chapter  10
22 Pages

EARLY HISTORIC BRITAIN

WithCATHERINE HILLS

The history of this period has always been complicated by its role in national origin myths (Hills 2003) and it is difcult to nd a name for it that does not betray a specic perspective. The popular name the ‘Dark Ages’ is a term that derives from the way in which people of the Renaissance saw the time between the Classical world and their own world, in which the glories of Greece and Rome were seen to have been ‘reborn’. In between was a black hole of medieval superstition and ignorance. This contrast between antiquity and the Middle Ages

is now not so sharply drawn, and our ignorance of the early medieval world has lessened to the extent that the term ‘Dark Ages’ has almost disappeared from academic works. ‘Arthurian’ is another term more current in popular than academic literature; it implies the existence of a historical King Arthur or an ‘Arthur-type gure’ in the post-Roman period.