The following is taken from a translation of Anglo Saxon Chronicles|
Book 4 chapter 20
In 55BC Julius Caesar had defeated the Belgae from modern Belgium on the borders of Gaul in Northern France, and was now
intent on invading Britain publicly because the Gauls had always been supported by settlements in England
(see Ptolemy Tribal map of Britain).
Book 4 chapter 21-22
He despatched one of his officers Caius Volusenus with a ship of war to spy on the Island and seek whatever
information that could be gleaned in a short time.
Caesar then marched with his whole army to the territory of the Morini a tribe of the Gauls who occupied the
sea coast between Calais and Boulogne, where he collected 80 vessels to transport his two legions(the 7th
and 10th legions) a total of 12,000 troops to Britain. His cavalry embarked in 18 other vessels from a second port
but due to inclement winds they didnt catch up with the main force.
Book 4 chapter 23
He arrived at the coast of Britain probably on the 26th August (according to Edmund Halley the astronomer)
but decided not to land there due to a large number of British warriors on the cliff tops.(This is commonly thought
of as being at Dover, however there are two other possibilities,Beachy Head(There is an old Hill Fort at Birling Gap
or the Cliffs at Hastings) He sailed along the coast about seven miles from that place, and stationed his fleet
over against an open and level shore.Again this is commonly thought of as Walmer, but again two other possibilities are
the Hooe Peninsular/Bexhill or the Brede valley near Winchelsea) It is interesting to note that he laid anchor here
quite a way from the beach as his ships draw too much water.This is more likely to be the Sussex coast than the beach
Book 4 chapter 24-26
However the Britons had sent cavalry and chariots to oppose the landing on the beach. The legions prevailed due to
heroic action of the 10th legion standard bearer jumping out of a ship and chiding his companions to fight, and the
use of large projectile devices mounted on the ships which the Britons had not seen before. The defeat was not complete
as the Roman cavalry had still not arrived and so couldn't pursue and rout the Britons.
Book 4 chapter 27-29
The local tribes sued for peace, but still the Roman cavalry could still not land due to a storm in
the channel, more importantly the storm wrecked the galleys and the legions transports on the shore.(Implying that
the landing was not protected by any headland, so the Brede Valley seems less likely, but the Hooe Peninsular fits this)
Book 4 chapter 32-33
Caesar ordered one of his legions to forage and collect corn for food, but the Britons surprised them by attacking from
a wood(perhaps the Forest of Andredsweald) and almost defeated the legion,as they had laid down their arms to cut the corn.
If it hadnt been for Caesar and a couple of cohorts from the second legion they would have been completely wiped out.
Book 4 chapter 34-36
The weather being bad the Romans retired to a defensive position with the Britons massing nearby,
Caesar attacked before they were fully prepared and defeated them. However due to the problems with the
supply lines and transport he decided to withdraw back to Gaul.
Book 5 chapter 1-2
Caesar gets the shipwrights to build modified transport ships which are a little broader than those in use
in other seas. These ships are to be constructed for lightness and carrying capacity, to which object
their lowness contributes greatly. He orders those things which are necessary for equipping ships to be
brought from Spain.
Having overwintered in Gaul about six hundred ships of the above design have been built and twenty-eight
, ships of war which are ready are ordered to the port of Itius in Gaul.
Book 5 chapter 5
After Caesar had sorted out the Treviri tribe in Gaul, he proceeded to Itius where he found that 40 ships
had not been able to get to Itius due to the weather.
Book 5 chapter 8
He loaded 5 legions and 2000 horse into about 800 ships, some from the previous years invasion and set
sail at sun-set, and was borne forward by a gentle south-west wind, so he did not maintain his course,
in consequence of the wind dying away about midnight, was carried on by the tide, when the sun rose,
saw that Britain passed on his left, so he urged the soldiers to use oars to move the ships.
All the ships reached Britain around mid-day and not a single enemy was seen probably due to the number of ships.
Book 5 chapter 9
The troops dismbark and Caesar leaves ten cohorts and 300 horse to guard the ships, and progresses
about 12 miles inland where he discovers a defensive fort that the Romans took and then fortified their camp.
Book 5 chapter 10-11
He orders his troops to chase the Britons, but then received word that another storm had hit the ships,
of which 40 were destroyed and many damaged. He request the troops to return, and spends the next 10 days
repairing and rebuilding the fleet.
Book 5 chapter 15-23
A degree of skirmishing took place over the next few days with the Britons, with the Romans being influenced
by the fact that the Britons fought without armour and with chariots so were faster in attack and defense.
The Britons kept attacking and harrying the foragers until the Legions fought back inflicting heavy losses.
Caesar advanced to London and crossed the river at the fording place defeating a large Cassivellaunii force
in the process. The Trinobantes asked for protection by Caesar against the Cassivellaunii, and in exchange
for hostages were given protection, the Cenimagni, the Segontiaci, the Ancalites, the Bibroci, and the Cassi
all sued for peace. Caesar defeats the Cassivellaunii at their main town and captures much spoils, and also
defeats a force from Kent. At the end of the summer he retires back to Gaul as the tribes there were revolting.
Now to continue with the second Roman Invasion of AD45 click here.