Aspects of Kentish Local History

News & Events
  Publications Archaeological
Local & Family
by Parish

Victoria County History of Kent Vol. 3  1932

Romano-British Kent - Introduction - Page 2

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

Previous Page        Page 2        Next Page     

Back to Introduction     Contents Page

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs. Any errors noticed by other researchers will be gratefully received so 
that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details to