The History of Roman Britain
by Peter Salway
Published in May 2001
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
This is one of the best books about Roman History that I have read. The author, Peter Salway, relies heavily on the discovery of archeological evidence, and constructs his narrative on the basis of physical science rather than unreliable written history.
His very empirically oriented history combined with his simple descriptive writing style makes for a very clear book which is easy to read. I learned a lot, and was able to get a clear mental picture of day to day life in Roman Britain.
The book is well cited, and every bit of evidence that Salway uses to construct his narrative of Roman British history is explained either in terms of written material or archeological findings.
I especially liked the chapter on the Roman baths, where Salway not only paints a great picture but also outlines the archeological findings. For example, historians assume that theft was likely common in the baths because large amounts of tablets were found there where people curse the thieves of their clothes.
Because the written record of British history starts with the Roman Empire, this is probably one of the best books to begin learning about the history of the British Isles.
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