British ethnogenesis: a late antique story

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter will argue that the ethnogenesis of the Britons was a process which occurred within the Late Antique period. Whilst commentators from Gildas onwards imagined the Britons to have existed as an identifiable group from time immemorial, it is argued here that they arose out of a growing division between more and less Romanized groups within the British provinces, as changes in the way Rome managed its frontiers led to the emergence of semi-barbarian devolved polities close to the limes. It is further argued that it was against these groups in Britain, the cultural forebears of the Welsh, that the provincials of the south-east required aid from the Saxons. Essentialist ideas about ethnicity, from the time of Gildas onwards, have obscured this process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCelts, Romans, Britons
Subtitle of host publicationClassical and Celtic Influence in the Construction of British Identities
EditorsFrancesca Kaminski-Jones, Rhys Kaminski-Jones
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9780198863076
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020

Publication series

NameClassical Presences


  • Ethnogenesis
  • Britons
  • Sub-Roman


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