Over thousands of years, groups of people came from the continent of Europe to Britain. The very first people were Stone Age hunters living all over Europe and the British Isles. It was about 2400 BC when the first farmers arrived in England from southern Europe; these are the people who built the mysterious stone monuments like Stonehenge. Then about 1700 BC another group of taller and stronger invaders who used metal tools came from Holland and Germany. Like all the groups who invaded Britain throughout its early history, they married and mixed in with the native population.
The Celts came to England about 800 BC from Central Europe (France and Germany). Another group of warlike Celts invaded int eh 4th century BC and conquered land in the north of England and Sscotland and Ireland. They became the first aristocracy to control most of Britain. They imposed their language (gaelic) on the people, which still survives today to some degree in Ireland and Scotland and Wales.
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After the Celts, the next group of people to come to Britain and rule over it was the Romans. The romans first came in 55 and 54 BC. They lived peacefully in England for about 300 years. The brought to Britain a highly developed legal system, system of taxation, engineering skills, Roman architecture and the Latin language. In the 4th century Rome was converted to Christianity and Christian missionaries went to Britain to spread that religion. We sometimes call talk about this period as the Celtic-Roman period because the two different cultures lived toether peacefully. In the 4th century AD, during the period of the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Roman troops in Britain left.
Some historians say the Romans were important in British history, others say that their influence was really very small. In any case, after the romans left, the Celtic people who remained were then invaded by a new group of people who had a very big influence on British history: the Anglo-Saxons.
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After the Romans left England in the 4th century, the peaceful Celtic Britions were attacked by the warlike Angles, Saxons and Jutes, three groups of people who came from West ermany and Denmark. They took control of most of the country they called, “Aengla-land” between AD 450 and 600. They were an agricultural people who lived in long houses and spoke a language we now call “Old English”, which is, of course a Germanic language.
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The Vikings came from Scandinavia. They were similar to the Anglo-Saxons, but more aggressive and warlike. Their Scandinavian language (Old Norse) was also Germanic so that was relatively easy for them to communicate with the Anglo-Saxons who had come from Germany and Denmark years before. When Vikings attacked in their long boats, the Anglo-Saxons united under King Alfred the Great (872-901) to try to fight them off. King Alfred is called the Great because he kept part of England free from Viking control. The Danish Vikings controlled the east northeast by the 9th Century; the Saxons were able to maintain control in the west.
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