History of the British Isles

The Dark Ages

While the term 'Dark Age' is now frowned upon, it is still a usefull term to describe the period between 410AD when the Romans left and c1066, when British History really starts again. In the meantime, the British Isles were over-run by Saxons and Vikings, squeezing the native British, Celts and Gaels out. Or so we were taught. Current theories are much more in depth, and show that there was far more inter-mingling of the different cultures, resulting in peoples ideas and outlook changing, rather than the people themselves changing.

It is this lack of knowledge, and mystery that surrounds the 'Dark Ages' that fascinates me, especially as it is the same era that Christianity became the dominant religion - as left behind by the Romans and introduced by the Irish, not all down to St Augustine of Canterbury. I am also intrigued by the creation of the UK landscape as we know it - the creation of towns; the origin of Countys, Dioceses; the changing pattern of petty kingdoms that became Essex, Northumbria, Lothian, Gwynedd; How Cheshire, Lancashire and Durham became County Palatines. All these things and more.

The Middle Ages

The Medieval period also intrigues me, as it is in those 400 years that much of what had started before 1066 became 'set in stone'. Only for Henry VIII to rip it all apart again. However, I have to admit to being more drawn to the Architecture and Industrial aspects of history in this period.

The Industrial Revolution

Whether you believe that the Industrial Revolution started in the Midlands in the late 18th Century, or whether you believe that its seeds were sown decades if not centuries earlier, it was 'Ironbridge' that I was taught at school, and so 1779 is the date fixed in my head. Of course, we have to look back a further fifty years or more to the first tentative steps to designing workable Steam Engines, and there were already many miles of canal by 1779.

My primary interest is, naturally, with transport. Roads, Bridges, Canals, Railways and the machinery that operates on them. However, I also find the other aspects such as Mills, early factories and old industrial landscapes fascinating, especially places like the old slate mines in north and mid Wales.