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Durotriges

Durotriges. British tribe and civitas. Centred in Dorset but also occupying the southern parts of Wiltshire and Somerset, the Durotriges seem to have been a loosely knit confederation of small tribal groups or septs at the time of the Roman conquest. Their coinage carries the names of no kings, and there were many occupied hill-forts which were probably the strongholds of locally dominant chieftains. The best known of these is Maiden castle near Dorchester. In addition, on the south-eastern corner of their territory, they appear to have possessed a major trading centre at Hengistbury Head from which cross-channel trade with Gaul was controlled. This may be the settlement called Dunium by Ptolemy. At the time of the Roman invasion the Durotriges put up spirited if unsuccessful opposition and they were almost certainly one of the two tribes which Suetonius records fighting against Vespasian and the IInd legion. Archaeological evidence from Maiden castle, Spettisbury Rings, and Hod Hill confirms the Roman assault on Durotrigan hill-forts. Ironically, it was the Emperor Vespasian who created the civitas of the Durotriges, with their capital at Durnovaria (Dorchester) in the mid-70s. Later a second Durotrigan civitas was created, administered from Lindinis (Ilchester).

Keith Branigan

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