Black Presence in the Ancient British Isles

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Black Presence in the Ancient British Isles

One of the most under explored topics in the study of ancient history is the black presence in ancient Europe. A black presence can be found in the British Isles as far back as prehistoric times.

The Silures were the most ancient inhabitants of Britain. (The Theosophical Path, vol. 3 by Katherine Tingley, California: The New Century Corporation, 1912, pg. 136) The Silures possessed south Wales and western England, and their chief cities were Sariconium, Magna, Gobabeum, and their capital city, Venta. The land of the Silures was only thirty miles from Ireland.

That the Silures were black does not need to be questioned. They were described as short in stature, with brown complexions, and black curled hair and dark eyes. In the second century A.D., the Roman historian Pliny described the Britons complexions as “Ethiopian.” (African Presence in Early Europe by Ivan Van Sertima, ed. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2007, pg. 225) In his book, Memoirs of the Celts of Gauls, Joseph Ritson gives this assessment regarding the Silures origins:

“The swarthy complexion of the Silures, and their hair, which is generally curled, with their situation opposite to the coast of Spain, furnished ground to believe, that the ancient Iberians had arrived from thence, and taken possession of the territory.” (Memoirs of the Celts or Gauls by Joseph Ritson, London: Payne and Foss, 1827, pg. 114)

The Silures were identical with the small, dark, long-headed Basque-speaking people found in the western Pyrenees, who were a fragment of the Iberians. (Our Earliest Ancestors in Britain by Boyd Dawkins, London: John Heyward, 1879, pg. 104) The Iberians were the early inhabitants of Spain. Wesley John Gaines insists that the Iberians came from North Africa. (The Negro and the White Man by Wesley John Gaines, Philadelphia: A.M.E. Publishing House, 1897, pg. 11) It is important to note that Iberia and North Africa are separated by a mere thirteen kilometers at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar. Pliny described the Iberians complexion as aethiopium, i.e. black as an Ethiopian. (Ancient and Modern Britons: a retrospect, Vol. 3 by David MacRitchie, London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1884, pg. 45)

The Roman historian Tacitus also noted that the Silures were a dark complexioned people. (The Anthropological Review, Vol. 8 by Anthropological Society of London, London: Asher & Co., 1870, pg. 202) J.A. Rogers believed they were very likely of Phoenician or Egyptian descent. (Nature Knows No Color Line by J.A. Rogers, St. Petersburg: Helga M. Rogers, 1980, pg. 71)

The Silures were the strongest and most organized state in Britain. They were considered “one of the bravest of the ancient British nations, and defended their country and their liberty against the Romans, with the most heroic fortitude.” (A New History of Great Britain from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Present Time by Rev. John Adams, London: T.N. Longman & O. Rees, and T. Hurst, 1802, pg. 13) They were known to be “stubbornly independent.” (The Foundation of England, Vol. I by Sir James H. Ramsay, London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. LTD, 1898, pg. 57) It was because they refused to be dominated by outsiders that they fought so hard for their freedom. Julius Caesar led a Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC. It took the Romans more than thirty years to subdue the Silures.” (Origins of English History by Charles Isaac Elton, London: Bernard Quaritch, 1890, pg. 138)

Interestingly, in the many books and movies made about King Arthur, very few mention that King Arthur was the king of a group of black people. In the legend of King Arthur, he was the king of the Silures who held back the advances of the Saxons for a time.

Another group of blacks in the ancient British Isles were the Picts. David MacRitchie called the Picts “Moors” (i.e. black), and then states that it was clear that the Silures were Picts. (Ancient and Modern Britons: a Retrospect, Vol. 3 by David MacRitchie, London: Kegan Paul, Tench & Co., 1884, pg. 187) The Picts are acknowledged as the earliest inhabitants of Scotland. They ruled Scotland for more than 500 years. The term Pict means “painted or tattooed.” The term was used by the Romans to describe inhabitants in the second century AD. The first documented appearance of the term was in a work by Eumenius in 297 AD. They were the inhabitants of the highlands of Scotland who lived in northern and eastern Scotland between 200 and 850 AD. Joseph Ritson was quite specific about his description of these highlanders:

“The Highlanders are generally dimunitive, with brown complexions, and almost always with black curled hair and dark eyes.” (Annals of Caledonian, Picts, and Scots by Joseph Ritson, Vol. II, Edinburgh: Ward D. Laing, 1828, footnote pp. 7, 27)

The Silures and the Picts are just examples of the ancient presence of Blacks in the British Isles. There is evidence that the Egyptians and Phoenicians sailed there and mined there. The Moors advanced across Italy and Spain and reaches as far as the British Isles.

There are some who deny the Ancient presence of Blacks in the British Isles, but that denial becomes a symbol of ignorance when weighed against the evidence.


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3 thoughts on “Black Presence in the Ancient British Isles”

  1. A series of authors active between c1827 and 1912, who – being by definition modern – had no direct contact with or knowledge of the ancient peoples they wrote about? What about the actual evidence, gathered by Vivien Swan and Richard Benjamin, for Black presence in the British Isles in the early centuries AD? Fine to speculate based on that. But using Joseph Ritson instead of contemporary sources? Very strange.

  2. When I was a child my Father told my siblings and myself that the Irish with dark complexion were a result of the Spanish in Ireland, could it have been the “Moors” via Spain?
    I have always held a deep belief that all human life came out of Africa, this website is fascinating!

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