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Roman Britain is usually thought of as a land full of togas, towns and baths with Britons happily going about their Roman lives under the benign gaze of Rome. This is, to a great extent, a myth that developed after Roman control of Britain came to an end, in particular when the British Empire was at its height in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In fact, Britain was one of the least enthusiastic elements of the Roman Empire. The rthern part of Britain was never conquered at all despite repeated attempts. Some Britons adopted Roman ways in order to advance themselves and become part of the new order, or just because they liked the new range of products available. However, many failed to ackwledge the Roman lifestyle at all, while many others were only outwardly Romanised, clinging to their own identities under the occupation. Britain never fully embraced the Empire and was itself never fully accepted by the rest of the Roman world. Even the Roman army in Britain became chronically rebellious and a source of instability that ultimately affected the whole Empire. As Roman power weakened, the Britons abandoned both Rome and almost all Roman culture, and the island became a land of warring kingdoms, as it had been before.
Dr Miles Russell is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at Bournemouth University. His earlier book, Piltdown Man: The Secret Life of Charles Dawson, was nominated for the British Archaeological Book Award in 2004. Stuart Laycock is an historian and writer. His earlier book, Britannia: The Failed State, was nominated for Current Archaeology Book of the Year 2009.