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Introducing the Romans

Introduction

2000 years ago southern Britain was occupied by Celtic tribes who seem to have been at each other's throats for most of the time.


2000 years ago southern Britain was occupied by Celtic tribes who seem to have been at each other's throats for most of the time. The local tribe, the Atrebates were about to be on the losing side in a war with their rivals the Catuvallauni.

Introducing the Romans

Verica, king of the Atrebates, appealed to Rome for help and this gave Emperor Claudius the excuse he needed to invade.

In AD 43 Roman military forces landed along the south coast, including Fishbourne where a supply base was established. The military presence was limited only to the earliest days of the invasion, with troops quickly moving to the front lines in the north and west.

In recognition of their support the Atrebatic kingdom was restored under a new king, Togidubnus, who was provided with a magnificent palace at Fishbourne. A commercial and administrative centre was also provided: the town of Noviomagus Reginorum.

The new town was laid out to a traditional plan. It had a rectangular grid of streets and public buildings including a forum, bathhouse, temples and a theatre. The ceremonial boundary of the town was a bank and ditch, beyond which were the cemeteries.

For more than 200 years the town flourished. Then, late in the third century, it was decided to enclose the town with massive walls.

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