People, Places, Dates

History and Archaeology are full of important people, places and dates. Here are some of the most important people, places and dates in the History of Essex.
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 43 AD
 410 AD
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 1066 AD
 1500 AD
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 1900 AD
Important Places

Colchester Castle

Colchester was a thriving town before the arrival of the Romans, capital of the local Iron Age tribe (the Trinovantes). When the Romans arrived, they built the first Roman legionary fortress in Britain here, and created a colonia, or colony, for veterans of the Roman army. This was not a popular move as local tribespeople were forced to give up land to these soldiers.

Beneath Colchester Castle are the remains of one of the most famous Roman buildings, the Temple of Claudius. This is where the emperor of Rome, Claudius, was worshipped as a God. To the Romans the temple was a symbol of their power and success, but to the native Britons it was a symbol of their oppression.

The temple became a main target of the rebels led by Queen Boudicca who attacked the Roman town of Colchester in AD 60. The towns citizens barricaded themselves into the temple but after two days they were all killed. It is estimated that up to 30,000 people could have been killed when Colchester was burnt to the ground. After the revolt was suppressed the town and its magnificent temple were rebuilt.

Today you can still visit the remains of the Temple of Claudius at Colchester Castle Museum.



This fort was built around the end of the third century AD. Sitting at the mouth of the Blackwater at Bradwell on Sea, it had the classic “playing card” shape of a Roman fort, being roughly rectangular with rounded corners. Most of the walls are now lost, but it is suggested that the area they enclosed must have been larger than four acres. The meaning of the name “Othona” is unclear.

It has long been supposed that these easterly coastal forts, built towards the end of the Roman occupation of Britain, were designed to defend against the increasing risk of raiding and invasion from across the Sea, notably from Germany and Scandinavia, and for this reason they are known as “Saxon Shore Forts”.

Important Events

The Roman Invasion

The first Roman invasion of Britain took place in 54 BC and was led by Julius Caesar. However, the Romans had a hard time of it, losing a good number of their ships in the English Channel, and by the time they reached Britain they did not have enough men to complete the invasion.

The second Roman invasion of Britain didn’t come until 43 AD, and this was instigated by the Emperor Claudius. The Romans encountered little resistance, and had the benefit of a relatively secure base in the mostly pacified south-east. From here, they could begin to occupy the rest of the country, building forts and military stations to control local populations.


The Boudiccan Rebellion

When Prasutagus, the King of the Iceni tribe, died, his estate was split into three, with one third going to his wife, Boudicca, one third to his daughters, and one third to the Roman Emperor Nero. It seems that Nero, or at least his representative, the governor of the province, thought that this was not enough, for they brought a military force to the Iceni, had the tribe’s nobles (including Boudicca) whipped and generally gave as much insult as they could.

Understandably, the Iceni were very angry at this, and as the Romans hadn’t really done much to make themselves popular in the area they found quite a bit of support for their opinions. Boudicca led a rebellion, and as the main Roman force was off crushing druids in Wales, they managed to destroy the Roman towns of Colchester, St. Albans and London.

The Roman army turned round and caught the rebels as they were marching North, and in a pitched battle the rebels were massacred and Boudicca killed herself.


The End of Roman Britain

In the late fourth century, the Roman Empire was beginning to fall apart. It was suffering under growing raids from the “barbarians”, mostly Germanic tribes including the Visigoths and Vandals, and internal political turmoil. The Romans could no longer afford to keep a large force stationed in Britain, isolated from the rest of their armies, and so the legions began to be withdrawn. In AD 410 the last legions left Britain, and the period of Roman occupation was over.

Most Britons were far from glad to see them go; many considered themselves Roman in most respects, and they were afraid that they were now unprotected against the very barbarians the soldiers were being withdrawn to fight.


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