David Glossop gave a very interesting talk to the Wincanton Museum and History Society on Friday 25th November 2016. The subject: A.D. 43. The Roman Invasion of Britannia.
David started with by saying that any invasion should start with “planning and planned execution of said plan”. He felt that the AD43 Invasion of Britannia could not have been planned in two years (as thought). This, he felt, was not enough time, and must have started in Caligula’s time, before Claudius. Taking into account that some of the journey would have been by water, and the rest walked, the logistics were almost overwhelming. For example: take eight men to a tent, plus mule. Each Century had 80 Legionnaires. A Cohort was 800 Centuries, plus butchers, muleteers, merchants etc., and it soon reached the figure of 5,356 people per legion. Not to mention 600 mules. At this the point the Medical Unit had not been included. From this: marching and carrying their own kit for 25 miles at a time, it was obvious they were incredibly fit, and that thorough planning was essential.
The first part of David’s talk concentrated on numbers – it followed that the second part was on planning.
1. Why invade? Wool, lead, tin etc, and, perhaps, a glorious victory.
2. Which port to land at? Portsmouth has been talked of, but David challenged this. The Romans were suspicious which meant seafaring had to be short. Would not the Kent Coast be a better proposition – leaving via The Rhine the Kent Coast would be a better journey.
3. More soldiers would be needed for support and where would they come from. What would the British Force be like?
4. Ships. It would take time to build all the ships needed.
5. Food, Water and Sleep to be arranged for people and mules.
6. Medical matters. An interesting note: Some ways of treatment, i.e amputation, remained the same until WW1
7. Troops. Would march from Upper and Lower Germany and surrounding lands. Timing had to be right.
After all of this, they landed successfully, resistance was met, but surrender took place at Colchester – all was not peaceful after surrender.
A cohort only had six centuries, therefore 480 legionnaires, which made up a tenth of a legion, with a total of 4800 when complete (plus followers etc)
David said that the Chichester/Portsmouth area was one possible are for the landing but he and others favour the idea that the Thanet area of Kent was the most likely.