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Atrebates. A British tribe and civitas. The tribe seems to have either origins or close relationships in Gaul (France) where a tribe of the same name is recorded by Caesar. Indeed, the king of the Gallic Atrebates, Commius, fled to Britain and appears to have established a dynasty ruling over the British tribe. From about 15 bc, the Atrebates seem to have re-established friendly relations with Rome, and it was an appeal for help from the last Atrebatic king, Verica, which provided Claudius with the pretext for the invasion of Britain in ad 43. The tribal capital was Calleva (Silchester), which after the granting of civitas status in the later 1st cent. was known as Calleva Atrebatum. The tribal territory administered from here lay south of the Thames in Berkshire and the adjacent parts of Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Surrey. The name Atrebates means ‘settlers’ or ‘inhabitants’.

Keith Branigan

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