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The Roman Take-over


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It was about AD 50, in the reign of the Emperor Claudius that the Roman Proprietor Ostorius Scapula penetrated with his legions into the central district of the Midlands, and after subduing the British settlement of Caer-lerion planted his in military camp on the rising ground above the river Leir, where the oldest part of Leicester now stands.

The Roman Station was laid out in the oblong form usually adopted by these military colonists, and was nearly two miles in circuit, the length of its sides from north to south measuring about 2,500 feet, and those from east to west about 2,000.

Being at first a simple encampment, these defences were probably constructed only of mounds of earth with a trench beyond, and an opening on each of the sides for entrance.

The soldiery pitched their tents inside the enclosure, and the General's quarters presumably occupied a prominent position near the centre. In accordance with custom, two main lines of road ran through the camp, dividing it into four districts, each of which was apportioned to its wonted occupants, the cavalry in this quarter, the infantry here, the auxiliaries there, and so on, the whole Station being large enough to contain from 12,000 to 20,000 men.

The name given to it by the Romans was "Patae Corieltauvorum," the "camps of the Corieltauvi," although it is probable that the native tribes may still have called it by its earlier name of Caer-leir or Caer-lerion.

At first, the conquered people were awed into a sullen submission by the stern military rule of the Roman Generals, but as time went on, and more especially under the wise and firm government of the Proconsul Julius Agricola, who between AD 80 and 90 did much to consolidate the Roman power in Britain, they were encouraged to feel confidence in the good faith of their masters, and were gradually induced to mingle and trade with them; by degrees also adopting the customs, language, and style of dress of the Romans, and learning many of their arts and handicrafts.

Thus in the course of the four centuries of the Roman occupation of Britain, the native population became practically absorbed into that of their conquerors certainly in and about their more important Stations.

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