Romans Part 1
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Part I






o define a true Briton is a problem. If you had to make a choice, you might possibly say the indigenous population were of Celtic origin. During the invasion of the Romans, it was the Celts who fought them for their freedom. This is the history of the Roman invasions followed by the Saxons opportunism on the Roman's departure. It was followed by the Saxon fight to preserve their gains against the Vikings. I have included a section on the development of Christianity as its influence played a large part in this countries culture. These are important topics to read because it gives a better hindsight to events in other chapters.


Julius Caesar turns to Britain as his next stepping stone

n the year 55 BC Julius Caesar was heavily engaged in Gaul and Germany. It was at this time that his eyes were turned towards Britain, or Britannia as she would have been known in those days. Rome had been aware for sometime that British barbarians had been involved in the wars against them, especially across the English Channel, in Gaul, and were particularly active in Brittany at this time. Most Britons who fought abroad were employed on a mercenary basis. The British were of Celtic extraction and had no love of the Roman's expansionism. Britain also became a home for refugees of the wars in Europe. It was no wonder therefore, Julius Caesar made plans to attack Britain. Of course, this was not the only reason. Back home in Rome, the peoples impression of a leader related to how many countries he conquered and how many slaves and treasures he returned with. In addition to this, the back stabbing nature of the Roman Senate (literally) was enough to drive him forward to greater conquering heights.


Caesar Invades

t the end of August 55BC, during nightfall, Julius Caesar set sail for Britain. His force consisted of two legions. This would have consisted of about 10 to 12000 soldiers. His departure point was thought to be the present day Boulogne. It is also thought that he had about 80 ships at his disposal. The Romans never had much of a reputation for being good sailors, being used to the virtually tide less Mediterranean Sea, managed to cross the perilous English Channel without incident. By dawn they arrived at Dover, a distance of 22 miles or 35 Km. Dover is surrounded by very high cliffs which are virtually impossible to scale. Caesar judged that this was not a suitable place to land. He decided to sail along the coast and attempted to disembark between Deal and Walmer. Having seen the Roman fleet approaching some way off, the assembled British force followed them along the coast and prepared for battle.


We shall fight them on the beaches

he islanders with chariots and horses, charged onto the beach and into the surf to attack the Romans before they could disembark. Carrying spears, rocks and anything else available, caused great consternation to the Roman soldiers who were loathe to leave their ships, being unsure of the depth. Legend has it that the eagle bearer of the Tenth Legion jumped from his ship and waded ashore. Seeing this heroic fool, made the troops rally round and begin to fight. The Roman ships were fitted with catapults and had archers aboard. The order was given to fire on the islanders. The resulting barrage caused a temporary retreat. This respite gave them enough time to fully unload. The soldiers waded ashore and set off in hot pursuit of the British. Another problem beset Caesar, in that 18 of his supply ships, which left 3 days later, carrying horses and cavalry were caught in a sudden gale and were swept back out to sea. Fortunately for Caesar, they managed to reach the French coast sometime later. Another fatal mistake he made was to underestimate the height of the tides in the English Channel. The tide rose and ripped the anchors and mooring chains away causing the ships to be dashed. Caesar had not planned for this eventuality. By his own ineptitude, he had virtually destroyed his own fleet. The whole exercise was only meant to last for a few months but was likely to take more time than anticipated. The pressing problem in Rome's eyes was that remaining in Gaul and Germany. Caesar was now trapped on the wrong side of the Channel with limited provisions and no apparent way back. The British were never in the mood for war against such a powerful adversary, and decided to sue for peace. When they observed the plight of the shipwrecked Roman force, they immediately broke off negotiations and resumed attacks on them. The fighting lasted for about 2 weeks before the Britons finally submitted to the vastly superior training and discipline of the Roman army. It was fortunate that Caesar attacked when he did, as it was the season of harvest, and corn was available in nearby fields. What the outcome may have been if he had chosen another time to invade is open to speculation. The course of world history may well have turned out very differently if Caesar had been killed or starved to death on this expedition. He repaired his boats with the remains of the destroyed ones and returned to mainland Europe with hostages, only to return the following year.


Roman Britain and Roads

Map of Britain during the Roman occupation showing the walls built by Antonius Pius and Hadrian. Note also the roads in blue and the Latin names which are better known today as.

For Example:

Eboracum = York .
Lindum = Lincoln .
Londinium = London .
Venta Belgarum = Winchester .
Isca Dumnoniorum = Exeter .
Verulamium = St Albans .
Venta Icenoram = Caistor ( near Norwich ) .
Durovernum = Canterbury .
Glevum = Gloucester .
Aquae Sulis = Bath .
Vectis = Isle of Wight .
Camulodunum = Colchester .


Romans Part 2

Romans Part 3

Roman Photographs


copyright Glen Ray Crack - Battle - East Sussex - United Kingdom
Submitted 10th January 1998
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