Archaeology. Courtesy of ex-Python Terry Jones, who has a piece in the Sunday Times on recent archeological finds regarding the so-called “Barbarians” of Northern Europe:
The Romans kept the Barbarians at bay for as long as they could, but finally they were engulfed and the savage hordes overran the empire, destroying the cultural achievements of centuries. The light of reason and civilisation was almost snuffed out by the Barbarians, who annihilated everything that the Romans had put in place, sacking Rome itself and consigning Europe to the Dark Ages. The Barbarians brought only chaos and ignorance, until the renaissance rekindled the fires of Roman learning and art.
It is a familiar story, and it’s codswallop.
He goes on to discuss helmets and shields, wooden roads, iron ploughshares, and other finds showing that Celts and other Northern peoples hadn’t just been waiting around to be civilized by the Romans.