c.5000 - Neolithic (new stone age) Period begins; first evidence of farming appears; stone axes, antler combs, pottery in common use.
c.4000 - Construction of the "Sweet Track" begun (named for its discoverer, Ray Sweet); many similar raised, wooden walkways were constructed at this time providing a way to traverse the low, boggy, swampy areas in the Somerset Levels, near Glastonbury; earliest-known camps or communities appear (ie. Hembury, Devon).
c.3500-3000 - First appearance of long barrows and chambered tombs; at Hambledon Hill (Dorset), the primitive burial rite known as "corpse exposure" was practiced, wherein bodies were left in the open air to decompose or be consumed by animals and birds.
c.3000-2500 - Castlerigg Stone Circle (Cumbria), one of Britain's earliest and most beautiful, begun; Pentre Ifan (Dyfed), a classic example of a chambered tomb, constructed; Bryn Celli Ddu (Anglesey), known as the "mound in the dark grove," begun, one of the finest examples of a "passage grave."
c.2500 - Bronze Age begins; multi-chambered tombs in use (ie. West Kennet Long Barrow) first appearance of henge "monuments;" construction begun on Silbury Hill, Europe's largest prehistoric, man-made hill (132 ft); "Beaker Folk," identified by the pottery beakers (along with other objects) found in their single burial sites.
c.2500-1500 - Most stone circles in British Isles erected during this period; pupose of the circles is uncertain, although most experts speculate that they had either astronomical or ritual uses.
c.2300 - Construction begun on Britain's largest stone circle at Avebury.
c.2000 - Metal objects are widely manufactured in England about this time, first from copper, then with arsenic and tin added; woven cloth appears in Britain, evidenced by findings of pins and cloth fasteners in graves; construction begun on Stonehenge's inner ring of bluestones.
c.1800-1200 - Control of society passes from priests to those who control the manufacture of metal objects.
c.1500 - Farms (houses and separate, walled fields) in use on Dartmoor (Devon) and in uplands of Wales; stone circles seem to fall into disuse and decay around this time, perhaps due to a re-orientation of the society's religious attitudes and practices; burial mounds cease to be constructed; burials made near stone circles or in flat cemetaries.
c.1200-1000 - Emergence of a warrior class who now begins to take a central role in society.
c.1100 - Geoffrey of Monmouth suggests that Brutus arrives about this time.
c.1000 - Earliest hill-top earthworks ("hillforts") begin to appear, also fortified farmsteads; increasing sophistication of arts and crafts, particularly in decorative personal and animal ornamentation.
c.600 - Iron replaces bronze, Iron Age begins; construction of Old Sarum begun.
c.500 - Evidence of the spread of Celtic customs and artefacts across Britain; more and varied types of pottery in use, more characteristic decoration of jewelry. There was no known invasion of Britain by the Celts; they probably gradually infiltrated into British society through trade and other contact over a period of several hundred years; Druids, the intellectual class of the Celts (their own word for themselves, meaning "the hidden people"), begin a thousand year floruit.
c.150 - Metal coinage comes into use; widespread contact with continent.
c.100 - Flourishing of Carn Euny (Cornwall), an iron age village with interlocking stone court-yard houses; community features a "fogou," an underground chamber used, possibly, for storage or defense.
55 - Julius Caesar's first invasion of Britain.
54 - Julius Caesar's second invasion of Britain. British forces led, this time, by Cassivellaunus, a capable commander. Despite early Roman advances, British continued to harass the invaders, effectively. A "deal" with the Trinovantes (tribal enemies of Cassivellaunus), and the subsequent desertion of other British tribes, finally guaranteed the Roman victory. Caesar's first two expeditions to Britain were only exploratory in nature, and were never intended to absorb Britain into the Roman sphere, at that time.
54 BC-43 AD - Roman influence manages to increase in Britain during this time, eventhough Roman troops are absent, as a direct result of trade and other interaction with the continent.
5 - Rome acknowledges Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni, as king of Britain
43 - Romans, under Aulus Plautius, land at Richborough (Kent) for a full-scale invasion of the island. In the south-east of Britain, Togodumnus and Caratacus have been whipping up anti-Roman feeling and have cut off tribute payments to Rome. Caratacus leads main British resistance to the invasion, but is finally defeated in 51.
51 - Caratacus, British resistance leader, is captured and taken to Rome
61 - Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, led uprising against the Roman occupiers, but is
defeated and killed by the Roman governor, Suetonius Paulinus
63 - Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury on the first Christian mission to Britain.
c.75-77 - The Roman conquest of Britain is complete, as Wales is finally subdued; Julius Agricola is imperial governor (to 84)
122 - Construction of Hadrian's Wall ordered along the northern frontier, for the purpose
of hindering incursions of the aggressive tribes there into Britannia
133 - Julius Severus, governor of Britain, is sent to Palestine to crush the revolt
167 - At the request of King Lucius, the missionaries, Phagan and Deruvian,were
said to have been sent by Pope Eleutherius to convert the Britons to Christianity.
This is, perhaps, the most widely believed of the legends of the founding of Christianity in Britain.
184 - Lucius Artorius Castus, commander of a detachment of Sarmatian conscripts stationed in Britain, led his troops to Gaul to quell a rebellion. This is the first appearance of the name, Artorius, in history and some believe that this Roman military man is the original, or basis, for the Arthurian legend. The theory says that Castus' exploits in Gaul, at the head of a contingent of mounted troops, are the basis for later, similar traditions about "King Arthur," and, further, that the name "Artorius" became a title, or honorific, which was ascribed to a famous warrior in the fifth century.
197 - Clodius Albinus, governor of Britain, another claimant to the Imperial throne, is
killed by Severus at the battle of Lyon
208 - Severus goes to defend Britain, and repairs Hadrian's Wall
209 - St. Alban, first British martyr, was killed for his faith in one of the few persecutions
of Christians ever to take place on the island, during the governorship of Gaius
Junius Faustinus Postumianus (there is controversy about the date of Alban's martyrdom. Some believe it occurred during the persecutions of Diocletian, in the next century, although we opt for the earlier dating).
c.270 - Beginning (highly uncertain dating) of the "Saxon Shore" fort system, a chain of
coastal forts in the south and east of Britain, listed in a document known as "Notitia
287 - Revolt by Carausius, commander of the Roman British fleet, who rules
Britain as emperor until murdered by Allectus, a fellow rebel, in 293
303 - Diocletian orders a general persecution of the Christians
306 - Constantine (later to be known as "the Great") was proclaimed Emperor at York.
311 - Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire ends.
312 - Constantine defeats and kills Maxentius at battle of Milvian Bridge; after seeing a vision of the Cross of Christ in the sky, Constantine realizes that the Christian God may be a powerful ally and decides to attempt to co-opt him for his own purposes.
313 - Edict of Toleration proclaimed at Milan, in which Christianity is made legal throughout
314 - Three British bishops, for the first time, attend a continental church gathering,
the Council of Arles.
324 - Constantine finally achieves full control over an undivided empire. He was a skillful politician who is popularly believed to have made Christianity the official religion of the empire because of his personal convictions. In actuality, that act was merely an expedient intended to harness the power of its "God" for the benefit of the state. He re-located the imperial headquarters to Byzantium, whose name he then changed to Constantinople.
Despite his outward enthusiasm for Christianity and its powerful God, he didn't close many pagan temples during his reign. He did, however, strip them of their former wealth, which was then shifted to various Christian churches. This produced the result that many of the fledgling churches were put on a very firm financial footing and many of their members enjoyed great prosperity. The persecution of Christianity had stopped, perhaps, but its co-opting had just begun.
Early Christianity had no official hierarchies and functioned best as a series of small church groups worshipping with and caring for their own members while spreading Christ's Gospel in their local areas. Constantine's move created a top-heavy structure that would quickly depart from its original purity; a church beholden to the state, out of touch with the needs of its adherents and concerned only with its own comfort. Eusebius, the early Christian historian, has given us some additional insights into the motivations of the Emperor Constantine in his "Ecclesiastical History"
337 - Constantine received "Christian" baptism on his deathbed. Joint rule of Constantine's
three sons: Constantine II (to 340); Constans (to 350); Constantius (to 361)
360's - Series of attacks on Britain from the north by the Picts, the Attacotti and the Irish (Scots), requiring the intervention of Roman generals leading special legions.
369 - Roman general Theodosius drives the Picts and Scots out of Roman Britain
383 - Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig), a Spaniard, was proclaimed Emperor in Britain by the island's Roman garrison. With an army of British volunteers, he quickly conquered Gaul, Spain and Italy.
388 - Maximus occupied Rome itself. Theodosius, the eastern Emperor, defeated him in battle and beheaded him in July, 388, with many of the remnant of Maximus' troops settling in Armorica. The net result to Britain was the loss of many valuable troops needed for the island's defense (the "first migration").
395 - Theodosius, the last emperor to rule an undivided empire, died, leaving his one son, Arcadius, emperor in the East and his other son, the young Honorius, emperor in the West. At this point the office of Roman Emperor changed from a position
of absolute power to one of being merely a head of state.
396 - The Roman general, Stilicho, acting as regent in the western empire during Honorius' minority, reorganized British defenses decimated by the Magnus Maximus debacle. Began transfer of military authority from Roman commanders to local British chieftains.
397 - The Roman commander, Stilicho, comes to Britain and repels an attack by Picts, Irish and Saxons.
TIMELINE: 402 AD-597 AD