Town Life in Early Britain


    DR. R. E. MORTIMER WHEELER'S Norman Lockyer Lecture for 1937, which was delivered on November 24, the first occasion on which this lecture of the British Science Guild has been given under the auspices of the British Association, in dealing with the beginnings of town life in Britain in the light of the evidence of recent archælogical investigation, was of marked importance for the history of the growth of civilization among the British people. It was at the same time a striking demonstration of the manner in which modern methods of archæological research and interpretation are able to illuminate the dark places of history, and even in some instances modify in no small degree inferences from literary and other sources which have attained the status of dogma. Dr. Wheeler's purpose was to test the statement that town life was non-existent in pre-Roman Britain and to check our estimate of the Roman contribution to the urbanization of Britain. Excavations at Wheathampstead and Verulamium, he pointed out, have filled in details of the picture of the British 'city' in Kent and Hertfordshire as given by Cæsar, to whom they appeared as fortified woodland clearings. The recent excavations have shown that the size, situation, interdependence and cohesion of these settlements lift them out of the parochialism of a mere peasant kraal.

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Cite this article

    Town Life in Early Britain. Nature 140, 924 (1937).

    Download citation


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.