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Silures. A British tribe and civitas. The Silures are mentioned by several Roman authors, among them Pliny, Ptolemy, and Tacitus. Tacitus actually described their physical characteristics—swarthy and curly-haired—and suggested that their ancestors migrated from Spain. Their territory was south-east Wales, and for a time in the period around ad 45–57 they led the British opposition to the Roman advance westwards. Tacitus described them as a strong and warlike nation, and for ten years or more the Romans fought to contain rather than conquer them. Although defeated and occupied by the early 60s, their bitter resistance may explain the late grant of self-governing civitas status to them only in the early 2nd cent. A capital was established on a previously unoccupied site at Caerwent and was given the name Venta Silurum, but it never matched in size (45 acres) or public buildings the civitas-capitals of southern England.

Keith Branigan

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