David Stuttard


A collaboration with Sam Moorhead, the book ‘an exciting and up-to-the-minute retelling of the story of Roman Britain through the lives and exploits of its chief protagonists – from Caesar and Claudius to Hadrian and Constantine, from the governors Agricola and Pertinax to the usurpers Carausius and Magnus Maximus, with portraits along the way of the many British rulers and rebels, among them Boudica, Caratacus, Cartimandua and Togidubnus.’

From the first eagle-bearer who leapt (or was pushed) from Caesar’s ship into the waves at Walmer beach in 55 BC, to the last cavalry units withdrawing under their dragon standards in the early fifth century AD, this is the story of the people who shaped Roman Britain. Britannia was an integral, if often troublesome, part of Rome’s empire, a hard-won province whose mineral wealth and agricultural prosperity made it crucial to the stability of the west.

By setting Britannia firmly in its wider international context, the authors give a vivid account of the pressures and events that had such a profound impact on its people and its history. The Romans Who Shaped Britain explores the narrative of Britannia through the lives of its generals, governors and emperors – and those they sought to rule. This rich cast of characters features men and women both noble and venal, courageous and craven. Some of them, such as Caesar, Agricola and Boudica,maybe familiar; others, like Carausius, Magnentius or Valentinus deserve to be more so.

Mindful that these were people driven by ambition, aspiration and passion, the book sets their lives and actions against the backdrop of an evolving landscape, in which Iron Age shrines were being replaced by marble temples, industrial-scale factories and granaries were springing up across the countryside and a triumphal arch towered into the Kent sky to mark Rome’s domination.

Fast-moving, vivid and compelling, The Romans Who Shaped Britain draws on the latest archaeological evidence and research as well as on original source material. It re-appraises familiar characters and presents new, original and at times provocative interpretations. Above all, by setting out the story as a single narrative, it reminds us of the truly epic nature of the history of Britannia.

Thames and Hudson ISBN 978-0-500-25189-9 (HB) 978-0-500-29260-0 (PB) First published 2012

Reviews include

The authors tell a lively story of Roman interventions in the province... The book has the great merit of getting to grips with the story of province well beyond Hadrian - after whom most people’s knowledge of Roman Britain tends to flag - and it offers a wonderful gallery of later characters, whose careers in part ‘shaped’ the province. Mary Beard, Sunday Times

Splendid. Easily the most attractive available narrative account of Roman Britain from Caesar to the departure of the legions c. AD 410. This is some achievement. Peter Jones, Literary Review

Excellent. Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian

Sam Moorhead and David Stuttard approach the past as a story moulded by forceful personalities - individual tales woven from the lives of real people. By taking this personal approach, Moorhead and Stuttard succeed in telling a familiar tale from a very compelling standpoint. This is lively history; a must for those who are bored by (or feel they know everything about) our Roman heritage. Mike Russell, BBCHistory Magazine

This very engaging new history … puts flesh on the bones of fly-by-night governors and emperors with much imagination, humour and ingenious marshalling of often very thin facts. Literary and archaeological sources are deftly combined to reveal connective threads and flavoursome detail. Noonie Minogue, The Tablet

Voices from Roman Britain can seem over-familiar... There is nothing stale, however, about this latest volume from Sam Moorhead and David Stuttard. Skilfully blending ancient historical and archaeological evidence, the text is an engaging account of life in the Roman province… Looking beyond words and artefacts to deduce their meaning is the great strengthof this book. A deceptively light style, laced with wry wit, effortlessly breathes life into Roman Britain... A joy to read. Matthew Symonds, Current Archaeology

‘The Romans Who Shaped Britain’ is most certainly a book to give to any history buff without fear of disappointing them. Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly

If you are interested in Roman Britain then The Romans Who Shaped Britain is a ‘must buy’. Or, if you just like a ‘good read’, based on fact rather than fiction, this book is highly recommended. Sam Moorhead and David Stuttard are to be congratulated on another top class joint effort. Peter D. Spencer, The Searcher

The book is very well illustrated and, indeed, entertainingly written, and is bound to promote a renewed interest in Roman Britain. Richard Hingley, British Archaeology

The authors use recent archaeological discoveries to enhance their history and they write in an attractive and relaxed manner which makes the book a good introduction to this period of our history. Contemporary Review