Caesars & the Roman Legions
|At the time of the Roman invasions of 45 & 55BC, Britain was still in the late Iron Age, inhabited by Celtic tribes whose ancestors had emigrated centuries before from the Danube basin.
In July 54BC with 50,000 men General Julius Caesar landed in Southern England unopposed and crossed the River Thames. To achieve any degree of conquest he had to defeat the strongest tribe, the Catuvellauni. Despite an initial victory the Romans returned to France.
The next invasion in 43AD would lead to 365 years of Roman occupation, after a quick contest and capture of the trial capital Camulodunum (Colchester). It would take a further 90 years before the whole of England and Wales was subdued. Hadrian's Wall formed the northern frontier of the empire.
Scotland and Ireland were never conquered.
Our tour will visit the major sites of Roman occupation, to see how they lived, relaxed and what major benefits, including 8,000 miles of road, they brought to the inhabitants to this Roman outpost.
Overnight from North America to London.
Arrive early morning at London Airport to be met by your tour Director and luxury bus. Drive to Colchester. (Camulodunum) .This City was a major political and cultural site in ancient Britain long before the arrival of the Romans. There was probably a settlement on the site in the 5th century BC. The Romans regarded Britain as a mysterious island wreathed in mists and rain! The afternoon is yours to begin your exploration of Colchester. This evening there will be a private tour of the Norman Castle, into which the splendid vault of the Temple to the Emperor Claudius was incorporated. This evening there will also be an overview of the tour.
Today we continue our exploration of Colchester. Claudius received the surrender of the kings of the 11 British tribes at Colchester after a decisive battle on the Medway. As the Roman Armies fanned out across Britain, Colchester later became the HQ of the XX Legion and some auxiliary troops. After the revolt of the Iceni, there was a period of steady rebuilding and Colchester boasted some splendid public buildings. Many houses stood near the temple, and a fragment of one is near the modern bandstand. We will also be looking at other sites and how these fit into the modern framework of Colchester, which is still very much a garrison town.
This morning we leave Colchester and drive to Lincoln (Lindum). After the revolt of the Iceni was dealt with, the Romans concentrated on suppressing the tribes in Wales and also moved steadily northwards. (77-82). Around 48 the area around Lincoln was occupied by the IX Legion. This was natural given the geography of the area, which forms a natural gap, control of that was vital to the continuing conquest. An impressive Forum was built, along with a town hall and baths. There was also an aqueduct to supply the colony's water. The defensive wall has survived in some stretches, and remains of all four gates into the city can be seen. Newport arch is the only Roman gateway to have survived. We will visit Lincoln Castle and the archaeological museum before driving to York in the afternoon to break our northward journey. The men of the IX Legion also built much of York. York also had an important role as a port for trading.
This morning we drive to Carlisle (Luguvalium), the outpost of the Roman Northern Frontier for over 250 years, to begin our look at Hadrian's Wall, the most prominent survival of Roman rule in Britain today. Hadrian probably ordered its construction during a visit to Britain in 122. Over the next 6 years the Legions built a wall 73 miles (80 Roman miles) long from Wallsend -on- Tyne in the East to Bowness- on- Solway in the West. We will be visiting key museums and sections of the wall to give you some idea of how it functioned.
Continue exploration of Hadrian's Wall. Around the forts large civil settlements were to grow up. To the North of the wall there was a deep defensive ditch, and to the south a further ditch known as the Vallum. These served to protect the crossing points along the wall. West of Bowness there was a chain of Fortlets and towers to complete the wall. Our tour includes visits to some of these key sites, which will enable you to put the achievement of the Legions into context.
This morning we drive to Chester (Deva). By the early 2nd Century Chester was the HQ of the XX Legion, and the fortress dates from 76-78. Chester was one of the forts established to control North Wales and the Pennines. The city was provided with stone walls in the same manner as Lincoln. With the conquest of Britain much of the army now reverted to Garrison conditions, and you can see this in Chester. Chester had an important role as a trading port, and there are remains of the harbour wall near the Dee. The Romans withdrew from Chester around 400, and the city was destroyed by the Danes and Saxons, being abandoned and derelict around 900. The modern city is built smack on top of the Roman settlement. We will be visiting the Grosvenor museum which houses many significant Roman remains.
This morning we drive to Caerwent, which was founded in the 1st Century once the Romans had quelled rebellion amongst the native Welsh population. Caerwent was named Venta Silurum (the market of the Silures) and became the biggest Roman town in Wales with a population of around 3,000. It was an important centre of Romanisation in this era, and the Silures became a self-governing tribe. There will be an opportunity to examine the 30 foot high earthen (later a 16 foot Stone) wall which was built in the mid 2nd century - Caerwent was the only walled city in Wales at the time. This afternoon we drive to Bath (Aquae Sulis). The first Roman camp was established here in 44. The afternoon is yours to examine the more modern pleasures of Bath and indulge in some of the shopping pleasures of the city.
Today we continue our exploration of Bath. The Roman town occupied less than 25 acres, but commanded a vital bridging point across the river Avon. Bath was later reconstructed as a Temple and bathing complex due to the healing springs there, and contains some of the finest Roman remains in Britain. Construction of the complex began approximately 15 years after the revolt of the Iceni in 60. The baths were part of the cult of Sulis Minerva. During our stay here we will visit the Roman Baths museum. There will also be further opportunities to get involved in more shopping and sight seeing.
This morning we drive to London, then, as now, the commercial and political heart of Britain. After the defeat of Boudicca, during which the town was sacked, London began its steady rise to becoming the economic centre and eventually capital of the province of Rome. By 60, the town was an important centre for business, and the hub of the developing road network. The first part of the Forum was built at this time. 70-130 saw intense activity with the building of the Governor's Palace (on the site of Cannon Street station) and a military fort, which was 12 acres in area. Baths were also built which were on the site of modern Upper Thames street and Cheapside. Parts of the Roman wall system, (begun in 180 and finished 250-270) still survive, but not above ground level. This afternoon we will be visiting the museum of London to find out more about life in the capital at this time.
Continue exploration of London. You can explore on your own or come with us on tours of some the remaining sites of Roman activity. London boasted the largest known Basilica outside Rome, which had an area of 8 acres. After the Roman evacuation the city became a Saxon settlement and was later sacked by the Danes. Today we will visit the British Museum and there will be ample time to look at modern London with all its attractions! Final dinner together as a group. .
Transfer to London airport for return flight to North America.