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.
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.
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.