‘Cofiwn i Facsen Wledig/We remember Macsen the Emperor': Frontiers, Romans, and Welsh Identity

Roger H. White


Taking as its starting point the commonly held public perspective that Wales was largely unconquered by the Romans and was indeed a focus of resistance to Roman rule, this article argues from the archaeology to demonstrate that such perceptions are misleading. Archaeological evidence demonstrates Rome certainly conquered and held Wales throughout its occupation of Britain. Furthermore, its hold on Wales was so firmly established by the second century that Rome’s identity was fully stamped upon the territory and was maintained by the peoples of Wales after the end of Roman rule. The degree to which Wales was in the end Romanised is encapsulated in the post-Roman identity of the emerging Welsh kingdoms which consciously looked back to the Roman Emperor, Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig in Welsh) for their foundation as actual and spiritual successors to Roman power. Rather than offering resistance to Rome, it can be argued instead that notions of Roman power provided the peoples of Wales with the means to resist the rise of English power in the immediate post-Roman period.


Frontiers; Roman Limes; Welsh identity; Roman Wales; Silures; Magnus Maximus

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.23914/odj.v5i0.7731


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