A Timeline of British and Welsh History

A Timeline of British and Welsh History

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10,000 BCE: Neolithic (new stone age) Period beings in Europe.

5000 BCE: Neolithic Period begins in British Isles; first evidence of farming appears; stone axes, antler combs, pottery in common use.

4500-2500 BCE: Kurgan culture.

4000 BCE: Construction of the "Sweet Track" (named for its discoverer, Ray Sweet) begun; 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 (i.e. Hembury, Devon).

3500-3000 BCE: 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.

3000-2500 BCE: 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."

2500 BCE: Bronze Age begins; multi-chambered tombs in use (i.e. West Kennet Long Barrow) first appearance of henge "monuments"; construction begun on Silbury Hill, Europe's largest prehistoric, man-made hill (132 ft)

2500-1500 BCE: Most stone circles in British Isles erected during this period; purpose of the circles is uncertain, although most experts speculate that they had either astronomical or ritual uses.

2300 BCE: Construction begun on Britain's largest stone circle at Avebury.

2300-1400 BCE: Battle-Axe or Corded Ware culture; Beaker Folk identified by the pottery beakers (along with other objects found in their single burial sites.)

2000 BCE: 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.

1800-1200 BCE: Secular control of society passes from priests to those who control the manufacture of metal objects.

1500 BCE: 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 cemeteries.

1500-1300 BCE: Únetice culture.

1500-1200 BCE: Tumulus culture.

1300-700 BCE: Emergence of a warrior class who now begins to take a central role in society. Some believe that these people, also known as the Urnfield civilization, are the "proto-Celts."

1300 BCE: Proto-Celts arrive in Spain

1200 BCE: Proto - Celtic cultures in Gaul and Germania

1000 BCE: Earliest hill-top earthworks ("hillforts") begin to appear, also fortified farmsteads; increasing sophistication of arts and crafts, particularly in decorative personal and animal ornamentation.

750 BCE: Iron replaces bronze, Iron Age begins.

600 BCE: New Celtic invasion to Spain

600 BCE: Construction of Old Sarum begun.

500 BCE: Evidence of the spread of Celtic customs and artifacts 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 flourish.

450 BCE: Celtic tribes come to Italy

389 BCE: Celts lead by Brennus invade Rome

280 BCE: Celts arrive to the Balkans and Asia Minor

279 BCE: Celts lead by Brennos sacks Delphi. (The name Brennos, Brennus, and Bran often appear in Celtic legendary history; the name may not be a name at all, but a title from which the Welsh word brenin, meaning "king", is ultimately derived.)

150 BCE: Metal coinage comes into use; widespread contact with continent.

100 BCE: 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.

133 BCE: Spain conquered by Rome

55-54 BCE: Caesar attempts to invade Britain but fails.

50 BCE: Gaul conquered by Rome; this is also the era when the Mabinogi is set (though the tales do not reflect the realities of this time), and when the Ulster Cycle is set (which are thought to accurately reflect the time period).

43 CE: Romans conquer Britain

61 CE: Bouddicca's (unsuccessful) revolt.

70 CE: Druids of Anglesey murdered by Rome

250 CE: Ogham inscriptions in Ireland and Scotland

409 CE: Romans leave Britain

410-1100 CE: Cornwall begins to split from Britain, which has begun to be invaded by Saxons.

450 CE: Celtic migrations to Brittany

493-516 CE: Battle of Mount Badon, holding off the Saxon invasion; may have included King Arthur. (The actual date is not quite conclusive)

537 CE: Possible date for Camlann

540 CE: Gildas' The Destruction of Britain, the first native history, is written.

547 CE: Death of Maelgwn Gwynedd. This is also thought to be the age of the great cynfeirdd, the earliest Welsh poets: Taliesin, Aneirin, Talhaearn (works lost), Cian (works lost), Bluchbard (lost), and Myrddin.

573 CE: The battle of Arfderydd, where the bard Myrddin went mad.

577 CE: Battle of Dyrham: Southern Britons separated into present day Welsh and Cornish cultures.

615 CE: The Battle of Chester, wherein the Gwyr Gogledd--the Northern Kingdoms, such as Strathclyde and Rheged--are cut off from their Cymru cousins.

664 CE: The death of Cadwaladr, last of the British kings.

780 CE: Offa's Dike built, creating the Welsh-English boundary.

800 CE: Nennius/Nemnius writes Historia Brittonum, the first attempt at a full treatment of British history; largely based on legend, it does give an invaluable insight on early Welsh historical thinking and the growth of Arthurian legend.

890 CE: Welsh rulers accept the overlordship of Alfred the Great.

890 CE: The Laws of Hwyel Dda are codified.

844 CE: Kingdom of Scotland established.