The Roman Period. Four hundred years of rule but what was the legacy left by the Roman invaders?
The Roman Period 43 -410
Find out more about the Roman Period in Britain by using a combination of the timeline and synopsis below as well as our posts. Find new intriguing connections using our themed history pages. Explore the world of science, the arts, church, government or law. Discover what happened in the four hundred years of Roman occupation.
|Julius Caesar's first invasion of Britain is a non military affair, more of an exploratory mission but designed to unsettle the native Celt tribes. Trade goes on and there is a general period of interaction.
|Rome acknowledges Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni, as king of Britain and trade continues the Romans all the while learning more about Britain and all it has to offer
|43 - 46
|Roman governor Aulus Plautius
|In the preceding period something changes in the relationship between Romans and Celts and the Romans, under Aulus Plautius, invade. Brothers Togodumnus and Caratacus king of the Catuvellauni have been spreading an anti Roman message and tribute payments to Rome have been cut off. Romans and Celts fight many battles
|Among the best known ancient baths in the world, the Romans Baths were initially built as part of the town of Aqua Sulis, which was founded in 44 AD. Vast and lavish, the baths were able to accommodate far more people than just the residents of this town and were intended as a place for people to visit from across the Empire. As with other bath complexes of the time, the Roman Baths at Bath were a focal point for the town, a place to socialise and even a religious site.
|Roman power extended to line of the FOSSE way and the defeat of the British Chieftain CARATACUS
|47 - 52
|Roman governor Publius Ostorius Scapula
|Caratacus is handed over to the Romans by Cartimandua, the Queen of the Brigantes,captured and taken to Rome
|52 - 57
|Roman governor Aulus Didius Gallus
|57 - 58
|Roman governor Quintus Veranius
|58 - 62
|Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus
|Queen Boudica of the Iceni tribe, took the battle to the Romans but she is defeated and killed by the Roman governor, Suetonius Paulinus
|62 - 63
|Roman governor Publius Petronius Turpilianus
|63 - 69
|Roman govenor Marcus Trebellius Maximus
|69 - 71
|Roman govenor Marcus Vettius Bolanus
|71 - 74
|Roman govenor Quintus Petillius Cerialis
|74 - 77
|Roman govenor Sextus Julius Frontinus
|Caerleon Roman Fortress is home to the impressive remains of a first century Roman legionary barracks, fortifications, amphitheatre and baths. In fact, they are said to be Europe’s only such barracks on display. Built in approximately 75AD, the Caerleon Roman Fortress was known as Isca and would have been home to the Second Augustan Legion. Spread over 50-acres, it would have housed approximately 5,000 people and was in use for some 200 years.
|77 - 84
|Roman govenor Gnaeus Julius Agricola
|Emperor Agricola begins his series of campaigns conquering the Celts in the west and the north before turning his attention to the Caldonians
|Chester Roman Amphitheatre is Britain’s largest known Roman amphitheatre. Originally part of the Roman settlement of ‘Deva’ which was founded in around 79AD and is now modern day Chester, Chester Roman Amphitheatre would have been able to seat between 8,000 and 12,000 spectators.
|The Battle of Mons Graupius took place somewhere in the Highlands of the north. The Roman army under Agricola defeated the northern Celts those who survived fled to the hills
|84 - 89
|Roman governor Sallustius Lucullus
|Roman govenor Aulus Vicirius Proculus
|96 - 97
|Roman govenor Publius Metilius Nepos
|97 - 101
|Roman govenor Tiberius Avidius Quietus
|The construction of Hadrian's Wall begins under the instruction of Emperor Hadrian. This secures the boundaries of the Roman Empire.
|Julius Severus is governor of Britain
|Construction of the Antonine Wall takes place
|Arbeia Roman Fort Newcastle Upon Tyne. The fort played an important role in patrolling the northern frontier of the ancient Roman province of Britannia. It became the main supplier for the 17 forts along the wall. Built about 160 AD
|The Pope sends missionaries Phagan and Deruvian,to convert the 'heathen' Britons to Christianity
|Franks and Saxons start their earliest raids on eastern Britain and the Romans expand their complex series of sea defences, an example of which can be seen at PORTCHESTER CASTLE.
|Romans invade Scotland under EMPEROR SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS
|200 - 299
|Bignor Roman Villa contains some of the best preserved Roman mosaics in Britain, as well as the remains of the villa complex which include several living rooms, a bathhouse and even the underfloor heating systems employed by Roman engineers. Built 200 AD - 299 AD.
|At some point in this century first British martyr St Albans, was killed for his faith in one of the few persecutions of Christians ever to take place on the island, during the governorship of Gaius Junius Faustinus Postumianus
|Temple of Mithras, Walbrook London built
|260 - 273
|The rise of the GALLIC EMPIRE when GAUL, Germany, Spain and Britain temporarily secede from the Roman Empire.
|286 - 293
|Roman govenor Carausius
|287 - 296
|Revolt by Carausius, commander of the Roman British fleet, who rules Britain as emperor. Second period of temporary secession from the Roman Empire under the rule of CARAUSIUS and ALLECTUS
|Carausius is murdered by Allectus, a fellow rebel, in 293
|293 - 296
|Roman governor Allectus
|Around this time construction of the Saxon shore forts takes place such as Portchester Castle in Hampshire
|There is a general persecution of Christians throughout the Roman Empire
|Constantine (the Great) is proclaimed Emperor at York
|Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire ends.
|Constantine defeats and kills Maxentius at battle of Milvian Bridge; Constantine realizes Christian God may be a powerful ally and decides to attempt to co-opt him for his own purposes.
|Edict of Toleration proclaimed at Milan, in which Christianity is made legal throughout the empire.
|Three British bishops, for the first time, attend a continental church gathering, the Council of Arles.
|Constantine makes the Christian church the official religion in Britain but does nothing to stop the use of Pagan churches
|Constantine is baptised on his deathbed
|350 - 353
|Roman governor Magnentius
|Series of attacks on Britain from the north by the Picts, the Attacotti and the Irish (Scots), requiring the intervention of Roman generals leading special legions.
|361 - 363
|Roman governor Alypius of Antioch
|Roman general Theodosius drives the Picts and Scots out of Roman Britain
|Magnus Maximus a Spaniard, was proclaimed Emperor in Britain by the island's Roman garrison. With an army of British volunteers, he quickly conquered Gaul, Spain and Italy.
|Maximus occupied Rome itself. Theodosius, the eastern Emperor, defeated him in battle and beheaded him in July, 388, with many of the remnant of Maximus' troops settling in Armorica. The net result to Britain was the loss of many valuable troops needed for the island's defense
|394 - 406
|Roman governor Chrysanthus
|At this point the office of Roman Emperor changed from a position of absolute power to one of being merely a head of state.
|The Roman general, Stilicho, acting as regent in the western empire during Honorius' minority, reorganized British defenses decimated by the Magnus Maximus debacle. Began transfer of military authority from Roman commanders to local British chieftains.
|The Roman commander, Stilicho, comes to Britain and repels an attack by Picts, Irish and Saxons.
|Events on the continent force Stilicho to recall one of the two British legions to assist with the defense of Italy against Alaric and the Visigoths.
|Victricius, Bishop of Rouen, visited Britain for the purpose of bringing peace to the island's clergy, who were in the midst of a dispute, possibly over the Pelagian heresy.
|A combined barbarian force (Suevi, Alans, Vandals & Burgundians) swept into central Gaul, severing contact between Rome and Britain. In autumn 406, the remaining Roman army in Britain decided to mutiny. One Marcus was proclaimed emperor in Britain, but was immediately assassinated.
|Roman governor Marcus
|Constantine III is the new emperor by Roman garrison in Britian. He proceeded to follow the example of Magnus Maximus by withdrawing the remaining Roman legion, the Second Augusta, and crossing over into Gaul to rally support for his cause. Constantine's departure could be what Nennius called "the end of the Roman Empire in Britain. . ."
|With both Roman legions withdrawn, Britain endures devastating attacks by the Picts, Scots and Saxons.
|Britons take matters into their own hands, expelling weak Roman officials and fighting for themselves.
|Britain gains independence from Rome
|Whilst effective Roman rule was over by 410 there was a visit by GERMANUS (Bishop of Auxerre) as late as 429. He visited twice after Roman rule and it is his accounts that tell us of conditions post Roman occupation. Germanus was here to combat the heresy of PELAGIUS and it is reasonable to assume hat Britain at this point was largely Christian. During his visits he participated in military victories over invasions by PICTS and SAXONS, the 'British' community perhaps already quite a mixture was sill holding-up and defending itself at this time.
Dip in and out of the latest articles and images and draw your own conclusions about the Roman invasion of Britain.
Roman Period in Britain
The Roman occupation of Britain changed the entire character of the land. What made the Romans invade in the first place? Verica, the exiled king of the Attrebates, was much put out by his situation and he called on the Emperor Claudius to help restore him. The effect of that was an invasion force of more than 20,000 men, dis-embarking on the shores of eastern England, sometime in April 43AD. The occupation lasted a period of about four hundred years and in that time the Britons and Romans settled down to a fairly peaceful existence. Nothing so peaceful happened straight away. In the first fifty years the Romans faced a serious revolt. The threat came from Boudica, who feared her territory being incorporated by the Romans. This was no mere scuffle, 80,000 Romans died and nearly the same number of Britons.
Roman infrastructure grew
In the following two hundred years things settled down, towns grew, a road network was developed and trade routes were established to service the Roman troops. The Roman presence went some way to preventing Britain from being attacked by northern tribes. When the Romans left, Britain was laid bare to raids from Germanic tribes and maybe that is why there is such a dark void of information in the period when the Romans retreated.
The Romans built an infrastructure in the country. They linked important settlements and fortifications with well built roads which can still be seen radiating out from major Roman settlements like spokes on a wheel. Winchester maps illustrate this perfectly, with Roman roads radiating out in all directions.
There are many Roman remains in Britain, from the mighty Hadrians Wall, the Roman northern frontier, to the great Roman cities such as Bath and Chichester, small villas and grand villas such as Fishbourne in West Sussex. The archaeological finds of coins, glass and pottery show just how much development took place in Britain at that time.
It appears however that when the Roman occupation ended, the Britons reasserted their own culture. Many of the Roman buildings appear to have been demolished and re-used to create new dwellings. City walls such as those at Winchester gradually fell away until very little was left. Other useful structures continued to be used. The shore fort of Portchester maintains it's magnificent Roman walls.