Despite a greater degree of trade with western Europe than is generally known, to the Classical cultures, Britain was a semi mythical and mysterious land. Despite some contact and trade of tin for Bronze production, many Greeks are believed to have considered Britain to be a mythical island and during the Roman conquest of Britain, invasion was delayed by a troop mutiny due to fear of the unknown land. Furthermore, relatively little is known today about the religious or cultural beliefs and practices of Britain before the Roman conquest beyond what can be interpreted from vague Roman accounts and by inferences from artefacts. Britain was first inhabited by people who crossed over a now submerged land bridge from the European mainland and a similar land bridge also existed connecting Ireland with mainland Britain. Palaeolithic artefacts include flint tools and arrowheads, bone, antler, amber, shells and teeth. The Bronze Age saw more individual burial practices; barrows, a form of burial mound, as well as ritual depositions of objects have been rich sources for precious metal ornaments and weapons. The Iron Age saw an increase in agricultural practices as well as the adoption of the broad Celtic culture of western Europe which is evident in the aesthetics of many artefacts from this period that include the early forms of intricate curved and knotted motifs typical of the Celtic style. The centuries preceding Roman invasion saw the influx of refugees from mainland Europe as well as the development of coinage. In 43 AD the Roman army began its conquest of Britain bringing with it significant cultural changes. The decline of Rome and Roman Britain led to the Anglo-Saxon period. The Angles and the Saxons were Germanic tribes that migrated to and then conquered Britain in the 5th century and ended with the Norman conquest in 1066. Regarding imagery, Anglo-Saxon art can be divided into the pagan period preceding Christianisation around the 7th century, which was largely similar to Norse paganism, and the period following Christianisation in which the styles, motifs and to some limited extent the imagery of the preceding period continued. Metalwork and jewellery as well as illuminated manuscripts of the Christian period, are the predominant arts of the Anglo-Saxons. With intricate knotting and animal motifs common to Northwest Europe, the early Anglo-Saxons continued this tradition in some extremely fine jewellery. Developing their own subtle style this aesthetic tradition was later continued into the christian era in illuminated manuscripts.

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