The Votadini were a Celtic tribe that inhabited Scotland and northern England during the Iron Age and Roman period. Known for their strategic alliances and strong fortifications, they played a significant role in shaping the region.
In this article, we will explore the history, culture, and legacy of the Votadini tribe and how their impact can still be seen today. Join us on a journey through ancient Britain to learn about one of its most fascinating tribes.
The Votadini People Of The United Kingdom
Prehistory Of The Votadini People
The Votadini were a pre-Roman Iron Age tribe living in southeastern Scotland and northern England. They were part of a larger network of tribes known as the Painted People, known for their intricate and colorful body art.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the Votadini were a highly organized society with a strong leader, likely a king. They traded with other tribes and were skilled metalworkers, producing weapons and tools from iron and bronze.
The Votadini built hillforts, which were large fortified settlements that served as centres for trade and defence. These hillforts were strategically located and could be easily defendable in case of attack.
The largest hillfort of the Votadini was Traprain Law in East Lothian, Scotland, which covered over five acres. Despite the presence of Roman forces in Britain, the Votadini managed to maintain their independence until the end of the Roman period.
However, with the arrival of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in the 5th and 6th centuries, the Votadini were eventually absorbed into the emerging kingdoms of northern Britain.
Today, the legacy of the Votadini can still be seen in the hillforts and other structures they built, which remind them of their rich history and cultural heritage.
The Roman Period
The Romans recorded the Votadini tribe in the 1st century as a British tribe. From 138 to 162, the Votadini occupied the region between Hadrian’s and Antonine Walls and came under direct Roman military rule.
The Romans then retreated to Hadrian’s Wall, making the Votadini a friendly buffer state that received the rewards of alliance with Rome without being under its rule.
This lasted until about 400, when the Romans withdrew from southern Great Britain. Roman goods found at Traprain Law in East Lothian suggest profitability, but this remains speculation.
In the 3rd century, Britannia was divided into four provinces, with a late reorganization creating a province called Valentia. This may have been a new province that included Votadini territory or simply a renamed one of the four existing provinces.
Excavations in Votadini territory, especially around Traprain Law, reveal silver Roman items, including Gallic Roman coins, indicating trade with the continent. The origin of other items remains unknown, whether they were traded for or given as appeasement by the Romans.
The Post-Roman Period
The post-Roman period of the Votadini people saw the emergence of the Hen Ogledd region. The lands of the Votadini became part of this area.
By 470, a new kingdom called Gododdin had formed, covering most of the original Votadini territory. Between the Tweed and Tyne, the southern part became a separate kingdom called Brynaich.
Cunedda, said to have been a Gododdin chieftain, migrated to Gwynedd in north Wales and established a militaristic dynasty.
This dynasty remained undefeated until the 13th century. The Votadini and Gododdin kingdoms warred with the Angles of Bernicia. The warfare is commemorated in Aneirin’s Y Gododdin poem cycle from the late 6th or early 7th century.
The Votadini People Today
Today, their legacy lives on through the names of places, such as Traprain Law in East Lothian, and the region’s rich history and cultural heritage.
There are no known direct descendants of the Votadini people. However, the Scottish and English people in the region today can trace their ancestry back to the various tribes and civilizations that inhabited the area throughout history, including the Votadini.
Despite the passage of time, the impact of the Votadini on the region remains palpable. Historical landmarks, such as Traprain Law, continue to be a source of fascination and study for historians and archaeologists.
Additionally, many place names in the region, such as Edinburgh, are derived from the Votadini language and are a testament to their lasting influence.
In modern times, the Votadini has become the subject of famous works of fiction. These are seen in books and movies, which have helped to further cement their place in the public consciousness.
For example, the book “The Gododdin” by Aneirin, written in the 6th or 7th century and tells the story of the Votadini, is considered one of the earliest pieces of Welsh literature and remains widely read today.
Despite the lack of a direct connection to the Votadini people, the people of Scotland and northern England today are proud of their rich cultural heritage. They continue to celebrate and preserve the legacy of the tribes and civilizations that once inhabited the region.
From historical landmarks to place names to works of fiction, the Votadini continue to play an important role in shaping the region’s cultural identity.
Interesting Facts Of The Votadini People
- The Votadini people were a British tribe known to the Romans in the 1st century.
- Their territory once spanned across what is now southeastern Scotland and northeastern England.
- The Votadini was vital as a friendly buffer state between Rome and the northern tribes.
- Excavations in their territory uncovered silver Roman items, including coins, suggesting trade between the Votadini and the Romans.
- After the Roman withdrawal, the Votadini lands became part of Hen Ogledd, and the Kingdom of Gododdin emerged.
- The Kingdom of Gododdin engaged in warfare with the Angles of Bernicia. It’s remembered in the poem cycle Y Gododdin.
- Cunedda, the legendary founder of the Kingdom of Gwynedd in north Wales, is said to have been a Gododdin chieftain.
- Despite their efforts, the Votadini eventually assimilated into the larger Scottish and English cultures.
- Today, the Votadini people are remembered through the numerous historical sites, and cultural heritage artefacts. These include; hillforts, ironwork tools, weapons, and legends passed down through the generations.