t was one of the most powerful empires in history and even today it is still one of the most talked about. The Romans conquered England/Wales (then known as Britannia), Spain (Hispania), France (Gaul or Gallia), Greece (Achaea), the Middle East (Judea) and the North African coastal region.
The Romans reached the Welsh boarders in AD 48. At this time Wales was not the place it is today and didn’t really have any meaningful sense. At this time Wales only had five tribal groupings: the Deceangli in the north east; the Ordovices in the north west; the Demetae in the south west; the Silures in the south east; and the Cornovii in the central borderlands.
The earliest attacks on what would later become Wales took place across the River Dee and the intention was to divide the people of the highlands of Wales from the highlands of the north of what would later be England.
The Deceangli submitted to the Romans in AD 48. In the following year, the Romans sought to divide the people of Wales from those of south western Britain by establishing a major fortress at Gloucester.
In what is now Caerleon, Newport, lived a small group of Celts. These people were farmers and lived in Hillforts. The Romans had already conquered most of Europe, but came to Britain in search of more wealth and glory.
The Roman Legions would ware metal body armour and carry javelins, short swords and shields. But most importantly, they very well organised. The stormed through Britain, destroying anything that stood in their way.
When they came to land of the Silures, they faced perhaps their toughest opponents.
The Roman advance was hindered by the resistance of the Silures under the leadership of Caratacus (the Caradog of Welsh tradition), a prince of the Catuvellauni of Essex who had been driven from his tribal lands by the Romans. In AD 52 they defeated a Roman legion. However, Caratacus was captured and died in Rome in about AD 54.
Six years later the Romans attacked Anglesey, the stronghold of the druids, the inspirers of British resistance. By 75 the Silures had been conquered and, by the 80s AD, with the defeat of the Ordovices, the whole of what would be England and Wales had come under Roman control.
The Silures covered their bodies in blue wall paint and charged into battle.
The Romans fought with great discipline and after many years of viscous fighting, The Romans came out victorious, defeating The Silures. To make sure they could keep control over this land, the Romans built a mighty fortress next to the river in Caerleon, Newport. This spot was useful as it allowed ships to bring in supplies from the Empire. The Fortress included a bathhouse where soldiers could relax in, an Amphitheatre they could train in and barracks for them to sleep in. below is a picture of what is left of the Amphitheatre.
The New Roman Britannia was divided into a civilian lowland zone and a highland military zone. Fortresses, each capable of housing a legion of 5,600 men, were established at York, Chester and Caerleon. In Wales, part of the military zone, there were at least 30 auxiliary forts linked by straight roads and situated a day’s march from each other.
The forts were not all fully manned for long, as most of the inhabitants of Wales came to accept Roman rule. The exception seems to have been the Ordovices of the centre and the north west. In the Forum in Rome today, there is a vast mosaic map of the Roman Empire; the territory of the Ordovices is not shown as part of it.
The Silures, despite their challenge to Roman authority, came to accept the rule of Rome. Caerleon, perhaps the best place in Europe in which to appreciate the layout of a Roman legionary fort, ceased to be fully garrisoned after about AD 120.
While the Roman army was busy taking Wales for their own. The Roman towns of Colchester, London and St Albans by a woman named Boudicca and her army. But word got to the Romans and they decided to take the focus away from Wales and focus on stopping the British revolt. But the Brits did not give up without a fight.
the Romans and the Native British Warriors settled their problems on the Battlefield. The Natives wore very little armour, but did not fear death, as they believed they would become braver and stronger in the next life.
Roman Legions were put into groups of around 60,000 men. They were well armed, very skilled at working together and heavily protected by armour and shields. The Natives outnumbered the Romans by about 20 to 1. But the Roman Legions are highly trained. Boudicca and The British were defeated and around 80,000 Britons were killed. Rome would go on to control Britain for the 350 years.
Sources used for information in this article included: The BBC, YouTube and The People of the Roman Museum of Caerleon in Newport, South Wales.