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The Holy Celtic Church is one of several small churches established in the post Second World War period of the last century. The emergence of this independent Church was in part due to public dissatisfaction with the changing role and attitudes of the major churches, but mainly it was inspired by the spiritual idealism of the primitive British Church. More commonly known today as the Celtic Church, the ancient British Church was established in Roman Britain long before Augustine’s mission in 597AD, although opinions differ concerning when this actually took place.
Some historians argue that the establishment of the Church took place in the second or third century, while others believe the Church was first planted in Britain in the middle of the First Century. Whatever the truth might be concerning this question, and in all probability we will never know for certain, it is reasonably clear from archaeological evidence that Christianity was established in Roman Britain for a very long time before Augustine arrived.
The Ancient British Church consisted of Christian communities sharing the same beliefs and rites, yet working autonomously under the jurisdiction of independent bishops. However, following the Fourth Century reforms of Constantine and his successors, fundamental differences arose between the Celtic Church and the increasingly powerful Church of Rome. As the political influence and power of the Roman Church grew so the influence of the British Church declined, a long and slow decline that involved several factors, one of which was a long period of civil conflict.
Gildas, a Briton and a monastic who lived in the first half of the sixth century, relates in his work De Excidio Brittaniae (The oldest surviving record of post-Roman Britain), that following the withdrawal of the Roman legions in the late fourth century, Britain was left without appropriate military defences, and became subject to frequent predatory attacks and raids from the Picts in the North, who raided on land across the northern border and by sea along the East Coast. Britain was also frequently attacked by Irish raiders in the West. At the same time internal civil conflicts that frequently turned into civil war, tore apart the fabric of Romano-British society, resulting in a state of social anarchy which prevailed throughout the fifth and sixth centuries.
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