Roman forts and camps


Luxury goods like samian ware and oil or wine transported in amphorae made the Roman invasion bearable for someBritish tribes and Romans

When the Romans invaded in AD43 there were some British tribes who wanted them to come and some that didn't. In the Late Iron Age, just before the Romans arrived, many chieftains had spent time in Rome or had sent their children there to be educated. There were benefits about having the Romans controlling the country. There would be better links with the continent and luxury goods like wine and oil would be easier to get hold of. Roman legions would also protect the tribes from attack. However, some tribes didn't want to be ruled by a foreign power and put up a fight.


The tribes in the south-east of England were more pro-Roman than those in the west and north. This is because they were closer to the continent anyway and had stronger links with the Romans, who had already conquered Gaul (France) and other parts of Europe.


Buckinghamshire did not exist as a county before or during Roman rule. Different parts of it were probably controlled by different tribes. The nearest tribal centre was at St Albans, which later became an important Roman town as well. The Catuvellauni were the tribe based at St Albans and in the first century BC they took over the Trinovantes in Essex and the Cantiaci in Kent, becoming a large and powerful tribe. Though they put up resistance at first, they quickly surrendered to the Romans.


This is one of the reasons why the Romans didn’t need to build many forts in this area. But remember the Romans had to build a fort every time they stopped for the night. So, if the Romans had to travel through the area that is now called Buckinghamshire, they would have had to stop for the night and build a fort or camp.

Roman road under excavation at Thornborough - was there a fort along this road?


Build your own Roman fort

Using the map of Buckinghamshire with the Iron Age hillforts on attached to this page think about where you would have to build a Roman fort if you were in the Roman invasion of Britain. Think about where you would have landed in Britain and therefore the direction you were coming from. Also look at the Roman roads that were built across Buckinghamshire at the invasion and soon after. Soldiers would build these roads, and so it is likely that there were a few temporary camps in Buckinghamshire.


Think about where the unfriendly tribes are that you would have to go and fight with and therefore which direction you would be marching in. Then look at the hills and valleys in Buckinghamshire on your picture and try to find the easiest ways to march across the county. Think about how far a Roman soldier could march in a day. Draw where you think the forts should be on the map. Do a search on Buckinghamshire's Heritage Portal to find out where the possible Roman forts are in the county. Do they match with yours?


Unlike Iron Age hillforts there aren’t any surviving Roman forts to visit in Buckinghamshire. This is probably because they were temporary and were destroyed after they were left to stop any unfriendly Britons using them as forts.


Go back to find out more Changes in the landscape.