Roman Conquest of Britain 43–83 CE


Map Code: Ax01737

Britain was not conquered until the reign of the unpopular Roman emperor, Claudius, in 43 CE. After an earlier token invasion by Julius Caesar in 55 BCE (and again the following year), Britain was perceived as a misty, wild country, inhabited by fierce, blue-painted warriors. In 43 CE the main invasion force, comprised four legions under the command of Aulus Plautius. The Romans landed at Rutupiae (Richborough) and, possibly, Noviomagnus (Chichester). Here, they took the Celtic stronghold of Camulodunum (Colchester), followed by a southwest push to crush the western tribes. The future emperor Vespasian led his legion to Cornwall and set up their stronghold at Exeter. The other legions moved north and had begun conquests in southern Wales by 47 CE. A rebellion of the Celtic Iceni, led by Queen Boudica, in 60 CE nearly expelled the invaders. When they advanced through Brigantia in central and northern England (78–84 CE), the resistance intensified and a confederation of regional tribes, which included the Ordovices and Silures, used set battles and guerrilla warfare to repel the invaders. In 84 CE, the Roman fleet and army, under Gnaeus Julius Agricola, reached Cawdor in northern Scotland, but soon withdrew from the region, as troops were needed elsewhere in the empire.

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