Interesting, but (not knowing exactly what kind of weapons and armour they
found, or how much), it does seem to be adding two and two to get five.
I think it's virtually certain there were Romans, and Roman soldiers, in
Britain between Caesar and Claudius, but that doesn't necessarily mean there
was a legion stationed there, or direct Roman government. There was
diplomatic contact in Augustus's day - British kings sent ambassadors to
Rome. The four main sea passages were known to Strabo, and there must have
been political cooperation to establish the trade taxes he talks about, so
there must also have been Roman ambassadors going to Britain as well. Those
ambassadors would have needed military protection, as would the trading
routes that brought in so much money.
John Creighton (in Coins and Power in Late Iron Age Britain) makes a pretty
good case that the British kings, like many Roman clients, sent 'obsides'
(diplomatic hostages) to Rome, where they were educated in Roman ways. A
British king who had been an 'obses' in Rome might, on his return, want to
emulate Roman military tactics and bought Roman-style equipment for his own
soldiers. The Romans could even have lent him the money to do it. Lending a
weaker ally money to develop their economy so you can exploit it, and at the
same time make its rulers beholden to you, is a classic imperialist
technique, and it was done later to the Iceni.
All speculation, but no more so than the hyperbole of the article.
From: "Win Scutt" <[log in to unmask]>
> Rob asks: "What evidence is there to suggest one legion of the Roman
> invasion force had ben in Britain for any period prior to the invasion?
> Where do you contend they resided during that time? Surely also if this
> been the case Tacitus or Dio would have made some mention of it?"
> The idea that there was a Roman military presence in Britain prior to 43
> was summarised in an article in the Independent on 26th June 2005:
> Revealed: our friends the Romans did not invade Britain after all
> Astonishing new archaeological finds reveal they were already our
> 50 years before Claudius spun his way into the history books. Steve
> Bloomfield reports
> 26 June 2005
> The history of Britain will have to be rewritten. The AD43 Roman invasion
> never happened - and was simply a piece of sophisticated political spin by
> weak Emperor Claudius.
> A series of astonishing archaeological findings of Roman military
> to be revealed this week, will prove that the Romans had already arrived
> decades earlier - and that they had been welcomed with open arms by
> The discovery of swords, helmets and armour in Chichester, Sussex, dates
> back to a period between the late first century BC and the early first
> century AD- almost 50 years before the supposed invasion. Archaeologists
> have studied the finds believe it will turn conventional Roman history
> taught in schools on its head. "It is like discovering that the Second
> War started in 1938," said Dr David Rudkin, a Roman expert leading the
> The discoveries in Sussex will be revealed on Saturday during a Time Team
> special on Channel 4 analysing the Roman invasion. Tony Robinson,
> of Time Team, said: "One of the frustrating things with history is that
> things become set in stone. We all believe it to be true. It is great to
> challenge some of the most commonly accepted pieces of our history."
> Dr Francis Pryor, president of the Council for British Archaeology, said
> would prove controversial. "It turns the conventional view taught in all
> textbooks on its head," he said. "It is going to cause lively debate among
> Roman specialists."
> The AD43 Roman invasion is one of the best-known events in British
> More than 40,000 Roman soldiers are believed to have landed in
> Kent, before carving their way through the English countryside.
> The evidence unearthed in Sussex overturns this theory. Archaeologists now
> believe that the Romans arrived up to 50 years earlier in Chichester. They
> were welcomed as liberators, overthrowing a series of tyrannical tribal
> kings who had been terrorising clans across southern England.
> Sussex and Hampshire became part of the Roman Empire 50 years before the
> invasion that historians have always believed was the birth of Roman
> The findings and their implications will be published by Dr Rudkin later
> this year. The discoveries have centred on Fishbourne Roman Palace in
> Sussex. Artefacts found there in a V-shaped ditch include part of a copper
> alloy sword scabbard fitting that archaeologists have dated to the period
> between the late first century BC and early first century AD.
> Dr Miles Russell, a senior archaeologist at Bournemouth University who has
> studied the evidence, said: "All this talk of the Romans arriving in AD43
> just wrong. We get so fixated on the idea of a single invasion. It is far
> more piecemeal. In Sussex and Hampshire they were in togas and speaking
> Latin five decades before everyone else."
> According to Dr Russell, it was in Emperor Claudius's interest to "spin"
> invasion of AD43 as a great triumph against strong opposition. Claudius
> become emperor two years earlier but his position following the death of
> Caligula was tenuous. A bold military adventure to expand the empire would
> tighten Claudius's grip in Rome and prove his credentials as a strong
> "Every period of history has its own spin doctors, and Claudius spun the
> invasion to look strong," Dr Russell said. "But Britain was Roman before
> Claudius got here."
> Julius Caesar first tried to conquer Britain during the Iron Age in 55BC,
> but storms on the journey from Boulogne, in France, to Dover caused
> two legions to turn back. A force of five legions tried again in May 54BC
> and landed in Dover before marching towards London, defeating Cassivellaun
> the King of Catuvellauni in Hertfordshire. News of an impending rebellion
> Gaul caused Caesar to retreat, but not before he had made his mark.
> Britain at this stage in history was not one unified country, rather some
> tribes often at war with each other. Not all tribes joined the coalition
> fight Caesar. For example, the Trinovantes appealed to Caesar to protect
> them from Cassivellaunus who had run a series of raids into their
> Dr Francis Pryor said that the findings in Sussex prove that relationships
> between tribes in southern England and the Romans continued after Caesar's
> attempted invasion. "The suggestion that they arrived in Chichester makes
> plenty of sense. We were a pretty fierce force but the Romans had a
> relatively easy run. This would have been a liberation of a friendly
> not an invasion."
> Oxford historian Dr Martin Henig, a Roman art specialist, said that the
> whole of southern England could have been a Roman protectorate for nearly
> years prior to the AD43 invasion. "There is a possibility that there were
> actually Roman soldiers based in Britain during the whole period from the
> end of the first century BC," he said.
> Time Team will unveil their findings in a live two-hour special on
> evening on Channel 4. It will form part of the biggest ever archaeological
> examination of Roman Britain running over eight days and involving
> of archaeologists at sites across Britain. The series will investigate
> aspect of the Romans' rule of Britain, from the supposed invasion to their
> departure 400 years later.
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