In 43 AD, Emperor Claudius initiated an invasion of Britain, and over the following years, the Roman army gradually gained control over a significant portion of present-day England and Wales and ventured into parts of Scotland. They established a province called Britannia, which was a part of the Roman Empire until the early 5th century AD.
Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 and 54 BC as part of his Gallic Wars. According to Caesar, the Britons had been overrun or culturally assimilated by other Celtic tribes during the British Iron Age and had been aiding Caesar’s enemies. He received tribute, installed the friendly king Mandubracius over the Trinovantes, and returned to Gaul. Planned invasions under Augustus were called off in 34, 27, and 25 BC. In 40 AD, Caligula assembled 200,000 men at the Channel on the continent, only to have them gather seashells (musculi) according to Suetonius, perhaps as a symbolic gesture to proclaim Caligula’s victory over the sea. Three years later, Claudius directed four legions to invade Britain and restore the exiled king Verica over the Atrebates. The Romans defeated the Catuvellauni, and then organized their conquests as the Province of Britain (Latin: Provincia Britannia). By 47 AD, the Romans held the lands southeast of the Fosse Way. Control over Wales was delayed by reverses and the effects of Boudica’s uprising, but the Romans expanded steadily northward.
The conquest of Britain continued under command of Gnaeus Julius Agricola (77–84), who expanded the Roman Empire as far as Caledonia. In mid-84 AD, Agricola faced the armies of the Caledonians, led by Calgacus, at the Battle of Mons Graupius. Battle casualties were estimated by Tacitus to be upwards of 10,000 on the Caledonian side and about 360 on the Roman side. The bloodbath at Mons Graupius concluded the forty-year conquest of Britain, a period that possibly saw between 100,000 and 250,000 Britons killed. In the context of pre-industrial warfare and of a total population of Britain of c. 2 million, these are very high figures.
Under the 2nd-century emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, two walls were built to defend the Roman province from the Caledonians, whose realms in the Scottish Highlands were never controlled. Around 197 AD, the Severan Reforms divided Britain into two provinces: Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior. During the Diocletian Reforms, at the end of the 3rd century, Britannia was divided into four provinces under the direction of a vicarius, who administered the Diocese of the Britains. A fifth province, Valentia, is attested in the later 4th century. For much of the later period of the Roman occupation, Britannia was subject to barbarian invasions and often came under the control of imperial usurpers and imperial pretenders. The final Roman withdrawal from Britain occurred around 410; the native kingdoms are considered to have formed Sub-Roman Britain after that.
During the governorship of Aulus Didius Gallus (52 – 57 AD) Cartimandua tired of her husband Venutius, divorced him and married his armour-bearer, Vellocatus. This move made Venutius the foremost leader of the resistance against Roman occupation. At first, he sought only to depose his former wife, but eventually, he turned his sights towards her […]
Aulus Plautius and the Fosse Way Frontier spent his later years focusing on strengthening the Roman presence in Britain. Legionary vexillations had been established in permanent quarters near the limit of the advance. Colchester was still the main base. with at least the headquarters of a legion there. Another important centre for supplies had been […]
The only ancient source that recounts the invasion of Britain in 43 in full is Dio. Added details, however, may be gleaned from Suetonius (whose main entry concerning the invasion is fairly dismissive), and, also, from Tacitus, Josephus and Eutropius. According to Dio, Claudius had reputedly ordered the invasion because ‘Berikos’, had fled Britain as […]
It was the Emperor Claudius who gained the most from the Roman invasion of 43 AD. The increase in his public image was phenomenal. Now having proven himself and been accepted as an Emperor, he decided that this was a reason to have multiple celebrations.
After the battle at the Medway river, the Britons fell back to a point in the Thames were it meets the discharges into the sea and forms a lake at low tide. Knowing the land well, they knew which parts were firm enough to support a crossing. The Romans in pursuit did not.
The first major recorded battle of the Roman invasion of Britain under the orders of the emperor Claudius, the battle is thought to have been fought at a crossing of the River Medway, near the modern day city of Rochester in Kent, England, and it raged for nearly two days.
In 52AD the Senate and the People of Rome decreed that a triumphal arch be built in recognition of the victorious campaigns of the emperor Claudius in Britain. It mentions 11 British Kings who surrendered. Who were they?
Aulus Plautius was a Roman politician and military leader of the mid-1st century AD. He initiated the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD, and served as the first governor of the newly established province from 43 to 46 CE.
Rome first invaded Britain back in 55 BC. Julius Caesar had just spent three years conquering Gaul, but he knew that Britons were supporting the Gallic resistance there. A punitive attack to put the interfering Britons in their place was due. He intended not only to prove Rome’s might, but to return laden with booty and with military and political glory for himself – for the invasion and the conquest of a new, untamed land was an accepted traditional route to political success.
We are provided with a commentary of Caesar's British campaigns in his own memoirs; De Bello Gallico in which describes his second campaign the in 54BC in (Book V, chapters 1-23). Anyone wishing to understand the background for Caesar's British campaigns should perhaps start by reading Caesar's own commentaries.
Caesar’s invasions did not result in any permanent Roman occupation of Britain but had changed Channel trade. Caesar had negotiated a peace deal apparently to his advantage, though the Britons were quite content to break the terms by failing to pay tribute.
The roman conquest of Britain commenced in the year AD 43, but previously the romans led two expeditionary campaigns almost a century earlier in 55 BC, and 54 BC, under the command of Gaius Julius Caesar.
Boudica or Boudicca, was a queen of the ancient British Iceni tribe, who led a failed uprising against the conquering forces of the Roman Empire in AD 60 or 61. She is considered a British national heroine and a symbol of the struggle for justice and independence.
The Boudiccan Rebellion and subsequent genocide by the Romans had a lasting impact on Britain and its people. The Romans learned that suppressing the conquered people would lead to rebellion and unrest. To govern effectively, they had to work with the Britons and show them the benefits of being part of the Roman Empire. Gradually, […]
The Romans exact revenge According to the Roman historian Tacitus, after the final battle against the rebel forces led by Boudicca, the surviving British prisoners were “ravaged with fire and sword”. The rebellion had lasted most of the year 61 AD and had devastating consequences for the Iceni tribe, who had not sown their crops […]
The Battle of Watling Street, which took place in 61 CE, was the final and decisive confrontation in Boudica's rebellion against Roman rule in Britain. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Roman army, led by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was able to defeat the large British force. This marked the end of resistance to Roman rule in southern Britain, which would last until 410 CE.
After the sack of London, Boudica and her war host moved north along Watling Street towards Verulamium, the Roman town outside the modem St Albans in Hertfordshire. Unlike the other two centres, Camulodunum and Londinium, this was entirely a British settlement that served as the capital of the Catuvellauni. Yet it was as thoroughly and […]
In 60 AD, Boudica led a rebellion against the Roman occupation forces in Britain that resulted in the destruction of multiple Roman settlements, including London and came close to forcing the Roman army out of the island.
During the initial phase of Boudica's rebellion in 61 AD, a force of Britons, possibly from Thetford, advanced towards Camulodunum (Colchester), a town established by Roman veterans (referred as a colonia) and within two days they were able to capture it and killed all its inhabitants.
The Iceni rebellion started when the Romans confiscated the property of the Iceni, brutally punished Boudica, and raped her two daughters. However, there may have been other factors that contributed to the revolt. Some historians suggest that it was in response to the mistreatment of the Trinovantes, the calling in of loans by moneylenders, or as revenge for the killing of the Druids. The true reasons for the rebellion are debated and not entirely clear.
We know about Boudica primarily from the accounts of two Roman historians, Tacitus and Dio. There is also a passing reference given by the sixth century British author Gildas. Both Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731) and the 9th century work Historia Brittonum by the Welsh monk Nennius include references to the uprising of 60/61—but do not mention Boudica.
Boudica was a British queen of the Iceni who led a rebellion against the Roman conquerors in the 1st century AD. The name that Boudica used during her lifetime is uncertain and she has also been referred to as Boudicca, Bonduca, Boadicea, and Buduica. The name used for Boudica is a matter of preference and there is no definitive answer on which name should be used.
In AD 39, a British leader named Adminius, son of Cunobelin, had a falling out with his father and sought the help of the Roman emperor. Cunobelin controlled a significant portion of southeastern Britain, including the territories of the Catuvellauni and the Trinovantes, and was referred to as "King of the Britons" by the Roman historian Suetonius. Caligula, the emperor at the time, planned to invade Britain in response to Adminius' request. However, in a bizarre turn of events, he abandoned the invasion and instead ordered his soldiers to attack the waves and collect seashells as trophies of victory.
Aulus Plautius (AD43-46) The campaigns of general in Britain are well documented in the ancient literary sources. The original bridgehead fortifications at are well known and enclose an area of about 140 acres (c.57 ha). A military precursor to the civitas of the at has been postulated but the only evidence which has come to […]
30 years after Romans invaded Britain they reached Scotland, when Julius Agricola launched his campaign in the north in the AD 70’s. By both land and sea, it took only seven years for him to take control of much of Scotland. Some forts were built along what would later become the line of the Antonine Wall, while others were constructed along the Gask Ridge in Perthshire.
The last battle of Caratacus's resistance against Roman rule occurred in 50 AD, where the Roman army led by Publius Ostorius Scapula defeated the Britons. After the battle, Caratacus, who had been leading the armed opposition to the Roman conquest of Britain since 43 AD, was captured. He was then taken to Rome and given the opportunity to speak before Emperor Claudius, who ultimately spared his life and the lives of his family and followers.
Welsh Forts Occupied During the Late-Antonine Period Antonine Period II (c.158AD – c.162) Name N.G.Ref. Description TRIMONTIVM (Newstead, Borders) NT5734 Large Fort Glenlochar, Dumfries & Galloway NX7364 Large Fort CORSTOPITVM (Corbridge, Northumberland) NY9864 Fort HABITANCVM (Risingham, Northumberland) NY8986 Fort BREMENIVM (High Rochester, Northumberland) NY8398 Fort Inveresk, Lothian NT3472 Fort Cramond, Lothian NT1976 Fort CASTRA EXPLORATORVM […]
Severan Marching Camps in Scotland Name N.G.Ref. Description Kirkpatrick, Dumfries & Galloway NY2870 Small Camp Castlecraig?, Borders NT1244 Small Camp Eskbank?, Lothian NT3266 Small Camp Craigarnhall, Central NS7598 Small Camp Alauna (Veniconum) (Ardoch, Tayside) NN8309 Small Camp Innerpeffray, Tayside NN9118 Small Camp Broomhill, Forteviot, Tayside NO0317 Small Camp Horrea Classis (Carpow, Fife) NO2017 Small Camp […]
The exploits of this Roman general are documented in a large section of Cornelius Tacitus’ Annals of Rome (), there is also a short passage regarding his governorship in Tacitus’ Agricola (). The campaigns, strategies and archaeological evidence attributed to this governor is covered in chapters 1. Read the biography of who were advanced westwards […]
The best documentary account of this governor’s activities in Britain is Tacitus’ Annals of Rome (book XIV, chapter xxix), which unfortunately, provides very little detail. The campaigns of Quintus Veranius are detailed in chapter 6 of Rome Against Caratacus by Graham Webster. Read the biography of The sole piece of military intelligence recorded by Tacitus […]
The exploits of this general in Britain, in particular the revolt in south-east England, are recorded by Cornelius Tacitus in his Annals of Rome (book XIV, chapters xxix-xxxviii) and The Agricola (XIV.iii – XVI.ii), also by Cassius Dio in his History of Rome (book LXII, chapters i-xi). Although many modern works have been written on […]
The career of this governor of Britain is recorded in two works by Cornelius Tacitus, Annals of Rome (book XIV, chapter xxxix) and Agricola (chapter XVI, verse iii). Read the biography of / “… Everything, however, was softened down for the emperor’s ears, and Suetonius was retained in the government; but as he subsequently lost […]
The career of this general is documented in two works by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, The Agricola (chapter xvi, verses 3-4) and The Histories (book I, chapter lx). Read the biography of “Trebellius was less energetic, had no military experience, and kept the province in hand by a mild-mannered administration.” (Cornelius Tacitus Agricola XVI.iii) “… Even […]
The tenure of this governor is documented by Cornelius Tacitus in The Agricola (chapter VIII, verse i and chapter XVI, verse v) and also in his The Histories (book II, chapter lxv and book II, chapter xcvii). Read a biography of “Vettius Bolanus was then in charge of Britain: his rule was milder than a […]
This governor is documented in three of the major works of Cornelius Tacitus; The Agricola (chapter VIII, verse ii and chapter XVII, verses i-ii), The Annals (book XIV, chapter xxxii) and The Histories (book III, chapter lix and book IV, chapter lxxix). Read a biography of . “A short time elapsed, and then Britain received […]
The tenure of this governor is documented in a single classical source, by Cornelius Tacitus in . Read a biography of . Cerialis, indeed, would have eclipsed the vigilance or the credit of any other successor; but Julius Frontinus was, so far as a subject of the emperor could be, a great man, and he […]
We are extremely fortunate in the case of this man in that his son-in-law was none other than Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, the prolific Roman writer and historian, who recorded in The Agricola the biography of this great man, which remains the only surviving biography of a Roman general outside of the imperial families. This document […]
The First Flavian Period ( AD85-c.90) Once an invading Roman army had secured an area and moved on, the general would often leave behind a small garrison, usually of auxiliaries, housed in semi-permanent structures built of turf and timber, in order to police the recently-subdued natives and also to secure the retreat of the army […]
Welsh Forts Abandoned During the Hadrianic Period Hadrianic Period (c.122AD – c.136) Hadrian’s Wall Forts – listed from east to west Name N.G.Ref. Description SEGEDVNVM (Wallsend, Tyne & Wear) NZ3066 Fort PONS AELIVS (Newcastle, Tyne & Wear) NZ2564 Fort CONDERCVM (Benwell, Tyne & Wear) NZ2164 Fort VINDOBALA (Rudchester, Northumberland) NZ1167 Fort ONNVM (Halton Chesters, Northumberland) […]
Antonine Period I (c.142AD – c.158) The Antonine Wall – listed from east to west Name N.G.Ref. Description VELVNIATE (Carriden, Central) NT0280 Fort and Minor Settlement Kinneil, Central NS9780 Fortlet Mumrills, Central NS9179 Fort Falkirk, Central NS8879 Fort Watling Lodge, Central NS8679 Fortlet Rough Castle, Central NS8479 Fort Seabegs, Central NS8179 Fortlet Castlecary, Central NS7978 […]