Roman Britain Timeline

26th – 31st August 55BC

Julius Caesar attempted to invade Britain

Julius Caesar led approximately 10,000 soldiers in crossing the Channel. Their destination was the beach at Deal, where they encountered a group of Britons. After a fierce encounter, the Roman forces managed to secure the beach and waited for additional cavalry support to arrive from France. Unfortunately, a severe storm hindered the reinforcements’ journey to Britain, forcing Caesar to make the tough decision of withdrawing his troops.

July – Sept 54BC

Julius Caesar’s second invasion of Britain

With a formidable force of approximately 27,000 infantry and cavalry, Julius Caesar embarked on the crossing of the Channel. As they reached the shores of Deal once again, they found no opposition, as the Britons had tactically withdrawn to higher ground. Undeterred, the Roman troops proceeded inland and confronted a significant contingent of Britons, led by Cassivellaunus, situated north of the River Thames.
In a fierce and grueling battle, the Romans emerged victorious, prompting some tribal leaders to surrender to the might of Caesar’s forces. Cassivellaunus, refusing to submit entirely, resorted to guerrilla tactics, ordering the burning of crops and launching sporadic attacks on Roman positions. Despite the resistance, the Romans’ strength proved overwhelming, compelling Cassivellaunus to eventually surrender.
However, in September, Caesar faced pressing issues in Gaul (France), necessitating his return there, which led to the Romans’ departure from Britain. Their expedition on the British isle had left a lasting impact, showcasing the prowess of the Roman military but also revealing the resilience and determination of the Britons.

54BC – 43AD

Roman influence increased

Even in the absence of a physical Roman presence in Britain, their influence experienced significant growth through trade links. These commercial connections fostered cultural exchange and facilitated the flow of goods, ideas, and technologies between the Roman Empire and the British tribes. As a result, aspects of Roman culture, language, and material artifacts gradually permeated the island, leaving a lasting impact on the local communities. This trade-driven influence played a crucial role in shaping Britain’s development and contributing to its historical ties with the Roman world.


King Cassivellaunus (Cymbeline)

Cassivellaunus, as the ruler of the Catuvellauni tribe, held the recognized title of King of Britain, officially acknowledged by the Roman authorities. This acknowledgment of his kingship by Rome conferred a level of legitimacy and authority to his position, establishing him as a significant figure in the eyes of both his own people and the Roman Empire. As a result, Cassivellaunus’ rule held sway over a considerable portion of the British territories, carrying political weight and facilitating interactions between his tribe and the Roman administration.

May 43AD

Romans Invaded Britain

A formidable Roman army, commanded by Aulus Plautius and consisting of approximately 40,000 troops, made a successful landing in Kent, Britain. In a significant encounter, they managed to defeat a British force under the leadership of Caratacus. Following this victory, the Roman legions began their conquest of the South-Eastern regions of Britain, gradually expanding their control over the territory.
Despite the defeat, Caratacus, a prominent British chieftain, escaped the Roman onslaught and sought refuge in Wales. There, he established a base for resistance against the Roman occupation, rallying fellow Britons to continue the fight against the advancing Roman forces. This marked the beginning of a prolonged and determined resistance effort in Wales, as Caratacus and his supporters fiercely opposed Roman rule in their homeland.

Autumn 43AD

Claudius arrived with reinforcements

The Roman emperor Claudius arrived in Britain with reinforcements. Colchester (Camulodunum) was taken and eleven tribal Kings surrendered to the Romans. Claudius appointed Aulus Plautius Governor of Britain before returning to Rome.

43 – 47AD

Conquest of the South

The Romans continued their conquest and by 47AD had conquered the whole of South Britain and claimed Britain as part of the Roman Empire.

47 – 50AD

London Founded

London (Londinium) was founded and a bridge built across the river Thames. A network of roads was built across the south of Britain.


Caratacus defeated and captured

Caratacus’ guerrilla force was joined by other tribes who resisted Roman conquest. and confronted the Romans near the River Severn. However, Caratacus was defeated. He escaped again and sought shelter with the Brigantes tribe. However their Queen, Cartimandua betrayed him to the Romans. Caratacus, his family and other rebels were taken prisoner and sent to Rome. In Rome Caratacus was pardoned by Claudius and allowed to live out his days in Italy.

60 – 61AD

Boudica leads revolt against the Romans

Prasatugas, King of the Iceni tribe who had signed a peace treaty with the Romans, died. His wife, Boudicca intended to honour the treaty, but after the local Roman authorities seized Prasatugas’s property and raped his two daughters, Boudica retaliated by signing a treaty with Trinovantes who were hostile to the Romans.

Her army of Iceni tribesmen and women captured and burned Colchester(Camulodunum), London, St Albans (Verulamium) and caused the governor of Britain, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, to raise the biggest force he could. Boudica’s army were eventually cornered and massacred. Boudica poisoned herself to evade capture.


Joseph of Arimathea visited Britain

Joseph of Arimathea, one of Jesus’s disciples, was sent to Britain to convert the people to Christianity.

75 – 77AD

Roman Conquest of England and Wales completed

The Romans defeated the last of the resistant tribes in the North making all of Britain Roman.

77 – 400AD

Life in Roman Britain

Under Roman rule the Britons adopted Roman customs, law, religion. Many were taken by the Romans as slaves. The Romans built many roads, towns, bath houses and buildings. Trade and industry flourished under Roman rule.


Agricola invaded Scotland

The Governor of Britain, Agricola, attempted to conquer Scotland for Rome but was unsuccessful.


Hadrian’s Wall built

Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Britain led to the command for the construction of a wall between England and Scotland, not to keep the rebellious Scottish tribes out, but rather as a defensive fortification. Building of the wall commenced in 122 and concluded by 139, stretching approximately 73 miles and symbolizing Roman power and control over the northern frontier.


Antonine Wall Built

The Romans undertook a new campaign to conquer southern Scotland, achieving certain advancements before constructing another wall spanning between the Forth and the Clyde. However, this wall was ultimately abandoned in 160 AD.


Britain divided into two provinces

In order to better control Britain the Romans divided the land into two provinces. The South was known as Britannia Superior and the North Britannia Inferior.

260 – 274AD

The Gallic Empire

The Roman general Postumus rebelled against Rome and established himself as Emperor of France (Gaul) and Britain (Britannia)

22nd June 304AD

St Alban Martyred

Alban became the first Christian Martyr in Britain. The Emperor Diocletian ordered that all Christians should be persecuted. St Alban, a recent convert to Christianity changed places with a local priest who was wanted by the Romans. When he was discovered he was executed at Verulamium (St Albans).


Christianity the official religion of the Empire

The Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and made Christianity legal throughout the Roman Empire.


Attacks from Picts, Scots, Franks, Saxons

Roman Britain was attacked by tribal groups of Picts, Scots, Franks and Saxons. Reinforcements were sent to Britain and the attacks were repelled.

388 – 400AD

Romans begin to leave Britain

The Roman Empire was being attacked by many different barbarian tribes and soldiers stationed in Britain were recalled to Rome.


Last Romans leave Britain

All Romans had been recalled to Rome and the Emperor Honorious told the people of Britain that they no longer had a connection to Rome and that they should defend themselves.


Ambrosius Aurelianus – British warlord

Ambrosius Aurelianus was a British warlord who commanded the victorious Britons at the Battle of Mons Badonicus. The Saxons had pushed the Britons further and further west unchecked until this battle. The story of King Arthur dates from this period.

Roman Sites to visit in South East England