The Romans in Britain

roman soldier in Britain

A well planned invasion by 40,000 to 50,000 Roman soldiers took place in the summer of 43AD. A massive force for those days, and the British tribes were no match for them

map of roman advance Within a year or so the Romans had pushed west to a line from Exeter to Lincoln (shown on the left), and by 60AD controlled most of Britain south of the Humber (shown on the right)
A revolt with the Iceni tribe under Queen Boudica nearly managed to dislodge the Romans. But their superior military knowledge prevailed, and after that they had no major uprisings in England. Most of the country was under civil, rather than military rule roads They pushed north, and built the network of straight roads across the country, most of which can still be followed today. As they pushed north into Scotland, they decided to build a gigantic wall, Hadrian's Wall, to control the frontier. It was started in 122AD, and runs roughly from Newcastle to Carlisle
You can still see large sections of Hadrians Wall today as it snakes across the Northumberland moorland.

Also can be seen in museums the mosaics that the Romans used to decorate their villas. Indeed some villas, like Fishboune, have been excavated


The Romans did expand further into Scotland, building the Antonine Wall across the Lowlands (Glasgow to Edinburgh). However this was a turf, not stone wall, and little remains. It was started in 142 AD, but abandoned by 163 AD

The country appears to have enjoyed a period of unprecedented peace - "the golden age of the Villa". Around 300 AD the Roman Empire came under sustained attack by the barbarian hordes in central Europe and some troops were withdrawn to help in that area. Northern Britain started to suffer attacks from the Scots and Picts.

But it was until 410 AD that the Roman Emperor Constantine finally removed the whole garrison of Britain to defend the Rhine frontier from attack. The cities of Britain were instructed to look to their own defence. The Romans never returned to Britain

Britain was to slip into a 600 year period of wars and fragmentation.Of Angles and Saxons invading, the Celts being pushed West, and the country under almost continuous Viking attack

Go on to next history page the Anglo Saxons
Main History page return to main History of Britain page
Great Britain Great Britain front page