public buildings are all part of their legacy. They also invented concrete, this turned out to be very fortunate for the M.O.D. as the *Typhoon needs a lump of it where the cannon that they can't afford should have been just to keep the Centre of Gravity correct.

The Anglo Saxons (450) were followed by the Vikings (793). The Saxons ruled most of Britain but never conquered Cornwall, Wales or Scotland. Christianity was brought in by Roman missionaries and spread though southern Britain.

The Viking raids culminated in a "Great Army" landing in East Anglia in 865, by 875 only Wessex remained in Anglo Saxon hands. In 878 the Vikings had a go at Wessex, Alfred (of burnt cake fame) fled to the Somerset marshes where he regrouped and counter attacked. By 955, Alfred the Great's grandson Eadred, ruled over a united England. Government became centralised, and the King had the infrastructure to rule the whole country.

Next Ethelred the Unready came under a wave of Viking attacks and on his death in 1016 the Viking leader Cnut effectively ruled England but when he died the country collapsed into a number of competing Earldoms under the much weaker Edward the Confessor.

When Ed popped his clogs the Vikings saw another opportunity the regain a foothold in Britain (don't give up in a hurry these boys). They landed an army in York in 1066, Harold marched north and defeated them near York. During the celebrations he learnt that William of Normandy had landed in southern England. So, south he went and we all know the result of that encounter, a spectacular piece of needlework! If Harold's troops were fresh when battle commenced history could have been so different.

*Apparently, the M.O.D. has decided it's now cheaper to buy the cannon that rebuild the Typhoon around a lump of concrete they just won't buy any ammunition for it.