can also string together in a rough narrative a
few historical events connected with it. In doing so, he may collect
invaluable material for the understanding of the Empire. But he
cannot write history.
If this is true of a province as a whole, it is still
truer of any such portion of a province as the portion of Roman
Britain with which we are now concerned, the region known today as
the county of Kent. For in Roman days Britain was not divided into
its present counties nor into any districts geographically
coincident with them. Neither the boundaries of the Celtic tribes
nor those of the Roman administrative areas, so far as we know them,
agree with our existing county boundaries. We treat the Roman
remains of Britain according to counties because it is convenient to
do so, because the literature of the subject consists mainly in the
volumes of county historians and county archaeological societies.
But in so doing we deal with a division of land which for the
Romano-British student is arbitrary and accidental. The phrase
'Roman Kent' is historically a contradiction in terms. We can
describe the Roman remains of Kent and thereby make a solid
contribution to a description of Roman Britain. But we cannot write
a history of Roman Kent.
These facts advise a divergence from the plan followed
by most county historians in dealing with Roman antiquities.
Hitherto, it has been usual to narrate the chief events recorded by
ancient writers as happening in Britain and to point out which of
these events took place, or may be fancied to have taken place,
within the county. A double evil has too often resulted. On the one
hand the reader has got the idea that the county had in Roman days a
local history and a local individuality. On the other hand, the
actual Roman remains of the county—buildings, burials, coins, and
the like—have either been brought into no proper relation to the
period to which they belong, or have been conjecturally connected
with historical events and invested with fictitious importance. We
shall here make no attempt to write history. Utilizing the abundant
archaeological evidence, now far better understood than even fifty
years ago, we shall try, first, to sketch the general civilization
of the Roman province of Britain, and then to describe in detail the
Roman antiquities found in Kent. The resulting survey of Roman Kent
will not only be fuller than anything yet attempted, but it will
also exhibit the remains in due connexion with the greater whole to
which they belong.
Caesar’s conquest of Gaul in 57—50 B.C.
brought Britain into relation with the Mediterranean. Roman traders
and the products of Roman civilization began to enter at least the
southern districts. The native British coinage assumed Roman
legends. After Caesar’s two raids (c. 54 B.C.) the
tribes that lived nearest to Gaul became nominally vassals of Rome.
The conquest of the island was, however, delayed. Augustus planned
it. But both he and his successor, Tiberius, realized that their
greater need was the consolidation of the existing Empire. The
scheme was finally taken up by Claudius. In A.D. 43 a well-equipped
army of some 40,000 men started from Boulogne in three divisions
and, landed presumably at three points which our one ancient
authority for the incident, the historian Dio, does not specify, but
which we may identify conjecturally with the three harbours of east
Kent known to have been used later, Lymne, Dover, and Richborough.
Kent at the moment was a part, perhaps an unwilling part, of a
Celtic kingdom With