Relationships with the Local Population

The arrival of the Romans had a major impact on the local population. For some it brought wealth and prosperity. Roman soldiers were well-paid providing an opportunity for local people to establish markets and bars where they could spend their wages. Villages, or vici, grew up next to forts to provide goods and services for the army.

Local people were recruited into the army. The Romans preferred Auxiliaries to serve in a different province from the locality from which they came. For example, Carlisle housed a troop of cavalry from Gaul (modern France). British recruits were sent to Dacia (modern Romania), Raetia (modern Switzerland) and Mauretania (modern Morocco).

In the late Iron Age, Carlisle was in the territory of the Carvetii, which was part of the larger tribe called the Brigantes. When Cumbria came under Roman control, the capital was created at Carlisle, where the Romans built their fort. The Centurio Regionarius (Officer who was in charge of the government of a region) as being based in Carlisle in 103CE (AD).

The Romans reshaped local government. During the Iron Age, people would have given allegiance to local chiefs, but after the Invasion they would have had to become part of Roman system. This was based on towns and their surroundings with Carlisle, for example, governed by a town council led by elected magistrates. These town councils were often made up of the local aristocracy, but also included retired soldiers who had been given a grant of land when they left the army.

Rather than challenge the local customs and religion, the Romans often incorporated them into their own beliefs. Many of the gods that are mentioned on Roman period altars and building inscriptions that survive in the Tullie House collection have Celtic names. These Celtic gods have been linked to their own. For example, Ocelus is linked to Mars the god of war. The Romans introduced the idea of giving a town its own protective spirit. [See Image 1]

This took the form of a human figure with the city walls as a crown on the top of their head. The sculpture of this type from the Carlisle fort shows typical Celtic features such as large almond-shaped eyes. Here a Roman idea has been interpreted in a Celtic style. [See Image 2]