The Britons are an extremely iconic faction, and for this if nothing else they deserve their precious place among HRTW's factions. The game covers the period in Britain which is known as the Middle and Late Iron Age, a time of great change for Britain. The Middle Iron Age is characterised by small egalitarian farming communities with relatively little contact with anyone outside their community, let alone their tribal unit or Britain itself. They spoke a language closely related to Gaulish called (surprise surprise) Ancient British, also known as Brythonic or Brittonic, which belonged to the "Celtic" branch of the Indo-European language family which also includes English and Latin. Ancient British does survive to this day, albeit in much changed form, as the languages of Welsh, Cornish and Breton. Their material culture and religious beliefs were closely similar to those of the Gauls, but it is not a simple question of a horde of Gauls invading from the continent and wiping out or enslaving the natives Britons: there is no evidence for this. Rather, Britain and Gaul had been culturally very close since time immemorial, and this became still more visible towards the end of the Bronze Age, when both belonged to one big cultural continuum called the Atlantic Bronze Age which stretched from Gibraltar to the Western Isles. It has been suggested that Proto-Celtic, the original celtic language, developed during this period as a common language of trade, although nobody really knows; and this shared culture may also explain many of the other cultural traits that the Gauls and Britons shared in the Iron Age, which came after the Bronze Age, such as religious beliefs and social customs. The Early Iron Age however saw a period of upheaval in Britain: during the later Bronze Age, the people had been ruled by a small elite, whose position was based on their warrior and hunter status, their control of the flow of trade routes of precious resources, and their magical ability to forge bronze. By the dawn of the Iron Age, the people had had enough of this unfair system, with massive social inequalities between rich and poor; huge hoards of high-status items are buried and there is good evidence for widespread violence, which has prompted some scholars to talk of a revolution. This may seem unlikely, but consider: the same thing was going on at almost exactly the same time in Rome and Greece, with the kings being thrown out and democracies or republics installed. Whether we can talk about any sort of "democracy" in Britain at this stage is open to question: but certainly, the social order became far more egalitarian. Objects which had been symbols of status during the Bronze Age basically disappear, such as swords, archery equipment, goldwork or elaborate metal artwork of any kind, and even to a limited extent horses and horse-gear. Hillforts had been in existence in Britain since the latter part of the Bronze Age, but it is with the rise of this new order that they begin to become much more numerous and important across a large part of Southern England and Wales. The sheer work that went into building some of these impressive monuments demonstrates that there were still figures in the tribes who held a certain coercive power. The new authorities may have been a sort of tribal assembly, or an association of elders, or both; but there was no longer a small elite who could do whatever they want. Power was no longer displayed by ostentatious metalwork, as the ability to work iron meant that metal was now a more "common" thing, in the sense that it was no longer the reserve of the elite: now it was a question of control of the land.
The archaeological evidence indicates a fast-growing population during this period, linked to an amelioration in the climate and to technological advancement - the use of iron, and there was widespread clearance of woodland across much of the South coast to make way for more farmland. In the third century BCE, a unique culture developed in east Yorkshire called the Arras culture, characterised by the re-emergence of some fantastically elaborate metalwork such as the kirkburn sword and a distinctive funerary rite - burial. Inhumation of bodies upon death had largely fallen out of fashion over most of Britain at this time, perhaps because of a shift in religious beliefs, and also maybe influenced by the fact that burial had been the preserve of the elite during the Bronze Age, the elite that no-one was allowed to be any more. There is still heated debate over whether the Arras culture should be ascribed to an elite invasion from Gaul or to a re-assumption of power by a local elite who displayed their status by copying exotic customs; I personally tend towards the former, but there is no consensus. At any rate the Arras culture foreshadowed many of the fundamental changes that were about to alter the face of Britain once more.
The Middle Iron Age lasts from around 550 BCE to 150 BCE, when it ends in another outbreak of widespread violence, which coincides with the re-emergence of swords, horsegear and elaborate artwork in the archaeological record, as well as the invasion of the Belgae from Gaul. Whether it was social tensions coming to a head that caused the Belgae to be brought in to the equation or the invasion of the Belgae that catalysed or even provoked the downfall of the old social order we do not know; but a relatively small group of a warrior-people from the continent, probably not numbering much more than a few thousand, began to settle in the South of Britain around this time, accompanied by widespread social upheaval. They settled mostly in Hampshire and Sussex and possibly Kent, areas which had once been the heart of the hillfort zone; but it is around this time that many of those hillforts went out of use, to be replaced by lots of smaller open settlements and a few much larger, proto-urban or indeed urban settlements, known as oppida (which refers to this very specific type of settlement in archaeological terminology, not just some town which is what the Latin word means). In Wales and the West Country however, hillforts remained: Belgic influence was more limited in this areas, and they were certainly never conquered. In particular, one British tribe in Dorset, the Durotriges, profited from the situation to re-open closer contact with Gaul; they set up a major port at Hengistbury and rapidly made themselves quite rich and powerful from trading with the tribes of Armorica, despite hanging on to many of the old ways. Coinage also first appears in Britain around this time.
It was onto this new scene that Julius Caesar arrived in 55 BCE. His invasion themselves were of no real direct significance; but it is probably no coincidence that, soon after he left, the tribe that had led the opposition to his invasions of Kent, the Cassi of Hertfordshire, started to become immensely powerful. The Durotriges, who were hostile to Caesar because he had conquered their trade partners, were basically excluded from trade with Gaul now, and entered a long period of economic retraction; instead, the main focus of trade was shifted to Kent and Essex, to favour Caesar's allies the Trinovantes. But the Trinovantes were incorporated into the Cassi sphere around 9 CE to form the Catuvellauni; whether this was done by military conquest or political arrangement we do not know, but suddenly, the kings of the Cassi were minting coins from the capital of Trinovantes instead of their own. The next thirty years saw the Catuvellauni rise to become easily the most powerful tribe in Britain; by the time of the Roman invasion in 43 CE, they controlled basically the entire SE of Britain, from Kent to Wiltshire to Norfolk. Ironically, this made them easy prey for the Romans. Centralised kingdoms were their favourite kind of states to conquer; all they had to do was beat the army and march on the capital, which they promptly did, and the entire Southeast of Britain fell into their hands. The Romans were here to stay.
That is a brief social history of Iron Age Britain in a nutshell, insofar as it concerns us. Basically what you should take away from it is:
- MIA Britain was an egalitarian society living in hillforts fighting with spears and slings
- LIA Britain was a society ruled by a warrior elite living in what are effectively cities and fighting with chariots and swords
- The transition MIA->LIA was far from a peaceful one and should be represented in-game as a reform (preferably accompanied by a scripted invasion - ie if gaul is still alive at time of reform, then create horde in S Britain). It should be triggered by the conquest of more than three provinces in Gaul, or some other faction conquering a British home region, whichever comes first - and importantly, it should be optional.
This is more or less that historical framework around which we need to structure the British faction.
The map of the British Isles that will be used in HRTW has already been finalised, as far as I can see. You can see the provinces and settlements map in the attachments below; here are some details of each province.
1: Magiodunum (Maiden Castle hillfort), province Dexoua ("The South"). South-central Britain.
base farming: ~6.
resources: s(laves)d(ogs)p(igs), timber (near port, in New Forest), iron (in Sussex, and in Oxfordshire), grain (in Dorset somewhere, where it looks best).
2: Camulodunum (Colchester), province Cantium (roughly "The Corner"). Southeastern Britain.
base farming: ~7.
resources: sdp, iron (in Kent), textiles (a little W of Camulodunum), [salt (in Cambridgeshire Fens)].
3: Maridunum (Carmarthen), province Uorliuina ("The West"). Wales and the Southwest peninsula.
base farming: ~4.
resources: sdp, tin (in Cornwall, x2), silver (where the gold is in vanilla), [druidic resource (on the Isle of Anglesey, the bit that sticks up out of NW Wales).
4: Alauna (Roulston Scar, North Yorkshire - name guessed by EB2), province Brigantia ("The High Country"). Northern England.
base farming: ~5.
resources: sdp, lead (x2, dotted around the Pennines (big hills down the middl)), timber (in the Lake District (NWern bit)).
5: Artodunum (Inverness), province Uindobannia ("Land of White Peaks"). Scotland.
base farming: ~3.
resources: sdp, wild animals and/or hides (wild animals maybe more to the NE, hides maybe more to the SW, to spread it out nicely).
6: Macocum (near Limerick (from Ptolemy)), Iuerio ("Ireland").
base farming: ~3.
resources: sdp, copper (in Connacht and/or Munster, somewhere empty and marshy).
As for the map_ground_types, most of lowland Britain has been more or less cleared of woodland to make way for farmland, and this should be reflected on the map; however, there are still some areas, such as the New Forest, the Forest of Dean, and the Weald, which are still densely wooded, and woodland was most definitely not absent from the rest of Britain: wood was the main material from which the Ancient Britons built everything, and they knew about coppicing and pollarding in order to get the most out of their trees. So trees should not be absent from the lowland areas of Britain - there was still far more woodland then than there is today. Further North and West, the land is less fertile, and during this period did not support intensive sedentary agriculture over long periods of time. The people of the uplands of Wales, Scotland and Northern England may have partly practised a sort of transhumance between the valleys in the Winter and the hills in the Summer to let their cattle and flocks pasture. The population density was much lower, and forest cover should be more widespread. I can create a historically accurate British corner of map_ground_types myself if you want maximum geo-historical accuracy. The map_heights of RTW vanilla is accurate enough for me, within the constraints of the game engine.
As we have seen, the Britons must experience a reform at some point to reflect the important transition from egalitarian tribe to warrior chiefdom. This will seriously affect the troops they are able to recruit.
The barracks/stables/ranges division is very unrealistic, and particularly for the barbarian factions. The troops able to be trained should be defined by the influence of the tribal elders and/or chieftain; as such they should depend on the central_building.
Basically, the only weapons you've got are spears, slings, possibly axes, and very rarely the odd horse.
Tier 1: a basic spear unit (eg "warrior militia"); perhaps a weak missile (ie slinger) unit (eg "shepherd boys") [it might be more interesting to link this with a different building, such as lvl1 farms, reflecting the growth of communal ties and the fostering system); maybe a "womenfolk" unit.
Tier 2: a stronger spear unit (eg "chosen spearmen"); maybe an axe unit (although this could be tier 1, depending on other barb axe units (balance!) and how useful we think axes are in battle); and a better slinger unit (sec wp: spear?).
Tier 3: [Things get tricky here, as we've basically run out of historically accurate units...] chosen spearmen +2xp, and/or a tougher sort of semi-zerk/fanatic spear unit (eg "tribal champions") [although I'd prefer to link that with a temple instead]; British cavalry (a basic light cavalry unit, javelins and a lance, not brilliant but they should be able to do the job of missile cavalry and light cavalry quite well as they are the only horse the Britons will get here; these are not rich men, but normal people "equo publico" - with a horse provided by the state).
This is the more iconic and familiar picture of IAB warriors.
Tier 1: (as pre-ref)
Tier 2: a basic swordsman unit, should be able to hold their own fairly well ("British Warriors" or something; sword, long shield, javelins, half-naked, warpaint, all that jazz); British cavalry (maybe the same as before the reforms, but with a different description to reflect their new position in the social order); archers are out of the question, never used in Britain at this time, and I think a special javelineer unit doesn't make much sense as everyone had javelins but they didn't fight like that, so we'll have to stick with the pre-reform slingers, although their importance was declining at this time.
Tier 3: an armoured swordsmen/dismounted nobles unit (chain mail, javelins, hide-shaped shield, big sword, NO HELMET - very tough (tougher than legionaries in terms of stats) but few in number and difficult to train); War Chariots (they are missile chariots, no spiked wheels, absolutely rubbish in melee although they should have a good charge; no unrealistic extra HPs either. to compensate for the fact that they would be absolutely crap just like that, they should have a substantially better range than foot-peltasts, and being in chariots they can carry loads of ammo, thirty javelins each easily, which should inflict decent damage); and a zerk/gaesatae-type unit, ie mad fanatic swordsmen, same limitations as dismounted nobles though.
From a war temple (more below), they should further be able to recruit, both before and after reforms:
Tier 1: wardogs unit (the normal peasant spearmen, maybe a slightly different skin, only + dogs. historically accurate, and very iconic!)
Tier 2: no special ideas, although another axe unit would go down well.
Tier 3: a really great idea. ;) a fanatic/zerk spear unit, "Uirocunes" ("Werewolves"). No shield, just a stout combat spear and a couple of HPs, very badass look. gives more gameplay flexibility.
And from a region with the druid resource, druids and druidesses - only a little more accurate than the vanilla versions! More on this below.
I have already said that the traditional TW buildings tree is not really appropriate for barbarian factions. There should be much fewer buildings, and they should be quite different.
- central_building: very unHA in vanilla. basically for the Britons they should just be variants on the roundhouse. tier 1, just a normal roundhouse, a bit larger than the normal ones maybe: "Chief's House" or something. tier 2, a much larger roundhouse, perhaps with a fence including a couple of square storehouses: "Council Hall" or something. tier 3, we can actually have a 2-storey roundhouse (they found one in Norfolk), and a fence should also enclose a few other roundhouses and lots of storehouses. "Chieftain's Hold" or something. it is on these buildings that unit recruitment should depend.
- walls: tier 1, a simple palisade. tier 2, a wooden wall with a ditch. tier 3, a bigger thicker wooden wall with a bigger ditch. The ditch is important, if it can in any way be done.
- farms: tier 1 "land clearance", tier 2 "communal farming", tier 3 "crop rotation". (maybe rename land clearance land redistribution?)
- markets: they obviously shouldn't be a single building, it should be a square. tier 1 "village square", tier 2 "regional crossroads", tier 3 "international marketplace".
- tin route: special building available if tin is present in the province, like silk road for parthia (also available to Gaul, the Spanish factions and Carthage). gives income bonuses.
- druid building: special building available if druidic resource present (which is on Ynys Mon, in the Carnutian Forest and at Drunemeton in Galatia only. also available to Gaul). tier 3: druids' gathering. this building should appear on the campaign map on the spot of the druidic resource once built (like mines on gold). they allow the recruitment of druids and druidesses and give positive traits and ancillaries to Gaul and the Britons, and if captured, they increase the loyalty of barbarians towards the owner and give a tax bonus.
- smith: tier1 local ironworker (+1 light wp - just a normal house), tier2 specialist smith (+2 wp - a larger house with an anvil outside), tier3 weapons factory (+2 wp, +1 am - an enclosure with one large house and a few smaller ones).
- temples: tier 1 "standing stone" an ancient single upright stone, tier 2 "barrow mound" an ancient burial mound, tier 3 "sacred enclosure" a semi-circle of carved upright large wooden posts. you don't put sacred groves or walkways or pools in cities, although those would be good candidates for a separate tree.
Note that the vanilla settlement layout needs completely redoing. lvl 1 should already be on a small hill; just a circle of roundhouses scattered around the chief's house and the square. lvl 2, same again, only the roundhouses are more clearly organised into streets. lvl 3, basically a Roman city layout, with the N/S and E/W axes, only all the buildings are barbarian. The only buildings you can have are roundhouses and small square storehouses on poles which keep them a little off the ground. Those longhalls or big mediaeval houses are completely wrong.
I think some of the most important gods for the Britons were:
- Kamulos (war)
- Epona (land)
- Lugus (law)
(on the subject: Gauls Toutatis (war), Sirona (health), Esus (law), Gobannos (smith); Germans Wodanaz (law), Frijjo (fertility), Thunraz (war), Teiwaz (war).)