Farewell Britannia

Farewell Britannia

‘Hugely entertaining . . . What a joy to be able to recommend a book about misery, bloodshed and grisly superstition for being funny, compassionate and clear-eyed’ Independent on Sunday

The story of Roman Britain, told by a family who lived there.

It is AD 430, twenty years since the legions abandoned Britain. Realising that the Roman world he grew up in is doomed, the senior member of a Romano-British family resolves to preserve his family’s history . . .

Brilliant historian Simon Young has invented a multi-generational family, part Roman, part Celtic, to tell the dramatic story of 400 years of Roman rule in Britain. Vivid historical detail is balanced by a real feel for the psychological depth of the individual stories.

The narrator is writing this ‘family history’ in 430 AD, realising the Romans will never return. He chooses 14 of the most interesting, but not always the most admirable, of his ancestors. The big events of Roman Britain are all here: scouting for Caesar’s expedition in 55 BC; the Roman invasion in 43 AD; Boudicca’s revolt and the massacre of 70,000 Romans; the Pict attacks on Hadrian’s Wall; the great Barbarian Conspiracy of 367; and the sudden cataclysmic departure of the legions in 410.

But there are plenty of non-military episodes: spying on the Druids; a centurion dreaming of retirement with a young slave he has bought; an ambitious wife on the northern frontier; a bad poet in Londinium; infanticide in Surrey; a young Christian girl facing martyrdom in a British amphitheatre.

‘Popular history at its best’ Financial Times
There is no snatch of straw so recherché, it seems, that Young cannot somehow spin gold out of it’ Tom Holland, Spectator
Enjoyable and ingenious, this breathes life into the period’ Scotland on Sunday
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Genre: Humanities / History / History: Earliest Times To Present Day / Ancient History: To C 500 Ce

On Sale: 9th December 2010

Price: £9.99

ISBN-13: 9780297857006

Reviews

There is no snatch of straw so recherché, it seems, that Young cannot somehow spin gold out of it
Tom Holland, Spectator
Hugely entertaining . . . What a joy to be able to recommend a book about misery, bloodshed and grisly superstition for being funny, compassionate and clear-eyed
Independent on Sunday
Informative and entertaining, this is popular history at its best
Financial Times
For imaginative and thrilling engagement with the history of those often shadowy and chaotic times, Farewell Britannia will be very hard to beat
Peter Jones, Sunday Telegraph
Simon Young offers nugget after nugget of fascinating detail to paint a colourful portrait of a time when native savagery was being tempered by the arrival of Christianity in a country on the cusp between druidic power and the first cold grip of Church rule . . . This bawdy, picaresque and high-spirited book . . . wears its considerable learning lightly and opens a windown on a time long neglected
Ireland on Sunday
The Celtic and Dark Age historian Simon Young has had a brilliant idea. He has decided he is a sort of Herodotus of 6th century AD Britain and Ireland . . . Extremely enjoyable and informative
Journal of Classical Teaching
Enjoyable and ingenious, this breathes life into the period
Scotland on Sunday
Young reinvents with a rare combination of scholarship and imagination
Peter Parsons, Literary Review