Home > Blacks in Ancient Europe > Black Presence in the Ancient British Isles

Black Presence in the Ancient British Isles


One of the most under explored  topics in the study of ancient history is the black presence in ancient Europe.  A black presence can be found in the British Isles as far back as prehistoric times. 

The Silures were the most ancient inhabitants of Britain.  (The Theosophical Path, vol. 3 by Katherine Tingley, California: The New Century Corporation, 1912, pg. 136)  The Silures possessed south Wales and western England, and their chief cities were Sariconium, Magna, Gobabeum, and their capital city, Venta.  The land of the Silures was only thirty miles from Ireland.

That the Silures were black does not need to be questioned.  They were described as short in stature, with brown complexions, and black curled hair and dark eyes.  In the second century A.D., the Roman historian Pliny described the Britons complexions as “Ethiopian.” (African Presence in Early Europe by Ivan Van Sertima, ed. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2007, pg. 225)  In his book, Memoirs of the Celts of Gauls, Joseph Ritson gives this assessment regarding the Silures origins:

“The swarthy complexion of the Silures, and their hair, which is generally curled, with their situation opposite to the coast of Spain, furnished ground to believe, that the ancient Iberians had arrived from thence, and taken possession of the territory.” (Memoirs of the Celts or Gauls by Joseph Ritson, London: Payne and Foss, 1827, pg. 114) 

The Silures were identical with the small, dark, long-headed Basque-speaking people found in the western Pyrenees, who were a fragment of the Iberians. (Our Earliest Ancestors in Britain by Boyd Dawkins, London: John Heyward, 1879, pg. 104)  The Iberians were the early inhabitants of Spain.  Wesley John Gaines insists that the Iberians came from North Africa. (The Negro and the White Man by Wesley John Gaines, Philadelphia: A.M.E. Publishing House, 1897, pg. 11)  It is important to note that Iberia and North Africa are separated by a mere thirteen kilometers at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar.  Pliny described the Iberians complexion as aethiopium, i.e. black as an Ethiopian. (Ancient and Modern Britons: a retrospect, Vol. 3 by David MacRitchie, London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1884, pg. 45)

The Roman historian Tacitus also noted that the Silures were a dark complexioned people. (The Anthropological Review, Vol. 8 by Anthropological Society of London, London: Asher & Co., 1870, pg. 202)  J.A. Rogers believed they were very likely of Phoenician or Egyptian descent. (Nature Knows No Color Line by J.A. Rogers, St. Petersburg: Helga M. Rogers, 1980, pg. 71)

The Silures were the strongest and most organized state in Britain.  They were considered “one of the bravest of the ancient British nations, and defended their country and their liberty against the Romans, with the most heroic fortitude.” (A New History of Great Britain from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Present Time by Rev. John Adams, London: T.N. Longman & O. Rees, and T. Hurst, 1802, pg. 13)  They were known to be “stubbornly independent.” (The Foundation of England, Vol. I by Sir James H. Ramsay, London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. LTD, 1898, pg. 57)  It was because they refused to be dominated by outsiders that they fought so hard for their freedom.  Julius Caesar led a Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC.  It took the Romans more than thirty years to subdue the Silures.” (Origins of English History by Charles Isaac Elton, London: Bernard Quaritch, 1890, pg. 138)

Interestingly, in the many books and movies made about King Arthur, very few mention that King Arthur was the king of a group of black people.  In the legend of King Arthur, he was the king of the Silures who held back the advances of the Saxons for a time. 

Another group of blacks in the ancient British Isles were the Picts.  David MacRitchie called the Picts “Moors” (i.e. black), and then states that it was clear that the Silures were Picts. (Ancient and Modern Britons: a Retrospect, Vol. 3 by David MacRitchie, London: Kegan Paul, Tench & Co., 1884, pg. 187)  The Picts are acknowledged as the earliest inhabitants of Scotland.  They ruled Scotland for more than 500 years.  The term Pict means “painted or tattooed.”  The term was used by the Romans to describe inhabitants in the second century AD.  The first documented appearance of the term was in a work by Eumenius in 297 AD.   They were the inhabitants of the highlands of Scotland who lived in northern and eastern Scotland between 200 and 850 AD.  Joseph Ritson was quite specific about his description of these highlanders:

“The Highlanders are generally dimunitive, with brown complexions, and almost always with black curled hair and dark eyes.” (Annals of Caledonian, Picts, and Scots by Joseph Ritson, Vol. II, Edinburgh: Ward D. Laing, 1828, footnote pp. 7, 27)

The Silures and the Picts are just examples of the ancient presence of Blacks in the British Isles.  There is evidence that the Egyptians and Phoenicians sailed there and mined there.  The Moors advanced across Italy and  Spain and reaches as far as the British Isles. 

 There are some who deny the Ancient presence of Blacks in the British Isles, but that denial becomes a symbol of ignorance when weighed against the evidence.

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  1. Marc Hale
    January 1, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I disagree with your interpretation that the silures and Picts were black, if they were in fact black, these ancient writers would have said that their skin was black as this is the most likely thing to say rather than saying thier hair and eyes were dark or black. Do you see what I’m saying? It would be more reasonable to believe that if these writers simply said their skin was black, that of course their eyes and hair was black and curly. Also, the inhabitants of these lands are evidently dark haired and have dark eyes, not dark skin.

    • February 5, 2013 at 6:15 am

      Marc, thank you for your response. I have to disagree with your position. The fact that Tacitus chose to describe the Silures as “swarthy” instead of black is insignificant. In Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate , the word swarthy means “being of a dark color, complexion, or cast.” Swarthy is a word that was often used to describe black people. Based on the definition alone it does not describe people who were purely white. It only describes people of color. If you would like an in-depth study on this topic, I urge you to read Ancient and Modern Britons: A Retrospect by David MacRitchie. It is an excellent book that details the Black presence in Ancient Britain.

      • Marc
        February 17, 2013 at 5:55 pm

        If native Britons (Silures or Picts) were black then I would be black as my ancestors were Silurian (Probably) and the whole of Wales/Scotland/Ireland would be as you say “swarthy”.

  2. April 27, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    My interest in this comes in via the SHINAR doorway. The “Dark Sumerian” ,the Black Heads if thats the agreed upon “LINGO” we use in discussion of the Na, the Un, the Ngs
    of La La Land and the Kingla’s who ruled it and their Lang used in Scribing it onto MUD tablets with pointed sticks. Kin Ng La’s or Bara Hawks or Pharaoh had Lang which was written into “Life” and only understood by the Upper Classes who needed it.

    Black is a descriptive of the Mud and silt which re fertilized the Estuary delta’s of the Nile. the Indus, and Tigris/Euphrates and with limited overland excursions a Trader could go from KHAIRO to from the other two Tributaries into their respective Sea.

    Black was called KHEM and the People were known as the KHEMS , KH can be pronounced via PHONICS like HAWK ha Ka or AKA . So Bar and Var and Phar
    all get tongue twisted into many different tongues. Because at one time in the SHINARARIAN past H was pronounce CH like CHA CHA and before or after also enunciated as AK , like HawK or simple english Ac as in Act. Barak or Barack
    also is a spelling for Pharoah when understood to be similar sounding to FARAK
    and so the BARAK brings us Back around.

    KHEM HISTORY is our mud and silt that CHEMISTRY sprouted from. KA MIN MAN
    Common Man has always implied Mouth(KA) Equal(MIN) Companion’s(MAN).
    The COMMONWEALTH are our collective resources that sustain life and the planet.
    bubbles up to the surface from deep well of PURE WATER which sustains life for all
    Men of Min Amun Me AN (s). So I venture to say that RICHARD the LION HEART was a MOOR. A MOOR because amongst many choices including MUD PEOPLE it can be defined as originating from MU…Lion and UR …Heart. Remember the BARBARIANS wrote most of the Dictionaries and that makes the political Spin in Favor of the White Skin Blue Eyed Barbarians who discovered a huge waterway circle trade route from Eygpt (KHEM) to UMBRIA around to St.Rock’s Berg (NORSE MANS) and down the VOLGA where a 50 mile rut had been built to Manpower the Bigger Rowboats across to the waterway to Troy and back to the Pyramids. Europe simply consolidated Tribes before Africa and took the Civilization trophy by boast and bravado. The Chinese will support that argument, as being false too.

    The H, Ch and HK sounds are confusing but the Creation Stories of the Tribes within Afreeka can be traced back to the Fertile Crescent which was really the smaller circle that connected KHEM with SHINAR and The INDUS garden of Eden. The Trade routes from there to China can show further evidence of Shinar language being used and incorporated into the Chinese language based on EMISSARY(SHINAR) words
    as the first COMMON CONNECTION. Or Operating system based on RAM and dried hard drive mud tablets.

    Rosetta Stone deciphering unlocked the Darkness and brought in the Light.
    Religion as a control method usurps words and destroys the goodness in it so that
    we shun History. SHINNAR can be reduced to SINNAR and
    GOD knows we don’t want to be a SINNER. 🙂 Abraham’s first GOD
    was the Moon God of Wisdom named SIN.

  3. Welsh boy
    July 1, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Nice article but i feel the Silurians were just like most Welsh are now. Dark hair and white skinned but not black. Just a spanish look. If they were black there would be a detailed description of them being so. Swarthy doesnt mean black. If you come to Wales you will see how dark most of us are and have curly hair. I look that way and in no way am i black. Just dark tanned skin.

    • T.L Sutton
      April 8, 2015 at 1:23 am

      Great article! Its sad that the history of the moors go forgotten, and untold. After all my research I have came to the conclusion that, one the Moors were the rulling power, and of course when a group or empire is overthrown the new group or people in charge will diminish the former rulling society(same for war). Two, the moors, are “African” people’s were not held in the same disrespect as today. That being “dark” or “black” did not have the demeaning connotation as it does today so it is not pointed out or ridiculed, but obvious. Lastly, we are all from the same ancestral Moors! The flowing of genes and mixing of “races” is not new. We are all human and mostly sexual beings, so what happens when you have a man and a woman together? Well you know the rest.

  1. February 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

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