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The Fall of Roman Britain (Hardback)

and Why We Speak English

Ancient History Rome P&S History

By John Lambshead, Foreword by Dr Simon Elliott
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781399075565
Published: 11th May 2022
This Week's Best Sellers Rank: #2

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The end of empire in the island of Great Britain was both more abrupt and more complete than in any of the other European Roman provinces. When the fog clears and Britain re-enters the historical record, it is, unlike other former European provinces of the Western Empire, dominated by a new culture that speaks a language that is neither Roman nor indigenous British Brythonic and with a pagan religion that owes nothing to Romanitas or native British practices.

Other ex-Roman provinces of the Western Empire in Europe showed two consistent features conspicuously absent from the lowlands of Britain: the dominant language was derived from the local Vulgar Latin and the dominant religion was a Christianity that looked towards Rome. This leads naturally to the question: ‘what was different about Britannia?’ A further anomaly in our understanding lies in the significant dating mismatch between historical and archaeological data of the Germanic migrations, and the latest genetic evidence. The answer to England’s unique early history may lie in resolving this paradox.

John Lambshead summarizes the latest data gathered by historians, archaeologists, climatologists and biologists and synthesizes it all into a fresh new explanation.

I would recommend this book to history scholars and amateur enthusiasts alike — not only those with an interest in Roman Britain, but also those with an interest in the physical/life/earth sciences who would enjoy learning more about the scientific analysis behind historical claims. Certain chapters would even be valuable resources for secondary school students conducting in-depth studies of different aspects contributing to the end of the Roman Empire in Britain.

NetGalley, Leela Chandra

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


This book is a series of essays that set out to answer 1) why Britannia was so comprehensively ruined, 2) why molecular data does not correlate with archaeological data in regards to Saxon migrations, 3) why Britain speaks English, not an offshoot of Latin.

I'd say that a basic understanding of Roman history is helpful when reading this book, if only because otherwise the sheer number of Emperor's listed could get overwhelming. That said, I do not have a lot of in depth knowledge about Rome, and I still found Lambshead writing to be perfectly comprehensible.

The Fall of Roman Britain covers a time period that I haven't often seen covered in books, with other scholars often focusing on how the Norman invasion of 1066 changed the social and political climate of Britain. This book, instead, discussions how the happenings of the continental empire affected the isolated local populations and Roman transplants, and why the two seem to have (mostly) kept to themselves.

I'd recommend this for anyone who is interested in British or Roman history.

NetGalley, Elizabeth McLaughlin

About John Lambshead

John Lambshead is a retired research scientist in biology with a lifelong passion for history. He is also a keen wargamer, games developer (both computer and tabletop gaming) and author of several science-fiction novels. He is the co-author, with Rick Priestley, of Tabletop Wargames: A Designers’ and Writers’ Handbook , and author of One-hour Skirmish Wargames, both published by Pen & Sword. He lives in Rainham, Kent.


About Dr Simon Elliott

Dr Simon Elliott is an award-winning and best-selling historian, archaeologist, author, broadcaster, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent, Trustee of the Council for British Archaeology, Ambassador for Museum of London Archaeology, Guide Lecturer for Andante Travels and President of the Society of Ancients. He has written many award winning and best-selling books on Classical world themes and frequently appears across broadcast media as an expert on conflict in the ancient world.

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The Roman Conquests series seeks to explain when and how the Romans were able to conquer a vast empire stretching from the foothills of the Scottish Highlands to the Sahara Desert, from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. How did their armies adapt to and overcome the challenges of widely varied enemies and terrain? In this volume, Dr Simon Elliott draws on the latest research and archaeological evidence to present a new narrative of the conquest (never completed) of Britain. From Julius Caesar’s initial incursions in 55 and 54 BC, through the Claudian invasion of 43 AD and the campaigns of expansion…

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