More about the Cornovii

The Cornovii tribe was Celtic, and – although many in Shropshire are of the opinion that the tribal centre was on top of the Wrekin – they had no clear tribal centre that can be identified. The tribe occupied much of what is now the West Midlands and eastern Wales and there were a significant number of hill forts within Cornovii territory. Despite this, archaeology has revealed very little in the way of Cornovii jewellery or pottery, leading to the hypothesis that the tribe was poor, possibly suffering from considerable infighting, which would also explain why there was little in the way of resistance to the Romans when they arrived

On the other hand, it is entirely possible that Cornovii wealth was based on other resources, such as salt exporting. It is also likely that there was a successful trade in agricultural goods. Although it cannot be definitively proved, there must have been some way in which the Cornovii gained wealth. They were able to fund the considerable number of hill forts, which would not have been cheap

When the Romans arrived, there was a settlement around the Wrekin though, in fact, it cannot be proved that this was the tribal centre. Given the size of Old Oswestry, which is also within Cornovii lands, it is more likely that this was the tribal centre. Some have even argued that the tribal centre was based in Breiddin, in Powys

It is usually said that the Cornovii were defeated by the Romans, who brought them down from their hill forts to reside in the Roman settlement at Wroxeter. However, it is also possible that the Cornovii saw their future as being a part of the Roman Empire and sought to protect themselves from humiliating defeat by actively collaborating with the Romans. it is telling that the full name for the Roman city of Wroxeter was Viroconium Cornoviorum and that the Cohors Primae Cornoviorum was the only recorded native British unit to serve in Britannia

After the Romans left, the by now thoroughly Romanised Cornovii came under the rule of the Kingdom of Powys, or perhaps the Kingdom of Pengwern, until they were absorbed into the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia