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Brigantes

Brigantes. A British tribal federation and civitas. The name means ‘upland people’ or ‘hill-dwellers’, which is appropriate to the Pennine heartland of the tribe. Their territory, however, included coastal plains as well, for Ptolemy confirms that they held most of northern England from coast to coast. Not surprisingly, such a vast area was not the fiefdom of a single tribe but rather of a loose confederation. Some of the federal tribes are known to us by name—the Setanti, the Lopocares, the Gabrantovices, the Tectoverdi, and the Carvetii. Each tribe no doubt had its own capital but there may also have been a central place for the whole federation, possibly at Almondsbury near Huddersfield or at Stanwick near Scotch Corner. Certainly by the time the Romans reached their southern borders, the Brigantes were led by a single ruler, Queen Cartimandua, with whom the Romans established treaty relations. Internal schism and instability led to Roman invasion and occupation in the later 1st cent. Eventually a civitas was established, perhaps during Hadrian's visit to the province, with its capital at Aldborough (Isurium), but much of Brigantian territory probably remained under direct military government throughout the Roman occupation.

Keith Branigan

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