Skip to comments.Borders Folks May Be Descended From Africans (Hadrian's Wall)
Posted on 06/13/2004 2:15:19 PM PDT by blam
Borders folk may be descended from Africans
By David Derbyshire
Families who have lived in the English-Scottish Borders for generations could be descended from African soldiers who patrolled Hadrian's Wall nearly 2,000 years ago.
Archaeologists say there is compelling evidence that a 500-strong unit of Moors manned a fort near Carlisle in the third century AD.
Richard Benjamin, an archaeologist at Liverpool University who has studied the history of black Britons, believes many would have settled and raised families.
"When you talk about Romans in Britain, most people think about blue eyes and pale complexions," he said. "But the reality was very different."
Writing in the journal British Archaeology, Mr Benjamin describes a fourth century inscription discovered in Beaumount, two miles from the remains of the Aballava fort at Burgh by Sands. The inscription refers to the "numerus of Aurelian Moors" - a unit of North Africans, probably named after the emperor Marcus Aurelius.
The unit is also mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum, a Roman list of officials and dignitaries. It describes the prefect of the "numeri Maurorum Aurelianorum, Aballaba".
The unit was probably mustered in the Roman province of Mauretania, in modern-day Morocco, by the emperor Septimus Severus and arrived in Britain in the second or third centuries AD. Aballava lay at the western end of Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria.
Mr Benjamin suspects that the unit would have been blooded in battles in Germany and the Danube where more inscriptions refer to a unit of Moors. Their number is unknown, but the fort could have held up to 500 men.
"There was freedom of movement for civilians and those in administration of the armed forces. Discharge certificates indicate that the veteran soldiers settled in Britain," he said. "Soldiers would have had plenty of money to spend in native settlements on the outskirts of the forts. They would have sought entertainment in brothels. Many would probably have wanted more permanent relationships."
Mr Benjamin is calling for a major study of black Roman Britons. He believes that DNA tests of locals could reveal genetic links with modern-day north Africans, while skeletons of Romans found in the area might contain telltale clues to their childhood origins.
Buildings in the village may have been built from recycled Roman materials. Some might be of African origin, he said.
The unit is likely to have been composed of Berbers from North Africa, but may also have had darker-skinned soldiers from Nubia.
In 1989, archaeologists discovered a 1,900-year-old wooden sculpture of a black African head in London carved in the first century.
Contemporary records also point to Africans living in Britain during the Roman occupation. The emperor Septimus Severus is reported to have been approached by a black African soldier while he crossed Hadrian's Wall on his return from a battle in Scotland.
In South Shields, a Roman tombstone refers to a 20-year-old "Moor by race, the freed slave of Numerians".
Oswald Mosley, please call the office!
Does this mean that Brits and Scots are going to come to the US and demand reparations?
hence THE BLACK WATCH? haha
Everyone want s to claim that they are related to the Scots the reality is that by the time the Moors were running around Scotland had already had a long and wonderful history and it continues today...Let them keep trying to define us...they never will
I happened to be in England recently. Three days ago, I stopped in a pub north of Newcastle (in the vicinity of Hadrian's wall, but on the opposite side of the country from Carlisle.)
The publican was evidently an archaeology enthusiast, because the walls had many interesting maps and illustrations of life in Roman Britain.
One document stated unequivocally that the residents of the area were descended from the Roman legions, and gave examples of local names that might have Roman, Greek, or even Arab origins.
Hardly a word of Latin entered the English language in those days; modern English words of Latin origin mostly came in during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. But it seems clear that the Roman (and perhaps African) blood still flows in the vicinity of Hadrian's Wall.
Okay, so now that I know where Borders Folks come from, what about Barnes and Noble?
They are an offshoot of the B. Dalton tribe.
LOL! Well played.
Years ago, I worked as a tech for a computer chain store that is no longer with us. Our competition, down the road, was CompUSA. They were located in a shopping center called "The Willows".
When asked by a staffer where a particular item could be found around town that we didn't have, I folded my arms and in my best Hollywood Indian accent replied, "Umm. Must go see Compoosa, hostile tribe that lives among Willows".
I thought they were talking about the folks who work in the bookstore.
Why would anyone think Romans had "blue eyes and pale complexions"?
Silly racial story. The tribes in Mauretania in the 3rd Century were not black, nor were they Berbers. As far as we can tell at this late date, they were generic Mediterranean peoples, with large dashes of Lebanese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman.
A freed Nubian slave or three was possible, though.
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