History Files


Post-Roman Britain

Southern Britain's Lost Kingdoms

by Peter Kessler, 1 April 1999. Updated 14 February 2007



Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7

Part 1: Introduction

The south and east of Britannia had long been the best of the island's Roman holdings.

The fourth century Roman civil divisions of Britain split the island into four regions south of the Wall: Britannia Secunda (north of the Humber, the later kingdom of Northern Britain); Britannia Prima (all of later Cornubia, Dumnonia, the mouth of the Severn and Wales); and finally Flavia Caesariensis (from the Humber south to a Central Midlands line from East Anglia to (roughly) Gloucester), and Maxima Caesariensis (all of the south-east from the western tip of Ynys Wieith, up to Gloucester (Caer Gloui) and along the Central Midlands division).

In the south-east, post-Roman administration lasted the longest in a section of the country that was a prime target to Saxon and Angle raiders and invaders. This made the area more unstable that anywhere else at this time and reduced the chances of British kingdoms forming or lasting very long.

After Roman administration was expelled from Britain in AD 409, the Mediterranean way of life certainly didn't disappear from the country overnight. In the Romano-British towns of the North and the West, Magnus Maximus had positioned many prominent princes in positions of power to guard the country's coast, and these men had founded kingdoms for themselves, based on the Imperial model.

Such kingdoms seem to have emerged in the south too, but because the Angle and Saxon invaders were already advancing west between circa AD 477 to 496 and again more strongly from 552, they were much more short-lived and details of their existence, let alone their rulers and borders, are far more scarce.



Text copyright P L Kessler, from various notes and sources. An original feature for the History Files.