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The Second Roman Invasion 43AD

Initiated by Emperor Claudius

Togodumnus and Caratacus the sons of the late king of the Catuvellauni try to prevent the invasion by Claudius and the Romans in 43AD but are defeated in a massive 2 day battle at a river crossing south of the Thames

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Since the 55BC campaign the southern part of Britain had been trading with Roman occupied Gaul, and paying tribute which was at least as much as would have been paid had Rome occupied Britain.

By the 40s AD, the political situation within Britain was changing. The Catuvellauni tribe had taken over the role of most important tribe in southern Britain from the Trinovantes. They had taken over the former Trinovantian capital of Camulodunum (Colchester), and were expanding into Atrebates territory who were ruled by the descendants of Julius Caesar's former ally Commius.

Prior to 43AD previous abortive campaigns had been planned by Augustus in 34BC, 27BC and 25BC but these had been called off due to revolts in other parts of the Roman Empire. In 40AD Caligula had planned a campaign but due to his ill health had called it off.

So in 43AD Claudius mounted an invasion force to re-instate Verica, the king of the Atrebates who had been exiled due to the Catuvellauni invasion. Four legions, of about 20,000 men, plus about the same number of auxiliaries were gathered in Itius Portus(Gesoriacum) most likely modern Boulogne. The legions involved were the Legio II Augusta, Legio IX Hispana, Legio XIV Gemina and Legio XX Valeria Victrix.

The main invasion force commanded by Aulus Plautius crossed in three divisions with the most likely landing being at Rutupiae (Richborough) in east Kent as at the time would have had a large natural harbour. Various reports of the invasion imply that some of the forces may have also come from the Rhine region.

Togodumnus and Caratacus, sons of the late king of the Catuvellauni, Cunobeline lead the British defence, and a large British force met the Romans at a river crossing assumed to be Rochester on the River Medway. The battle raged for two days when Gnaeus Hosidius Geta, who probably led the IX Hispana was almost captured. Recovering his push back he turned the battle so decisively that he was awarded the triumphus*, so the defeat of the Britains must have been very severe.

The British were pushed back to the Thames and were pursued by the Romans across the river causing some Roman losses in the marsh land of Essex. The Romans may have crossed via an existing bridge or built a temporary one t cross by, and at least one division of Batavian troops swam across the river.

Togodumnus died shortly after the battle on the Thames and Claudius says he received the surrender of eleven kings of Britain without further battle or bloodshed. Caratacus escaped and continued his resistance to Rome further to the west.

* The triumphus - Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander who had led Roman forces to victory in the service of the state.

External References in no particular order :-
Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Online Anglo Saxon dictionary
Online Etymology dictionary
Open Domesday Book - The first free online copy of the Domesday Book
The Ermine Street Guard Roman re-enactment and research Society
The "Kent A" cadastre - page 5 - Peterson 2002
Archaeologia Cantiana Online
Romney Marsh Research Trust
Romney Marsh the Fifth Continent
VillageNet the reference guide to villages in Kent & Sussex
Global warming Flood Maps
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Google Maps - the core of the system
GeoPlaner - Useful site for plotting map data
Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars 55BC(Books 4 & 5)
Wikipedia - Caesar's invasions of Britain
Wikipedia - Portus Istus
The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy (Bill Thayers)
Runetree Beowulf
Bayeux Tapestry Online
The Secrets of the Norman Invasion
Chronicles of John of Worcester
Battle Historic Society
Binsted village website(Mearcredesburnan Steðe)
The Spears of Andred
Find British Archaelogical Sites
Wealden Iron Research Group
Topographic Map of the UK

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Author Simon M - Last updated - 22/06/2017 06:06
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