Classis Britannica was the Roman Fleet created for the Invasion of
Britain in 42AD by Claudius. It was a mixture of fighting forces and
transports, and provided transport and logistical support of the army
of 40,000 men, quite an undertaking even in these days.
Classis Britannica had a very profitable iron working area in the Hastings area where the
Wadhurst greensand (iron ore) deposits come near to the surface, and the wooded area of
Andredsweald provide charcoal for their processing into iron goods. It is believed that
they produced 30,000 tons of iron from current day Beauport(probably derived from the Latin
Bonum Portum - Good harbour) alone during their ownership of the area.
The next thing to note is that the Romans had an efficient distribution
network of roads throughout the area, mostly north to south, and also via
sea from the harbours in the Bulverhythe / Pebsham area(the good harbour) of
current day Hastings / St Leonards, Bodiam where the main Roman road from
Beauport to Gravesend crossed the river Rother / Limen and also at Ninfield /
Boreham Street where another harbour allowed transport of pig iron via Pevensey to Europe.
The Classis Britannica built massive forts at Pevensey to defend the coastal
access to the Pevensey Bay area and at Port Lymne to defend the mouth of the river
Limen/Rother, these forts were defended by units between 200 and 400 men. It is
also possible that there was a fort near Seaford to defend the Cuckmere and Ouse valleys,
but this would have been lost to erosion many centuries ago.
Classis Britannica under one of their commanders Carausius, defeated the combined Roman
fleets from France and Germany in 286AD. Carausius declared himself emperor of Britain
and Northern Gaul, but this ended when Carausius was assasinated by a subordinate. This
was the start of the end for Classis Britannica. Constantinus retook Britain in
296-297AD and it became fully part of the Empire by 300AD, but Classis Britannica became
just a transport service.