History Revisited in Ancient Britain
The historical backdrop of Apollo’s Raven is based on recent archaeological evidence that revisits the accepted history of Ancient Britannia (Britain) prior to the Roman invasion of AD 43. According to archaeological experts, the invasion never happened, at least not in the way it was depicted in the historical records of the Roman Emperor Claudius. He proclaimed his conquest matched the great accomplishments of his forefather, Julius Caesar. Roman forces of 40,000 heavily armored soldiers landed in Kent and trailed a bloody path northward to the Camulodunum (modern day Colchester) where he claimed Britannia for Rome.
Yet recent archaeological fieldwork has uncovered evidence of a significant Roman presence in Britannia well before 43 AD. There was widespread trade between Britannia and Rome after Julius Caesar’s futile incursions into Britannia in 55 and 54 B.C. At the time, Caesar demanded hostages to ensure the British rulers met their treaty agreements. It was also a method in which the young Britons were acculturated to accept the Roman way of thinking more in line with the elites.
Hostages from British royal families were often raised and educated in Roman households. They were not treated as prisoners, but were allowed to move freely in public places with minimal security measures to prevent their escape. When they returned to their homeland as young adults, they could speak and write Latin, and many of them adopted Roman customs.
There may have been a Roman military presence in Britain at least three decades before Claudius. Two British kings from northern Hampshire and Eastern Kent sought refuge in Rome, hoping to persuade the Emperor Augustus to intervene in regaining their kingdoms in 7 AD. It is possible that Augustus sent troops to Britannia, but his goal to conquer the isle may have changed due to the annihilation of three Roman Legions in the forests of Germany in AD 9.
Claudius’s predecessor, the emperor Caligula, also attempted an invasion in AD 39, but his plans ended in fiasco. The Roman historian Dio Cassius writes that Caligula was primarily aggrieved ‘at his lieutenants who won some slight successes’ in the war against Britannia, suggesting Roman troops may have already landed. Modern historians presume Caligula’s men had mutinied and were punished for not carrying out his plans.
Life in Apollo’s Raven
Book 1: Apollo’s Raven is set in 24 AD southeast Britannia (modern day Kent) during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. There is significant Roman influence over the politics and lifestyle of the ruling tribal kings. Legionary forces have been sent there to settle the political differences between two Celtic kings. One of the kings rules the Cantiaci kingdom (modern day Kent) while the other has sovereignty over the Catuvellauni territory (modern day Colchester). Both rulers were raised and educated as hostages in Roman households.
The agricultural area in southeast Britannia is rich in grains and livestock. The rural population live in thatched-roof round houses alongside their plots of land. The ruling class lived in hilltop fortresses whose structures have been influenced by Roman architecture.
The Celtic ruling class consists of noble warriors whose status is often gained through combat with each other at festivities. Although the Celtic society has become more patriarchal, women still have significantly more rights than their Roman counterparts. They can own property and be military commanders, Druids, and rulers. The heroine, Catrin, is based on the recorded historical accounts of fighting Celtic women and warrior queens. The warrior queen, Boudica, united various British tribes and almost expelled Roman occupation in 61 AD.