Today on the Pen and Sword blog we have a guest post from Roger Nolan, author of the recently released title Julius Caesar’s Invasion of Britain. Read on to gain an exclusive insight into this new title.
Julius Caesar invaded Britain over 2000 years ago but until now there has never been any evidence found of his presence in this country and in particular the temporary marching camps his vast army must have constructed in their march through Southern England to the headquarters in Hertfordshire of the local tribal leader Cassivellaunus.
been made over the years, especially in the late 16th and early 17th
centuries and again in the 19th century and folk traditions have come
down through the years and yet no evidence has been found, despite
the fact that Caesar himself wrote an account of the invasions.
But now, a new book ,
recently published, titled Julius Caesar’s Invasion of Britain –
Solving a 2000-year-old Mystery contains details of research
which identifies for the first time, not just the site of the
temporary marching camps – and there were four of them, a day’s
march from each other – but also the place where Caesar’s army
crossed the Thames. The marching camps, the Thames crossing and
Cassivellaunus headquarters are all in a straight line and as a
result, when that line is traced back to the coast, it yields the
probable site of the seaboard landing. Surprisingly, this is Dover
and yet all perceived wisdom is that Caesar didn’t land at Dover
because the Britons would line up on the cliffs and could attack the
disembarking army. However, whilst this was the case in 55BC when the
first invasion took place, Caesar is careful to mention that on the
second occasion in 54BC the Britons had fled from the coast after
seeing how much larger the army was on this occasion. The fact that
Caesar mentions this is a clear indication that he was explaining
that he was able to land at Dover on the second occasion in 54 BC and
it was safe to do so.
These discoveries have
included the site of the battle between Caesar’s army and the
Ancient Britons which had started when Caesar’s legions were out
foraging for grain and the Britons swooped down on them in their
chariots, as Caesar puts it ‘from all sides’. This site can be
pinpointed at Chartham Downs just South of Canterbury.
The research detailed
in this new book is comprehensive and comprises a complete analysis
of the two invasions in 55BC and 54BC. It contains a reasoned
analysis of the probable site of Portus Itius, named by Caesar as the
port in Northern Gaul (modern day France) where the armies
Whether or not the
invasions were a success has been the subject of debate from time to
time over the years. This new research considers the extent to which
it was a success, in the light of the objective Caesar set himself in
carrying out the invasions. One of the main criticisms which has led
to a questioning in the past as to whether or not the invasions were
successful was the fact that they were not followed by a permanent
occupation of the island by the Romans. However, in his own account
of the campaigns, Caesar never once states that he was seeking a
permanent occupation. On the contrary, what he does state is that his
objective was to punish the British for providing support to the
Gallic tribes in their battles with Rome and to ensure that they
would not provide support in the future.
This new book contains
a number of chapters which set the scene for the two invasions. One
chapter details the life of Caesar; another details how the Roman
military evolved over the years; yet another on the what Britain was
like at the time of the invasions and also a chapter on how Rome had
developed by the first century BC.
Without doubt, this ground-breaking research is certain to prompt much discussion and reappraisal of this fascinating subject.
Julius Caesar’s Invasion of Britain is available to order now from Pen and Sword.