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Europe : Britain and Ireland : United Kingdom
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Location
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Flag
Image:uk-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital London
Government Constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy
Currency Pound sterling (GBP)
Area total: 244,820 sq km
water: 3,230 sq km
land: 241,590 sq km
Population 60,441,457 (July 2006 est.)
Language English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scots (mostly spoken in the Lowlands of Scotland) Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland), some speakers of the Irish form of Gaelic in Northern Ireland
Religion Anglican and Roman Catholic 40 million (66%)- Roman Catholics are about 10% of the population and rising, Muslim 1.5 million (2.5%), Presbyterian 800,000 (1.3%), Methodist 760,000 (1.3%), Sikh 336,000 (0.6%), Hindu 559,000 (0.9%), Jewish 267,000 (0.4%), Buddhist 152,000 (0.25%), no religion 9,104,000 (15%)
Electricity 230V, 50 Hz
Calling Code +44
Internet TLD .uk
Time Zone summer: UTC +1
winter: UTC
Map of the United Kingdom
Map of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the United Kingdom or the UK) [1] is a constitutional monarchy comprising most of the British Isles, and is one of the world's wealthiest nations.

The Union comprises four constituent nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It occupies all of the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern portion of the island of Ireland and most of the remaining British Isles. It is important to remember that the Republic of Ireland is a completely separate country to the United Kingdom, gaining its independence in 1922. It counts Ireland, France, Belgium and Netherlands as its nearest neighbours. The Isle of Man and the various Channel Islands are "crown dependencies", possessing their own legislative bodies with the assent of the Crown. They are not part of the United Kingdom, nor of the EU, but are not sovereign nations in their own right either.

The 'Great' in Great Britain (Grande-Bretagne in French) is to distinguish it from the other, smaller "Britain": Brittany (Bretagne) in northwestern France.

The UK today is a diverse patchwork of native and immigrant cultures, possessing a fascinating history and dynamic modern culture, both of which remain hugely influential in the wider world. Although Britannia no longer rules the waves, the UK is still a popular destination for many travellers. The capital and largest city of the United Kingdom is London.

Home nations

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a union made up of the "home nations" and territories:

Great Britain
England the largest component, in terms both of size and, by far, population.
Scotland is the second largest home nation and occupies the northern third of Great Britain. The four archipelagos of Orkney, Shetland, and the Inner and Outer Hebrides are also part of Scotland.
Wales located within the largely mountainous western portion of Great Britain.
Ireland
Northern Ireland occupies the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, occupying six of the nine counties of the ancient Irish province of Ulster, and indeed "Ulster" is still a colloquially used alternative name for Northern Ireland, even if it is not in the strictest sense geographically accurate.

"Great Britain" ("GB", "Britain") refers just to the biggest island, that is, Scotland, England, and Wales together. Great Britain became part of the United Kingdom when the Irish and British parliaments merged in 1801 to form the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland". This was changed to "... and Northern Ireland" when all but six Irish counties left the Union in 1921 after a treaty. "Britain" is often used as shorthand for the whole of the United Kingdom, even though this is strictly incorrect.

Don't describe the country as "England". It is incorrect and may offend people from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who will not identify themselves as being from "England".

The flag of the United Kingdom is popularly known as the Union Jack or Union Flag. It comprises the flags of St. George (of England), St. Andrew (of Scotland, also known as the Saltire) and the St. Patrick's Cross (of Ireland) superimposed on each other. Within England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the flags of each nation are commonly used. The St. Patrick's Cross flag is often seen on St. Patrick's Day in Northern Ireland. Since the Republic of Ireland split from the UK though, St. Patrick's Saltire is not used for Northern Ireland, as it represented the whole of the island of Ireland. A flag (known as the "Ulster Banner") was designed for Northern Ireland in the 1920s, which was based on the flag of Ulster (similar in appearance to the St. George's Cross flag of England) and includes a Red Hand of Ulster and a crown. Although the flag's official status ended with the dissolving of the province's devolved government in the early 1970s, it can still be seen in Northern Ireland, particularly among the Protestant community and on sporting occasions. As Wales was politically integrated into the English kingdom hundreds of years ago, its flag was not incorporated into the Union Jack. The flag features a Red Dragon on a green field.

Referring to someone's nationality

If you need to refer to someone's nationality, it is best to use the term 'British' as it is not always obvious which of the most precise terms, 'English', 'Northern Irish', 'Welsh' or 'Scottish' applies. To play safe, you can ask someone from which part of the UK they are from, as this covers every corner of the isles - including Northern Ireland.

In general, though, Northern Ireland and Scotland can be more problematic, and 'Scottish', 'Northern Irish', 'Irish', or 'British' can all be appropriate according to the political persuasion of the individual. Irish nationalists may avoid referring to Northern Ireland at all, referring instead to 'The Six Counties' or 'The North', or talk about 'Ireland' as a whole. 'Northern Irish' is less likely to offend, whereas referring to someone from Northern Ireland as 'British' or as 'Irish' can cause offence depending on a person's political ideology.

As a tourist, you are unlikely to cause serious offence. At worst, you will incur a minor rebuff and reaffirmation of their nationality, as in "I'm not Scottish. I'm English".

The Channel Islands: Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Sark.
The Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not strictly part of the UK, but rather are 'Crown Dependencies'. This means that they have their own democratic governments, laws and courts and are not part of the EU; but they are not entirely sovereign either, falling under the British Crown which chooses to have its UK Government manage some of the islands' affairs. The people are British Citizens, but unless they have direct ties with the UK, through a parent, or have lived there for at least 5 years, they are not able to take up work or residence elsewhere in the European Union

Cities

Many cities and towns in the United Kingdom are of interest to travellers outside the capital city of London. Following is an alphabetical selection of nine - others are listed under their specific regions:

  • Belfast - capital of Northern Ireland and becoming a popular tourist destination, undergoing major renovations and improvements
  • Birmingham - central England's main city, features great shopping, and is home of the famous Balti and great culture
  • Bristol - an historical city famed for its Georgian architecture and nautical heritage
  • Cardiff - capital of Wales, host to varied cultural events and many other modern and historical attractions
  • Edinburgh - capital of Scotland, home to the largest arts festival in the world and numerous tourist attractions as well as being the second most visited city in the UK
  • Glasgow - Scotland's largest city, new cultural hotspot, former European City of Culture
  • Liverpool - Booming city, famous for its prominence in music, sport, nightlife and multiculturalism. Capital of Culture 2008.
  • Manchester - Thriving bohemian music scene, gay quarter and home to the world's only new work arts festival as well as being the third most visited city in the UK.
  • Newcastle upon Tyne - largest city in the north east of England, notorious for its busy night-life, a rejuvenated cultural scene and Hadrian's Wall.

Understand

Government

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as the nominal head of state, and a democratically elected parliament responsible for government, led by the Prime Minister.

Additionally, Northern Ireland, Scotland. Wales have their own elected bodies, with varying degrees of autonomy mostly concerned with taxation and education (The Northern Ireland Assembly, The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly). England has no similar body of its own.

There are also local government authorities responsible for services at a local level.

Using maps and postcodes

Most basic mapping in the United Kingdom is undertaken by the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain [2] and the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland [3]. The maps found in bookshops may be published directly by those organisations, or by private map publishers drawing on basic Ordnance Survey data.

One consequence of this for the traveller is the widespread use of Ordnance Survey grid references in guide books and other information sources. These are usually presented [xx999999] (eg. [SU921206]) and form a quick way of finding any location on a map. If using a GPS be sure to set it to the British National Grid (BNG) and the OSGB datum.

Alternatively, every postal address has a postcode, either a unique one or one shared with its immediate neighbours. British postcodes take the form (XXYY ZZZ), where XX is a 2 or 1 character alphabetic code representing the town, city or geographic area, a 1 or 2 digit number YY representing the area of that town or city, followed by a 3 digit alphanumeric code ZZZ which denotes the road and a specific section or house on that road. Therefore, a postcode will identify a location to within a few tens of metres in urban locations; and adding a house number and street will identify a property uniquely (at road junctions two houses with the same number may share the same postcode). Most internet mapping services enable locations to be found by postcode. Owing to London's huge size and population it has its own distinct variation of the postcode system where the town code XX is replaced by an area code indicating the geographic part of the city - e.g N-North, WC-West Central, EC-East Central, SW-South West; and so on.

The Ordnance Survey's 1:50000 or 1:25000 scale maps are astonishingly detailed and show contour lines, public rights of way, and access land. For pursuits such as walking, they are practically indispensable, and in rural areas show individual farm buildings and (on the larger scale) field boundaries.

Climate

The UK has a benign humid-temperate climate moderated by the North Atlantic current and the country's proximity to the sea. Warm, damp summers and mild winters provide temperatures pleasant enough to engage in outdoor activities all year round. Having said that, the weather in the UK can be changeable and conditions are often windy and wet. British rain is world renowned, but in practice it rarely rains more than two or three hours at a time and often parts of the country stay dry for many weeks at a time, especially in the East. More common are overcast or partly cloudy skies. It is an idea to be prepared for a change of weather when going out; a jumper and a raincoat usually suffice when it is not winter.

Because the UK stretches nearly a thousand kilometres from end to end, temperatures can vary quite considerably between north and south. Differences in rainfall are also pronounced between the drier east and wetter west. Scotland and north-western England (particularly the Lake District) are often rainy and cold. Alpine conditions with heavy snowfall are common in the mountains of northern Scotland during the winter. The north-east and Midlands are also cool, though with less rainfall. The south-east and east Anglia is generally warm and dry, and the south-west warm but often wet. Wales and Northern Ireland tend to experience cool to mild temperatures and moderate rainfall, while the hills of Wales occasionally experience heavy snowfall. Even though the highest land in the UK rarely reaches more than 1,300 metres, the effect of height on rainfall and temperature is great.

Bank (public) holidays

Each country within the UK has a number of bank holidays, on which the majority of people do not work. Shops, pubs, restaurants and similar are usually open. Many UK residents will take advantage of the time off to travel, both within the UK and abroad. This makes transport links busier than usual and tends to increase prices. If your travel dates are flexible you may wish to avoid travelling to or from the UK on bank holiday weekends.

The following 8 bank holidays apply in all parts of the UK:

  • New Year's Day (1st January)
  • Good Friday (the Friday immediately before Easter Sunday)
  • Easter Monday (the Monday immediately after Easter Sunday)
  • Early May Bank Holiday (the first Monday in May)
  • Spring Bank Holiday (the last Monday in May)
  • Summer Bank Holiday (the last Monday in August, except in Scotland where it is the first Monday in August)
  • Christmas Day (25th December)
  • Boxing Day (26th December)

Northern Ireland has the following two additional bank holidays:

  • St Patrick's Day (17th March)
  • Battle of the Boyne / Orangemen's Day (12th July)

Scotland officially has two additional bank holidays:

  • the day after New Year's Day (2nd January)
  • St Andrew's Day (30th November)

In practice, with the exception of Easter, Christmas and New Year holidays, UK bank holidays are virtually ignored in Scotland in favour of local holidays which vary from place to place.

Where a bank holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is moved to the following Monday. If both Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall on a weekend, the Boxing Day holiday is moved to the following Tuesday.

A full list of bank holidays for future years can be viewed at [4].

Major airports and ferry routes
Major airports and ferry routes

The United Kingdom is physically linked to two other countries. The Channel Tunnel connects the UK to France, and Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland. While the UK is a member of the European Union, it has not ratified the Schengen agreement, which means that travel between other EU countries and the UK is considered to be international travel, and requires a passport.

  • Citizens of other member states of the European Union for the most part do not require a visa, and have permanent residency and working rights in the UK. Citizens of Ireland have additional rights allowing them to vote in elections. However, citizens of Bulgaria and Romania do have restrictions on their employment.
  • Citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland also have permanent residency rights, but may require a work permit in some circumstances.
  • Citizens of American Samoa, Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bonaire, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Dominica, East Timor, El Salvador, Federated States of Micronesia, French Guiana, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Kiribati, Lesotho, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Reunion, Saba, South Korea, St Eustatius, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Vincent & The Grenadines, San Marino, Singapore, Swaziland, Tahiti and her Islands, Taiwan, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu, Uruguay, United States, US Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Vatican City and Venezuela (holders of biometric passports only) do not require a visa for visits of up to 3 or 6 months in a one-year period, though require entry clearance for purposes other than visiting as a tourist or business visitor. However, the entry clearance normally prohibits one from undertaking employment or accessing public funds, such as the NHS, and it is nonextendable past the maximum permitted stay.
  • Recently added as a visa exemption is a student visitor category, where a person may receive an entry clearance for the purposes of undertaking a short course of study of no more than six months, but only on the condition that the student not be seeking gainful employment or the possibility of extending their stay beyond six months. Persons not eligible to apply for entry clearance upon arrival can apply for a student visitor clearance at a British Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate, but the same restrictions apply.
  • Most other countries and purposes will require a visa, which can be obtained from the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. All UK visa applicants are required to provide biometric data (10-digit fingerprints and a biometric digital photograph) as part of the application process. You will have to go to your nearest visa application centre in person to provide your biometrics.
  • All non-EU visitors should expect to be asked by the Immigration Officer upon arrival to demonstrate that they have a) a return ticket to leave the United Kingdom or sufficient funds to meet the cost of an onwards plane ticket, b) a valid address at which they will be staying in the United Kingdom and c) sufficient funds with which to support themselves during their stay. An inability to demonstrate these three basics may lead to a refusal of leave to enter or a grant of restricted leave.
  • The United Kingdom has converted the previous visa categories (except for student visitor, business, tourist, transit, and a few others) into a points-based tier system, meaning that you will be required to satisfy specific and non-negotiable criteria before the visa is issued.
  • Commonwealth citizens who are 17 or over and have a British grandparent can apply for an Ancestry visa. This allows residency and work for five years. After this, permanent residence may be applied for.
  • The UK also operates Youth Mobility Visas' for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan. This allows residency in the UK for up to 2 years, with limited working rights. Some visas restrict working to only a portion of the visa duration. Only a limited number of visas are issued for each country -- in particular, demand far exceeds supply for Japan. The former Working Holiday visa has been discontinued.
  • Regardless of citizenship, passports are not required to enter the UK from the Republic of Ireland.
  • EU citizens may use a valid national ID card from an EEA country to enter the UK. Passports are required from all other countries.

For more information of UK Immigration and visa requirements, see the British Home Office website [5].

Common Travel Area

If you enter the United Kingdom through Ireland, you will pass through passport control at your port of entry into Ireland, but you probably not be required to clear UK passport control. However, you will only be limited to a stay of three months in the UK and Ireland (or whatever the passport control officer in Ireland gives you an entry clearance for) if you qualify for a visa exemption, not the usual six-month stay for visa-exempt nationals. Hence, especially if you attempt to enter as a Student Visitor, you should not transit through Ireland unless you possess a valid visa permitting a stay of more than three months or intend to stay for fewer than three months.

If you are a visa national for Ireland or the UK, however, you must possess a visa from each country that requires you to have one if you intend to visit both of them, even if it is merely in transit. Not passing through passport control does not exempt one from having a visa if needed, and you can be deported for not having one.

Customs and goods

The UK has relatively strict laws controlling which goods can and cannot be brought into the country. Particularly stringent laws apply to the movement of animals. The British Isles are rabies-free, and the government (and the people) want to keep it that way. Signs in several languages are displayed prominently at even the smallest of boat landings all around the coast. Owing to the relaxation of some duty laws on alcohol and tobacco when travelling across EU borders, it has become popular among the British to bring back large quantities of such goods bought tax-free in Continental Europe in recent years. However, the practice has become open to abuse, with many trying to illegally import large amounts for the purposes of selling on at a profit. Customs laws are therefore strict for the bringing of alcohol and tobacco and if a Customs officer thinks that the amount you are trying to bring into the country from the EU is excessive, you may be questioned further, or be asked to prove that it is for your own consumption. The fines can be severe, and you also run the risk of the goods (and the vehicle they are being transported in) being confiscated.

By plane

When flying to the UK you are most likely to arrive at one of London's five airports, although there are direct international flights to many other cities. KLM has a large number of feeder flights from almost every UK regional airport to its international hub in Amsterdam.

Recently, many airports in southern England have added "London" to their names. Be aware that just because an airport has London in its name doesn't necessarily mean that it is near to, or easily accessible from, London.

  • London Heathrow Airport [6] is one of the world's busiest international airports. Situated 15 miles west of Central London, Heathrow offers a large choice of international destinations, with direct flights to most countries in the world. British Airways [7] has its hub at Heathrow and offers a wide range of international flights to Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Australia. There are fewer direct flights to South America, although many South American airlines connect to London via Spain. Other large airlines operating at Heathrow include bmi [8] (formerly British Midland), Virgin Atlantic [9] and the main national airlines of most countries.
  • London Gatwick Airport [10], 30 miles south of London in Sussex, is the second-largest airport, and also offers a wide range of international flights.
  • London Stansted Airport [11] in Essex is a hub for the budget airlines Ryanair [12] and easyJet [13] who offer direct flights to a wide range of European destinations as well as to Asia, with daily flights to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia X.
  • London Luton Airport [14] in Bedfordshire is also a major hub for the Ryanair [15] and easyJet [16]
  • London City Airport [17] is the most central airport in London, situated 7 miles east of Central London, but primarily serves business passengers to the main financial centres in Europe.
  • Manchester International Airport [18] in the North of England is the UK's third-largest airport serving many European and a reasonable number of long-haul destinations. This could be a more convenient arrival airport for visitors to North Wales, the North of England and Scotland.

Outside London and Manchester, many of the regional airports offer a wide range of direct links to European and some long-haul destinations.

  • Liverpool John Lennon Airport [19], in North West England, is the UK's fastest-growing airport and is taking on more and more flights.
  • Leeds Bradford [20] is a hub for Jet2 [21] and Ryanair.
  • Birmingham International [22]

Other smaller regional airports include Bournemouth, Bristol, East Midlands, Newcastle, Norwich, Southampton and Teesside/Durham Tees Valley.

In Scotland the major airports with links to London and abroad are:

  • Glasgow has two airports: Glasgow International [23] (for most major airlines) and Glasgow Prestwick [24] (for RyanAir and some low-cost flights)
  • Edinburgh
  • Aberdeen
  • Inverness

Cardiff International [25] is the only international airport in Wales; it is a major hub of bmibaby[26]

In Northern Ireland, Belfast International Airport [27] and Belfast City Airport [28] both serve the province's capital. City of Derry Airport [29] serves the northwest with a limited number of international and domestic flights.

Due to an increase in airport security and aviation security in general, long delays are possible when checking in for a flight. Additionally a passport or valid photo ID (such as photo driver's licence, national ID card, etc.) is required for internal flights.

By train

From Belgium and France

Eurostar [30] high-speed trains run between London (St Pancras International), Ebbsfleet and Ashford through the Channel Tunnel to Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille and Brussels. During the summer an additional weekly train operates to Avignon and during the winter a weekly service runs a ski service direct to the French Alps. Through tickets and connections are available in Lille, Paris and Brussels from many European cities to most large UK cities.

Journey times average two hours fifteen minutes to and from Paris, and one hour fifty minutes to Brussels. A second class return from Paris to London costs between €85 and €230. While it can be cheaper to fly from London to Paris using a low-cost airline, bear in mind that the journeys to the airports can be expensive and time-consuming.

From The Netherlands

Multiple daily connections from Dutch cities are possible via Brussels and the Eurostar to London. It can be cheaper (and more flexible) to book an 'Any Dutch station' Eurostar ticket that permits connection to/from any Dutch station provided the itinerary doesn't use the more expensive Thalys services.

Combined train and ferry tickets are available to travellers from stations in the Netherlands to train stations in East Anglia, Essex and East London. This service may be a useful alternative to Eurostar for travellers from Northern Europe, or for those wishing to travel to East Anglia. The interchange between the ferry terminal and the train station at both ports is very simple and user friendly. Express trains from Harwich International are timed to meet the ferry and allow a simple transfer to London Liverpool Street. The Dutch Flyer website [31] gives prices only for tickets purchased in Great Britain; it does, however, give timetable information. Stena's Dutch language website [32] allows booking of tickets for journeys starting from the Netherlands.

From the Republic of Ireland

Cross-border rail services to Northern Ireland

From Dublin in Ireland, the Enterprise [33] takes just over 2 hours to Belfast. Tickets available from Irish Rail [34] (in the Republic) and NI Railways [35] in the North.

Services to the British mainland

Combined Rail & Sail[36] tickets are available from any railway station in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland to any railway station in Great Britain. Tickets can be bought from the railway company and ferry operators. Through tickets are available on most sea corridors.

Fares are slightly higher during July and August. Virgin Trains [37] may be offering advance-purchase tickets from London to Dublin from £32 return, although these are hard to obtain and possible only for journeys starting in Great Britain.

By car

The Channel Tunnel has provided a rail/road connection since 1994. Shuttle trains carry cars from Calais, France to Folkestone, the journey taking around 40 minutes. Fares start at £49 one way and can be booked on the Eurotunnel website [38]. On arrival at Folkestone, you can drive on to the M20 motorway which heads towards London. Car ferries also operate to many parts of the UK, see 'by boat' section. Drivers entering Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland will usually find they have done so without noticing. There are no border controls, and only the major roads will display signs stating that you are leaving one country and entering the other. It should be noted that road signs in the Republic of Ireland are in kilometres while those in Northern Ireland are in miles so it is advisable to take note of the differences in signs and road markings when driving in border areas.

By bus

Coaches are the cheapest way to travel to the UK from France and the Benelux. Eurolines offer daily services from Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels to London Victoria coach station. Daily overnight coaches and limited day coaches travel between the UK and Ireland. Connections are available to most parts of the UK via the domestic National Express coach system, for most destinations it is cheaper to purchase this when purchasing your Eurolines tickets as discounts are available. Journeys take about 8-14 hours.

Eurolines will also take you to/from other major European cities. Taking a budget flight is normally cheaper (but with a greater environmental impact), and spares you from a 24h+ bus journey.

Various other operators compete with Eurolines, mostly between Poland and the UK; these come and go.

By boat

See the city articles for more details on routes, timings and costs. Ferry routes to British Mainland

There are a large number of ferry routes into the UK from continental Europe. Newcastle serves a route from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Harwich has ferries from Esbjerg in Denmark and Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands. You can also sail from Rotterdam in the Netherlands or Zeebrugge in Belgium to Hull, or from Zeebrugge to Rosyth, near Edinburgh (note that this service will resume in April or May 2009, as Norfolk Line [39] take over the route from Superfast Ferries, whose service ended in September 2008). There is a regular connection between Ramsgate and Oostende in Belgium. There are 4 sailings a day and prices vary between €50 to €84.

Dover is one of Britain's most popular passenger ports with sailings from Zeebrugge, Dunkerque and Calais in France. The Dover-Calais route is particularly busy, with three companies competing and up to 50 sailings per day. The Ferry between Dover and Calais costs around £12-18 each way if on foot or bicycle, and around £80 for a car, although big discounts are available if booked in advance or with special offers.

On the south coast, Portsmouth serves ferries from Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St. Malo and Bilbao in Spain and there are speedy services between Dieppe and Newhaven. The other route from Spain is Santander to Plymouth, Plymouth also has ferries from Roscoff, Poole has ferries to Cherbourg as well as the Channel Islands.

From the Republic of Ireland, ports of entry include Pembroke, Fishguard and Holyhead and Swansea (service suspended until March 2010). There are sailings from Dublin to Holyhead, and Liverpool.

Get around

An extensive national public transport journey planner for the UK is available on the Traveline website [40].

Transport Direct also operate a website for all modes of transport, including planes, cars, and allows comparisons to be made with public transport options [41]

By plane

Given the short distances involved, flying is rarely the cheapest or most convenient option for domestic travel within the UK with the possible exception of between southern England and Scotland. The main domestic hubs are London, Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The arrival of budget airlines Ryanair [42] and easyJet [43] have seen a boom in domestic UK air travel, and have forced fares down considerably. To get the best fare, it is advisable to book as far in advance as possible. It is worth noting that many regional airports are not connected to the national rail network, with connections to the nearest cities served by relatively expensive buses. Photo ID is required before boarding domestic flights in the UK. Check your airline's requirements carefully before setting out.

'Screen-scraper' comparison websites can be a useful way to compare flight costs between airports or even city pairs (suggesting alternative airports, for instance). Beware that some airlines, such as Ryanair, object to being included in these searches, so these sites are not always comprehensive.

The following carriers offer domestic flights within the United Kingdom:

  • British Airways [44]: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, London Gatwick, Heathrow and City Airports, Manchester, Newcastle.
  • FlyBE [45] - Aberdeen, Belfast City, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster-Sheffield, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle Of Man, Jersey, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, London Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle, Newquay, Norwich, Southampton and Southend airports
  • Loganair [46] operating as a franchise carrier for FlyBe - Eday, Kirkwall, North Ronaldsay, Papa Westray, Sanday, Stronsay, Westray airports.
  • bmi [47] & bmi Regional [48] - Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Jersey, London Heathrow , Manchester, Norwich, Southampton airports.
  • Eastern Airways [49] - Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Humberside, Inverness, Isle Of Man , Leeds/Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham East Midlands, Southampton, Stornoway, Wick airports.
  • easyJet [50] - Aberdeen, Belfast International,Bournemouth, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, Newcastle airports.
  • bmibaby [51] - Aberdeen, Belfast International, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Manchester, Newquay, Nottingham East Midlands airports.
  • Ryanair [52] - Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Glasgow-Prestwick, Inverness, Liverpool, London Stansted, City of Derry, Newquay, Nottingham East Midlands airports.
  • Air Southwest [53] - Bristol, Cardiff, Jersey, Leeds/Bradford, London City and Gatwick, Manchester, Newquay, Plymouth airports.
  • Aurigny Air Services [54] - Alderney, Bristol, Guernsey, Jersey, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester, Southampton airports.
  • Blue Islands [55] - Alderney, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cardiff, Guernsey, Isle Of Man, Jersey, Southampton airports.
  • Euromanx [56] - Belfast City, Isle Of Man, Liverpool, London City, Manchester airports.
  • Isles Of Scilly Skybus [57] - Bristol, Exeter, Isles Of Scilly (St. Mary's), Newquay, Southampton airports.
  • Jet2 [58] - Belfast International, Blackpool, Leeds/Bradford, London Gatwick, Newcastle airports.
  • Thomsonfly [59] - Bournemouth, Cardiff, Coventry, Doncaster-Sheffield, Jersey, London Luton airports.
  • VLM Airlines [60] (now operating for KLM) - Isle Of Man, Jersey, Liverpool, London City, Manchester airports.
  • Highland Airways [61] - Anglesey, Benbecula, Cardiff, Inverness, Shetland Islands (Sumburgh), Stornoway airports.
  • British International [62] - Isles Of Scilly (St. Mary's), Isles Of Scilly (Tresco), Penzance airports.
  • Atlantic Airways Faroe Islands [63] - Stansted and Shetland Islands (Sumburgh) airports.
Simplified UK Rail Network
Simplified UK Rail Network

See also Rail travel in the UK

The UK has an extensive privatised train network of some 34,000km (21,000 miles) covering most of the country, from Penzance in Cornwall to Thurso in the far north of Scotland. There is a multitude of different tickets, which can make train travel confusing, even for UK citizens.

Train services are not as fast as the high speed lines of France or Germany. However the UK has one of the busiest commuter and freight networks in the world with a relatively high standard of service on both main and secondary routes. Train services can range from excellent to very poor, and the trains themselves can range from older and more comfortable locomotive-hauled coaches to less spacious and less comfortable multiple units. Train travel is a viable option for exploring the UK and is usually quicker and cheaper than bringing a car into the country or renting one.

Privatisation has resulted in a huge range of quality and price of rail services. While some connections and companies have poor standards of speed, reliability and cleanliness, others offer excellent service and value for money. However tickets can be bought from any station for travel to and from anywhere on the network and it is perfectly normal to get a connection changing from one company to another.

Structure

The track, stations and infrastructure of Britain's railway network (with the exception of preserved railways) is owned by the government and known as Network Rail. Trains are operated by privately owned and commercially run Train operating companies (TOCs). The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) represents all the passenger train companies, and markets them collectively as National Rail.

Passenger rail companies

As of January 2009, the National Rail [64] network of passenger operating companies consists of:

  • Arriva Trains Wales / Trenau Arriva Cymru [65]
  • c2c [66]
  • Chiltern Railways [67]
  • CrossCountry [68]
  • East Midlands Trains [69]
  • Eurostar [70]
  • First Capital Connect [71]
  • First Great Western [72]
  • First ScotRail [73]
  • First Transpennine Express [74]
  • Gatwick Express [75]
  • Grand Central [76]
  • Heathrow Connect [77]
  • Heathrow Express [78]
  • Hull Trains [79]
  • Island Line [80]
  • London Midland [81]
  • London Overground [82]
  • London Underground [83]
  • Merseyrail [84]
  • National Express East Anglia [85]
  • National Express East Coast [86]
  • Northern Rail [87]
  • South West Trains [88]
  • Southeastern [89]
  • Southern [90]
  • Stansted Express [91]
  • Virgin Trains [92]
  • Wrexham & Shropshire [93]

One exception of note to the above is in Northern Ireland. The slightly different administrative system and legacy of the Northern Irish transport system means that Northern Ireland Railways [94] are not part of the National Rail network. See Rail travel in Ireland for more information.

Planning your trip

The first source for rail travel information in the UK is National Rail [95]. The National Rail website, and the National Rail Enquiries phone service on +44 (0)8457 48 49 50 provide train time and fare information. However National Rail do not sell tickets. Tickets are sold by train operating companies, either from ticket offices and ticket machines at railway stations, over the phone or from one of several websites.

  • National Express [96] have one of the more user-friendly websites. It is particularly useful because of the way in which it allows you to compare the cost of two one-way tickets versus a return ticket. A lowest fare finder also quickly shows you the cheapest combination of trains. It makes no charge for credit / debit card payments nor ticket collection / delivery.
  • thetrainline.com [97] is one of the largest train ticketing websites, but its interface is not as easy to use as others. Thetrainline.com also provides the ticketing software to the websites of many of the train operating companies listed above. It charges both a credit / debit card handling fee and a fee to collect your tickets from a station or to have them posted to you.
  • RailEasy [98] is another train booking service. It charges credit / debit card handling fees.

Tickets

In general you can save money on train travel by booking in advance (tickets normally go on sale three months in advance) and by avoiding travel during peak times (6-9.30am, 4-7pm Monday to Friday) as trains are busier and more expensive. You are required to buy a ticket prior to boarding a train, unless the your station has no ticket facilities (not uncommon in rural areas) in which case you must buy a ticket on the train at the first opportunity, else you are liable to pay a 'penalty fare' and may be prosecuted for fare evasion.

National Rail offers three broad kinds of ticket, which allow you to choose between flexibility and value. In increasing order of cost per mile, tickets are classed as:

  • Advance - Buy in advance, travel on specific trains
  • Off-Peak - Buy any time, travel 'off-peak' (outside busy times, normally after 10am and all day at the weekends)
  • Anytime - Buy any time, travel any time

Advance tickets are only sold as single (one-way) tickets. With the exception of suburban and commuter trains, the cheapest fares are almost always Advance tickets. These are released for sale in limited numbers approximately 12 weeks in advance, and must be used on the train specified on the reservation. They are not valid on any other train.

When purchasing a less restricted but more expensive off-peak or anytime ticket, note that return fares are normally only a small amount more than a single (one-way).

Seat reservations are normally free (with the exception, from spring 2009, of trains operated by National Express East Coast and National Express East Anglia, who charge £2.50 per reservation) and are available on most longer distance journeys and strongly recommended where available. If you are travelling on a train with reserved seating with a reservation yourself, check the paper tag or digital display above the seat before sitting down, or you may be required to vacate it.

Discounts

Discounts on these tickets are available for:

  • Children - up to the age of 15
  • Small Groups – of between 3 and 9 people
  • Large Groups – 10 or more people
  • Railcards – discount cards valid for one year
  • Regional Railcards – offering discounts within a specific region

See Rail travel in the UK for full details.

Rail passes

There are two principal types of rail pass available to visitors to the UK which permit inclusive rail travel throughout the UK. Supplements are normally payable for Eurostar and sleeper trains.

  • InterRail and Eurail are passes for EU and non-EU citizens respectively. See Interrail#Passes for more information.
  • Britrail [99] is primarily targeted at visitors from the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and must be purchased online or in your home nation before you depart for the UK

Ranger & Rover tickets

Ranger and Rover tickets are tickets that permit unlimited travel with relatively few restrictions over a defined geographical area for a period of anything from one to fourteen days. A full list of tickets is available with their terms and conditions from National Rail [100]. These tickets include Rovers for almost every region of the UK, but notable tickets include:

  • All Line Rover: 7 or 14 Days - These national Rovers allow one or two weeks travel on almost all scheduled rail services in the UK. As of January 2009, they cost £375 / £565 respectively for standard class, and £565 / £860 for first class, with concessions for children and railcard holders.
  • Freedom of Scotland Travelpass: 4 days in 8 or 8 days in 15 - £105 and £140 respectively, with concessions for children and railcard holders.

Lines & routes

This list is not comprehensive, mentioning only Britain's main line railways.

Services

With the exception of certain regional, local and some suburban routes, trains feature two classes of accommodation:

  • Standard class accommodation with two seats either side of the aisle with a variety of facing 'table' or more private 'airline' seats.
  • First class accommodation, with two seats and one seat either side of the aisle, with a larger seat, more legroom, and an at-seat service of drinks, refreshments and a newspaper (not all at seat services available at the weekend, or for the entirety of the journey).

Longer distance journeys feature some or all of the following:

  • Free seat reservations, indicated by a paper tag or electronic display above each seat
  • A walk-up buffet or shop, or a trolley service of drinks and refreshments moving through the train
  • Air conditioning throughout
  • At least one carriage with a fully disabled-accessible toilet and baby changing facilities
  • On some services, a complimentary or paid wireless internet service

There are also five scheduled overnight sleeper trains that operate every night of the week except Saturday:

Reservations are mandatory on sleeper trains, and supplements are payable on top of most ticket prices to reserve a berth. Special advance purchase tickets known as Bargain Berths are available on the Scottish sleepers, starting at £19. They are only available from ScotRail.co.uk [101]. All sleeper trains offer:

  • Reclining seated accommodation (comparable to daytime first class)
  • Standard Class (a cabin with two berths; solo travellers will share with someone of the same sex)
  • First Class (a identical cabin but with a single berth and more generous breakfast, toiletry pack and access to departure and arrival lounges at larger stations)

Steam trains and preserved railways

These are enjoyed for their own sake at least as much as they are used as a means of transport. [102]

By car

All of the UK drives on the left - the opposite side from mainland Europe and the USA, but the same as Australia,India, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and a number of other countries. In one well-publicised incident, Hollywood actor Matthew Broderick was involved in an 1987 accident in Northern Ireland in which he ploughed head-on into another car because he was on the wrong side of the road. Visitors from the United States and Canada should bear in mind that as in the rest of Europe most cars in the UK are manual (i.e. "stick-shift") transmission, and that car rental companies will allocate you a manual transmission car by default unless you specifically ask for an automatic when you make a reservation. You will usually have to pay a few extra pounds for an auto but not having to worry about gears whilst learning to drive on the "wrong side of the road" is well worth paying extra for!

A car will get you pretty much anywhere in the UK. Parking is a problem in large cities, and especially in London, can be very expensive. Petrol (gasoline) is heavily taxed and therefore expensive, currently at around £1.07 per litre (around €1.20 per litre, US$5.50 per US gallon). The cheapest fuel is usually available at supermarkets. Branches of Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Asda tend to have fuel stations in their car parks, which are often cheaper than the big name fuel stations like Esso/Exxon, Shell and BP.

There are very few tolls (mainly on some large bridges/tunnels, such as the Severn Bridges) but a levy (congestion charge) of £8 (€8.68, US$10.95) is payable for driving in central London.

Traffic can be very heavy, especially during 'rush hour', when commuters are on their way to and from work - typically 7-10AM and 4-7PM. School holidays can make a noticeable difference, however, particularly in the morning rush hour.

The M25 London orbital motorway is particularly notorious (known to most Londoners as London's car park because all the traffic comes to a standstill) - it is best avoided on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons, use it only if you need to, and take local advice if you plan to drive to Heathrow to catch a plane. The M6 through Birmingham is another traffic blackspot. You can typically bet on finding a traffic jam if you drive for more than 90 minutes on the motorway system. Checking local traffic reports on the radio or websites such as Highways Agency [103] or Frixo [104] can help if you know you need to travel during busy hours.

Many cities operate a "Park and Ride" scheme, with car parks on the edge of the city and cheap buses into the city centre, and you should consider using them. In major cities (particularly London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Birmingham) it is usually a much better option to park on the outskirts and take public transport to the centre. This not only saves money on parking and fuel but also saves a lot of time as heavy traffic, twisty one way systems, and limited parking space causes long delays.

Parking on-street is usually heavily restricted. Never park on a white, double yellow or double red line (stopping on white or red lines is illegal. Parking on a single-yellow line is restricted (typically no-parking during the daytime e.g. 7am-7pm) and the restrictions are displayed on roadside yellow signs. Many residential streets require a resident's parking permit to park on the street, although outer-suburbs have less restrictions. On-street parking in cities may be restricted to disability-badge holders or be heavily metered, and is often for no more than a 1-2 hours stay in the daytime but is often free at night. Surface lots generally operate the pay 'n' display payment system - you must buy a ticket from a vending machine, select how many hours you wish to pay and then place the ticket on your dashboard in clear view - these places are regularly patrolled and if you don't return to your car before the allotted time you'll get a penalty or get clamped. Often you'll need to enter your car's license plate number when buying the ticket to prevent people from 'selling on' tickets with leftover time. Parking garages (known as 'multi-storeys' in British English) are usually multi-level buildings or in larger cities may be located underground. Most have barrier-controls - you'll be issued with a ticket upon entry. When returning to your vehicle you must either pay at a 'pay station' (a self-service terminal inside the car park's lobby) in which you insert the ticket and pay the required amount - the ticket will be given back to you and you must insert it into the slot at the exit barrier; or alternatively you will pay a cashier at the exit barrier - it'll normally explain the payment process on the ticket. Parking charges vary from less than 50p per hour in small towns to over 4GBP an hour in the largest cities. Many larger cities have digital displays on the approach roads indicating how many parking spaces are available in each car park.

In any town, expect regular bus services between the centre, suburbs and nearby villages, and less frequent services to more rural areas. London also has the largest mass-transit system in the world - the London Underground. Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Liverpool have tram (streetcar) services throughout the city. Glasgow and Newcastle also have underground rail systems; both are relatively small compared to the Tube, but do criss-cross the city-centre, and bus services from the outlying areas are frequent and reliable (though often slow due to traffic).

The UK has a comprehensive system of road numbers. These generally take precedence on signs: British roads are signed on a route-based rather than destination oriented basis. Therefore, before setting out on a long journey, plan the route you are going to take and note the road numbers you will need to follow. It is very unusual to see destinations, even large cities, signed more than about 50 miles in advance. Other than that, UK road signs are excellent and should be very easy to follow. Road numbers are indicated by a letter and a number as in Europe; however, the sign colours and letters are different. Routes prefixed 'M' on a blue sign are motorways - this means 70mph speed limits, restrictions on vehicle types, no pedestrians/cyclists etc. Trunk roads are prefixed 'A' and use green signs - these can have anything from 2 to 6 lanes and have varying speed limits, and usually connect towns to motorways. Many A-roads have been upgraded to motorways and are suffixed with an 'M' e.g. "A47(M)". Roads prefixed with a 'B' with white signs are the larger of the back-roads. Unclassified roads typically link smaller villages together.

Speed limits for cars are 70mph (112 km/h) on motorways and dual carriageways (i.e. roads with a median strip); 60mph (96 km/h) on single carriageway roads unless otherwise signposted; and 30mph (48 km/h) in built-up unless signs show otherwise. The use of 20mph (32 km/h) zones has become increasingly common to improve safety in areas such as those around schools.

Enforcement cameras are widespread on all types of road, though more used in some areas than others (North Yorkshire, for example, has a policy of using only mobile speed cameras operated by police). Static cameras are often well signed, painted bright colours with clear markings on the road. While this might seem rather strange, the idea is to improve their public acceptance as a 'safety' measure (rather than the widely held opinion that they're there to collect money).

There are some variable mandatory speed limits on the M25 to the west of London (enforced by cameras, again), and the M42 near Birmingham - these are shown on overhead gantries inside a red circle; other temporary speed limits shown on matrix boards are recommended but not mandatory. Apart from these and around roadworks, the motorways are generally free of fixed speed cameras. Speeds on motorways are generally much higher than the stated speed limit (usually at least 80mph), and visitors are advised to be aware of this and stick to the inside lane. Driving at slower speeds in the outside (overtaking lane) may cause frustration to other drivers.

Despite the fact that the Traffic Police have now largely been replaced by speed cameras, driving standards still remain relatively well-maintained in the UK, with the road system being (statistically) among the safest in Europe. It has long been known by visitors (and an increasing number of British) that a foreign licence plate makes you largely immune from speed cameras, congestion charge cameras and Traffic (Parking) Wardens, but do not abuse this. You may just hit upon the one Camera Operator/Warden who can be bothered to take the trouble to track down your address from your home licensing authority. Note that the British authorities have access to vehicle registration databases from various other countries. Also, British hire car companies will charge speeding fines to your credit card, long after you have left the country. Police in some areas have begun to occasionally stop foreign-registered cars at random to simply confirm that the owners are not in fact British drivers evading UK road tax / insurance / annual vehicle inspections etc. Although it is quite rare to see a Traffic Police car nowadays, some do still prowl the motorways in un-marked cars. Any police officers, regardless of their normal duties, will pursue a vehicle seen driving dangerously.

Don't drink and drive in the UK. The maximum limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.08%) The police often patrol roads in cities and town centres on Friday and Saturday night, on the lookout for drink drivers. Police must have reason to suspect you have been drinking - they cannot randomly issue breath tests. However, the law is such that police may stop you for committing any moving traffic offence, for example, not having your seat-belt on or even failing to indicate at a junction. These minor traffic offences will give authority to police to conduct a breath test. The police may also stop you if they suspect the person to have been drinking alcohol or if you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision (Road Traffic Collision). Enforcement of drink driving laws are extremely strict and police will always take strict action on those failing a breath test or those refusing to do so. Do not abuse this as penalties are severe. Fines are up to £5000, minimum driving ban is 12 months for a first offence, and you may be imprisoned for up to 6 months. Note that a refusal to provide a breath test will result in penalties almost as severe as those for drink driving itself. Failing a breath test or refusing to give a sample of breath when requested by police will result in your immediate arrest and transport to a police custody suite where a police doctor will draw a sample of blood. A separate charge of failing to provide a specimen of breath will be added to your criminal charges. A conviction will triple your car insurance, the endorsement will stay on your licence for 11 years, and can make it difficult to find employment.

Drivers from abroad should take note that many British drivers regard the flashing of headlights as a signal that they can proceed, rather than as a warning, or as a signal to slow down due to the presence of police. This misunderstanding has led to a number of accidents. In a dangerous situation, where there is a risk of death or injury, sound your horn, even during the night. The inappropriate use of the horn is illegal between 23:00 and 07:30.

It is also an offence to use your mobile phone whilst driving, although provision is made for the use of hands-free kits which are exempt from the law. Police will stop you for using your mobile phone and a £60 penalty will be issued on the spot. This fine will be accompanied with 3 points endorsed on your license. Also, it is a legal requirement that all persons in a vehicle to be wearing their seat-belt. Persons not wearing a seat-belt may receive a £30 fine, although this does not come with any points. If a child is not wearing a seat-belt, the parent or guardian, normally the driver, is responsible and a fine will be issued for that offence also. Children under 1.4 metres are also legally required to use a child booster seat for safety reasons. Use of fog lights where there is no fog is also an offence for which you may receive a £30 fine.

Note the following differences to the road rules from other countries: side roads never have priority, there is no requirement to stop for school buses, overtaking on the left is illegal, and you may not turn left over a red light. There are no 4 way stop junctions in the UK; priority should be clearly marked on the road. Once on any roundabout (circular), you have priority over traffic that has not entered it. Be careful of two lane roundabouts, which appear to be a uniquely British phenomenon; there are complicated rules for which lane you should be in which UK drivers learn and expect other drivers to follow. You should be fine provided you're cautious and keep an eye on other traffic.

For further information on driving in the UK, buy a copy of "The Highway Code"; this is the government-published book that is used to teach drivers the rules of the road when they are learning.

By bus and coach

Local bus services are of variable quality and cost. Rural bus services are in general better than in France and the USA, but not so good as in Italy or Germany. It is useful to note that many cities and large towns have day cards for their bus networks that can work out as good value. Locals and staff will be willing to help you if you are confused by timetables.

Coach travel tends to be slower than train travel, as well as less frequent, although it is comfortable and often much cheaper. Coaches, like trains will also generally take you right to the centre of town.

The largest coach companies in the UK are:

  • National Express [105] is the largest long distance bus service in the UK, and services all major destinations on the mainland; they sell tickets online and at coach terminals. Prices start at just £1 one way for promotional 'funfares' between major city-pairs, although remain quite expensive on less competitive routes such as those serving airports.
  • Megabus [106] is a relatively new service between a limited number of major destinations at cut-throat prices, as low as £1 +50p booking charge for some routes if booked well in advance. Understandably, it is very popular with students. To get the cheapest fares you should book a week or two ahead. However fares are often still good value when booked with less time (sometimes £8 London-Manchester booked only two days in advance). Tickets must be bought online or using the booking line (0900 160 0900, at 60 pence per minute) and cannot be bought from the driver.
  • CityLink [107] services destinations in Scotland. They sell their tickets online, by text, or from the driver, although it is always advised to book your tickets in advance. Some routes also carry Megabus passengers.
  • Dot2Dot [108] is a specialised service offered by National Express coaches, providing door-to-door airport transfer service, operating between central London and Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Prices start at £17.50 - a great alternative to taxi fares!
  • easyBus [109] is London's low cost airport transfer service from easyGroup. One-way fares start at £2, servicing Stansted, Luton, and Gatwick airports. Advance booking recommended.

By taxi

There are two types of taxis in the United Kingdom:- Metered (black) cabs that can be hailed in the street and are mostly found in larger towns and cities; and minicabs (private hire taxis) which must be ordered by telephone.

Black Cabs These are useful for travelling within cities - the name originates from the old 1960s purpose-built Austin FX3 taxis which were originally painted black, but today usually are covered in advertisements. In major cities, custom-built vehicles which seat 5 people are commonly used as metered taxis, but in smaller cities regular cars or people-carriers are used instead. These taxis can be hailed on the street or picked up from a taxi rank (usually found near major shopping areas and transport hubs). Tbe rate varies, typically starting at around 2-3GBP and rising at around 1GBP a mile, making them fairly expensive. Add night charges, waiting charges, luggage charges for large suitcases etc on to the meter as well, and travelling by taxi can be expensive unless you are in a large group. A short 10 minute trip would normally cost between 3-5GBP. The 'Taxi' sign on the roof is illuminated when a taxi is available.

Minicabs More common in suburbs and smaller towns, minicabs can only be used by telephone ordering and charge fixed prices to different destinations. Local telephone directories usually advertise taxi companies, and the phone numbers are usually painted in big numbers on the side of their vehicles. Minicabs are usually much cheaper, fares for long journeys can often be negotiated (although you should agree the fare with the phone operator when booking, not with the driver) and most companies have a variety of vehicle sizes from small saloons (Ford Mondeo, Skoda Octavia, Peugeot 406 etc) up to large 12-seater minivans so if you have a large group you can specify the vehicle size. Some minicab firms specialize in serving airports and offer discounted rates.

Fake taxis Fake taxis are not a major problem and are mostly found around the major airports. A few tips: Check that the taxi has a rear taxi-license plate on the rear bumper and that it carries the name of the local authorative council. The driver's taxi license should be displayed on the dashboard. The meter displays the correct rate (the metered fares are usually advertised on the side of the taxi). If calling a minicab, the taxi company will ask your last-name and your phone number - the driver should know this when he picks you up. If approached by a taxi driver claiming that you booked their taxi (particularly in airports or nightlife districts), ask them to confirm your name and phone number - if they don't know then it is most likely that they are fake. Most local councils require licensed taxis to be newer than 10 or 15 years old. Many fake taxis use older vehicles.

By boat

Ferries link the mainland to the many offshore islands including the Isles of Scilly from Penzance; the Isle of Wight from Southampton and Portsmouth; the Isle of Man from Liverpool and Ireland, the Orkneys and Shetland islands. There are also numerous car and passenger ferry routes between England and France and between Ireland and the UK. There are also regular ferry services between Northern Ireland and Scotland and these depart Larne, Belfast, Troon, Stranraer and Cairnryan. There are also routes from Northern Ireland to Birkenhead and Fleetwood (both near Liverpool in England).

By thumb

Pedestrians are banned on motorways, motorway junctions, as well as on certain primary routes. However, aside from those exceptions, hitchhiking is not illegal. The British are very aware of safety, and you may expect a long wait for a ride.

If you use signs, it's fairly customary to use the number of the road on them rather than the destination. In other words, from Birmingham to London you wouldn't use a sign "LONDON" but rather "M25". Two places where signs are quite useful are Land's End and John O'Groats, the two extremes of the country, especially if your sign says the other.

Note that traffic in more remote areas of Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall can be quite scarce.

By Bicycle

The UK can be both a cyclist's dream and nightmare. Fortunately cycling is popular as both a sport and a means of transportation. Bike rental exists in some cities e.g. Cambridge or Oxford and in some scenic areas. A handful of smaller cities such as Reading have introduced 'Community Bicycle' schemes in which a bike can be rented from various 'bike stations' around the city and this is expected to be introduced in London before the 2012 Olympics. The wheels of choice for most British cyclists is the hybrid bike - they have the comfort and practicality of a city bike combined with the performance (multi-speed gearing) and ruggedness of a mountain bike. Conventional mountain bikes and single-speed roadsters are also common, and folding bikes are becoming more popular in major cities. Bicycles are expensive in the UK - expect to pay 100GBP-plus for a basic model. They are sold by individual manufacturer's dealers (e.g. Dawes, Raleigh, Giant), automobile product stores (e.g. Halfords), sport accessory stores (e.g. Decathlon) and through private bicycle retailers. Cheaper used bikes can be purchased online via websites such as EBay or may be advertised in newspapers, notice-boards etc.

Urban cycling varies city-to-city. Most cities have designated cycle-lanes although they are routinely ignored by drivers and are often shared with buses, motorcycles and taxis. Some major roads will have split-pavements for pedestrians and cyclists, whilst other times cyclists are expected to ride in the traffic. This can be dangerous if you're not a skilled cyclist and general traffic rules should be adhered to. It's a legal requirement to have reflectors and a bell, and a rear blinker light must be used at night. Also many cyclists use standard arm-signals to alert motorists - if you are turning left or right you should raise your left or right arm respectively, and if you wish to stop then you should wave your left arm up and down. Cycling is banned on certain roads - all motorways and many primary (A) roads - a sign will indicate this.

Most cities will have designated bike-parking areas with bicycle racks and are almost always free. Carry a good lock with you as bike-theft is common. Bicycles are permitted on SOME trains, depending on the operator. Commuter trains generally allow folding bicycles only, some regional trains may have a rack that can carry 2-3 bicycles, while many intercity trains have a baggage car that can hold many bikes. Check with the operator before-hand - bikes will almost always require a reservation: on some trains for free, some for a small charge (typically half the adult fare) whilst others will require a full-fare ticket. Reservations can be made over the phone (via National Rail or via the train operator), or at the station ticket office. Long-distance coaches also allow bicycles, although again they must be reserved and there may be a surcharge. Local city buses and regional buses don't allow full-size bikes but some operators may permit folding bicycles - you should check before hand. If a bus is quiet then it's often down to the driver's discretion. Rapid transit systems also have varying bicycle policies e.g. London Underground allows folding bicycles at all times and conventional bicycles outside of peak hours as long as the train isn't crowded.

The SUSTRANS Cycle Network is a series of paved and unpaved cycle tracks covering the whole country, passing through some spectacular scenery on the way. Their website (www.sustrans.co.uk) has a comprehensive cycle-map and most cycle-stores, tourist information centres and youth hostels also sell their maps.

"Two countries divided by a common language"

Speakers of American English will find some terms which differ in British English:

  • Barrister/solicitor - lawyer
  • Bill - check
  • Biscuits - cookies
  • Bonnet - the hood of a car
  • Boot - the trunk of a car
  • Bum - ass
  • Cash point/cash machine - ATM
  • Chemist/pharmacy - drug store
  • Chips - fries, which may be "french fries" or thick-cut traditional English chips
  • Christian name - first name
  • Crisps - potato chips
  • Cupboard - closet
  • Dinner - for some people it is the midday meal; they would call the evening meal "tea"
  • Dummy/dummytit - pacifier
  • Fag - cigarette (only used colloquially), also a rude, demeaning way of referring to a homosexual man
  • Fanny - "female private part"
  • Football - soccer
  • Jam - jelly
  • Jelly - jello
  • Lift - elevator in building; the offer of a ride in car
  • Mobile (phone) - cell phone
  • Nappy - diaper
  • Off licence/off sales - liquor store
  • Pavement - sidewalk
  • Pushchair/pram/buggie - baby stroller
  • Queue - line
  • Ring - call (someone on telephone)
  • Rubbish - trash/garbage
  • Serviette - napkin (on table)
  • Smart - can also mean sharp (well-dressed)
  • Surname - last name
  • Tea - tea; can also mean an early evening snack meal, or sometimes the main evening meal.
  • Supper - sometimes means snacks after the evening meal at a later time of the night
  • Toilet - washroom/restroom
  • Torch - flashlight
  • Trousers - pants

English is spoken throughout the country, although there are parts of major cities where immigration has led to a variety of different languages being spoken as well. English spoken in the United Kingdom has several different dialects, some of which may contain words which are unfamiliar to other English speakers. A trained ear can also distinguish the English spoken by someone from Northern Ireland as opposed to someone from the Republic of Ireland, or even pinpoint their origin to a particular town. English in Scotland and Northern Ireland can be spoken quite fast.

Welsh is also widely spoken in Wales, particularly in North and West Wales. The number of Welsh speakers has risen over the last few years, but this bilingual population is still only around 30% of the total population of the Principality. Government bodies whose area of responsibility covers Wales use bilingual documentation (English and Welsh) - for example, see the website of the Swansea-based DVLA [110]. Road signs in Wales are bilingual. Even the non-Welsh-speaking majority in Wales know how to pronounce Welsh place names. Once you hear how to pronounce a name, have a go and try not to offend!

Gaelic (pronounced 'Gaylick' when referring to Scotland) can be heard in the Scottish Highlands and Islands but sadly boasts all too few native speakers. The ancient Cornish language of Cornwall, in the far south west, was revived during the twentieth century, but it is not passed down from parent to child as Welsh and Gaelic still are. Be aware, however, that Cornish place names remain and can be rather challenging to pronounce for non-locals! The Irish form of Gaelic is still spoken in some remote border areas of Northern Ireland.

Scots has much in common with English, and can be heard in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland (where it is known as Ulster-Scots) in various degrees. It can be difficult to understand, so feel free to ask someone to repeat themselves or speak more slowly. Speakers are likely to use standard English with outsiders.

All speakers of these minority languages are fluent to near-fluent in standard English but react well if you show an interest in their native tongue and culture. Inter-migration in the United Kingdom means you are likely to encounter people from all over the UK and beyond no matter where you visit. It is rare to find a place where all adults have the same accent or dialect.

There's an old joke that the people of the US and the UK are "divided by a common language", and travellers from English-speaking countries outside the UK may have difficulty catching specific words where regional accents are strong, but still there should not be any major difficulties in communicating. The British are good at understanding English spoken in a foreign accent, and visitors who speak English as a second language need not fear making mistakes. You may just get a slightly blank look for a few seconds after the end of a sentence while they 'decode' it internally. The British will not criticise or correct your language.

A few examples of words that overseas visitors may not be familiar with:

  • Wee - small (Scotland, Northern Ireland, some English people)
  • Loch - lake (Scotland)
  • Lough - lake (Northern Ireland)
  • Aye - yes (some parts of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and North England)
  • Poke - ice cream served in a wafer cone (Northern Ireland) or paper bag in Scotland
  • Downing Street - used to refer to the Government (similar to White House referring to the President of the United States)
  • Cymru (which English-speakers may pronounce as 'Sim-roo' but some attempt more accurately as 'Cum-ree') - Wales (Wales)
  • Cockney rhyming slang is not a language but a collection of terms, some local and temporary, others so long-lasting that they are used by many people who don't realise that they are rhyming slang. Example of the latter: "raspberry" for the derisive noise called "Bronx cheer" in the US - derived from "raspberry tart", rhyming with "fart".

British people have historically been very tolerant of swearing, when used in context.

National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK
National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK

The United Kingdom has an array of National Parks and designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that serve to preserve the country's natural heritage. There are 14 National Parks in total spread across England, Scotland and Wales (9 in England, 2 in Scotland and 3 in Wales) and 49 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (35 in England, 4 in Wales, 9 in Northern Ireland and 1 in both England and Wales). There are no Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Scotland, but there are the equivalent National Scenic Areas, of which there are 35 spread across the country.

  • Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, is a magnificently situated royal fortress located on one of the highest points in the city. The castle has been continuously in use for 1000 years and is in excellent condition.
  • Stonehenge is an ancient stone circle located near the cathedral city of Salisbury in Wiltshire.
  • The Georgian architecture and Roman baths in Bath.
  • York Minster (Cathedral) in the historic city of York.
  • Canterbury Cathedral is the seat of the head of the church of England. Located in the city of Canterbury in Kent
  • Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, is home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • The ancient and world-renowned universities of Oxford and Cambridge
  • The Eden Project near St Austell is a massive botanical gardens including indoor rainforest and Mediterranean biodomes.
  • The Giant's Causeway sixty miles from Belfast on the north coast of Northern Ireland is a World Heritage site and a natural wonder.
  • Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to three of the most important ships ever built and 800 years of naval history.

Buy

Cost

The United Kingdom is a very expensive country, although the Pound's somewhat dramatic recent falls against many currencies, especially the Euro, are helping some overseas tourists who are finding things are now cheaper than they are in their home countries. However, the high cost of basics such as transport, accommodation and food means that you'll spend around £50 per day as a budget traveller and more if you want to afford luxuries such as taxis, 3 star hotels, and meals in restaurants.

London and the South East is up to three times as expensive as other parts of the country. Further North things are more reasonably priced, although some groceries, goods and services can be more expensive than average in Northern Ireland.

Cigarettes and tobacco

Cigarettes are heavily taxed and expensive, ranging from around £5 to £6 for 20 cigarettes. Rolling tobacco is also expensive, but much cheaper than pre-made cigarettes. Rolling tobacco is sold in 12.5-gram, 25-gram and 50-gram pouches, at around £2.50, £5, and £10 respectively. 50 grams can make around 100 cigarettes (hand-rolled) which would cost around £20-£30 for the pre-made variants. Imported brands such as Marlboro, Camel or Lucky Strike are generally the most expensive as are well-known UK brands such as Benson & Hedges and Embassy. Popular and less pricey local brands include Lambert & butler and Silk Cut (a light cigarette similar to Marlboro Light), while the cheapest brands (Mayfair, Richmond, Superking) are quite frankly, terrible. Note that it's illegal to brand low-tar cigarettes as 'light' in the UK - Marlboro Light is usually referred to as 'Marlboro Gold', and many brands use the term 'smooth' instead. Most cigarettes come in low-tar and menthol varients, and many brands also sell 'Superking' (100mm length) varients too.

Almost all newsagents, supermarkets and petrol stations sell tobacco, and most will also sell some brands of pipe tobacco and cigars. For a more extensive selection of tobacco products, most towns and cities will have at least one specialist tobacconist.

The minimum age to purchase tobacco is 18. Customers who appear younger than 18 may be asked to produce a passport or other identification.

Smoking is illegal in all public buildings, with the exception of some hotel rooms (enquire when booking). For the purposes of the anti-smoking law, a 'building' is classed as having a minimum of three walls and a roof, so this can include things such as 'open' bus shelters. It is also illegal to smoke at train stations. Penalties can include a £50 'on-the-spot' fine. Most pubs and nightclubs have smoking areas which fully comply with the relevant legislation. Areas where smoking is not allowed will have prominent no-smoking signs.

Money

The currency throughout the UK is the Pound (£) (more properly called the Pound Sterling, but this is not used in everyday speech), divided into 100 pence (p, pronounced 'pee').

Coins appear in 1p (small copper), 2p (large copper), 5p (very small silver), 10p (large silver), 20p (small silver with angled edges), 50p (large silver with angled edges), £1 (small, thick gold) and £2 (large, thick with silver centre and gold edge) denominations, while Bank of England notes (bills) come in £5 (green/light blue), £10 (orange/brown), £20 (blue (newer design) purple (older design)) and £50 (red), and depict the Queen on one side and famous historical figures on the other. The size increases according to value. It's often best to avoid getting £50 notes. £50 notes are often refused by smaller establishments - they are unpopular because of the risk of forgery, and because of the amount of change one needs to give on receiving one. Banks are also unlikely to change them to smaller notes for you, though a post office or bookmaker might.

However, Scottish and Northern Irish banks issue their own notes in the above denominations, with their own designs. If in doubt, check what you are given for the words "Pounds Sterling". £100 notes and some old £1 notes are also in circulation in Scotland. Bank of England notes circulate freely in the whole of the United Kingdom, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland it is quite common to receive change in a mixture of English and/or Scottish or Northern Irish notes. Welsh banks do not issue their own notes.

Some English vendors might refuse to accept notes issued by Scottish or Northern Irish banks - whether from unfamiliarity or prejudice. They are under no obligation to do so, so use them at a larger retailer, or change them for Bank of England notes at a bank. There should never be a charge for this - though foreign-exchange dealers at airports or ferry terminals might well try to charge you.

Coins are uniform throughout the United Kingdom. Non-English speaking visitors should be aware that the new coin designs (introduced from 2008) no longer show the value in numbers, only words.

You may also hear the slang term quid for pounds. It is both singular and plural; "three quid" means "three pounds". It is likely that people will use the slang "p" when they mean either a penny or pence. Note the singular is penny and the plural pence. Some people still use traditional terms such as a penny, tuppence and thruppence (1p, 2p and 3p). The words "Fiver" and "Tenner" are common slang for £5 and £10, respectively.

In general, shopkeepers and other businesses in the UK are not obliged to accept any particular money or other method of payment. Any offer to purchase can simply be refused; for example if you try to pay with notes or coins they don't recognise. If in doubt, ask someone when you enter the shop. If settling a debt, for example, paying a restaurant or hotel bill, usually any reasonable method of payment will be accepted unless it's been made clear to you in advance how you must pay. However, travellers cheques are never accepted in place of cash.

ATMs, which are often known in the UK as Cashpoints, cash machines or informally as 'holes in the wall', are very widely available and usually dispense £10 and £20 notes. Traveller's cheques can be exchanged at most banks. Be aware: some non-bank ATMs (easily identified, sometimes kiosk-style units, as opposed to fixed units in walls, and often at petrol/gas stations and convenience stores) charge a fixed fee for withdrawing money, and your home bank may as well. On average the cost is about £1.75 per withdrawal, but the machine will always inform you of this and allow you to cancel the transaction.

Visa, Mastercard and Maestro are accepted by most shops and restaurants, although American Express is usually accepted only in large stores, and it is worth asking if unsure, especially if there are long queues. Since February 14, 2006, Chip and PIN [111] has become nearly compulsory, with few companies still accepting signatures when paying by credit or debit cards. Customers from countries without chips in their credit cards are supposed to be able to sign instead of providing a PIN; however, it is wise to carry enough cash in case the retailer does not comply.

Although most small shops will take cards, there is often a minimum amount you have to spend (usually around £5). Anything under the minimum and they will refuse to accept the card.

Shopping

Although shopping in the UK can be expensive, it is generally regarded as a world-class destination for shoppers both in terms of variety and quality of products, depending on where and what you buy. Fierce competition has brought prices down considerably in the food, clothing and electronic sectors. Prices do vary and it is always worth visiting the various retail stores as bargains can often be found. Avoid buying from the tourist areas and stick to the High Street shops or the many 'out-of-town' retail parks where prices will be considerably cheaper.

VAT (Value Added Tax - a mandatory tax on almost all goods and services in the UK) is 17.5% (since 1 January 2010), with reduced rates of 5% and 0% applying to specific categories of goods (food from supermarkets and some books, for example, are taxed at 0%). For most High Street shopping, VAT is included in the sale price. However, for certain larger purchases, especially in the area of computers and electronics, stores may show prices without VAT, however these are clearly marked with "exc VAT" next to the figure. In many of the larger towns and cities, many shops have the blue "Tax-Free Shopping" sticker in the window, meaning that when you leave the European Union (not just the UK), you can claim back the VAT before you leave the country. However, in order to do this, you must keep any receipts you receive from your purchase.

Electronic items such as computers and digital cameras can be cheaper here than many European countries (especially Scandinavian countries), but do shop around. The internet is always a good way to judge the price of a particular item, also you can use this as a bargaining tool when agreeing on a price with some of the larger electronic retail stores. If visiting from the US, there may be duties and taxes charged that make some of these purchases much less of a bargain so shop wisely.

Eat

Despite jokes and stereotypes, internationally orientated British cuisine has improved greatly over the past few decades, and the British remain extremely proud of their native dishes. Restaurants and supermarkets in the middle and upper range have consistently high standards, and the choice of international dishes is the best in Europe. However, British eating culture is still in the middle of a transition phase. Unlike their continental neighbours, many Britons still eat to live rather than live to eat, and as a result, food quality is variable at the budget end of the market.

The United Kingdom can be an expensive place to eat out compared to, say, the more southern European countries, but relatively cheap in comparison with countries such as Switzerland and Norway.

Many restaurants in city centres tend to be a little more expensive than ones in the suburbs, and pubs do tend to be slightly more expensive in the countryside, but generally, a three-course meal without drinks will cost the traveller anywhere between £10 and £15. Chicken tikka masala with rice is sometimes claimed as the UK's most popular dish, though roast beef is a more traditional national dish.

If all else fails decent picnic foods such as sandwiches, cakes, crisps, fresh fruit, cheeses and drinks are readily available at supermarkets. Street markets are a good place to pick up fresh fruit and local cheeses at bargain prices. Bakeries (eg Greggs) and supermarkets ( eg Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose and Asda) usually sell a good selection of pre-packed sandwiches, pasties and cakes along with a range of soft drinks, juices and mineral waters.

Many large shops, especially department stores, will have a coffee shop or restaurant.

Smoking is now banned in all restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs - there are no exceptions. However some establishments have provided 'smoking areas' and smoking is allowed in the gardens/terraces outside pubs and restaurants unless otherwise stated.

Fish and chips

Deep-fried, battered fish (usually cod or haddock, though with a wider selection in some areas) with rather thick chips, always made from real chunks of potato rather than thin tubes of extruded mashed potato. Fish and chips are often served with mushy peas (in England), and dressed with salt and malt vinegar (or 'Sauce' in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland). "Proper" fish and chips can be bought only from either a backstreet "chippy" or a specialist fish and chip restaurant (the latter are mostly at the seaside, although there is a national chain, Harry Ramsden's, which does quite good fish and chips, but at "tourist prices"; Mr Ramsden's original shop, near Leeds, was a legend). However, a "proper chippy" (a backstreet "fish and chip shop", or just "chip shop") is the quintessential place to buy fish and chips. In the north you can also add mushy peas to your order. These are rarer in the south of the country. In Scotland, especially Glasgow, some fish and chip shops deep-fry almost everything they sell, including meat pies, pizzas, and even battered Mars or Snickers bars. In Northern Ireland, you can also order a Pastie (not to be confused with a Cornish Pasty). This is meat minced with onions, potato and spices, which is then battered and deep fried. It can be served in a bap (a soft bread bun), on its own, or with chips. Anything served with chips in Northern Ireland and in parts of Scotland, is referred to as a "supper", eg, "a fish supper" or "a pastie supper".

The best ones are specialists, serving perhaps a few alternatives such as a selection of pies or sausages. They are usually located near where people live, though some good ones, especially "sit down" chippies, can be found in town centres. They can be spotted by the illuminated sign which usually has a picture of a fish and a name: either punning and piscine, such as "Codroephenia" and "The Codfather" or proud and proprietorial, "Fred's Chippy", or even both as in "Jack's Golden Plaice". Typically the a lot of people eating or waiting is an indication of good food.

A "sit down chippy" is a chip shop with a separate dining room. Whilst no real one will be exactly like this, although most elements will be present, a stereotypical sit down chippie will be brightly lit and decorated in a nautical theme with yellow or blue formica-topped tables. Typically a waitress will take your order for a Cod Meal, alternatively Haddock, Plaice or another dish, and within five minutes your meal will be served: a huge fish, a mountain of chips and mushy peas. Accompanying it, in more up-market places, will be a sachet of tartar sauce, a slice of lemon, a big plate of bread-and-butter, and a pot of tea. Some will have a separate pot of hot water, either to dilute the tea if it is too strong for your taste, or to "top-up" the tea in the pot when you have poured out your first cup. On the table will be a large shaker of salt and a bottle or plastic squeezy bottle of brown malt vinegar, which is what the most British will put on their fish and chips. There may even be a tomato-shaped plastic container of ketchup or a container of brown sauce. Fish and chips bought from a pub, hotel or non-specialist restaurant bear little resemblance to that from a chippy.

Take-aways

A 'take-away' is either a shop supplying prepared meals for people to eat elsewhere, or the meal itself. A very British take-away is the Fish and Chip shop; the sandwich shop is a popular choice at lunchtimes; they often also sell pies and cakes. Alternatively, most towns and many main routes have a selection of fast-food chains. Various types of take-aways are present in nearly all towns, ranging from fish and chips to "Indian", which can often be operated by non-Indians like Bangladeshi, and Chinese shops. Thai and Indonesian takeaways are becoming quite common, and lots of others in bigger towns. Generally the standard of take-aways is good, but the best guide is, as always, to observe what the locals are doing. In towns and cities these places tend to open late (sometimes till about 1am) to cater for the so called after-the-pub crowd. At this time they tend to be busy and rowdy so to avoid the queues the best time for a takeaway is between 7pm and 11pm after the teatime rush but before the supper crowds.

Food in pubs

See below for general points about pubs.

Almost all pubs (see below) serve food, although not all will do so during the whole of their opening hours. Prices of all these types vary enormously, and you should seek local advice if you have particular requirements or standards. Do not sit at a table in a pub expecting a waiter to take your order for food or drinks: pubs nearly always work on a "queue at the bar for drinks: order at the bar for food" basis. You go to the bar to request and pay for drinks and food. To avoid annoying customers behind them, groups usually order as one, and "settle up" between themselves later (see elsewhere for "buying rounds"). You normally order your "starters" and "mains" together (food-oriented places have numbers screwed to the tables for you to quote, or will give you a number to take to your table). You then wait for your drinks to be poured and carry them to the table. When your meal is ready, it is either brought to you or, less commonly now, announced when it is ready for you to collect. The person who tidies away your main course may ask you what dessert you would like, or you may have to order at the bar again.

Restaurants

Larger towns have a range of restaurants to suit most tastes and you will find a very broad range of different cuisines, including Indian, Chinese, Thai, French and Italian. Waiters generally expect a 10% tip (but all too often do not get it from the native population) and in some places this is automatically listed on your bill. However, if you are dissatisfied with the service in any way, you are under no obligation to pay the service charge. Generally British people are not great tippers. As a visitor the 10% rule is more than generous and worth sticking to. Visitors from The US and Canada are seen as very generous tippers and even a bit of a soft touch by some.

The usual fast-food restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, Subway and local chain Wimpy) are widespread in larger towns and cities but uncommon in smaller towns. They are typically located in major shopping areas, in or around major train stations, in out-of-town retail parks and in motorway service stations and airports (the latter 2 are usually more expensive). Prices are average - a burger, chips and drink meal will cost about GBP4-5. Most are open from around 7:00-22:00 although some in large cities are 24-hours. Fast-food restaurants in out-of-town locations offer drive-through service. Apart from Pizza Hut, delivery service is not offered.

Curry

One of the most popular types of restaurant in the UK is the Indian restaurant. They can be found in every city and most towns large and small. There are now more and more upmarket Indian restaurants in the larger urban centres. Indian restaurants serve cuisine commonly known to their customers by the generic term "curry". Common Indian restaurant dishes include Chicken Tikka Masala, Prawn Biryani and the incredibly spicy Vindaloo. A popular version of curry is known as balti, possibly named after the metal bowl the food is cooked and served in. Balti cuisine, and a number of other commonly served dishes such as the ubiquitous chicken tikka masala, originated in the UK though it is clearly based on food from the Indian subcontinent. Birmingham in the Midlands is considered the balti capital of the UK as this dish was conceived there. Curry Mile in Manchester is well worth a visit if you are in the city.

Motorway service areas

Motorway service areas are notoriously expensive places to eat, though the vast majority are open 24 hours by law. Most contain fast-food outlets and all have (free) toilets. Some services may be limited overnight such as the range of hot and cold food, although most will keep a selection available. Service areas are often best avoided as it is often possible to find cheaper and much better places to eat within a mile or two of a motorway junction. Try 5 minutes away [112], a website listing facilities no more than 5 minutes' drive from motorway junctions.

Vegetarian/vegan

Vegetarianism has become more widespread in the UK over the last few decades. If you are staying as a guest in a British home it would be considered courteous to inform your host beforehand as to any dietary requirements, but this will not be considered rude or even particularly unusual. However, bear in mind that even if you call yourself vegetarian some people will assume you eat fish, so if you don't, then tell them so. Nowadays, it is rare to find a pub or restaurant with no vegetarian options.

If you are a vegan, be prepared to explain precisely what you do and don't eat on a fairly frequent basis. Outside of specialist eateries, most places probably won't have a vegan-friendly main meal, so be prepared to hunt around, order bits and bobs, or in a pub make do with the ubiquitous bowl of chips and tomato ketchup and even then it would be wise to check whether the chips have been cooked in animal fat, a practice quickly falling out of fashion.

In general, the best places for vegetarian/vegan food are specialist veggie pubs/restaurants, of which most major cities will have at fewest one, and Indian, Chinese and South-East Asian restaurants. These will normally have a range of vegetarian and vegan options. Ironically, one of the few places you may see without any meat-free food at all is an extremely expensive luxury restaurant. If you're fortunate enough to be dining in such a place, it may be worth ringing ahead.

Children

Children are not necessarily allowed in all pubs and restaurants unless a lounge area is provided, and high chairs are not always available. Most pubs that serve food will accept children, and it is usually easy to distinguish those that do. The general rule is that children cannot sit or stand about in the area where drinks are being served; so if the pub has only one small room, they are not allowed. Children are permitted in most drinks-only pubs, especially those with gardens, but again, they are not supposed to come near the bar.

  • Black Pudding - a sausage made of congealed pig's blood, rusks and sage, cooked in an intestine. Available all over the UK but a speciality of the North of England, in particular from Bury, the Black Country, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In actual fact, it tastes much better then it sounds.
  • Cheese - Although the British are not as famous for, or as proud of, their cheeses as their neighbours in France, a multitude of cheeses is produced, and are generally named after a particular region. Well-known examples include Stilton (named after Stilton but produced elsewhere) - a blue cheese to rival Roquefort or Gorgonzola, Cheddar (named after the village of Cheddar in Somerset), Lancashire (which may be "creamy" or "crumbly"), Wensleydale (a valley in North Yorkshire), Caerphilly and Cheshire. The quality varies tremendously, depending on where they are bought; the best place is probably a local market – e.g. buy your Lancashire cheese in Lancashire. Supermarkets will offer a wide range of cheeses but are often of inferior quality.
  • Cornish Pasty - beef and vegetables baked in a folded pastry case. Originally a speciality of Cornwall, but now available throughout the UK. Usually very good in Devon and Cornwall, but can be of variable quality elsewhere. The variety sold in a plastic wrapper in places like petrol (gas) stations and motorway service stations are well worth avoiding.
  • Deep Fried Mars Bar - Originally from Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, but now available in other parts of Scotland and sometimes by request in fish & chip shops elsewhere in the UK. Not usually available in south-east England, where it is sometimes believed to be an urban myth.
  • Haggis - a mixture of sheep innards, minced meat and oatmeal boiled in a sheep's stomach. Available widely, but a speciality of Scotland. Also available in many supermarkets, where it appears that many sheep have plastic stomachs - although the contents are often quite reasonable - sometimes mildly spicey.
  • Lancashire Hotpot - a hearty vegetable and meat stew. A speciality of Lancashire, but available throughout the UK. In Lancashire, it is often accompanied by pickled red cabbage or pickled beetroot.
  • Laverbread - a puree made from seaweed, rolled in oatmeal, lightly fried and generally served with bacon rashers, though can be prepared as a vegetarian dish. Available in Swansea and West Wales.
  • Oatcakes - this speciality of Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire and Derbyshire is a large, floppy, oat-based pancake, eaten hot, in place of bread at breakfast time, or with a savoury filling. Not to be confused with the Scottish oatcake, a sort of biscuit.
  • Pastie - recipes vary, but generally a pasty is minced pork with onions, potato and spices, shaped into a thick disc, covered with batter and deep fried. Pasties are unique to Northern Ireland and well worth trying from a Fish & Chip shop.
  • Pork pie - a pie made of pork, with an outer of a particularly crispy sort of pastry. Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire is their spiritual home but they are available across the country. They are served cold or room temperature as part of a cold meal.
  • Potato Bread - a mixture of potatoes, salt, butter and flour. A speciality of Northern Ireland which, alongside Sodabread forms one of the main ingredients of an 'Ulster Fry'. Similar to, but not quite the same as potato bread, are Potato Cakes as sold in England and Tattie Scones in Scotland.
  • Sausages - Europeans will be surprised to discover that the filling contains breadcrumbs as well as meat (Britons think of frankfurters and similar solid-meat sausages as German). Generic sausages are nothing special and very much a 'mystery meat' experience, but regional speciality recipes such as Lincolnshire and Cumberland are well worth trying in a pub.
  • Sunday dinner/Roast dinner - this meal is common throughout the UK. Traditionally eaten on a Sunday, the meal consists of some combination of sliced pot roast, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, peas, carrots, and thick brown gravy. In England sometimes Yorkshire Puddings are added to the plate.
  • Welsh Cakes - scone-like cakes studded with raisins and dusted with sugar. Available in bakeries throughout Wales and served hot off griddle at Swansea Market.
  • Yorkshire Pudding - a savoury side dish made from unsweetened batter. Squat and round in shape - often served with a roast dinner (consisting of roast potatoes, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings). Originally a speciality of the former industrial cities of Yorkshire, but a popular side-dish throughout the UK.

Drink

The legal age to buy and consume alcohol is 18 (16 for a glass of beer, cider, shandy, or perry with a substantial meal and an adult present) but many older teenagers younger than 18 have seemingly little problem in purchasing alcohol in smaller pubs and from off licenses. Nevertheless, if you're over 18 but lucky enough to look younger, expect to be asked to prove your age when buying alcohol (also, in certain places if you look under 21 or 25, you have to prove you're over 18, known as "Challenge 21(25)"), especially in popular city spots. The most trustworthy form of ID is a passport or driving license which shows both your photograph and date of birth. Whilst ID cards are likely to be accepted (providing there is a photograph), any other form of ID willl not be accepted. In private residences the minimum age to drink alcohol is 5 years old, although it is likely that if a 5 or 6 year old etc. were getting drunk, the matter would be brought before the courts as child neglect.

Getting drunk is acceptable and often it is the objective of a party, though the police often take a dim view on those causing alcohol-related trouble. This applies to all levels of the British society - it may be worth remembering that the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had to collect his son Euan from a police station after he had been found drunk celebrating the completion of his GCSE exams taken at the age of 16. Nevertheless, Britons have a great sense of humour and everything is forgotten after a hangover, at least until the next time. Drinking is an important part of the British culture and, even though it is frequently complained about, it is as popular as ever.

Pub

The pub or public house is the most popular place to get a drink in the UK. Even small villages will often have a pub, serving spirits, wines, beers, cider, and 'alcopops', accompanied by crisps, nuts and pork scratchings. Many serve snacks or meals. The greater volume of drinks served are various kinds of beer, mainly lagers, bitters, and Guinness. People not looking to drink real ale are free to choose a pub just on the basis of location, and character, because most national "smooth" bitters or TV-advertised lagers are available in any non-real-ale pub; however, even non-real-ale drinkers often find that they prefer the types of pubs with a range of real ales, because they tend to be more "traditional", with a more individual character and less oriented to juke boxes, games machines, fruit machines and large crowds.

Across the whole of the United Kingdom there is now a blanket ban on smoking inside pubs and restaurants, though many pubs have areas outside, often known as "beer gardens", where smoking is (usually, but not always) permissible. However if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to be able to stay after the formal closing hours this is called a "lock-in" and smoking may be ok if the pub landlord allows it. This will often occur only in the later hours after 11PM and these lock-ins can last any amount of time. As they are classed as a private party, they happen in only a few pubs, and often only pubs with more regular customers, although this is not always the case. Once at a lock-in, you cannot leave and come back in again.

British real ales, championed by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) [113], are amongst the best in the world - though people used to colder, blander, fizzier beers may find that the taste needs to be acquired. People looking for real ale will need to select the right pubs, because although a wide range of pubs serve one or two real ales, only a "real ale pub" will have a wide selection. British ale has a limited shelf life compared to most foreign beers, and as some pubs have only a "token" cask with low turnover, it's often well past its prime and has a strange vinegary taste: often, unfortunately, people's first and understandably only experience with "real ale". If you do receive an 'off' pint, ask for a replacement at the bar, which will usually be forthcoming.

The phrase "free house" was usually the main indicator for people looking for a good choice of beer, because this indicated that the pub was not owned by a particular brewery and served whatever beer its landlord thought would appeal to their customers. However, this is no longer a significant factor, because most national pub chains are now owned by large conglomerates who deal centrally with brewers and serve the same mass-market brands in all their pubs: these conglomerates (not being breweries) can still call their pubs "free houses".

British people usually follow a kind of unwritten code of conduct when in pubs, though types of venue can vary dramatically, ranging from a 'local' pub, usually a quiet place consisting of one or two rooms, to a chain pub such as J.D. Wetherspoons which are very large rooms capable of holding hundreds of people.

  • Don't tap money on the bar surface to attract the barman's attention.
  • Tipping is not a tradition in most pubs and you should take all of your change. Regular customers who have a relationship with the staff will offer to buy the landlord, or bar worker, a drink. They may say something like this: "A pint of Best, landlord, and one for yourself." The landlord will often keep the money rather than have too much to drink. However, you are not obliged to do this yourself.
  • Especially in a 'local' pub, keep your voice down and avoid drawing attention to yourself.
  • It might be best to avoid heated debates about controversial subjects in pubs and bars; if others get involved these can escalate.
  • If you require extra chairs, you may want to take one from another table. If someone is already seated (even if it is only one person seated at a six-person table) you must ask if you can take the chair.
  • Waiting patiently at a bar is imperative. Pushing in line will not be tolerated and could lead to confrontation. If someone cuts in line before you, feel free to complain - you should get support from other locals around you. Bear in mind that pubs are amongst the few places in Britain which don't actually have formal queues -- you just crowd around the bar, and when everyone who was there before you has been served you can order.
  • In the male toilets, especially in big pubs or clubs, don't try to strike up conversation or make prolonged eye contact. UK pub toilets are very much "get in and get out" places - some drunk people can take a casual remark the wrong way.

Pubs with a good choice of real ales may exhibit almost any pattern of ownership:

  • By a real-ale brewery (in which case the pub will serve all of the beers made by them, and perhaps only one "guest beer").
  • By a national or local pub chain who believe it is possible to serve a range of real ales at reasonable prices (their chain buying power can force down a brewer's margins) in a pub that non-real-ale-fans will be willing to patronise.
  • By an independent landlord committed to real ale (usually the ones with the most idiosyncratic beers, and the hard-core "real ale type" customers).

Many pubs are very old and have traditional names, such as the "Red Lion" or "King's Arms"; before widespread literacy, pubs would be identified by most customers solely by their signs. Recently there has been a trend, strongly resisted in some quarters, towards chain-pubs such as the Hogshead, Slug and Lettuce and those owned by the JD Wetherspoon company. Another recent trend is the gastro pub, a smartened-up traditional pub with a selection of high-quality food (nearly at restaurant prices).

Beer in pubs is served in pint and half-pint measures, or in bottles. A pint is slightly more than half a litre (568ml to be precise). Simply ordering a beer on tap will be interpreted as a request for a pint, e.g. 'a lager, please'. Alternatively 'half a lager, please' will get you a half-pint. If you ask for a "half-pint of lager" in a noisy pub, you will almost certainly get a pint, because no-one asks for a "half-pint" and the bar person will have thought you said "I'll have a pint of lager, please". Prices vary widely based on the city, the pub and the beer, but generally pints will be in the range £2 to £3.

Spirits and shorts are a sixth of a gill, now standardised to 25 ml, in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, the standard measure is a quarter of a gill (over 35 ml). A dram in Scotland was traditionally a quarter of a gill.

Pubs often serve food during the day. Drinks are ordered and paid for at the bar.

When applying for a licence, pubs can specify any opening times they wish; this can be challenged by neighbours, etc. Closing times are typically the 'last order' time - the pub can sell drinks before this and customers have to drink up and leave within 20 minutes of the licensing hours.

Until the recent change in licensing laws, closing times were 11PM and 10.30PM on a Sunday, and this is still quite common. The most common closing times at the weekends in towns are between 12AM and 1AM, and some larger pubs may apply for a license until 2AM and clubs 3AM or 4AM. It is not unheard of that some bars have licenses until the early hours (6AM) although this is rare as many who are out until this time are likely to go to nightclubs and then home. Theoretically, a pub can ask for a 24-hour license, though few have done so.

Wine bars

In cities, in additional to traditional pubs, there are more modern wine-bars and café-bars (often known simply as bars), though the variable weather means that there is not as much of a 'street scene' as in other European cities. However, depending on the weather, there are more and more pavement cafés in the UK than in the past. Parts of London, Manchester and other up-and-coming cities are good examples of this change of scene.

Prices in bars tend to be higher than in pubs, with less focus on beer, and more on wine, spirits and cocktails. Customers are often younger that those of traditional pubs, though there is much crossover and some bars are more "pubby" than others.

Clubbing

Clubbing is popular in most large towns and cities, and many have world-renowned venues as well as many alternative venues. Great clubs can be found in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Brighton to name just a few places. Prices in clubs tend to be considerably higher than those charged in pubs, and opening hours may not be the attraction they once were, as pubs can now open late too. Most clubs will not admit anyone under 18. ID may be asked for at the door, but ID checks at bars are less common. Dress codes are sometimes applied by doormen or bouncers before entry, sometimes none-too-consistently. Common dress codes are simply to dress smartly and aviod wearing sports wear including trainers.

Clubs are often cheaper during the week (Mon-Thu) as many of these nights are designed to cater for students; however, you usually have to pay an entrance fee. For a club in a small town (capacity 250-300) this will usually be £1-£2 on week night, £2-£3 on weekends, and seldom more than £5 on special occasions. Conventional clubs in bigger towns and alternative clubs in cities will cost anywhere between £5 and £10. Large clubs, especially those in cities, that cater for a "dance" crowd will almost certainly cost over £10, though seldom more than £15. For towns with a large student population, it is often much cheaper to go clubbing during week nights (Monday-Thursday), as many clubs advertise towards students on these nights, offering discounted drinks and cheaper entry.

Sleep

The UK offers a wide variety of hotels rated on a scale of stars, from 5-star luxury (and beyond!) to 1-star basic. There is also a vast number of privately run bed and breakfast establishments (abbreviated as "B&B"), offering rooms with usually a fried 'full English breakfast'. Alternatively you can rent a private house which is let as a holiday home; many such holiday homes advertise on a wide variety of free websites or advertise on their own websites. Good deals can usually be found by using a search engine for "self-catering holiday accommodation".

Budget travellers can opt to stay in a youth/backpackers' hostel

  • YHA England and Wales [114], tel 0870 770 6113
  • Scottish YHA [115], Email - reservations@syha.org.uk, tel 0870 1553255
  • HI Northern Ireland [116], tel 028 9032 4733
  • In recent years an independent hostel scene has opened up, with some privately owned hostels offering a more relaxed regime than the YHA. They're listed on the Independent Hostel Guide [117].

Another option is to stay at short term rental apartments. There are numerous such companies around the country. Some are listed below:

  • Flats in London [118], tel +447510062715
  • Earlsfort Apartments Dublin [119], tel + 35314781100
  • The White House, Glasgow [120], tel +44 141 339 9375

There are also many campsites, with widely varying levels of facilities. "Wild camping" on private land outside recognised campsites may be awkward outside remote areas, though one-night camping stops may be feasible if undertaken discreetly, or landowners may give permission to wild-camp for free, or for a small fee, if asked.

Some travellers to the United Kingdom decide on a campervan or caravan holiday, whereby your accommodation travels with you. Most parts of the country have a good range of camping and caravan parks available.

As a more quirky (though sometimes expensive) option, the Landmark Trust [121] is a charitable organisation that buys up historic buildings, follies and other unusual examples of architecture - especially those in danger of destruction - and renovates them in order to rent them out to holidaymakers. For bookings, tel 01628 825925, mailto:bookings@landmarktrust.org.uk

Learn

The UK has been a centre of learning for the past 1,000 years and possesses many ancient and distinguished universities. Many former polytechnics and other colleges have been promoted to university status over the past 25 years , and there are now over 120 degree-awarding institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The two most famous (and oldest) universities are Oxford and Cambridge (often referred to as Oxbridge by many Britons), but England also has several other world-class institutions, including several in London (notably Imperial College, the London School of Economics, University College London and King's College London, all are part of London University). Outside of London in England the top universities are located in Durham, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Exeter, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, York, Nottingham, Bath, Loughborough, Newcastle, Southampton and Warwick.

Scotland has its own semi-separate educational system, with universities in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Napier, Queen Margaret and Heriot-Watt), Glasgow (Glasgow, Strathclyde and Caledonian), Stirling and the oldest and most traditional one at St Andrews.

There are two universities in Northern Ireland: the Queen's University of Belfast, and the University of Ulster (which has campuses in Belfast, Jordanstown, Coleraine and Londonderry). Although Queen's is the older and more famous institution, both are highly respected throughout the UK as centres of excellence.

Traditionally the University of Wales comprised four large universities: Aberystwyth [122], Bangor [123], Cardiff [124] and Swansea [125], but since many polytechnics and institutes were upgraded to university status the number of Welsh universities has increased.

Foreign students make up a significant proportion of the student body at UK universities, with over 300,000 foreign students in 2004. All applications go through a central body UCAS [126], which acts as a clearing house passing applications to the universities for consideration and feeding their decisions back to applicants. Course fees for overseas students vary considerably, costing significantly more for the prestigious institutions.

The UK - London, Manchester and Edinburgh in particular - remains an exceedingly popular destination for those seeking to learn the English language. A huge variety of organisations and companies exist to cater for this desire, some much more reputable than others:

  • The British Council [127] offers courses and advice.

Work

Citizens of the European Union (temporarily excluding Romania and Bulgaria), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland have permanent work rights in the UK. Citizens of Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, or Slovenia may need to to register under the Worker Registration Scheme. Generally the citizens of other countries will require a visa to work in the UK. The UK has had low unemployment in recent years, making it easier for those with specialist skills to gain working visas. A general shortage of skilled labour in the health sector means the British health service actively recruits abroad, making it easier for those with specialist health care skills to work in the UK. This however may change due to the large investment the British government has made into getting more nurses and doctors trained from the United Kingdom. There continues to be a severe shortage in dentists, with many British people travelling to Hungary or Poland for dental treatment.

The UK does operate a working holiday programme for citizens of Commonwealth countries, which allows residency and limited work rights for up to two years.

The credit crunch, however, has caused many businesses to lose profit and go broke. Unemployment in 2008 reached its highest since the economic downturn of the early 1990s.

For more details see the British Home Office's visa and immigration website [128].

  • WWOOF [129] arranges for volunteers to work for free on organic farms throughout the UK in exchange for room and board. This system provides an excellent means to experience life in the country-side, make friends and, at the same time, learn a little about organic farming.

Stay safe

In general the UK is a safe place to visit; you won't go far wrong heeding the general advice and the advice for Europe.

In any emergency call 999 or 112 (free of charge from any phone, including mobiles) and ask for Ambulance, Fire and Rescue Service, Police, Coast Guard or Mountain And Cave Rescue when connected. Unlike many other countries, the United Kingdom does not have different numbers for different emergency services.

Late at night it is not uncommon to find rowdy groups of drunk people, especially young men, on the street, but unless you go out of your way to provoke trouble you are unlikely to experience any problems. The police have fairly wide ranging powers to fine or arrest people who are causing a disturbance, and although they can be heavier-handed in major cities they are generally tolerant. Drinking alcohol in public (except outside a bar or pub) is not permitted in many areas.

If you are bringing or hiring a car, be aware that the UK (particularly Northern Ireland) has one of the highest car theft rates in the world, so be sure to lock the doors if you leave your car, and always park in a busy, well-lit area. Don't leave valuables on display in a parked car - satellite navigation systems are a particular target.

The age of both heterosexual and homosexual consent is 16 throughout the United Kingdom. Homosexuality is generally accepted throughout the whole country, though some of the inhabitants of conservative rural areas may be less tolerant than those of liberal metropolitan areas.

Racism can be an issue in the UK but racially motivated violence is very rare. The main concern for Britons isn't racism; the government strongly encourages the notion of a multi-cultural society, but recent high levels of immigration have been of debate. However, the UK is generally regarded by its own immigrant population as being amongst the most liberal and tolerant of European countries in this respect, but obviously there will be some people who are exceptions. Most Britons will go out of their way to make tourists and immigrants feel welcome and it's not uncommon for police to impose harsh punishments on any form racial abuse - physical or verbal.

Illegal drugs

All illegal drugs in the United Kingdom are classified under 'A', 'B' or 'C'. Class A drugs are typically regarded as the most dangerous by the law (and include severe penalties for supplying or using), and class C is the least harmful (and carry much lower penalties). Remember: all of these drugs are equally illegal; the classes are used to determine policing priorities and penalties.

Class A drugs include ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, heroin, speed, and cocaine; penalties will mean arrest and possibly jail even for possession. Magic mushrooms were previously legal because of technicalities in the law, but are now class A.

Cannabis is now a 'Class B' drug. A first offence for possession will usually result in a formal warning, or an on-the-spot fine. Subsequent offences may result in arrest.

Examples of Class C include ketamine, some steroids, some prescription drugs such as Valium (legal if they are prescribed for you), GHB, and some tranquillisers.

Drug use is a growing concern for authorities, with some of the highest levels in Europe. Cannabis and ecstasy are both very widely available and you could even be offered it if you are in the right location such as certain markets and clubs. Ecstasy has been known to be cut with anything from poisons to washing powder.

Stay healthy

The local emergency telephone number is 999; however, the EU-wide 112 can also be used. For advice on non-emergency medical problems, you can ring the 24-hour NHS Direct service on 0845 4647 (NHS 24 in Scotland on 08454 242424)

Emergencies can be dealt with under the NHS (National Health Service) at any hospital with a Casualty or A & E (Accident & Emergency) department. At A&E be prepared to wait for up to 4 hours to be seen to if the medical complaint is not serious, depending on the time of day/night. The longest waiting times usually occur on Friday and Saturday nights. Emergencies will be dealt with immediatly and before any question of remuneration from foreign nationals is even contemplated.

While all treatment by an NHS hospital or doctor is free to British citizens, people from outside the UK will, in many cases, be required to pay for treatment. However citizens of the EU and a small number of other countries can obtain certain treatment if they hold a European Health Insurance Card. Depending on the circumstances, for non-British and non-EU citizens, fees for emergency treatment may be waived. It is advisable, nevertheless, to enquire about payment.

As a foreign national, you will not be charged for essential treatment in genuine emergency situations (such as being taken to the hospital via ambulance after serious accident) or a life and death matter - so do not worry about refusing critical care on the grounds of cost.

For advice on minor ailments and non-prescription drugs, you can ask a pharmacist (there are many high-street chemists, and to practise legally all pharmacists must be registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), which involves a university degree and other exams and training). Notable pharmacist chains include Boots and Lloyds, and many supermarkets also have pharmacists.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases are spreading between young people, so make sure you practise safe sex. There are around 50,000 HIV victims living in the UK. HIV is very uncommon, but because of this, people have unprotected sex, getting the virus and not thinking they have it. So, as anywhere else in the world, safe sex is a must!. Condoms are available in toilets, from doctor practices and from other retailers such as large supermarkets.

Tap water is safe to drink everywhere, unless otherwise stated.

Cope

The electricity supply runs at 230V, 50Hz AC. Only visitors from countries such as the US and Canada, where the voltage supply runs at 110V 60Hz, will need a voltage converter (which can be picked up in most specialist electronic shops). Most appliances needed whilst travelling (such as mobile phone chargers, laptop chargers, shavers and the like) are designed to run off both voltages, however check on the label before setting off.

British plugs have three flat, rectangular pins which form a triangle. These sockets are the same used in Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and several other former British colonies. It is possible to force a thin Europlug (with no earth pins) into the socket, however this is not recommended for obvious reasons. Most shops will sell plug adapters.

Note that during the Christmas and New Year holiday period much of the country shuts down. During the week leading up to Christmas people will travel to their hometowns to visit their family, meaning that the motorway traffic can be very heavy and trains are much more crowded. Also, many people rush to shopping areas to stock up on food and drink and last-minute gifts. On Christmas Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26th) and New Year's Day most businesses will close (including supermarkets and most restaurants and bars) although major hotels remain open. If you don't have a car then avoid travelling on these days as the only available transport is taxis, which will charge up to three times the regular price. If you have a car then it is much better as roads are almost empty on Christmas Day and parking is often free. If you need to purchase food, drink or cigarettes on these days then most petrol (gas) station convenience stores will still be open but almost everything else is closed. Also, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve bus and train services may run on a Sunday schedule meaning that services are much less frequent.

Respect

It's acceptable to address someone by their first name in most social situations. First names are sometimes avoided among strangers to avoid seeming overly familiar. In very formal or business situations first names are not commonly used until people are better-acquainted.

The British can be extremely indirect when requesting things from people they do not know. It is common for Britons to "ask around" questions when requesting something: for example, one would be more likely to say something along the lines of "Could you tell me where I might find the changing room?" when in a clothes shop, rather than 'Where's the changing room?'. Although asking questions directly is quite common, it can sometimes be seen as overly abrupt or even rude. Similarly, saying 'What?' when not understanding something can be considered rude around authority figures or people you don't know, so 'Pardon?' is more appropriate to use in situations with a stranger or a superior. British people apologise a lot, even when there is absolutely no need to do so. For example, if someone trod on someone else's toe by accident, both people would normally apologise. This is just a British thing to do, and dwelling on it (e.g. "What are you sorry about?") will mark you out as a foreigner. Often a British person will request something or start a conversation with 'sorry'. Allow some personal space between you and others in queues and elsewhere. You will usually find this in such places as movie cinemas. Generally, unless people know each other, you will find they will usually choose to fill up every row of seating and keep as much distance of possible until there is a requirement to sit directly next to each other. Exceptions are in very crowded situations where this is impossible, like on the tube.

Greetings are dependent upon the situation. In anything but a business situation, a verbal greeting (such as 'hello (name)!') will suffice. Younger people will usually say 'Hi,' or 'Hiya,' but not 'Hey' – this is normally used to attract attention, and could be considered as impolite. Another British greeting (frequently used by younger people) is 'You all right?' or 'All right?' (sometimes abreviated to "A' right" in northern England), which basically is a combination of 'Hello' and 'How are you?'. This term can be confusing to foreigners, but it can be easily replied to with either a greeting back (which is far more common) or stating how you feel (usually something short like 'I'm fine').

A greeting may sometimes be accompanied by a kiss on the cheek (normally between opposite genders or females) or a hug. Etiquette for a hug is somewhat complicated, so the best advice is to accept a hug (regardless of the gender offering it) if it is offered, otherwise a handshake is appropriate. In a formal situation or an initial greeting between two strangers, a handshake is the done thing, this should be of a appropriate firmness (generally moderate firmness).

The Scottish are Scottish, the Welsh are Welsh, the Irish are Irish, and the English are English. Referring to all of them as "English" can offend. You may also find, that even though they indeed all are legally classed as British (Irish referring to Northern Ireland), those not from England usually prefer to be reffered to based upon which country in the United Kingdom they were born in, rather than using the collective term British.

While doing the V sign with the palm facing outward is take to indicate either "peace" or "victory" by many Britons, doing the reverse where the palm faces inward is considered to be an offensive gesture.

Same sex displays of affection are unlikely to cause upset or offend, especially in cities and towns with larger gay populations such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton, Bournemouth and Edinburgh. The majority of the United Kingdom are very accepting of the gay and lesbian community and cities such as Brighton host pride festivals each year. Civil partnerships have been legal since 2005. However, someone looking to start a fight may decide to treat this as a pretext. Try to avoid eye contact with drunken men in city centres at night, especially if they are in a large group. Outside of the larger towns and especially in rural counties such as Cornwall and Devon displays of same sex affection would be more noticed and may cause problems.

Contact

Telephone

In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobiles as well, even if you do not have roaming. It is a very serious offence to call this number without due cause.

The UK's calling code is 44. To phone another country, dial 00 followed by the calling code and subscriber number. If calling the UK from overseas, you'll need to drop any leading "0" on the area code; similarly, if calling in-country, you may need to add a leading "0" if you've dropped the country code. When the building you're in has its own internal phone system, the number for an outside line is "9" (not "0", as in many other countries, which in the UK usually connects you to the reception desk).

Payphones are widely available, especially in stations, airports, etc. Payphones usually take cash (minimum 40p - BT, although some private payphones may charge more); change is not given, but you can choose to continue your money on to the next call. Some newer payphones accept credit and debit cards and may even allow you to send emails and surf the web. Phonecards have been phased out, though various pre-paid phonecards can be purchased from newsagents for cheap international calls. Some BT payphones now accept Euros. A simpler and often cheaper alternative for international calls is to use a direct-dial service, these offer vastly reduced call rates over the standard providers and don't require you to purchase a card or sign up for an account. You simply dial an access numbers which are charged at different rates (e.g. 0870 at the non-geographical national rate).

Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile [130], Vodafone [131], Orange [132] and O2 [133], and are all currently GSM-based. GPRS data services are also available, usually priced per megabyte. Since 2003, new CDMA-based 3G networks have begun to be deployed, 3 [134] being the first commercial provider. The other four networks now have 3G services deployed, although good 3G coverage is mostly limited to cities, towns and some major travel routes.

There is no charge for calls that you receive on your handset; charges are only for calls that you initiate.

Pay as you go (prepaid) plans are available. Credit the phone with a top-up card or cash payment via a top-up terminal; there is no contract and no bills, Some operators also offer some free text messages.

If you have an unlocked GSM-compatible handset (most dual- and tri-band phones are GSM-compatible) you can purchase a SIM card from several electrical or phone outlets, in supermarkets, or online. Be aware prices do vary considerably – from £5 (with £10 call credit) from Tesco online (available in Tesco supermarkets) to £30 (with £2.50 credit) from Vodafone (available at all mobile phone shops). Often bargain handset-and-SIM deals can be found, if you don't have an unlocked handset - at the time of writing you can get a very basic mobile with SIM for £18 from Tesco, though note that this will be a locked phone and won't work with other SIM cards.

The UK has extensive mobile phone coverage - 99% of the UK mainland is covered. Many towns and cities have 3G coverage as well.

Costs for calls can vary significantly depending on when you call, where from and where to. Calls from hotel rooms can be spectacularly expensive because of the hotel surcharges; check before you use and consider using the lobby payphones instead. Calls from payphones and wired, or landline, phones to mobile phones can be expensive too; if you have the choice call the other party's landline. Beware of premium rate calls, which can be very expensive. Text messaging from mobiles costs around 10 pence per message and picture or MMS messages cost around 45 pence (20 pence on some networks).

Calls between landlines are charged at either local rate or national rate depending on the originating and destination area codes; if both are the same then the area code is optional and the call will be local rate. Note that local calls are not generally free. The following table relates the first few digits dialled to call types, so you can avoid some of the pitfalls above:

Digits dialled Call Type
00 International call
01 Call to a landline at local or national rate (see above)
02 Call to a landline at local or national rate (see above)
03 A non-geographic number charged at the same rate as 01 or 02
05 Free call from most landlines and public payphones. Often very expensive to call from a mobile
07 Call to a mobile phone, personal number or pager
0800 Free call from most landlines and public payphones. Often very expensive to call from a mobile
0844 Variable rate from 1p to 5p/min
0845 Call at 3p per minute daytimes and 1ppm at all other times + VAT
0870 Call at 6.73p per minute day-times, 3.36ppm evening and night-times and 1.7ppm at weekends + VAT
0871 Variable rate from 6p to 10p/min
09 Call at a premium rate – anything up to £1.50/minute

Internet

Internet cafés can be found in cities and towns; check the city pages for details. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though time is rationed. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access either via their cable TV system or WiFi, although the prices are quite steep (www.spectrumineractive.co.uk provide the Scottish YHA with a network of broadband and WiFi-capable Internet terminals).

A number of ISPs charge nothing for Internet access by telephone modem - they get their payment from the phone company; local call costs are time-related. Examples are GoNuts4Free [135], DialUKT [136].

There are some Wi-Fi hotspots, although intentionally publicly available wireless is not yet widespread outside central London. Most McDonald's restaurants in the UK now offer free WiFi. Many coffee shops offer paid Wi-Fi. The most you should pay for Wi-Fi access across the UK is £1 for half an hour. Many chain cafés will charge more for no extra value.

Most of the UK is covered by UMTS/HSDPA 3G coverage, giving download speeds up to 7.2Mbps, and GPRS coverage is extensive. 3G data services should roam seamlessly onto the UK networks, or you can purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card for which credit can be purchased in the same way as for mobile phones.

Post

The Royal Mail has a long history. Postboxes are still the traditional red colour (although there are green and gold Victorian "Penfold" boxes retained in some areas and an historically important blue box in Windsor). Mail can also be posted at post offices.

The Royal Mail has introduced a new system where post within the UK is priced on size and weight. You can find size charts at all post offices but bear this in mind when sending a larger envelope, parcel or packet. Postage stamps cost 34p/24p (domestic 1st/2nd class for envelopes up to C5 size which are less than 5mm thick and less than 100g), 48p (Europe up to 20g), 54p (Worldwide up to 10g). Stamps can be bought at supermarkets, newsagents and tourist shops. Domestic first-class mail can usually be expected to arrive the following day; second-class mail may take several days.

If you wish to send something heavy, or want to send a larger letter or packet within the UK, then you will have to get it weighed and/or measured at the post office. The staff at post offices are very helpful, but avoid the lunchtime rush at around 12-1.30pm when there is often a long queue and 30+ minute waiting times.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

="">See Britain (disambiguation) for articles sharing the title Britain.


BRITAIN (Gr. Hperavucal vi ooc, Bperravca; Lat. Britannia, rarely Brittania), the anglicized form of the classical name of England, Wales and Scotland, sometimes extended to the British Isles as a whole (Britannicae Insulae). The Greek and Roman forms are doubtless attempts to reproduce a Celtic original, the exact form of which is still matter of dispute. Brittany (Fr. Bretagne) in western France derived its name from Britain owing to migrations in the 5th and 6th century A.D. The personification of Britannia as a female figure may be traced back as far as the coins of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius (early 2nd century A.D.); its first appearance on modern coins is on the copper of Charles II. (see Numismatics).

In what follows, the archaeological interest of early Britain is dealt with, in connexion with the history of Britain in PreRoman, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon days; this account being supplementary to the articles England; English History; Scotland, &C.

PRE-Roman Britain Geologists are not yet agreed when and by whom Britain was first peopled. Probably the island was invaded by a succession of races. The first, the Paleolithic men, may have died out or retired before successors arrived. During the Neolithic and Bronze Ages we can dimly trace further immigrations. Real knowledge begins with two Celtic invasions, that of the Goidels in the later part of the Bronze Age, and that of the Brythons and Belgae in the Iron Age. These invaders brought Celtic civilization and dialects. It is uncertain how far they were themselves Celtic in blood and how far they were numerous enough to absorb or obliterate the races which they found in Britain. But it is not unreasonable to think that they were no mere conquering caste, and that they were of the same race as the Celtic-speaking peoples of the western continent. By the age of Julius Caesar all the inhabitants of Britain, except perhaps some tribes of the far north, were Celts in speech and customs. Politically they were divided into separate and generally warring tribes, each under its own princes. They dwelt in hill forts with walls of earth or rude stone, or in villages of round huts sunk into the ground and resembling those found in parts of northern Gaul, or in subterranean chambered houses, or in hamlets of pile-dwellings constructed among the marshes. But, at least in the south, market centres had sprung up, town life was beginning, houses of a better type were perhaps coming into use, and the southern tribes employed a gold coinage and also a currency of iron bars or ingots, attested by Caesar and by surviving examples, which weigh roughly, some two-thirds of a pound, some 21 lb, but mostly I g lb. In religion, the chief feature was the priesthood of Druids, who here, as in Gaul, practised magical arts and barbarous rites of human sacrifice, taught a secret lore, wielded great influence, but, at least as Druids, took ordinarily no part in politics. In art, these tribes possessed a native Late Celtic fashion, descended from far-off Mediterranean antecedents and more directly connected with the La-Tene culture of the continental Celts. Its characteristics were a flamboyant and fantastic treatment of plant and animal (though not of human) forms, a free use of the geometrical device called the " returning spiral," and much skill in enamelling. Its finest products were in bronze, but the artistic impulse spread to humbler work in wood and pottery. The late Celtic age was one which genuinely delighted in beauty of form and detail. In this it resembled the middle ages rather than the Roman empire or the present day, and it resembled them all the more in that its love of beauty, like theirs, was mixed with a feeling for the fantastic and the grotesque. The Roman conquest of northern Gaul (57-50 B.C.) brought Britain into definite relation with the Mediterranean. It was already closely connected with Gaul, and when Roman civilization and its products invaded Gallia Belgica, they passed on easily to Britain. The British coinage now begins to bear Roman legends, and after Caesar's two raids (55, 54 B.C.) the southern tribes were regarded at Rome, though they do not seem to have regarded themselves, as vassals. Actual conquest was, however, delayed. Augustus planned it. But both he and his successor Tiberius realized that the greater need was to consolidate the existing empire, and absorb the vast additions recently made to it by Pompey, Caesar and Augustus.

Roman Britain I. The Roman Conquest. - The conquest of Britain was undertaken by Claudius in A.D. 43. Two causes coincided to produce the step. On the one hand a forward policy then ruled at Rome, leading to annexations in various lands. On the other hand, a probably philo-Roman prince, Cunobelin (known to literature as Cymbeline), had just been succeeded by two sons, Caractacus and Togodumnus, who were hostile to Rome. Caligula, the half-insane predecessor of Claudius, had made in respect to this event some blunder which we know only through a sensational exaggeration, but which doubtless had to be made good. An immediate reason for action was the appeal of a fugitive British prince, presumably a Roman partisan and victim of Cunobelin's sons. So Aulus Plautius with a singularly well equipped;army of some 40,000 men landed in Kent and advanced on London. Here Claudius himself appeared - the one reigning emperor of the 1st century who crossed the waves of ocean, - and the army, crossing the Thames, moved forward through Essex and captured the native capital, Camulodunum, now Colchester. From the base of London and Colchester three corps continued the conquest. The left wing, the Second Legion (under Vespasian, afterwards emperor), subdued the south; the centre, the Fourteenth and Twentieth Legions, subdued the midlands, while the right wing, the Ninth Legion, advanced through the eastern part of the island. This strategy was at first triumphant. The lowlands of Britain, with their partly Romanized and partly scanty population and their easy physical features, presented no obstacle. Within three or four years everything south of the Humber and east of the Severn had been either directly annexed or entrusted, as protectorates, to native client-princes.

A more difficult task remained. The wild hills and wilder tribes of Wales and Yorkshire offered far fiercer resistance. There followed thirty years of intermittent hill fighting (A.D. 47-79). The precise steps of the conquest are not known. Legionary fortresses were established at Wroxeter (for a time only), Chester and Caerleon, facing the Welsh hills, and at Lincoln in the northeast. Monmouthshire, and Flintshire with its lead mines, were early overrun; in 60 Suetonius Paulinus reached Anglesea. The method of conquest was the establishment of small detached forts in strategic positions, each garrisoned by 500 or 1000 men, and it was accompanied by a full share of those disasters which vigorous barbarians always inflict on civilized invaders. Progress was delayed too by the great revolt of Boadicea and a large part of the nominally conquered Lowlands. Her rising was soon crushed, but the government was obviously afraid for a while to move its garrisons forward. Indeed, other needs of the empire caused the withdrawal of the Fourteenth Legion about 67. But the decade A.D. 70-80 was decisive. A series of three able generals commanded an army restored to its proper strength by the addition of Legio II. Adiutrix, and achieved the final subjugation of Wales and the first conquest of Yorkshire, where a legionary fortress at York was substituted for that at Lincoln.

The third and best-known, if not the ablest, of these generals, Julius Agricola, moved on in A.D. 80 to the conquest of the farther north. He established between the Clyde and Forth a frontier meant to be permanent, guarded by a line of forts, two of which are still traceable at Camelon near Falkirk, and at Bar Hill. He then advanced into Caledonia and won a " famous victory " at Mons Graupius (sometimes, but incorrectly, spelt Grampius), probably near the confluence of the Tay and the Isla, where a Roman encampment of his date, Inchtuthill, has been partly examined (see Galgacus). He dreamt even of invading Ireland, and thought it an easy task. The home government judged otherwise. Jealous possibly of a too brilliant general, certainly averse from costly and fruitless campaigns and needing the Legio II. Adiutrix for work elsewhere, it recalled both governor and legion, and gave up the more northerly of his nominal conquests. The most solid result of his campaigns is that his battlefield, misspelt Grampius, has provided to antiquaries, and through them to the world, the modern name of the Grampian Hills.

What frontier was adopted after Agricola's departure, whether Tweed or Cheviot or other, is unknown. For thirty years (A.D. 85-115) the military history of Britain is a blank. When we recover knowledge we are in an altered world. About 115 or r20 the northern Britons rose in revolt and destroyed the Ninth Legion, posted at York, which would bear the brunt of any northern trouble. In 122 the second reigning emperor who crossed the ocean, Hadrian, came himself to Britain, brought the Sixth Legion to replace the Ninth, and introduced the frontier policy of his age. For over 70 m. from Tyne to Solway, more exactly from Wallsend to Bowness, he built a continuous rampart, more probably of turf than of stone, with a ditch in front of it, a number of small forts along it, one or two outposts a few miles to the north of it, and some detached forts (the best-known is on the hill above Maryport) guarding the Cumberland coast beyond its western end. The details of his work are imperfectly known, for though many remains survive, it is hard to separate those of Hadrian's date from others that are later. But that Hadrian built a wall here is proved alike by literature and by inscriptions. The meaning of the scheme is equally certain. It was to be, as it were, a Chinese wall, marking the definite limit of the Roman world. It was now declared, not by the secret resolutions of cabinets, but by the work of the spade marking the solid earth for ever, that the era of conquest was ended.

But empires move, though rulers bid them stand still. Whether the land beyond Hadrian's wall became temptingly peaceful or remained in vexing disorder, our authorities do not say. We know only that about 142 Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius, acting through his general Lollius Urbicus, advanced from the Tyne and Solway frontier to the narrower isthmus between Forth and Clyde, 36 m. across, which Agricola had fortified before him. Here he reared a continuous rampart with a ditch in front of it, fair-sized forts, probably a dozen in number, built either close behind it or actually abutting on it, and a connecting road running from end to end. An ancient writer states that the rampart was built of regularly laid sods (the same method which had probably been employed by Hadrian), and excavations in 1891-1893 have verified the statement. The work still survives visibly, though in varying preservation, except in the agricultural districts near its two ends. Occasionally, as on Croyhill (near Kilsyth), at Westerwood, and in the covers of Bonnyside (3 m. west of Falkirk), wall and ditch and even road can be distinctly traced, and the sites of many of the forts are plain to practised eyes. Three of these forts have been excavated. All three show the ordinary features of Roman castella, though they differ more than one would expect in forts built at one time by one general. Bar Hill, the most completely explored, covers three acres - nearly five times as much as the earlier fort of Agricola on the same site. It had ramparts of turf, barrack-rooms of wood, and a headquarters building, storehouse and bath in stone: it stands a few yards back from the wall. Castle Cary covers nearly four acres: its ramparts contain massive and well-dressed masonry; its interior buildings, though they agree in material, do not altogether agree in plan with those of Bar Hill, and its north face falls in line with the frontier wall. Rough Castle, near Falkirk, is very much smaller; it is remarkable for the astonishing strength of its turf-built and earthen ramparts and ravelins, and for a remarkable series of defensive pits, reminiscent of Caesar's lilia at Alesia, plainly intended to break an enemy's charge, and either provided with stakes to impale the assailant or covered over with hurdles or the like to deceive him. Besides the dozen forts on the wall, one or two outposts may have been held at Ardoch and Abernethy along the natural route which runs by Stirling and Perth to the lowlands of the east coast. This frontier was reached from the south by two roads. One, known in medieval times as Dere Street and misnamed Watling Street by modern antiquaries, ran from Corbridge on the Tyne past Otterburn, crossed Cheviot near Makendon Camps, and passed by an important fort at Newstead near Melrose, and another at Inveresk (outside of Edinburgh), to the eastern end of the wall. The other, starting from Carlisle, ran to Birrens, a Roman fort near Ecclefechan, and thence, by a line not yet explored and indeed not at all certain, to Carstairs and the west end of the wall. This wall was in addition to, and not instead of, the wall of Hadrian. Both barriers were held together, and the district between them was regarded as a military area, outside the range of civilization.

The work of Pius brought no long peace. Sixteen years later disorder broke out in north Britain, apparently in the district between the Cheviots and the Derbyshire hills, and was repressed with difficulty after four or five years' fighting. Eighteen or twenty years later (180-185) a new war broke out with a different issue. The Romans lost everything beyond Cheviot, and perhaps even more. The government of Commodus, feeble in itself and vexed by many troubles, could not repair the loss, and the civil wars which soon raged in Europe (193-197) gave the Caledonians further chance. It was not till 208 that Septimius Severus, the ablest emperor of his age, could turn his attention to the island. He came thither in person, invaded Caledonia, commenced the reconstruction of the wall of Hadrian, rebuilding it from end to end in stone, and then in the fourth year of his operations died at York. Amid much that is uncertain and even legendary about his work in Britain, this is plain, that he fixed on the line of Hadrian's wall as his substantive frontier. His successors, Caracalla and Severus Alexander (211-235), accepted the position, and many inscriptions refer to building or rebuilding executed by them for the greater efficiency of the frontier defences. The conquest of Britain was at last over. The wall of Hadrian remained for nearly two hundred years more the northern limit of Roman power in the extreme west.

II. The Province of Britain and its Military System. - Geo- graphically, Britain consists of two parts: (1) the comparatively flat lowlands of the south, east and midlands, suitable to agriculture and open to easy intercourse with the continent, i.e. with the rest of the Roman empire; (2) the district consisting of the hills of Devon and Cornwall, of Wales and of northern England, regions lying more, and often very much more, than 600 ft. above the sea, scarred with gorges and deep valleys, mountainous in character, difficult for armies to traverse, ill fitted to the peaceful pursuits in agriculture. These two parts of the province differ also in their history. The lowlands, as we have seen, were conquered easily and quickly. The uplands were hardly subdued completely till the end of the 2nd century. They differ, thirdly, in the character of their Roman occupation. The lowlands were the scene of civil life. Towns, villages and country houses were their prominent features; troops were hardly seen in them save in some fortresses on the edge of the hills and in a chain of forts built in the 4th century to defend the south-east coast, the so-called Saxon Shore. The uplands of Wales and the north presented another spectacle. Here civil life was almost wholly absent. No country town or country house has been found more than 20 m. north of York or west of Monmouthshire. The hills were one extensive military frontier, covered with forts and strategic roads connecting them, and devoid of town life, country houses, farms or peaceful civilized industry. This geographical division was not reproduced by Rome in any administrative partitions of the province. At first the whole was governed by one legatos Augusti of consular standing.

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Septimius Severus made it two provinces, Superior and Inferior, with a boundary which probably ran from Humber to Mersey, but we do not know how long this arrangement lasted. In the 5th century there were five provinces, Britannia Prima and Secunda, Flavia and Maxima Caesariensis and (for a while) Valentia, ruled by praesides and consulares under a vicarius, but the only thing known of them is that Britannia Prima included Cirencester.

The army which guarded or coerced the province consisted, from the time of Hadrian onwards, of (I) three legions, the Second at Isca Silurum (Caerleon-on-Usk, q.v.), the Ninth at Eburacum (q.v.; now York), the Twentieth at Deva (q.v.; now Chester), a total of some 15,000 heavy infantry; and (2) a large but uncertain number of auxiliaries, troops of the second grade, organized in infantry cohorts or cavalry alae, each 500 or 1000 strong, and posted in castella nearer the frontiers than the legions. The legionary fortresses were large rectangular others, principally (it seems) forts built before 150, wood is used freely and only the few principal buildings seem to have been constructed throughout of stone.

We may illustrate their character from Housesteads, which, in the form in which we know it, perhaps dates from Septimius Severus. This fort measures about 360 by 600 ft. and covers a trifle less than 5 acres. Its ramparts are of stone, and its north rampart coincides with the great wall of Hadrian. Its interior is filled with stone buildings. Chief among these (see fig. I), and in the centre of the whole fort, is the Headquarters, in Lat. Principia or, as it is often (though perhaps less correctly) styled by moderns, Praetorium. This is a rectangular structure with only one entrance which gives access, first, to a small cloistered court (x. 4), then to a second open court (x. 7), and finally to a row of five rooms (x. 8-12) containing the shrine for official worship, the treasury and other offices. Close by were officers' quarters, generally built round a tiny cloistered court (ix., xi., xii.), 0 'Borcovicium (HousEsrf aas) ' - Plan of Housesteads (Borcovicium) on Hadrian's Wall.

enclosures of so or 60 acres, surrounded by strong walls of which traces can still be seen in the lower courses of the north and east town-walls of Chester, in the abbey gardens at York, and on the south side of Caerleon. The auxiliary castella were hardly a tenth of the size, varying generally from three to six acres according to the size of the regiment and the need for stabling. Of these upwards of 70 are known in England and some 20 more in Scotland. Of the English examples a few have been carefully excavated, notably Gellygaer between Cardiff and Brecon, one of the most perfect specimens to be found anywhere in the Roman empire of a Roman fort dating from the end of the ist century A.D.; Hardknott, on a Cumberland moor overhanging Upper Eskdale; and Housesteads on Hadrian's wall. In Scotland excavation has been more active, in particular at the forts of Birrens, Newstead near Melrose, Lyne near Peebles, Ardoch between Stirling and Perth, and Castle Cary, Rough Castle and Bar Hill on the wall of Pius. The internal arrangements of all these forts follow one general plan. But in some of them the internal buildings are all of stone, while in and substantially built storehouses with buttresses and dry basements (viii.). These filled the middle third of the fort. At the two ends were barracks for the soldiers (i.-vi., xiii.-xviii.). No space was allotted to private religion or domestic life. The shrines which voluntary worshippers might visit, the public bath-house, and the cottages of the soldiers' wives, camp followers, &c., lay outside the walls. Such were nearly all the Roman forts in Britain. They differ somewhat from Roman forts in Germany or other provinces, though most of the differences arise from the different usage of wood and of stone in various places.

Forts of this kind were dotted all along the military roads of the Welsh and northern hill-districts. In Wales a road ran from Chester past a fort at Caer-hyn (near Conway) to a fort at Carnarvon (Segontium). A similar road ran along the south coast from Caerleon-on-Usk past a fort at Cardiff and perhaps others, to Carmarthen. A third, roughly parallel to the shore of Cardigan Bay, with forts at Llanio and Tommen-y-mur (near Festiniog), connected the northern and southern roads, while IV. 19 a the interior was held by a system of roads and forts not yet well understood but discernible at such points as Caer-gai on Bala Lake, Castle Collen near Llandrindod Wells, the Gaer near Brecon, Merthyr and Gellygaer. In the north of Britain we find three principal roads. One led due north from York past forts at Catterick Bridge, Piers Bridge, Binchester, Lanchester, Ebchester to the wall and to Scotland, while branches through Chester-le-Street reached the Tyne Bridge (Pons Aelius) at Newcastle and the Tyne mouth at South Shields. A second road, turning north-west from Catterick Bridge, mounted the Pennine Chain by way of forts at Rokeby, Bowes and Brough-underStainmoor, descended into the Eden valley, reached Hadrian's wall near Carlisle (Luguvallium), and passed on to Birrens. The third route, starting from Chester and passing up the western coast, is more complex, and exists in duplicate, the result perhaps of two different schemes of road-making. Forts in plenty can be detected along it, notably Manchester (Mancunium or Mamucium), Ribchester (Bremetennacum), Brougham Castle (Brocavum), Old Penrith (Voreda), and on a western branch, Watercrook near Kendal, Waterhead near the hotel of that name on Ambleside, Hardknott above Eskdale, Maryport (Uxellodunum), and Old Carlisle (possibly Petriana). In addition, two or three cross roads, not yet sufficiently explored, maintained communication between the troops in Yorkshire and those in Cheshire and Lancashire. This road system bears plain marks of having been made at different times, and with different objectives, but we have no evidence that any one part was abandoned when any other was built. There are signs, however, that various forts were dismantled aS the country grew quieter. Thus, Gellygaer in South Wales and Hardknott in Cumberland have yielded nothing later than the opening of the 2nd century.

Besides these detached forts and their connecting roads, the north of Britain was defended by Hadrian's wall (figs. 2 and 3). The history of this wall has been given above. The actual works are threefold. First, there is that which to-day forms the most striking feature in the whole, the wall of stone 6-8 ft. thick, and originally perhaps 14 ft. high, with a deep ditch in front, and forts and " mile castles " and turrets and a connecting road behind it. On the high moors between Chollerford and Gilsland its traces are still plain, as it climbs from hill to hill and winds along perilous precipices. Secondly, there is the so-called " Vallum," in reality no vallum at all, but a broad flat-bottomed ditch out of which the earth has been cast up on either side into g Bremen (Rochester) ijffabilasrciu.n

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regular and continuous mounds that resemble ramparts. Thirdly, nowhere very clear on the surface and as yet detected only at a few points, there are the remains of the " turf wall," constructed of sods laid in regular courses, with a ditch in front. This turf wall is certainly older than the stone wall, and, as our ancient writers mention two wall-builders, Hadrian and Septimius Severus, the natural inference is that Hadrian built his wall of turf and Severus reconstructed it in stone. The reconstruction probably followed in general,the line of Hadrian's wall in order to utilize the existing ditch, and,this explains why the turf wall itself survives only at special points. In general it was destroyed to make way for the new wall in stone. Occasionally (as at Birdoswald) there was a deviation, and the older work survived.

NOR, 3. - Section of Hadrian's Wall.

This conversion of earthwork into stone in the age of Severus can be paralleled from other parts of the Roman empire. The meaning of the vallum is much more doubtful. John Hodgson and Bruce, the local authorities of the 19th century, supposed that it was erected to defend the wall from southern insurgents. Others have ascribed it to Agricola, or have thought it to be the wall of Hadrian, or even assigned it to pre-Roman natives. The two facts that are clear about it are, that it is a Roman work, no older than Hadrian (if so old), and that it was not intended, like the wall, for military defence. Probably it is contemporaneous with either the turf wall or the stone wall, and marked some limit of the civil province of Britain. Beyond this we cannot at present go.

III. The Civilization of Roman Britain. - Behind these formidable garrisons, sheltered from barbarians and in easy contact with the Roman empire, stretched the lowlands of southern and eastern Britain. Here a civilized life grew up, and Roman culture spread. This part of Britain became Romanized. In the lands looking on to the Thames estuary (Kent, Essex, Middlesex) the process had perhaps begun before the Roman conquest. It was continued after that event, and in two ways. To some extent it was definitely encouraged by the Roman government, which here, as elsewhere, founded towns peopled with Roman citizens - generally discharged legionaries - and endowed them with franchise and constitution like those of the Italian municipalities. It developed still more by its own automatic growth. The coherent civilization of the Romans was accepted by the Britons, as it was by the Gauls, with something like enthusiasm. Encouraged perhaps by sympathetic Romans, spurred on still more by their own instincts, and led no doubt by their nobles, they began to speak Latin, to use the material resources of Roman civilized life, and in time to consider themselves not the unwilling subjects of a foreign empire, but the British members of the Roman state. The steps by which these results were reached can to some extent be dated. Within a few years of the Claudian invasion a colonia, or municipality of time-expired soldiers, had been planted in the old native capital of Colchester (Camulodunum), and though it served at first mainly as a fortress and thus provoked British hatred, it came soon to exercise a civilizing influence. At the same time the British town of Verulamium (St Albans) was thought sufficiently Romanized to deserve the municipal status of a municipium, which at this period differed little from that of a colonia. Romanized Britons must now have begun to be numerous. In the great revolt of Boadicea (60) the nationalist party seem to have massacred many thousands of them along with actual Romans. Fifteen or twenty years later, the movement increases. Towns spring up, such as Silchester, laid out in Roman fashion, furnished with public buildings of Roman type, and filled with houses which are Roman in fittings if not in plan. The baths of Bath (Aquae Sulis) are exploited. Another colonia is planted at Lincoln (Lindum), and a third at Gloucester (Glevum) in 96. A new " chief judge " is appointed for increasing civil business. The tax-gatherer and recruiting officer begin to make their way into the hills. During the 2nd century progress was perhaps slower, hindered doubtless by the repeated risings in the north. It was not till the 3rd century that country houses and farms became common in most parts of the civilized area. In the beginning of the Lug .,(Ca Carlisle ".; xe/loduJr u m 'Aber/l ava Yinovro (8tne/uster)t 4th century the skilled artisans and builders, and the cloth and corn of Britain were equally famous on the continent. This probably was the age when the prosperity and Romanization of the province reached its height. By this time the town populations and the educated among the country-folk spoke Latin, and Britain regarded itself as a Roman land, inhabited by Romans and distinct from outer barbarians.

The civilization which had thus spread over half the island was genuinely Roman, identical in kind with that of the other western provinces of the empire, and in particular with that of northern Gaul. But it was defective in quantity. The elements which compose it are marked by smaller size, less wealth and less splendour than the same elements elsewhere. It was also uneven in its distribution. Large tracts, in particular Warwickshire and the adjoining midlands, were very thinly inhabited. Even densely peopled areas like north Kent, the Sussex coast, west Gloucestershire and east Somerset, immediately adjoin areas like the Weald of Kent and Sussex where Romano-British remains hardly occur.

The administration of the civilized part of the province, while subject to' the governor of all Britain, was practically entrusted to local authorities. Each Roman municipality ruled itself and a territory perhaps as large as a small county which belonged to it. Some districts belonged to the Imperial Domains, and were administered by agents of the emperor. The rest, by far the larger part of the country, was divided up among the old native tribes or cantons, some ten or twelve in number, each grouped round some country town where its council (ordo) met for cantonal business. This cantonal system closely resembles that which we find in Gaul. It is an old native element recast in Roman form, and well illustrates the Roman principle of local government ST by devolution. Gate In the general framework of Romano-British life the two chief features were the town, and the villa. The towns of the province, as we have already implied, fall into two classes. Five modern cities, Colchester, Lincoln, York, Gloucester and St Albans, stand on the sites, and in some fragmentary fashion bear the names of five Roman municipalities, founded by the Roman government with special charters and constitutions. All of these reached a considerable measure of prosperity. None of them rivals the greater municipalities of other provinces. Besides them we trace a larger number of country towns, varying much in size, but all possessing in some degree the characteristics of a town. The chief of these seem to be cantonal capitals, probably developed out of the market centres or capitals of the Celtic tribes before the Roman conquest. Such are Isurium Brigantum, capital of the Brigantes, 12 m. north-west of York and the most northerly Romano-British town; Ratae, now Leicester, capital of the Coritani; Viroconium, now Wroxeter, near Shrewsbury, capital of the Cornovii; Venta Silurum, now Caerwent, near Chepstow; Corinium, now Cirencester, capital of the Dobuni; Isca Dumnoniorum, now Exeter, the most westerly of these towns; Durnovaria, now Dorchester, in Dorset, capital of the Durotriges; Venta Belgarum, now Winchester; Calleva Atrebatum, now Silchester, 10 m. south of Reading; Durovernum Cantiacorum, now Canterbury; and Venta Icenorum, now Caistor-by-Norwich. Besides these country towns, Londinium (London) was a rich and important trading town, centre of the road system, and the seat of the finance officials of the province, as the remarkable objects discovered in it abundantly prove, while Aquae Sulis (Bath) was a spa provided with splendid baths, and a richly adorned temple of the native patron deity, Sul or Sulis, whom the Romans called Minerva. Many smaller places, too, for example, Magna or Kenchester near Hereford, Durobrivae or Rochester in Kent, another Durobrivae near Peterborough, a site of uncertain name near Cambridge, another of uncertain name near Chesterford, exhibited some measure of town life.

As a specimen we may take Silchester, remarkable as the one town in the whole Roman empire which has been completely © [[Round Men Fig]]. 4. - General Plan of Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum).

the town can be minutely recovered, and both the character of the buildings which make up a place like Calleva, and the character of Romano-British buildings generally, become plainer. Of the buildings the chief are I. Forum. - Near the middle of the town was a rectangular block covering two acres. It comprised a central open court, 132 ft. by 140 ft. in size, surrounded on three sides by a corridor or cloister, with rooms opening on the cloister (fig. 5). On the fourth side was a great hall, with rooms opening into it from behind. This hall was 270 ft. long and 58 ft. wide; two rows of Corinthian columns ran down the middle, and the clerestory roof may have stood 50 ft. above the floor; the walls were frescoed or lined with marble, and for ornament there were probably statues. Finally, a corridor ran round outside the whole block. Here the local authorities had their offices, justice was administered, traders trafficked, citizens and idlers gathered. Though we cannot apportion the rooms to their precise uses, the great hall was plainly the basilica, for meetings and business; the rooms behind it were perhaps law courts, and some of the rooms on the other three sides of the quadrangle may have been shops. Similar municipal buildings existed in most towns of the western Empire, whether they were full municipalities or (as probably Calleva was) of lower rank. The Callevan Forum seems in general simpler than others, but its basilica is remarkably large. Probably the British climate compelled more indoor life than the sunnier south.

2. Temples. - Two small square temples, of a common westernprovincial type, were in the east of the town; the cella of the larger measured 42 ft. sq., and was lined with Purbeck marble. A third, circular temple stood between the forum and the south gate. A fourth, a smaller square shrine found in 1907 a little east of the INN? ' 'Gate and systematically uncovered. As we see it to-day, it is an open space of ioo acres, set on a hill with a wide prospect east and south and west, in shape an irregular hexagon, enclosed in a circuit of a mile and a half by the massive ruins of a city wall which still stands here and there some 20 ft. high (fig. 4). Outside, on the north-east, is the grassy hollow of a tiny amphitheatre; on the west a line of earthworks runs in wider circuit than the walls. The area within the walls is a vast expanse of cultivated land, unbroken by any vestige of antiquity; yet the soil is thick with tile and potsherd, and in hot summers the unevenly growing corn reveals the remains of streets beneath the surface. Casual excavations were made here in 1744 and 1833; more systematic ones intermittently between 1864 and 1884 by the Rev. J. G. Joyce and others; finally, in May 1890, the complete uncovering of the whole site was begun by Mr G. E. Fox and others. The work was carried on with splendid perseverance, and the uncovering of the interior was completed in 1908.

The chief results concern the buildings. Though these have vanished wholly from the surface, the foundations and lowest courses of their walls survive fairly perfect below ground: thus the plan of North Ate ' 'Feet ' 'too too 400 w Amphitheatre ' 'Postern ' '0 Tem- ' 'East ' 'Gate 11 - forum, yielded some interesting inscriptions which relate to a gild (collegium) and incidentally confirm the name Calleva.

3. Christian Church. - Close outside the south-east angle of the forum was a small edifice, 42 ft. by 27 ft., consisting of a nave and two aisles which ended at the east in a porch as wide as the building, and at the west in an apse and two flanking chambers. The nave and porch were floored with plain red tesserae: in the apse was a simple mosaic panel in red, black and white. Round the building [[Street &Z % Street 00 Fig]]. 5. - Plan of Forum, Basilica and surroundings, Silchester.

was a yard, fenced with wooden palings; in it were a well near the apse, and a small structure of tile with a pit near the east end. No direct proof of date or use was discovered. But the ground plan is that of an early Christian church of the " basilican " type. This type comprised nave and aisles, ending at one end in an apse and two chambers resembling rudimentary transepts, and at the other end in a porch (narthex). Previous to about A.D. 420 the porch was often at the east end and the apse at the west, and the altar, often movable, stood in the apse - as at Silchester, perhaps, on the mosaic panel. A court enclosed the whole; near the porch was a laver for the ablutions of intending worshippers. Many such churches have been found in other countries, especially in Roman Africa; no other satisfactory instance is known in Britain.

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4. Town Baths

A suite of public baths stood a little east of the forum. At the entrance were a peristyle court for loungers and a latrine: hence the bather passed into the Apodyterium (dressingroom), the Frigidarium (cold room) fitted with a cold bath for use at the end of the bathing ceremony, and a series of hot rooms - the whole resembling many'modern Turkish baths. In their first form the baths of Silchester were about 160 ft. by 80 ft., but they were later considerably extended.

5. Private Houses

The private houses of Silchester are of two types. They consist either of a row of rooms, with a corridor along them, and perhaps one or two additional rooms at one or both ends, or of three such corridors and rows of rooms, forming three sides of a large square open yard. They are detached houses, standing each in its own garden, and not forming terraces or rows. The country houses of Roman Britain have long been recognized as embodying these (or allied) types; now it becomes plain that they were the normal types throughout Britain. They differ widely from the town houses of Rome and Pompeii: they are less unlike some of the country houses of Italy and Roman Africa; but their real parallels occur in Gaul, and they may be Celtic types modified to Roman use - like Indian bungalows. Their internal fittingshypocausts, frescoes, mosaics - are everywhere Roman; those at Silchester are average specimens, and, except for one mosaic, not individually striking. The largest Silchester house, with a special annexe for baths, is usually taken to be a guest-house or inn for travellers between London and the west (fig. 6). Altogether, the town probably did not contain more than seventy or eighty houses of any size, and large spaces were not built over at all. This fact and the peculiar character of the houses must have given to Silchester rather the appearance of a village with scattered cottages, each in its own plot facing its own way, than a town with regular and continuous streets.

6. Industries

Shops are conjectured in the forum and elsewhere, but were mot numerous. Many dyers' furnaces, a little silver refinery, and perhaps a bakery have also been noticed.

7. Streets, Roads, &c. - The streets were paved with gravel: they varied in width up to 282 ft. They intersect regularly at right angles, dividing the town into square blocks, like modern Mannheim or Turin, according to a Roman system usual in both Italy and the provinces: plainly they were laid out all at once, possibly by Agricola (Tac. Agr. 21) and most probably about his time. There were four chief gates, not quite symmetrically placed. The townwalls are built of flint and concrete bonded with ironstone, and are backed with earth. In the plans, though not in the reports, of the excavations, they are shown as built later than the streets. No traces of meat-market, theatre or aqueduct have come to light; water was got from wells lined with wooden tubs, and must have been scanty in dry summers. Smaller objects abound - coins, pottery, window and bottle and cup glass, bronze ornaments, iron tools, &c. - and many belong to the beginnings of Calleva, but few pieces are individually notable. Traces of late Celtic art are singularly absent; Roman fashions rule supreme, and inscriptions show that even the lower classes here spoke and wrote Latin. Outside the walls were the cemeteries, not yet explored. Of suburbs we have as yet no hint. Nor indeed is the neighbourhood of Calleva at all rich in Roman remains. In fact, as well as in Celtic etymology, it was " the town in the forest." A similar absence of remains may be noticed outside other Romano-British towns, and is significant of their economic position. Such doubtless were most of the towns of Roman Britain - thoroughly Romanized, peopled with Romanspeaking citizens, furnished with Roman appurtenances, living in Roman ways, but not very large, not very rich, a humble witness to the assimilating power of the Roman civilization in Britain.

The country, as opposed to the towns, of Roman Britain seems to have been divided into estates, commonly (though perhaps incorrectly) known as " villas." Many examples survive, some of them large and luxurious country-houses, some mere farms, constructed usually on one of the two patterns described in the account of Silchester above. The inhabitants were plainly as various - a few of them great nobles and wealthy landowners, others small farmers or possibly bailiffs. Some of these estates were worked on the true " villa " system, by which the lord occupied the " great house," and cultivated the land close round it by slaves, while he let the rest to half-free coloni. But other systems may have prevailed as well. Among the most important country-houses are those of Bignor in west Sussex, and Woodchester and Chedworth in Gloucestershire.

The wealth of the country was principally agrarian. Wheat and wool were exported in the 4th century, when, as we have said, Britain was especially prosperous. But the details of the trade are unrecorded. More is known of the lead and iron mines which, at least in the first two centuries, were worked in many Scale In Feet I I i 1 [[Gate Corridor ' 'Nen?Ol2e]]??n \\?? %k; [[Aths \1\ Do R]]\ \\ ??.

FIG. 6. - Plan of supposed Inn and Baths at Silchester.

district

lead in Somerset, Shropshire, Flintshire and Derbyshire; iron in the west Sussex Weald, the Forest of Dean, and (to a slight extent) elsewhere. Other minerals were less notable. The gold mentioned by Tacitus proved scanty. The Cornish tin, according to present evidence, was worked comparatively little, and perhaps most in the later Empire.

OPEN COURT YARD

Lastly, the roads. Here we must put aside all idea of " Four Great Roads." That category is probably the invention of 'N? ??kOUTERGORRIDOR ` " ???????? ? ?? ? ? Inner Ccirridor  ???\\? 'a' CO: .???\\\?? z‘ Outer Rridor ' ? N J% Jj??./?/f/7,??? 200 5 0 100 ??\ ? ?? ? ,?\\\\?

[[Outer Court]] ?? \ ? ? v ? ? t \? ? ? \ ?? ?

Open Court Yard antiquaries, and certainly unconnected with Roman Britain (see Ermine Street). Instead, we may distinguish four main groups of roads radiating from London, and a fifth which runs obliquely. One road ran south-east to Canterbury and the Kentish ports, of which Richborough (Rutupiae) was the most frequented. A second ran west to Silchester, and thence by various branches to Winchester, Exeter, Bath, Gloucester and South Wales. A third, known afterwards to the English as Watling Street, ran by St Albans Wall near Lichfield (Letocetum), to Wroxeter and Chester. It also gave access by a branch to Leicester and Lincoln. A fourth served Colchester, the eastern counties, Lincoln and York. The fifth is that known to the English as the Fosse, which joins Lincoln and Leicester with Cirencester, Bath and Exeter. Besides these five groups, an obscure road, called by the Saxons Akeman Street, gave alternative access from London through Alchester (outside of Bicester) to Bath, while another obscure road winds south from near Sheffield, past Derby and Birmingham, and connects the lower Severn with the Humber. By these roads and their various branches the Romans provided adequate communications throughout the lowlands of Britain.

IV. The End of Roman Britain. - Early in the 4th century it was necessary to establish a special coast defence, reaching from the Wash to Spithead, against Saxon pirates: there were forts at Brancaster, Borough Castle (near Yarmouth), Bradwell (at the mouth of the Colne and Blackwater), Reculver, Richborough, Dover and Lymme (all in Kent), Pevensey in Sussex, Porchester near Portsmouth, and perhaps also at Felixstowe in Suffolk. After about 350, barbarian assaults, not only of Saxons but also of Irish (Scoti) and Picts, became commoner .and more terrible. At the end of the century Magnus Maximus, .claiming to be emperor, withdrew many troops from Britain and a later pretender did the same. Early in the 5th century the Teutonic conquest of Gaul cut the island off from Rome. This does not mean that there was any great " departure of Romans." The central government simply ceased to send the usual governors and high officers. The Romano-British were left to themselves. Their position was weak. Their fortresses lay in the north and west, while the Saxons attacked the east and :south. Their trained troops, and even their own numbers, must have been few. It is intelligible that they followed a precedent set by Rome in that age, and hired Saxons to repel Saxons. But they could not command the fidelity of their mercenaries, :and the Saxon peril only grew greater. It would seem as if the Romano-Britons were speedily driven from the east of the island. Even Wroxeter on the Welsh border may have been finally destroyed before the end of the 5th century. It seems that the Saxons though apparently unable to maintain their hold so far to the west, were able to prevent the natives from recovering the lowlands. Thus driven from the centres of Romanized life, from the region of walled cities and civilized houses, into the hills of Wales and the north-west, the provincials underwent an intelligible change. The Celtic element, never quite extinct in those hills and, like most forms of barbarism, reasserting itself in this wild age - not without reinforcement from Ireland - challenged the remnants of Roman civilization and in the end absorbed them. The Celtic language reappeared; the Celtic art emerged from its shelters in the west to develop in new and medieval fashions.

Authorities

- The principalreferences to early Britain in classical writers occur in Strabo, Diodorus, Julius Caesar, the elder Pliny, Tacitus, Ptolemy and Cassius Dio, and in the lists of the Antonine Itinerary (probably about A.D. 210-230; ed. Parthey, 1848), the Notitia Dignitatum (about A.D. 400; ed. Seeck, 1876), and the Ravennas (7th-century rechauffe'; ed. Parthey 1860). The chief passages are collected in Petrie's Monumenta Hist. Britann. (1848), and (alphabetically)in Holder's Altkeltische Sprachschatz(1896-1908). The Roman inscriptions have been collected by Hubner, Corpus Inscriptionum Latin. vii. (1873), and in supplements by Hubner and Haverfield in the periodical Ephemeris epigraphica; see also Hubner, Inscript. Britann. Christianae(1876, now out of date), and J. Rhys on Pictish, &c., inscriptions, Proceedings Soc.Antiq. Scotland, xxvi., xxxii.

Of modern works the best summary for Roman Britain and for 'Caesar's invasions is T. R. Holmes, Ancient Britain (1907), who cites numerous authorities. See also Sir John Evans, Stone Implements, Bronze Implements, and Ancient British Coins (with suppl.); Boyd Dawkins, Early Man in Britain (1880); J. Rhys, Celtic Britain (3rd ed., 1904). For late Celtic art see J. M. Kemble and A. W. Franks' Horae Ferales (1863), and Arthur J. Evans in Archaeologia, vols. Iii.-1v. Celtic ethnology and philology (see Celt) are still in the " age of discussion." For ancient earthworks see A. Hadrian Allcroft, Earthwork of England (1909).

For Roman Britain see, in general, Prof. F. Haverfield, The Romanization of Roman Britain (Oxford, 1906), and his articles in the Victoria County History; also the chapter in Mommsen's Roman Provinces; and an article in the Edinburgh Review, 1899. For the wall of Hadrian see John Hodgson, History of Northumberland (1840); J. C. Bruce, Roman Wall (3rd ed., 1867); reports of excavations by Haverfield in the Cumberland Archaeological Society Transactions (1894-1904); and R. C. Bosanquet, Roman Camp at Housesteads (Newcastle, 1904). For the Scottish Excavations see Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, xx.-xl., and especially J. Macdonald, Bar Hill (reprint, Glasgow, 1906). For other forts see R. S. Ferguson, Cumberland Arch. Soc. Trans. xii., on Hardknott; and J. Ward, Roman Fort of Gellygaer (London, 1903). For the Roman occupation of Scotland see Haverfield in Antonine Wall Report (1899); J. Macdonald, Roman Stones in Hunterian Mus. (1897) and, though an older work, Stuart's Caledonia Romana (1852). For Silchester, Archaeologia (1890-1908); for Caerwent (ib. 1901-1908); for London, Charles Roach Smith, Roman London (1859) for Christianity in Roman Britain, Engl. Hist. Rev. (1896); for the villages, Gen. Pitt-Rivers' Excavations in Cranborne Chase, &c. (4 vols., 1887-1908), and Proc. Soc. of Ant. xviii. For the end of, Roman Britain see Engl. Hist. Rev. (1904); Prof. Bury's Life of St Patrick (1905); Haverfield's Romanization (cited above); and P.1 Vinogradoff, Growth of the Manor (1905), bk. i. (F. J. H.) Anglo-Saxon Britain History. - The history of Britain after the withdrawal of the Roman troops is extremely obscure, but there can be little doubt that for many years the inhabitants of the provinces were exposed to devastating raids by the Picts and Scots. According to Gildas it was for protection against these incursions that the Britons decided to call in the Saxons. Their allies soon obtained a decisive victory; but subsequently they turned their arms against the Britons themselves, alleging that they had not received sufficient payment for their services. A somewhat different account, probably of English origin, may be traced in the Historia Brittonum, according to which the first leaders of the Saxons, Hengest and Horsa, came as exiles, seeking the protection of the British king, Vortigern. Having embraced his service they quickly succeeded in expelling the northern invaders. Eventually, however, they overcame the Britons through treachery, by inducing the king to allow them to send for large bodies of their own countrymen. It was to these adventurers, according to tradition, that the kingdom of Kent owed its origin. The story is in itself by no means improbable, while the dates assigned to the first invasion by various Welsh, Gaulish and English authorities, with one exception all fall within about a quarter of a century, viz. between the year 428 and the joint reign of Martian and Valentinian III. (450-455).

For the subsequent course of the invasion our information is of the most meagre and unsatisfactory character. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the kingdom of Sussex was founded by a certain Ella or /Elie, who landed in 477, while Wessex owed its origin to Cerdic, who arrived some eighteen years later. No value, however, can be attached to these dates; indeed, in the latter case the story itself is open to suspicion on several grounds (see Wessex). For the movements which led to the foundation of the more northern kingdoms we have no evidence worth consideration, nor do we know even approximately when they took place. But the view that the invasion was effected throughout by small bodies of adventurers acting independently of one another, and that each of the various kingdoms owes its origin to a separate enterprise, has little probability in its favour. Bede states that the invaders belonged to three different nations, Kent and southern Hampshire being occupied by Jutes, while Essex, Sussex and Wessex were founded by the Saxons, and the remaining kingdoms by the Angli. The peculiarities of social organization in Kent certainly tend to show that this kingdom had a different origin from the rest; but the evidence for the distinction between the Saxons and the Angli is of a much less satisfactory character (see Anglo-Saxons).

The royal family of Essex may really have been of Saxon origin (see Essex), but on the other hand the West Saxon royal family claimed to be of the same stock as that of Bernicia, and their connexions in the past seem to have lain with the Angli.

We need not doubt that the first invasion was followed by a long period of warfare between the natives and the invaders, in which the latter gradually strengthened their hold on the conquered territories. It is very probable that by the end of the 5th century all the eastern part of Britain, at least as far as the Humber, was in their hands. The first important check was received at the siege of " Mons Badonicus " in the year 517 (Ann. Cambr.), or perhaps rather some fifteen or twenty years earlier. According to Gildas this event was followed by a period of peace for at least forty-four years. In the latter part of the 6th century, however, the territories occupied by the invaders seem to have been greatly extended. In the south the West Saxons are said to have conquered first Wiltshire and then all the upper part of the Thames valley, together with the country beyond as far as the Severn. The northern frontier also seems to have been pushed considerably farther forward, perhaps into what is now Scotland, and it is very probable that the basin of the Trent, together with the central districts between the Trent and the Thames, was conquered about the same time, though of this we have no record. Again, the destruction of Chester about 615 was soon followed by the overthrow of the British kingdom of Elmet in south-west Yorkshire, and the occupation of Shropshire and the Lothians took place perhaps about the same period, that of Herefordshire probably somewhat later. In the south, Somerset is said to have been conquered by the West Saxons shortly after the middle of the 7th century. Dorset had probably been acquired by them before this time, while part of Devon seems to have come into their hands soon afterwards.

The area thus conquered was occupied by a number of separate kingdoms, each with a royal family of its own. The districts north of the Humber contained two kingdoms, Bernicia (q.v.) and Deira, which were eventually united in Northumbria. South of the Humber, Lindsey seems to have had a dynasty of its own, though in historical times it was apparently always subject to the kings of Northumbria or Mercia. The upper basin of the Trent formed the nucleus of the kingdom of Mercia (q.v.), while farther down the east coast was the kingdom of East Anglia. Between these two lay a territory called Middle Anglia, which is sometimes described as a kingdom, though we do not know whether it ever had a separate dynasty. Essex, Kent and Sussex (see articles on these kingdoms) preserve the names of ancient kingdoms, while the old diocese of Worcester grew out of the kingdom of the Hwicce, with which it probably coincided in area. The south of England, between Sussex and " West Wales (eventually reduced to Cornwall), was occupied by Wessex, which originally also possessed some territory to the north of the Thames. Lastly, even the Isle of Wight appears to have had a dynasty of its own. But it must not be supposed that all these kingdoms were always, or even normally, independent. When history begins, fEthelberht, king of Kent, was supreme over all the kings south of the Humber. He was followed by the East Anglian king Raedwald, and the latter again by a series of Northumbrian kings with an even wider supremacy. Before ZEthelberht a similar position had been held by the West Saxon king Ceawlin, and at a much earlier period, according to tradition, by Ella or ZElle, the first king of Sussex. The nature of this supremacy has been much discussed, but the true explanation seems to be furnished by that principle of personal allegiance which formed such an important element in Anglo-Saxon society.

2. Government. - Internally the various states seem to. have been organized on very similar lines. In every case we find kingly government from the time of our earliest records, and there is no doubt that the institution goes back to a date anterior to the invasion of Britain (see Offa; Wermund). The royal title, however, was frequently borne by more than one person. Sometimes we find one supreme king together with a number of under-kings (subreguli); sometimes again, especially in the smaller kingdoms, Essex, Sussex and Hwicce, we meet with two or more kings, generally brothers, reigning together apparently on equal terms. During the greater part of the 8th century Kent seems to have been divided into two kingdoms; but as a rule such divisions did not last beyond the lifetime of the kings between whom the arrangement had been made. The kings were, with very rare exceptions, chosen from one particular family in each state, the ancestry of which was traced back not only to the founder of the kingdom but also, in a remoter degree, to a god. The members of such families were entitled to special wergilds, apparently six times as great as those of the higher class of nobles (see below).

The only other central authority in the state was the king's council or court (Pend, witan, plebs, concilium). This body consisted partly of young warriors in constant attendance on the king, and partly of senior officials whom he called together from time to time. The terms used for the two classes by Bede are milites (ministri) and comites, for which the Anglo-Saxon version has Pegnas and gesi 5as respectively. Both classes alike consisted in part of members of the royal family. But they were by no means confined to such persons or even to born subjects of the king. Indeed, we are told that popular kings like Os wine attracted young nobles to their service from all quarters. The functions of the council have been much discussed, and it has been claimed that they had the right of electing and deposing kings. This view, however, seems to involve the existence of a greater feeling for constitutionalism than is warranted by the information at our disposal. The incidents which have been brought forward as evidence to this effect may with at least equal probability be interpreted as cases of profession or transference of personal allegiance. In other respects the functions of the council seem to have been of a deliberative character. It was certainly customary for the king to seek their advice and moral support on important questions, but there is nothing to show that he had to abide by the opinion of the majority.

For administrative purposes each of the various kingdoms was divided into a number of districts under the charge of royal reeves (cyninges gerefa, praefectus, praepositus). These officials seem to have been located in royal villages (cyninges tun, villa regalis) or fortresses (cyninges burg, orbs regis), which served as centres and meeting-places (markets, &c.) for the inhabitants of the district, and to which their dues, both in payments and services had to be rendered. The usual size of such districts in early times seems to have been 300, 600 or 1200 hides. 1 In addition to these districts we find mention also of much larger divisions containing 2000, 3000, 5000 or 7000 hides. To this category belong the shires of Wessex (Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, &c.), each of which had an earl (aldormon, princeps, dux) of its own, at all events from the 8th century onwards. Many, if not all, of these persons were members of the royal family, and it is not unlikely that they originally bore the kingly title. At all events they are sometimes described as subreguli. 3. Social Organization. - The officials mentioned above, whether of royal birth or not, were probably drawn from the king's personal retinue. In Anglo-Saxon society, as in that of all Teutonic nations in early times, the two most important principles were those of kinship and personal allegiance. If a man suffered injury it was to his relatives and his lord, rather than to any public official, that he applied first for protection and redress. If he was slain, a fixed sum (wergild), varying according to his station, had to be paid to his relatives, while a further but smaller sum (manbot) was due to his lord. These principles applied to all classes of society alike, and though strife within the family was by no means unknown, at all events in royal families, the actual slaying of a kinsman was regarded as the most heinous of all offences. Much the same feeling applied to the slaying of a lord - an offence for which no compensation could be rendered. How far the armed followers of a lord were entitled to compensation when the latter was slain 1 The hide (hid, hiwisc, familia, tributarius, cassatus, manens, &c.) was in later times a measure of land, usually 120 acres. In early times, however, it seems to have meant (r) household, (2) normal amount of land appertaining to a household.

is uncertain, but in the case of a king they received an amount equal to the wergild. Another important development of the principle of allegiance is to be found in the custom of heriots. In later times this custom amounted practically to a system of death-duties, payable in horses and arms or in money to the lord of the deceased. There can be little doubt, however, that originally it was a restoration to the lord of the military outfit with which he had presented his man when he entered his service. The institution of thegnhood, i.e. membership of the comitatus or retinue of a prince, offered the only opening by which public life could be entered. Hence it was probably adopted almost universally by young men of the highest classes. The thegn was expected to fight for his lord, and generally to place his services at his disposal in both war and peace. The lord, on the other hand, had to keep his thegns and reward them from time to time with arms and treasure. When they were of an age to marry he was expected to provide them with the means of doing so. If the lord was a king this provision took the form of a grant, perhaps normally ten hides, from the royal lands. Such estates were not strictly hereditary, though as a mark of favour they were not unfrequently re-granted to the sons of deceased holders.

The structure of society in England was of a somewhat peculiar type. In addition to slaves, who in early times seem to have been numerous, we find in Wessex and apparently also in Mercia three classes, described as twelfhynde, sixhynde and twihynde from the amount of their wergilds, viz. 1200, 600 and 200 shillings respectively. It is probable that similar classes existed also in Northumbria, though not under the same names. Besides these terms there were others which were probably in use everywhere, viz. ges16cund for the two higher classes and ceorlisc for the lowest. Indeed, we find these terms even in Kent, though the social system of that kingdom seems to have been of an essentially different character. Here the wergild of the ceorlisc class amounted to ioo shillings, each containing twenty silver coins (sceattas), as against zoo shillings of four (in Wessex five) silver coins, and was thus very much greater than the latter. Again, there was apparently but one ges16cund class in Kent, with a wergild of 300 shillings, while, on the other hand, below the ceorlisc class we find three classes of persons described as laetas, who corresponded in all probability to the liti or freedmen of the continental laws, and who possessed wergilds of 80, 60 and 40 shillings respectively. To these we find nothing analogous in the other kingdoms, though the poorer classes of Welsh freemen had wergilds varying from r 20 to 60 shillings. It should be added that the differential treatment of the various classes was by no means confined to the case of wergilds. We find it also in the compensations to which they were entitled for various injuries, in the fines to which they were liable, and in the value attached to their oaths. Generally, though not always, the proportions observed were the same as in the wergilds.

The nature of the distinction between the gesi&und and ceorlisc classes is nowhere clearly explained; but it was certainly hereditary and probably of considerable antiquity. In general we may perhaps define them as nobles and commons, though in view of the numbers of the higher classes it would probably be more correct to speak of gentry and peasants. The distinction between the twelfhynde and sixhynde classes was also in part at least hereditary, but there is good reason for believing that it arose out of the possession of land. The former consisted of persons who possessed, whether as individuals or families, at least five hides of land - which practically means a village - while the latter were landless, i.e. probably without this amount of land. Within the ceorlisc class we find similar subdivisions, though they were not marked by a difference in wergild. The gafolgelda or tributarius (tribute-payer) seems to have been a ceorl who possessed at least a hide, while the gebur was without land of his own, and received his outfit as a loan from his lord.

4. Payments and Services. - We have already had occasion to refer to the dues which were rendered by different classes of the population, and which the reeves in royal villages had to collect and superintend. The payments seem to have varied greatly according to the class from which they were due. Those rendered by landowners seem to have been known as feorm or fostor, and consisted of a fixed quantity of articles paid in kind. In Ine's Laws (cap. 70) we find a list of payments specified for a unit of ten hides, perhaps the normal holding of a twelfhynde man - though on the other hand it may be nothing more than a mere fiscal unit in an aggregate of estates. The list consists of oxen, sheep, geese, hens, honey, ale, loaves, cheese, butter, fodder, salmon and eels. Very similar specifications are found elsewhere. The payments rendered by the gafolgelda (tributarius) were known as gafol (tributum), as his name implies. In Ine's Laws we hear only of the hwitel or white cloak, which was to be of the value of six pence per household (hide), and of barley, which was to be six pounds in weight for each worker. In later times we meet with many other payments both in money and in kind, some of which were doubtless in accordance with ancient custom. On the other hand the gebur seems not to have been liable to payments of this kind, presumably because the land which he cultivated formed part of the demesne (inland) of his lord. The term gafol, however, may have been applied to the payments which he rendered to the latter.

The services required of landowners were very manifold in character. Probably the most important were military service (fird, expeditio) and the repairing of fortifications and bridges - the trinoda necessitas of later times. Besides these we find reference in charters of the 9th century to the keeping of the king's hunters, horses, dogs and hawks, and the entertaining of messengers and other persons in the king's service. The duties of men of the sixhynde class, if they are to be identified with the radcnihtas (radmanni) of later times, probably consisted chiefly in riding on the king's (or their lord's) business. The services of the peasantry can only be conjectured from what we find in later times. Presumably their chief duty was to undertake a share in the cultivation of the demesne land. We need scarcely doubt also that the labour of repairing fortifications and bridges, though it is charged against the landowners, was in reality delegated by them to their dependents.

5. Warfare. - All classes are said to have been liable to the duty of military service. Hence, since the ceorls doubtless formed the bulk of the population, it has been thought that the Anglo-Saxon armies of early times were essentially peasant forces. The evidence at our disposal, however, gives little justification for such a view. The regulation that every five or six hides should supply a warrior was not a product of the Danish invasions, as is sometimes stated, but goes back at least to the beginning of the 9th century. Had the fighting material been drawn from the ceorlisc class a warrior would surely have been required from each hide, but for military service no such regulation is found. Again, the fird (fyrd) was composed of mounted warriors during the 9th century, though apparently they fought on foot, and there are indications that such was the case also in the 7th century. No doubt ceorls took part in military expeditions, but they may have gone as attendants and camp-followers rather than as warriors, their chief business being to make stockades and bridges, and especially to carry provisions. The serious fighting, however, was probably left to the ges16cund classes, who possessed horses and more or less effective weapons. Indeed, there is good reason for regarding these classes as essentially military.

The chief weapons were the sword and spear. The former were two-edged and on the average about 3 ft. long. The hilts were often elaborately ornamented and sometimes these weapons were of considerable value. No definite line can be drawn between the spear proper and the javelin. The spear-heads which have been found in graves vary considerably in both form and size. They were fitted on to the shaft by a socket which was open on one side. Other weapons appear to have been quite rare. Bows and arrows were certainly in use for sporting purposes, but there is no reason for believing that they were much used in warfare before the Danish invasions. They are very seldom met with in graves. The most common article of defensive armour was the shield, which was small and circular and apparently of quite thin lime-wood, the edge being formed probably by a thin band of iron. In the centre of the shield, in order to protect the hand which held it, was a strong iron boss, some 7 in. in diameter and projecting about 3 in. It is clear from literary evidence that the helmet (helm) and coat of chain mail (byrne) were also in common use. They are seldom found in graves, however, whether owing to the custom of heriots or to the fact that, on account of their relatively high value, they were frequently handed on from generation to generation as heirlooms. Greaves are not often mentioned. It is worth noting that in later times the heriot of an " ordinary thegn " (medema pegn) - by which is meant apparently not a king's thegn but a man of the twelfhynde class - consisted of his horse with its saddle, &c. and his arms, or two pounds of silver as an equivalent of the whole. The arms required were probably a sword, helmet, coat of mail and one or two spears and shields. There are distinct indications that a similar outfit was fairly common in Ine's time, and that its value was much the same. One would scarcely be justified, however, in supposing that it was anything like universal; for the purchasing power of such a sum was at that time considerable, representing as it did about 16-20 oxen or 100-120 sheep. It would hardly be safe to credit men of the sixhynde class in general with more than a horse, spear and shield.

6. Agriculture and Village Life. - There is no doubt that a fairly advanced system of agriculture must have been known to the Anglo-Saxons before they settled in Britain. This is made clear above all by the representation of a plough drawn by two oxen in one of the very ancient rock-carvings at Tegneby in Bohuslan. In Domesday Book the heavy plough with eight oxen seems to be universal, and it can be traced back in Kent to the beginning of the 9th century. In this kingdom the system of agricultural terminology was based on it. The unit was the sulung (aratrum) or ploughland (from sulk, " plough"), the fourth part of which was the geocled or geoc (jugum), originally a yoke of oxen. An analogy is supplied by the carucata of the Danelagh, the eighth part of which was the bouata or " ox-land." In the 10th century the sulung seems to have been identified with the hide, but in earlier times it contained apparently two hides. The hide itself, which was the regular unit in the other kingdoms, usually contained 120 acres in later times and was divided into four girda (virgatae) or yardlands. But originally it seems to have meant simply the land pertaining to a household, and its area in early times is quite uncertain, though probably far less. For the acre also there was in later times a standard length and breadth, the former being called furhlang (furlong) and reckoned at one-eighth of a mile, while the aecerbraedu or " acre-breadth " (chain) was also a definite measure. We need not doubt, however, that in practice the form of the acre was largely conditioned by the nature of the ground. Originally it is thought to have been the measure of a day's ploughing, in which case the dimensions given above would scarcely be reached. Account must also be taken of the possibility that in early times lighter teams were in general use. If so the normal dimensions of the acre may very well have been quite different.

The husbandry was of a co-operative character. In the 11th century it was distinctly unusual for a peasant to possess a whole team of his own, and there is no reason for supposing the case to have been otherwise in early times; for though the peasant might then hold a hide, the hide itself was doubtless smaller and not commensurate in any way with the ploughland. The holdings were probably not compact but consisted of scattered strips in common fields, changed perhaps from year to year, the choice being determined by lot or otherwise. As for the method of cultivation itself there is little or no evidence. Both the " two-course system " and the " three-course system " may have been in use; but on the other hand it is quite possible that in many cases the same ground was not sown more than once in three years. The prevalence of the co-operative principle, it may be observed, was doubtless due in large measure to the fact that the greater part of England, especially towards the east, was settled not in scattered farms or hamlets but in compact villages with the cultivated lands lying round them.

The mill was another element which tended to promote the same principle. There can be little doubt that before the AngloSaxons came to Britain they possessed no instrument for grinding corn except the quern (cweorn), and in remote districts this continued in use until quite late times. The grinding seems to have been performed chiefly by female slaves, but occasionally we hear also of a donkey-mill (esolcweorn). The mill proper, however, which was derived from the Romans, as its name (mylen, from Lat. molina) indicates, must have come into use fairly early. In the i ith century every village of any size seems to have possessed one, while the earliest references go back to the 8th century. It is not unlikely that they were in use during the Roman occupation of Britain, and consequently that they became known to the invaders almost from the first. The mills were presumably driven for the most part by water, though we have a reference to a windmill as early as the year 833.

All the ordinary domestic animals were known. Cattle and sheep were pastured on the common lands appertaining to the village, while pigs, which (especially in Kent) seem to have been very numerous, were kept in the woods. Bee-keeping was also practised. In all these matters the invasion of Britain had brought about no change. The cultivation of fruit and vegetables on the other hand was probably almost entirely new. The names are almost all derived from Latin, though most of them seem to have been known soon after the invasion, at all events by the 7th century.

From the considerations pointed out above we can hardly doubt that the village possessed a certain amount of corporate life, centred perhaps in an ale-house where its affairs were discussed by the inhabitants. There is no evidence, however, which would justify us in crediting such gatherings with any substantial degree of local authority. So far as the limited information at our disposal enables us to form an opinion, the responsibility both for the internal peace of the village, and for its obligations to the outside world, seems to have lain with the lord or his steward (gerefa, villicus) from the beginning. A quite opposite view has, it is true, found favour with many scholars, viz. that the villages were orginally settlements of free kindreds, and that the lord's authority was superimposed on them at a later date. This view is based mainly on the numerous place-names ending in -ing, -Ingham, -ington, &c., in which the syllable -ing is thought to refer to kindreds of cultivators. It is more probable, however, that these names are derived from persons of the twelfhynde class to whom the land had been granted. In many cases indeed there is good reason for doubting whether the name is a patronymic at all.

The question how far the villages were really new settlements is difficult to answer, for the terminations -ham, -ton, &c. cannot be regarded as conclusive evidence. Thus according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ann. 571) Bensington and Eynsham were formerly British villages. Even if the first part of Egonesham is English - which is by no means certain - it is hardly sufficient reason for discrediting this statement, for Canterbury (Cantwaraburg) and Rochester (Hrofes ceaster) were without doubt Roman places in spite of their English names. On the whole it seems likely that the cultivation of the land was not generally interrupted for more than a very few years; hence the convenience of utilizing existing sites of villages would be obvious, even if the buildings themselves had been burnt.

7. Towns. - Gildas states that in the time of the Romans Britain contained twenty-eight cities (civitates), besides a number of fortresses (castella). Most of these were situated within the territories eventually occupied by the invaders, and reappear as towns in later times. Their history in the intervening period, however, is wrapped i:n obscurity. Chester appears to have been deserted for three centuries after its destruction early in the 7th century, and in most of the other cases there are features observable in the situation and plan of the medieval town which suggest that its occupation had not been continuous. Yet London and Canterbury must have recovered a certain amount of importance quite early, at all events within two centuries after the invasion, and the same is probably true of York, Lincoln and a few other places. The term applied to both the cities and the fortresses of the Romans was ceaster (Lat. castra), less frequently the English word burg. There is little or no evidence for the existence of towns other than Roman in early times, for the word urbs is merely a translation of burg, which was used for any fortified dwelling-place, and it is improbable that anything which could properly be called a town was known to the invaders before their arrival in Britain. The Danish settlements at the end of the 9th century and the defensive system initiated by King Alfred gave birth to a new series of fortified towns, from which the boroughs of the middle ages are mainly descended.

8. Houses. - Owing to the fact that houses were built entirely of perishable materials, wood and wattle, we are necessarily dependent almost wholly upon literary evidence for knowledge of this subject. Stone seems to have been used first for churches, but this was not before the 7th century, and we are told that at first masons were imported from Gaul. Indeed wood was used for many churches, as well as for most secular buildings, until a much later period. The walls were formed either of stout planks laid together vertically or horizontally, or else of posts at a short distance from one another, the interstices being filled up with wattlework daubed with clay. It is not unlikely that the houses of wealthy persons were distinguished by a good deal of ornamentation in carving and painting. The roof was highpitched and covered with straw, hay, reeds or tiles. The regular form of the buildings was rectangular, the gable sides probably being shorter than the others. There is little evidence for partitions inside, and in wealthy establishments the place of rooms seems to have been supplied by separate buildings within the same enclosure. The windows must have been mere openings in the walls or roof, for glass was not used for this purpose before the latter part of the 7th century. Stoves were known, but most commonly heat was obtained from an open fire in the centre of the building. Of the various buildings in a wealthy establishment the chief were the hall (heall), which was both a dining and reception room, and the " lady's bower " (brydbur), which served also as a bedroom for the master and mistress. To these we have to add buildings for the attendants, kitchen, bakehouse, &c., and farm buildings. There is little or no evidence for the use of two-storeyed houses in early times, though in the 10th and i ith centuries they were common. The whole group of buildings stood in an enclosure (tun) surrounded by a stockade (burg), which perhaps rested on an earthwork, though this is disputed. Similarly the homestead of the peasant was surrounded by a fence (edor). 9. Clothes. - The chief material for clothing was at first no doubt wool, though linen must also have been used and later became fairly common. The chief garments were the coat (roc), the trousers (brec), and the cloak, for which there seem to have been a number of names (lofa, hacele, sciccing, pad, hwitel). To these we may add the hat (haet), belt (gyrdel), stockings (hosa), shoes (scoh, gescy, rifeling) and gloves (glof). The crusene was a fur coat, while the serc or smoc seems to have been an undergarment and probably sleeveless. The whole attire was of national origin and had probably been in use long before the invasion of Britain. In the great bog-deposit at Thorsbjaerg in Angel, which dates from about the 4th century, there were found a coat with long sleeves, in a fair state of preservation, a pair of long trousers with remains of socks attached, several shoes and portions of square cloaks, one of which had obviously been dyed green. The dress of the upper classes must have been of a somewhat gorgeous character, especially when account is taken of the brooches and other ornaments which they wore. It is worth noting that according to Jordanes the Swedes in the 6th century were splendidly dressed.

ro. Trade. - The few notices of this subject which occur in the early laws seem to refer primarily to cattle-dealing. But there can be no doubt that a considerable import and export trade with the continent had sprung up quite early. In Bede's time, if not before, London was resorted to by many merchants both by land and by sea. At first the chief export trade was probably in slaves. English slaves were to be obtained in Rome even before the end of the 6th century, as appears from the well-known story of Gregory the Great. Since the standard price of slaves on the continent was in general three or four times as great as it was in England, the trade must have been very profitable. After the adoption of Christianity it was gradually prohibited by the laws. The nature of the imports during the heathen period may be learned chiefly from the graves, which contain many brooches and other ornaments of continental origin, and also a certain number of silver, bronze and glass vessels. With the introduction of Christianity the ecclesiastical connexion between England and the continent without doubt brought about a large increase in the imports of secular as well as religious objects, and the frequency of pilgrimages by persons of high rank must have had the same effect. The use of silk (seoluc) and the adoption of the mancus (see below) point to communication, direct or indirect, with more distant countries. In the 8th century we hear frequently of tolls on merchant ships at various ports, especially London.

r i. Coinage. - The earliest coins which can be identified with certainty are some silver pieces which bear in Runic letters the name of the Mercian king 'Ethelred (675-704). There are others, however, of the same type and standard (about 21 grains) which may be attributed with probability to his father Penda (d. 655) But it is clear from the laws of iEthelberht that a regular silver coinage was in use at least half a century before this time, and it is not unlikely that many unidentified coins may go back to the 6th century. These are fairly numerous, and are either without inscriptions or, if they do bear letters at all, they seem to be mere corruptions of Roman legends. Their designs are derived from Roman or Frankish coins, especially the former, and their weight varies from about Do to 21 grains, though the very light coins are rare. Anonymous gold coins, resembling Frankish trientes in type and standard (21 grains), are also fairly common, though they must have passed out of use very early, as the laws give no hint of their existence. Larger gold coins (solidi) are very rare. In the early laws the money actually in use appears to have been entirely silver. In Offa's time a new gold coin, the mancus, resembling in standard the Roman solidus (about 70 grains), was introduced from Mahommedan countries. The oldest extant specimen bears a faithfully copied Arabic inscription. In the same reign the silver coins underwent a considerable change in type, being made larger and thinner, while from this time onwards they always bore the name of the king (or queen or archbishop) for whom they were issued. The design and execution also became remarkably good. Their weight was at first unaffected, but probably towards the close of Offa's reign it was raised to about 23 grains, at which standard it seems to have remained, nominally at least, until the time of Alfred. It is to be observed that with the exception of Burgred's coins and a few anonymous pieces the silver was never adulterated. No bronze coins were current except in Northumbria, where they were extremely common in the 9th century.

Originally scilling (" shilling ") and sceatt seem to have been the terms for gold and silver coins respectively. By the time of Ine, however, pending, pen(n)ing (" penny "), had already come into use for the latter, while, owing to the temporary disappearance of a gold coinage, scilling had come to denote a mere unit of account. It was, however, a variable unit, for the Kentish shilling contained twenty sceattas (pence), while the Mercian contained only four. The West Saxon shilling seems originally to have been identical with the Mercian, but later it contained five pence. Large payments were generally made by weight, 240-250 pence being reckoned to the pound, perhaps from the 7th century onwards. The mancus was equated with thirty pence, probably from the time of its introduction. This means that the value of gold relatively to silver was ro: i from the end of Offa's reign. There is reason, however, for thinking that in, earlier times it was as low as 6: i, or even 5: i. In Northumbria a totally different monetary system prevailed, the unit being the terms, which contained three sceattas or pence. As to the value of the bronze coins we are without information The purchasing power of money was very great. The sheep was valued at a shilling in both Wessex and Mercia, from early times till the i ith century. One pound was the normal price of a slave and half a pound that of a horse. The price of a pig was twice, and that of an ox six times as great as that of a sheep. Regarding the prices of commodities other than live-stock we have little definite information, though an approximate estimate may be made of the value of arms. It is worth noticing that we often hear of payments in gold and silver vessels in place of money. In the former case the mancus was the usual unit of calculation.

I 2. Ornaments. - Of these the most interesting are the brooches which were worn by both sexes and of which large numbers have been found in heathen cemeteries. They may be classed under. eight leading types: (r) circular or ring-shaped, (2) cruciform, (3) square-headed, (4) radiated, (5) S-shaped, (6) bird-shaped, (7) disk-shaped, (8) cupelliform or saucer-shaped. Of these Nos. 5 and 6 appear to be of continental origin, and this is probably the case also with No. 4 and in part with No. 7. But the last-mentioned type varies greatly, from rude and almost plain disks of bronze to magnificent gold specimens studded with gems. No. 8 is believed to be peculiar to England, and occurs chiefly in the southern Midlands, specimens being usually found in pairs. The interiors are gilt, often furnished with detachable plates and sometimes set with brilliants. The remaining types were probably brought over by the AngloSaxons at the time of the invasion. Nos. i and 3 are widespread outside England, but No. 2, though common in Scandinavian countries, is hardly to be met with south of the Elbe. It is worth noting that a number of specimens were found in the cremation cemetery at Borgstedterfeld near Rendsburg. In England it occurs chiefly in the more northern counties. Nos. 2 and 3 vary greatly in size, from 21 to 7 in. or more. The smaller.specimens are quite plain, but the larger ones are gilt and generally of a highly ornamental character. In later times we hear of brooches worth as much as six mancusas, i.e. equivalent to six oxen.

Among other ornaments we may mention hairpins, rings and ear-rings, and especially buckles which are often of elaborate workmanship. Bracelets and necklets are not very common, a fact which is rather surprising, as in early times, before the issuing of a coinage, these articles (beagas) took the place of money to a large extent. The glass vessels are finely made and of somewhat striking appearance, though they closely resemble contemporary continental types. Since the art of glass-working was unknown, according to Bede, until nearly the end of the 7th century, it is probable that these were all of continental or Roman-British origin.

13. Amusements

It is clear from the frequent references to dogs and hawks in the charters that hunting and falconry were keenly pursued by the kings and their retinues. Games, whether indoor or outdoor, are much less frequently mentioned, but there is no doubt that the use of dice (taefl) was widespread. At court much time was given to poetic recitation, often accompanied by music, and accomplished poets received liberal rewards. The chief musical instrument was the harp (hearpe), which is often mentioned. Less frequently we hear of the flute (pipe) and later also of the fiddle (ficYele). Trumpets (horn, swegelhorn, byme) appear to have been used chiefly as signals.

14. Writing

The Runic alphabet seems to have been the only form of writing known to the Anglo-Saxons before the invasion of Britain, and indeed until the adoption of Christianity. In its earliest form, as it appears in inscriptions on various articles found in Schleswig and in Scandinavian countries, it consisted of twenty-four letters, all of which occur in abecedaria in England. In actual use, however, two letters soon became obsolete, but a number of others were added from time to time, some of which are found also on the continent, while others are peculiar to certain parts of England. Originally the Runic alphabet seems to have been used for writing on wooden boards, though none of these have survived. The inscriptions which have come down to us are engraved partly on memorial stones, which are not uncommon in the north of England, and partly on various metal objects, ranging from swords to brooches. The adoption of Christianity brought about the introduction of the Roman alphabet; but the older form of writing did not immediately pass out of use, for almost all the inscriptions which we possess date from the 7th or following centuries. Coins with Runic legends were issued at least until the middle of the 8th century, and some of the memorial stones date probably even from the 9th. The most important of the latter are the column at Bewcastle, Cumberland, believed to commemorate Alhfrith, the son of Oswio, who died about 670, and the cross at Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, which is probably about a century later. The Roman alphabet was very soon applied to the purpose of writing the native language, e.g. in the publication of the laws of iEthelberht. Yet the type of character in which even the earliest surviving MSS. are written is believed to be of Celtic origin. Most probably it was introduced by the Irish missionaries who evangelized the north of England, though Welsh influence is scarcely impossible. Eventually this alphabet was enlarged (probably before the end of the 7th century) by the inclusion of two Runic letters for th and w.

15. Marriage

This is perhaps the subject on which our information is most inadequate. It is evident that the relationships which prohibited marriage were different from those recognized by the Church; but the only fact which we know definitely is that it was customary, at least in Kent, for a man to marry his stepmother. In the Kentish laws marriage is represented as hardly more than a matter of purchase; but whether this was the case in the other kingdoms also the evidence at our disposal is insufficient to decide. We know, however, that in addition to the sum paid to the bride's guardian, it was customary for the bridegroom to make a present (morgengifu) to the bride herself, which, in the case of queens, often consisted of a residence and considerable estates. Such persons also had retinues and fortified residences of their own. In the Kentish laws provision is made for widows to receive a proportionate share in their husbands' property.

16. Funeral Rites. - Both inhumation and cremation were practised in heathen times. The former seems to have prevailed everywhere; the latter, however, was much more common in the more northern counties than in the south, though cases are fairly numerous throughout the valley of the Thames. In Beowulf cremation is represented as the prevailing custom. There is no evidence that it was still practised when the Roman and Celtic missionaries arrived, but it is worth noting that according to the tradition given in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Oxfordshire, where the custom seems to have been fairly common, was not conquered before the latter part of the 6th century. The burnt remains were generally, if not always, enclosed in urns and then buried. The urns themselves are of clay, somewhat badly baked, and bear geometrical patterns applied with a punch. They vary considerably in size (from 4 to r 2 in. or more in diameter) and closely resemble those found in northern Germany. Inhumation graves are sometimes richly furnished. The skeleton is laid out at full length, generally with the head towards the west or north, a spear at one side and a sword and shield obliquely across the middle. Valuable brooches and other ornaments are often found. In many other cases, however, the grave contained nothing except a small knife and a simple brooch or a few beads. Usually both classes of graves lie below the natural surface of the ground without any perceptible trace of a barrow.

17. Religion. - Here again the information at our disposal is very limited. There can be little doubt that the heathen Angli worshipped certain gods, among them Ti (Tig), Woden, Thunor and a goddess Frigg, from whom the names Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are derived. Ti was probably the same god of whom early Roman writers speak under the name Mars (see T y x), while Thunor was doubtless the thunder-god (see Thor). From Woden (q.v.) most of the royal families traced their descent. Seaxneat, the ancestor of the East Saxon dynasty, was also in all probability a god (see Essex, Kingdom Of).

Of anthropomorphic representations of the gods we have no clear evidence, though we do hear of shrines in sacred enclosures, at which sacrifices were offered. It is clear also that there were persons specially set apart for the priesthood, who were not allowed to bear arms or to ride except on mares. Notices of sacred trees and groves, springs, stones, &c., are much more frequent than those referring to the gods. We hear also a good deal of witches and valkyries, and of charms and magic; as an instance we may cite the fact that certain (Runic) letters were credited, as in the North, with the power of loosening bonds. It is probable also that the belief in the spirit world and in a future life was of a somewhat similar kind to what we find in Scandinavian religion. (See TEUTONIC PEOPLES, §6.) The chief primary authorities are Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae, and Nennius, Historia Britonum (ed. San-Marte, Berlin, 1844) Th. Mommsen in Mon. Germ. Hist., Auct. Antiquiss., tom. xiii. (Berlin, 1898); Bede, Hist. Eccl. (ed. C. Plummer, Oxford, 1896); the Saxon Chronicle (ed. C. Plummer, Oxford, 1892-1899); and the Anglo-Saxon Laws (ed. F. Liebermann, Halle, 1903), and Charters (W. de G. Birch, Cartularium Saxonicum, London, 1885-1893). Modern authorities: Sh. Turner, History of the Anglo-Saxons (London, 1799-1805; 7th ed., 1852); Sir F. Palgrave, Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth (London, 1831-1832); J. M. Kemble, The Saxons in England (London, 1849; 2nd ed., 1876); K. Maurer, Kritische Uberschau d. deutschen Gesetzgebung u. Rechtswissenschaft, vols. i.-iii. (Munich, 1853-1855); J. M. Lappenberg, Geschichte von England (Hamburg, 1834); History of England under the Anglo-Saxon Kings (London, 1845; 2nd ed., 1881); J. R. Green, The Making of England (London, 1881); T. Hodgkin, History of England from the Earliest Times to the Norman Conquest (vol. i. of The Political History of England) (London, 1906); F. Seebohm, The English Village Community (London, 1883); A. Meitzen, Siedelung and Agrarwesen d. Westgermanen,u. Ostgermanen, &c. (Berlin, 18 95); Sir F.Pollockand F.W. Maitland, History of EnglishLaw (Cambridge, 1895; 2nd ed., 1898); F. W. Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond (Cambridge, 1897); F. Seebohm, Tribal Custom in Anglo-Saxon Law (London, 1903); P. Vinogradoff, The Growth of the Manor (London, 1905); H. M. Chadwick, Studies on Anglo-Saxon Institutions (Cambridge, 1905); The Origin of the English Nation (ib., 1907); M. Heyne, Ober die Lage and Construction der Halle Heorot (Paderborn, 1864); R. Henning, Das deutsche Haus (Quellen u. Forschungen, 47) (Strassburg, 1882); M. Heyne, Deutsche Hausaltertumer, i., ii., iii. (Leipzig, 1900-1903); G. Baldwin Brown, The Arts in Early England (London, 1903); C. F. Keary, Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Coins in the British Museum, vol. i. (London, 1887); C. Roach Smith, Collectanea Antigua (London, 1848-1868); R. C. Neville, Saxon Obsequies (London, 1852); J. Y. Akerman, Remains of Pagan Saxondom (London, 1855); Baron J. de Baye, Industrie anglo-saxonne (Paris, 1889); The Industrial Arts of the Anglo-Saxons (London, 1893) G. Stephens, The Old Northern Runic Monuments (London and Copenhagen, 1866-1901); W. Vietor, Die northumbrischen Runensteine (Marburg, 1895). Reference must also be made to the articles on Anglo-Saxon antiquities in the Victoria County Histories, and to various papers in Archaeologia, the Archaeological Journal, the Journal of the British Archaeological Society, the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, the Associated Architectural Societies' Reports, and other antiquarian journals. (H. M. C.)


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English

Etymology

Middle English Breteyne, from Old French Bretaigne, from Latin Britannia, deriving from Ancient Greek Πρεττανία (Prettania), Diodorus's rendering of the indigenous name pretani.

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Singular
Britain

Plural
-

Britain

  1. An island off the western coast of Europe, consisting of the mainlands of England, Scotland and Wales; also called Great Britain.
  2. (loosely) The United Kingdom.
  3. (loosely but erroneously) England.

Related terms

Synonyms

  • Booze Britain
  • Binge Britain
  • Broken Britain

Translations

See also


Simple English

Britain is often used as a short name for the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). People use this name because most of the UK is on the island of Great Britain. Sometimes the name Britain is used to refer to the island of Great Britain only, especially in historical contexts e.g. 'Roman Britain'. There are three countries on the island of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), and four countries in Britain (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

History of the name Britain

The modern name Britain comes from an old Celtic name Prydyn (or Prydein). The Irish language name was Cruithin. The old Greek writers heard these names and called the island Pritanni. Scholars now think the word was the name of the Picts (who lived 2,000-1,500 years ago in the north of Britain which is northern Scotland today) in the Welsh and Irish languages. When the Romans came to the island they called it Britannia. Most of Brittania was the home of the Celtic people called the Britons or Brythons who spoke the ancestor language of modern Welsh, Cornish and Breton. When some of these Britons moved to live in north-west France their called their new country by the same name as their old one. It came to be known as 'Breizh' in Breton, and was called Brittany in English (from the French name Bretagne). To make clear the difference between Brittany and Britain some people started to call the island of Britain "Great Britain", because it was bigger than the "little Britain" (Brittany) in France.








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