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Book review: The Origins of the British, by Stephen Oppenheimer

In this book Oppenheimer challenges the version of early British history which used to be taught to schoolchildren. (Nowadays, it seems, they hardly learn any history at all, but that is a different question.) According to this version, Britain was inhabited by Celts when the Romans arrived. After the Romans left in the early fifth century there was a bloody invasion by Anglo-Saxons, who slaughtered the Celts and became the English; their Germanic language eventually developed into the English we speak today. Practically the only near-contemporary source for this story is Gildas, a sixth-century cleric, and Oppenheimer thinks his account is hopelessly inaccurate. The Anglo-Saxons, Oppenheimer believes, were not the first English nation, nor did they all arrive at once. They were already in residence in Roman times and the Angles and Saxons were quite distinct peoples. [More]


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