It is clear that much of Nicander's Report is based on intelligent observation. It is also clear, however, that the influence of his classical background obtrudes with great frequency. This is particularly noticeable in his general description of Britain. 'The whole island is an intricate pattern of fertile hills and plain, and abounds in marshes and fine oak-forests. Then again, we find Britain lacks asses and mules, for these creatures do not occur in the colder region', and that the cold is responsible for the absence of horns on the sheep and cattle. He speaks with enthusiasm of the horses, cattle and sheep and particularly of the sheep [he must have been in Wales].
His description of people is amusing: 'the race is white skinned and rather fair, tall and upright in posture. The hair of their beards and heads is golden [did he overlook the dark Celtic Welsh?] their eyes for the most part blue, and their cheeks ruddy. They are pugnacious and brave, and generally well built, carnivorous, with an insatiable appetite for meat, simple-minded, unrestrained in their impulses, and full of suspicion. But they are extraordinarily loyal to their king and non of them will tolerate hearing anything distasteful of him because of their deep respect for him. So that their most momentous oath is that which is sworn in the name of the king, God save him!'
The behaviour of the women, both in public and at the home, shocked Nicander deeply. 'Trade' he writes, 'is open not only to men, but in high degree also to women, who have an extraordinary enthusiasm for it. In the market-place and streets of the city, one could see married women and young girls engaging without disguise in handiwork, barter, and business affairs. The behaviour of men towards women is traditionally regulated by a natural simplicity and absence of jealously. For not only do relatives and intimate friends kiss women and greet and embrace them but even those who have never seen them before. And this is not considered in any way improper.'
D. E. Eichholz