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Roman Britain

(43AD - 400AD )


Roman Legionary Background
In Britain, a number of tribes were in control prior to the Roman invasion. The two main ones in the South were the Catuvelliauni who were based north of London in current day Cambridge and Suffolk, and the Atrebates who were controlled the land south of the Thames.

The Atrebates were pro Roman, and supplied iron to the Roman Legions in Gaul. The Catuvelliauni were neutral or not anti Roman, until their King died leaving his lands to his two anti-Roman sons Togodumnus and Caratacus. Togodumnus and Caratacus invaded the lands of the Atrebates and forced King Verica to flee to Rome, where he was granted asylum.

The period up to this point had been relatively quiet for the Roman legionaries, as all the major wars had been won. The number of troops based in Germany had grown to a size where a Roman General of sufficient drive could have taken the troops back and conquered Rome for himself.

Emperor Claudius(41AD - 54AD) decided that to reduce the threat from the Legions in Germany, and to also take control of the Iron Industry in the South East of England, he would get them to invade Britain, so in 43AD 40,000 - 50,000 men were landed near Dover.

Invasion Forces
The Roman invasion was commanded by Aulus Plavius who was govenor of Pannonia which was on the Danube, his force consisted of :-

Legio II Augusta commanded by Titus Flavius Vespanius which was based in Argentoratum present day Strasbourg.
Legio XX Valeria which was based at Novaesium current day Neuss.
Legio XIV Gemina which was based at Moguntiacum present day Mainz.
Legio IX Hispania from Aulus province of Pannonia.

The legions consisted of about half the force, and the remainder consisted off Auxillary Light Cavaly and Light Infantry from Gaul, Thrace and Germany.

The forces landed at Richborough in Kent, and a few minor skirmishes were encountered as the Romans marched towards London. At the Medway crossing near Sittingbourne, a two day Battle with the Catuvelliauni ended with the tribes defeat. The troops advanced to the Thames and then waited 2 months until Claudius came from Rome. During this time Togodumnus was killed, and Caratacus fled to Wales.

Government
The Romans divided the country into self governing areas known as Civitates, two of which covered our area. The Canti area from East Kent to a line from the Hastings area to London, and the Regnenses was the rest of Sussex, and to Portsmouth.

Local Roman Influence
The main reason for the Romans to come into this part of Kent and East Sussex, was to obtain the iron which had been exported by the Celts to Europe until the invasion. The Romans built bloomeries and furnaces at Sedlescombe, Brede , Robertsbridge , Bodiam and Stonegate , together with a bath house at Beauport near Battle . A major road was built from Beauport to Whatling Street ( Rochester ) in North Kent, passing through Bodiam , where the roadbed can still be seen from the bridge between the village and Sandhurst , from here it passed through to Benenden and then north through Sissinghurst and Staplehurst . This road was also a link to to the ports at Bodiam , Sedlescombe and Westfield .

The End of Roman Influence
From 378 AD after the catastrophic defeat at Adrianople the Roman  Empire was on the defensive and more and more troops were withdrawn from Britain, weakening the empire in Britain.

In 406AD Emperor Honorius withdrew more troops from Britain to defend the Rhine region from invading Barbarians. Two years later a directive was sent from the Emperor to all major towns in Britain telling the local govenors that they were responsible for their own defense.

Villages Referenced

Aldington  -   (The Aldington Gang)
Arlington  -   (Peaceful Saxon Village)
Barcombe  -   (Village in three places)
Battle  -   (William the Conqueror prevails)
Beddingham  -   (At the base of Mount Caburn)
Bilsington  -   (The Priory and Obelisk)
Bodiam  -   (The finest ruined castle in the Country)
Boreham Street  -   (Picturesque village on top of the Ridge)
Boughton Monchelsea  -   (Miraculous vision)
Brenzett  -   (St Eanswyth a Saxon princess)
Burmarsh  -   (The fortress in the Marsh?)
Cade Street  -   (Jack Cade and the Kentish rebellion)
Chiddingly  -   (Walking on Cheese ??)
Cripps Corner  -   (Home Guard surprises the Army)
Denton  -   (Earl Godwins Manor)
Dymchurch  -   (The Romans and the sea wall)
East Blatchington  -   (Mutiny and the Edge of Space)
Edenbridge  -   (Roman Crossing to Victorian Bridge)
Etchingham  -   (The oldest Brass Weather Vane in the country)
Exceat  -   (Alfred the Great's Naval Base?)
Fairfield  -   (The Isolated Church)
Fairlight  -   (Firehills and Views)
Fairwarp  -   (Charcoal and the Army)
Fletching  -   (Simon de Montfort and Jack Cade)
Framfield  -   (380 years without a church tower)
Frittenden  -   (The Search for the Treacle Mines)
Hadlow  -   (Mays Folly - 150ft tower)
hastings Bulverhythe  -   (Landing place of the citizens)
Hastings East Cliff  -   (Beautiful Views and peaceful Walks)
Hastings Old Town  -   (The ancient Cinque Port)
Hastings Ore  -   (Iron and the Turnpike)
Hellingly  -   (Only remaining Ciric in Sussex)
Hurst Green  -   (The Youngest Highwayman on record)
Isfield  -   (Simon de Montfort and the Lavender Line)
Laughton  -   (Knight captures King of France)
Littlestone  -   (The Genteel Resort)
Lympne  -   (From Roman Castle to Tigers)
Mayfield  -   (Saint Dunstan and the Devil)
Newchurch  -   (The Church Tower with a kink)
Newenden  -   (Alfred the Great's Fort)
Penhurst  -   (Beautiful yet Remote)
Pevensey  -   (Ancient Roman Fortification)
Playden  -   (Saltcote and fish)
Polegate  -   (Fine old Tower Mill)
Ringmer  -   (Poor Roads and riots)
Robertsbridge  -   (The Home of Modern Cricket)
Sandhurst  -   (Escape from the Great Plague)
Seaford  -   (The cormorants or shags)
Sedlescombe  -   (Best gunpowder in Europe)
Sheffield Park  -   (Capability Brown and the Bluebell Line)
Staplehurst  -   (Charles Dickens train crash)
Stonegate  -   (Ancient Roman Cross Road)
Stone In Oxney  -   (Roman stone altar)
Sutton Valence  -   (seized from Simon de Montfort)
Tudeley & Capel  -   (Iron Industry and Hop Pickers)
Warbleton  -   (The Iron Man)
Westerham  -   (James Wolfe captures Quebec)
Westham  -   (Enclosure for the Castle)

 
       
 
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