The Brigantes were a tribe - or perhaps more accurately a loose confederation of related tribes - of British Celts inhabiting almost all of the area between the Humber and the Tyne. The name of the tribe springs from the Celtic goddess Brigantia.

Brigantine society was primarily pastoral, in contrast with their southern Celtic neighbours. They used pots and bowls of wood and leather, though they certainly had the technological know-how to produce pottery.

At the time of the Roman invasion in AD 43, the Brigantes were arguably the most powerful Celtic tribe in Britain. Initially, the Brigantes, under the lead of their queen, Cartimandua, were on friendly terms with the Romans, acting as a "client-kingdom".

In fact, it was Cartimandua who betrayed Caratacus to the Romans, thus depriving Celtic Britain of its most influential and steadfast resistance leader. It was also a fairly typical act for the Celts, who could never stop fighting amongst themselves long enough to mount a serious obstacle to the Roman advance.

Cartimandua had cause to be grateful to her Roman allies; in AD 57 her husband Venutius tried to seize power, but the Romans put down the rebellion. The couple were reconciled for a time and ruled jointly until AD 69, when Cartimandua deserted Venetius for his armour-bearer, Vellocatus. She eventually fled Brigantine territory and was never heard from again.

In AD 73 the governor Petillius Cerialis invaded, and defeated Venutius, but continued unrest led to Agricola finally annexing Brigantine territory for good in AD 79. Isurium (Aldborough, near Ripon) emerged as the administrative centre of Brigantine territory, though there is no evidence to suggest any settlement there prior to the Roman invasion.

But the Brigantines were not finished; in AD 138, when you would be forgiven for thinking that they must have been thoroughly "Romanised", they rebelled against Emperor Antonius, who was attempting to push north from Hadrian's Wall into Brigantine territory in modern Scotland. The Romans under Lollius Urbicus quickly put down the revolt. In AD 154 the Brigantes rebelled yet again, with similar results.

Some archaeological evidence suggests that there may have been a Brigantine presence in Ireland; a second-century map by Ptolemy shows the Brigantes there, and excavations on the island of Lambay show Brigantine artefacts dating from the end of the first century AD. This might indicate a settlement of Brigantines fleeing from the final Roman occupation of their tribal territories in England.

The Roman invasion