The Romans settled; The Pax Romana endured. One Roman built his
villa just north of Nunney under the shoulder of a shallow slope.
It is tempting to imagine his peaceful rural existence, perhaps
married to a British wife, contented in his exile, watching the
changing skies of Mendip. Little remains today to mark the site,
but excavations in the last century revealed an interesting mosaic
pavement or floor, many sections of which were removed by keen
amateur archaeologists to decorate their cottage dwellings – fortunately
not before a coloured diagram was made.
The site was re-excavated in 1958. The most notable finds on this
occasion were the skeleton of a child of about three, and a number
of coins, most of them bearing the head of Constantine, the 3rd
century emperor who founded Constantinople.
It was almost four hundred years after Vespasian’s advance before
the sun of Imperial Rome finally sank. It had been setting for
some time, and in 410 A.D. the last of the legions ingloriously
withdrew and the land was left, undefended, to fall victim to
rapacious invaders from across the North Sea. The fading civilisation
quickly declined into the long lawlessness that historians know
as the Dark Ages, when man said that Christ slept. In a gesture
of futile defiance the descendants of the old Belgae rose against
their Germanic invaders, but were defeated at Penselwood by King
Cenwalh and his West Saxons, and the region was over-run by barbarians,
‘Having no music, or poetry, Only uncouth tales of old heroes…’
The cries ceased, the smoke of burning dwellings eventually cleared,
and out of the terror and despair of that long darkness, light
emerged: the Saxons, who had wantonly and brutally destroyed so
much that was orderly and good, settled and mellowed in their
turn, and now, for the first time, names appear: Truttoc gave
his name to Truddoxhill; Wita to his enclosure or ham at Witham;
Waendel to Wan’s tree or Wanstrow, and of course, Nunna himself,
the old chief, to the local settlement.
Nunna was, no doubt, a man of power and importance, as the survival
of his name Indicates. After the defeat of the slopes of Postlebury
of the last British uprising, Nunna and his folk settled by the
stream, cultivated the land, and no doubt cleared the tracks which
led to Whatley and Frome, and which had probably become overgrown
since the Roman departure. Their simple huts of wattle and daub
would have been conveniently located near the stream, and here
in the long dark evenings they would doubtless gather round the
fire, and tell stories of ‘battles long ago’ while the wind swirled
the smoke and the wolf howled in the neighbouring woods.
Here, too, under the persuasive oratory of St. Adhelm, they were
probably converted to Christianity, and settled comfortably to
their own confident permanence.