800 BC - 700 BC
First hill forts are constructed
Originating in the later Bronze Age (1000 BC - 800 BC), the hill forts of the early Iron Age are found over a wide area of the British Isles: in Scotland (Finavon Fort in Angus), Wales (The Brieddin and Moel y Gaer in Powys) and England (Grimthorpe in Yorkshire, Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire and Bathampton Down in Somerset). Many seem to have been used infrequently and may have been seasonal meeting places and food stores rather than permanently inhabited settlements.
700 BC - 500 BC
Ironworking technology becomes widespread
Iron objects dating from the sixth or even seventh century BC are known from England, Scotland and Wales, but the widespread adoption of iron only became common during the fourth century BC. The skill of Iron Age blacksmiths is demonstrated by the range of tools and weapons recovered from the excavation of sites such as Danebury in Hampshire and Llyn Cerig Bach on Anglesey, North Wales. These include saws, chisels and other carpentry tools very similar in form to modern ones.
700 BC - AD 43
Small farming settlements with networks of fields start to develop
Throughout the Iron Age there is evidence for extensive networks of fields associated with small farming settlements. A mixed farming economy is suggested by cattle, sheep and pig remains and the processing of cereals including wheat, barley and oats. Improved cereal crops and breeds of domestic animal were developed and introduced during the Iron Age. The best surviving areas of Iron Age farming can be seen on Salisbury Plain, the Marlborough Downs, the Cheviot Hills and other upland areas.
500 BC - 100 BC
British landscape becomes dominated by hill forts
By the fourth century BC, many parts of Britain were dominated by hill forts. In some areas, such as central southern England and the Welsh borders, they were very large with complex earthworks and entrances (Maiden Castle in Dorset). There are significant examples in north Wales, the Borders and eastern regions of Scotland and in Northern Ireland (parts of the Navan complex). Many of these sites supported sizeable populations and acted as service centres for a growing rural population.
500 BC - AD 0
First 'brochs' or stone towers are constructed in Scotland
The earliest 'brochs' date from 500-200 BC, and many were still occupied into the first millennium AD. They were built using two concentric, dry-stone walls to create a hollow tower. Between the walls were galleries and stairways leading to upper levels. Wooden upper floors probably provided the main living space, with the ground floor used as a secure store for livestock. Brochs are mainly located in northern and western Scotland, Orkney and Shetland, with the best example at Mousa on Shetland.
Pytheas of Massilia circumnavigates Britain
Pytheas of Massilia (now Marseilles), a Greek merchant and explorer, circumnavigated the British Isles between about 330 and 320 BC and produced the first written record of the islands. He described the inhabitants as skilled wheat farmers, usually peaceable, but formidable in war when they used horse-drawn chariots. He also described the Cornish trade in tin with the Mediterranean.
300 BC - AD 0
Somerset Levels lake villages of Glastonbury and Meare are built
Built on large timber platforms, these settlements were set on the edge of a now vanished area of marsh and open water. Excavation has recovered thousands of wooden and other organic artefacts that rarely survive from dry-land settlements, and which provide greater insight into the skills of Iron Age woodworkers. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, smaller lakeside settlements called 'crannogs' are known. Many of these survived into the Roman period and later.
200 BC - AD 0
Highly-skilled gold and bronze smiths create decorative objects
The later Iron Age saw the creation of superb bronze and gold objects. Many of these items were deliberately buried or placed in rivers and lakes, probably as religious offerings. Finds from the Thames include the Battersea Shield and the Waterloo Helmet. In eastern England a number of hoards of gold 'torcs' (neck-rings) are known, most notably from Ipswich and Snettisham in Norfolk. There have also been significant later Iron Age finds in Scotland and north Wales.
Coins are used and produced for the first time
The first coins found in Britain were gold and minted in France. Around 80-60 BC, production started in Britain and by 20 BC silver and bronze were used in south east England. Coins began to bear the names of rulers, some titled 'Rex' (Latin for king) and some naming the place they were minted, such as Camulodunum (Colchester). These inscriptions suggest a growing level of literacy and familiarity with Latin. No Iron Age coins were produced in northern England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland.
Late summer 55 BC
Roman general Julius Caesar raids south east England
After conquering Gaul (modern France and Belgium), Julius Caesar crossed the Channel with two legions - about 10,000 men - probably to carry out reconnaissance and send a warning to the British allies of Gaulish tribes. Local tribes contested his landing on the beach at Deal near Dover, but their war chariots were driven back and they subsequently sought a truce. Caesar returned to the continent for the winter after bad weather damaged his fleet and prevented cavalry reinforcements arriving.
Summer 54 BC
Julius Caesar launches a full-scale invasion of England
Julius Caesar invaded Britain for the second time with five legions - about 25,000 men - and won a series of battles before his fleet at Deal was once again wrecked by storms. This delay allowed the British to regroup under Cassivellaunus, ruler of the Catuvellauni tribe. He waged an effective guerrilla war before his betrayal by rival tribes handed Caesar victory. An impending rebellion in Gaul forced him to withdraw, never to return, but Britain was now within Rome's sphere of influence.
Summer 52 BC
Renegade Gaulish leader Commius, who fled to Britain, founds a new kingdom
Commius, ruler of the Gaulish Atrebates tribe, fled Gaul and became king of the Atrebates tribe of south-central England, with a capital at Silchester (near Reading). There he issued his own coinage, the earliest examples dating from 30BC. Commius was a former ally of Rome and had accompanied Julius Caesar on both of his expeditions to Britain. He joined the Gaulish revolt under Vercingetorix in 52AD and fled Gaul after a second failed revolt the following year.
50 BC - AD 43
Very large settlements known as 'oppida' emerge
The settlements known as 'oppida’ (from Latin, meaning an administrative centre) were usually very large sites, sometimes defined by rivers or long ditches and banks. Many are associated with centres of tribal power, trade with the Roman world and rich burials. Examples include Colchester, St Albans and Silchester in southern England. By the time of the Roman invasion, they could be found as far north as Stanwick in Yorkshire. No oppida are known in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Summer 27 BC
Roman emperor Augustus plans the invasion of Britain
Having defeated the last of his civil war rivals in 31BC, Augustus looked to set secure borders for Rome's empire. Plans were drawn up for an invasion of Britain, but they came to nothing. In his political testament 'Res Gestae', Augustus counts among his deeds that he received supplications from two British kings, Dumnobellaunus and Tincommius. Relations between Rome and Britain remained good for the next two generations, with evidence that Rome had a healthy trade with the Britons.
20 BC - AD 43
Roman influence grows in southern Britain
Limited trade in Roman goods such as wine had been underway since about 120 BC. From 20 BC this trade intensified with sites such as Colchester, St Albans and Silchester receiving large quantities of imported pottery, wine and metalwork. Britain was exporting too, including slaves, grain, hunting dogs and precious metals. It is possible that some of the tribes in the south east developed diplomatic links with the early Roman empire of Augustus and his immediate successors.
c. Winter AD 9/10
Cunobelinus becomes king of the Catuvellauni tribe
Cunobelinus (William Shakespeare’s 'Cymbeline'), ruled the Catuvellauni for about 30 years and conquered a huge territory. His name appears on coins issued at Colchester and St Albans and he is described by the Roman historian Suetonius as 'Britannorum rex' - king of the Britons. His core territory was Hertfordshire, but he eventually controlled much of East Anglia and the south east.
c. Winter AD 39/40
Crisis develops at the court of Cunobelinus
A succession struggle erupted around the throne of the ailing Cunobelinus, king of the powerful Catuvellauni tribe. Adminius, the king's younger son, was exiled and fled to the court of the Roman emperor, Caligula. His elder brothers, Caratacus and Togodumnus, were left in control of the extensive tribal territories stretching over much of East Anglia and the south east of England.
Summer AD 40
Roman emperor Caligula plans an invasion of Britain
Emperor Caligula (ruled 37 to 41AD) planned an invasion of Britain in 40AD, but he was so much reviled for his megalomania that objective facts about the campaign are hard to discern. It seems likely, however, that he wanted the prestige of conquering Britain - of succeeding where Julius Caesar failed. But the army refused and the invasion was abandoned. Instead, troops were ordered to collect seashells as 'spoils taken from Neptune’ - a favourite illustration of Caligula's 'madness'.
c. Summer AD 42
Verica, king of the Atrebates, appeals to Claudius to help him regain his throne
After the death of Cunobelinus, king of the Catuvellauni, his ambitious sons and successors Caratacus and Togodumnus expanded into the territory of their tribal neighbours. Verica, king of the Atrebates, was driven out of south-central Britain and eventually fled to Rome. As a 'client king' of Rome, he sought the support of the emperor Claudius in a bid to reclaim his throne. This served as the pretext for the Roman invasion of Britain the following year.
The 8th century BC started the first day of 800 BC and ended the last day of 701 BC. The 8th century BC is a period of great change for several historically significant civilizations. In Egypt, the 23rd and 24th dynasties lead to rule from Nubia in the 25th Dynasty. The Neo-Assyrian Empire reaches the peak of its power, conquering the Kingdom of Israel as well as nearby countries.
Greececolonizes other regions of the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Rome is founded in 753 BC, and the Etruscan civilization expands in Italy. The 8th century BC is conventionally taken as the beginning of Classical Antiquity, with the first Olympiad set at 776 BC, and the epics of Homer dated to between 750 and 650 BC.
Iron Age India enters the later Vedic period. Vedic ritual is annotated in many priestly schools in Brahmana commentaries, and the earliest Upanishads mark the beginning of Vedanta philosophy.
- Adad-nirari III, king of Assyria
- Ahaz, king of Judah
- Alcmenes, king of Sparta
- Amaziah of Judah
- Argishtis I of Urartu
- Ashur-dan III, king of Assyria
- Archilaus, king of Sparta
- Bakenranef (also known as Bocchoris) succeeds his father Tefnakhte as king of the Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt
- Isaiah, biblical prophet & advisor to the kings of Judah (according to the Bible)
- Dido, queen of Carthage
- Eriba-Marduk, king of babylon
- Iuput, Pharaoh of the Twenty-third dynasty of Egypt
- Hezekiah of the Kingdom of Judah
- Marduk-apla-usur , king of Babylon
- Menua, king of Urartu]]
- Midas (king of Phrygia)
- Nabonassar, king of Babylon
- Numa Pompilius, king of Rome
- Osorkon III, Pharaoh of the Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt
- King Ping of Zhou, king of the Zhou Dynasty
- Pygmalion, king of Tyre
- Rivallo, legendary king of the Britons
- Rhea Silvia, mother of Romulus and Remus
- Romulus, king of Rome
- Rudamun, pharaoh of the Twenty-third dynasty of Egypt
- Rusa I, king of Urartu
- Sargon succeeds Shalmaneser V as king of Assyria
- Sennacherib, king of Assyria
- Shalmaneser V, king of Assyria
- Shabaka succeeds his father Piye as king of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
- Shabaka kills Bakenranef (Bocchoris)
- Takelot III, pharaoh of the Twenty-third dynasty of Egypt
- Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria
- Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines
- Zamolxis in Dacia
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
See: List of sovereign states in the 8th century BC.