For nearly four centuries, from AD 43 to 410, Britain was a small province on the north-western edge of the vast Roman Empire. Though it was small, it was not insignificant. There were more Roman soldiers in Britain than there were in the provinces of North Africa, and the governors who were appointed by the Emperor were among the most prominent men of their day, at the peak of their careers. People from all classes of Roman Britain's multi-cultural and varied society can still speak to us, indirectly via the works of ancient historians, annalists and biographers, and directly from building inscriptions, religious dedications, gravestones, graffiti, leaden curse tablets, artefacts and coins. But perhaps the most vivid source is the corpus of letters from the fort at Vindolanda in Northumberland, where named individuals talk about birthday parties and complain about the terrible state of the roads. This book uses a variety of sources to document the military, political, and social history of Roman Britain, from Julius Caesar's brief invasions in the first century BC to the fifth century AD when Imperial government came to an end.
Patricia Southern is an acknowledged expert the history of ancient Rome. Her interest began very early, fostered by books and the wonderful epic films that they don't make any more. This obsession with the Romans has never waned, so whilst working full time as a librarian she studied for a BA degree in Ancient History with the external department of the University of London, and for an MPhil in Roman Frontier Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where she was Librarian of the Archaeology Department for many years. She has written many books on Roman history and contributed numerous articles on Roman history to the BBC History website and the academic Roman studies journal Britannia.