Julius Caesar invades Britain

The Celts in Britain remained relatively undisturbed, warring amongst themselves, until the mighty Romans under Julius Caesar invaded in 55 BC.

He crossed the English Channel and landed on the coast of Kent with a number of tough Roman legions, but after a short while withdrew back to Gaul.

The whole enterprise was a reconnaissance in force rather than a full blown invasion, but he nevertheless received applause back in Rome.

(Above) The mighty Caesar, who invaded Britain on two occasions, pictured above receiving the surrender of the leader of the Gauls in modern day France, Vercingetorix.

The following year, 54 BC, Caesar launched a much larger invasion which this time included a force of cavalry.

His strategy was to strike like lightening into the heart of the British Celtic tribes and inflict a decisive defeat on them before they could unite against him.

A bad storm however forced him to haul his ships from the sea to prevent them being sunk, giving the British enough time to form an army under the command and leadership of one of the first British heroes, the chieftain Cassivellaunus.

(Above) The first evidence of Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain found in Kent. The presence of iron weapons including a Roman javelin suggests the base was used by the invading Roman army.

Cassivellaunus’s strategy was to harass the Roman legions and prevent them from foraging for food, thus forcing them to quit their invasion.

Nevertheless, Caesar advanced to the River Thames and crossed it, despite it being heavily defended.

Cassivellaunus then ordered the four Celtic kings of Kent to attack Caesar’s camp on the coast, but the attack was repulsed.

After the Romans defeated the attempted attack on the fleet and devastated his territories, Cassivellaunus surrendered.

Tribute was agreed and hostages were taken, after which the Romans withdrew back to Gaul.

The Romans were not to return to Britain for another 97 years.

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