The name Silurian (pronounced Sigh-Lure-Ian) is normally used as the name for a specific geological time period. Please refer to our geological section for further information on geology.
The pioneering British Geologist Sir Roderick Impey Murchison [1792-1871] ➚ chose the term on the basis that the best outcrops of rocks typifying the time period are located in the area once occupied by the Silures tribe who occupied modern day Glamorgan, Wales in ancient Celtic and Roman times. See Location map.
These are some of Murchison's words on his choice of the name :
“ The Roman historians afford no correct account of the geography of this region, but they assure us that the Silures were, of all the nations in south Britain, the most powerful and warlike, impatient of slavery and of great intrepidity. Such was their confidence in their gallant leader, Caradoc who they called Caractacus, so exasperated were they at the saying of the Emperor Claudius that the very name of Silures must be extirpated, that they carried on a stubborn war.... British geologists will therefore not doubt that Siluria is a name entitled to be revived when they are reminded that these struggles of their ancestors took place upon the very hills it is proposed to illustrate under the term Silurian System.”
The most famous king of the Silures was Caradoc or Caractacus ➚ or Caratacus who lived in the days just after the Roman conquest of AD 43. The king's life is documented by Roman historians including Tacitus ➚.
For nine years Caractacus, king of the Silures, whose country was watered by the beautiful River Severn" ➚, defied the power of Rome in the storm of siege and battle, but in the end was beaten in his gallant combat with the superior power of Rome and so fled for his life.
Cartismandua was Queen of Brigantium and dwelt at Isurium ➚, and to her dominion, to crave assistance fled the fugitive king, hoping to have another opportunity of stemming the wave of Roman conquest in Britain, but alas; his hopes were cruelly dispelled. The false hearted queen had not the same gallant and patriotic spirit as her kinsman, and, unlike Boudicca, that other famous British queen, who a few years afterwards nearly exterminated the Roman army in Britain, she delivered Caractacus a prisoner into the hands of the enemy.
The noble captive, a grand type of barbarian soldier, towers like a giant above his people, and his words and deeds shine out with a brilliant lustre across the gulf of twenty centuries.
Seeing the kingly bearing of the noble prisoner, as he is led captive through the streets of imperial Rome, the population turned out to see the veteran troops return in triumph, laden with trophies and spoils of war; but all eyes are turned on that kingly figure!
'Alas,' he said, as he gazed undismayed on the immense multitude and the magnificent architecture of the purple city, 'alas that a people so wealthy and luxurious can envy me my humble home in Britain!'
Calm and unsubdued he stood before the tribunal of Caesar, and spoke of his downfall with such a manly spirit and bearing, ending with the ever-memorable words: 'Had I yielded sooner my misfortune would have been less notorious, and your conquest much less renowned, and oblivion soon would have followed my death. If now, Caesar, you spare my life, I shall be an eternal monument to your clemency,' and, in the words of the poet, he said :-
“ Think not, thou eagle Lord of Rome,
And master of the World,
Though victory's banner o'er thy dome
In triumph now is furled,
I would address thee as thy slave,
But as the bold should greet the brave!
I might, perchance, could I have deigned
To hold a vassal's throne,
E'en now in Britain's isle have reigned
A king in name alone,
Yet holding, as thy meek ally,
A monarch's mimic pageantry.
Then through Rome's crowded streets to-day
I might have rode with thee,
Not in a captive's base array,
But fetterless and free,--
If freedom he could hope to find,
Whose bondage is of heart and mind.
But canst thou marvel that, freeborn,
With heart and soul unquelled,
Throne, crown, and sceptre I should scorn,
By thy permission held?
Or that I should retain my right
Till wrested by a conqueror's might?
Rome, with her palaces and towers,
By us unwished, unreft,
Her homely huts and woodland bowers
To Britain might have left;
Worthless to you their wealth must be,
But dear to us, for they were free!
I might have bowed before, but where
Had been thy triumph now?
To my resolve no yoke to bear
Thou ow'st thy laurelled brow;
Inglorious victory had been thine,
And more inglorious bondage mine.
Now I have spoken, do thy will;
Be life or death my lot,
Since Britain's throne no more I fill,
To me it matters not.
My fame is clear; but on my fate
Thy glory or thy shame must wait."
He ceased; from all around upsprung
A murmur of applause,
For well had truth and freedom's tongue
Maintained their holy cause.
The conqueror was the captive then;
He bade the slave be free again.”
Claudius was so charmed with the speech of the captive, that he ordered him to be set at liberty and treated with great respect.
Tradition says that Vyran the Blessed or Bran, father of Caractacus, first introduced Christianity into Britain, and he received the doctrine from the lips of St. Paul during his seven years of exile in Rome.
Caractacus's second daughter, also called Gladys ➚, was 'adopted' by Emperer Claudius, and changed her name to 'Claudia', she then married St Pauls' half brother (Rufus Pudens Prudentius see Romans 16:13) at the Palatium Britannicum in Rome. Caractacus gave the British Palace in Rome to the Pudentius',
The first Christian church in the World is believed to be Glastonbury Abbey ➚ at about this time.
In 58 AD the British Caractacus family founded the first Christian church in Rome. Linus, Caractacus's second son [see Second letter to Timothy 4:21 ➚] was ordained by St Paul, and became the first Bishop Of Rome (after St Peter's death). Pudentius' eldest son, Timotheus, gave the British palace to the first Christian Church of Rome. He and his family died as martyrs in the following brutal suppression of the new religion.