(all AD)

Events in Britain


Britain invaded by four-legion task force under Aulus Plautius.

43-47 Southern part of Britian occupied from the Severn to the Wash. The future emperor Vespasian campaigns in the south-west.


Thumbnail picture of an amphibious landing, from Trajan's Column.

Roman amphibious landing, from Trajan's Column
© Author's collection

Military incursions into Wales and northern England. British leader Caratacus defeated (51).

60 Revolt of the Iceni (East Anglia) under Boudicca. Sacking of Colchester, London, and St Albans. Defeat of Boudicca by governor Suetonius Paulinus.


Governor Petillius Cerialis defeats the Brigantes of northern England. Probable incursions into Scotland. Tree-ring dating shows that a fort was established at Carlisle this year. During these operations the Twentieth Valeria Victrix Legion was commanded by Gnaeus Julius Agricola, who had earlier served as a tribune under Suetonius Paulinus.

74-77/8 Governor Sextus Julius Frontinus completes conquest of Wales.

Note: The period of Agricola’s governership is not known for certain. His tenure may have begun in 77 rather than 78, in which case the dates which follow should all be put back one year.

78 Agricola appointed governor. Suppresses a revolt by the Ordovices of north Wales.


Thumbnail coin with head of Vespasian.

Coin of Vespasian.
© SCRAN/National Museums of Scotland

Agricola campaigns in northern England.

80 Agricola occupies southern Scotland and reaches the Tay.


Agricola builds forts. Newstead perhaps built in this year.

82 Agricola campaigns in south-west Scotland and contemplates invading Ireland.

83 Agricola campaigns beyond the Tay. Defeat of the Ninth Victrix Legion by the Caledonians narrowly averted. Fleet brought in to support campaigns along the north-eastern coastlands. Dun and Ardoch were perhaps built in this year.

84 Agricola defeats a confederation of northern tribes under Calgacus at Mons Graupius. The site of the battle is not known, but it probably lay near Aberdeen or further north. Following his victory Agricola was recalled to Rome.

84/5-c.87 The name of Agricola’s successor is not known, but he was active as far as the Highland line for at least two and possibly four years. The auxiliary fort at Fendoch and the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil were probably built at this time, and perhaps the Gask frontier.

c.87-c.90 One of the four British legions, the Second Adiutrix, is sent to reinforce the Danube frontier, and Domitian decides to abandon his northern conquests. The fortress at Inchtuthil is demolished in an uncompleted state, and withdrawal into southern Scotland is complete by c. 90.

c.90 The fort at Newstead is massively strengthened.


Thumbnail coin with head of Domitian.

Coin of Domitian.
© SCRAN/National Museums of Scotland


Thumbnail watch tower, from Trajan's Column.

Watch tower, from Trajan's Column.
© Author's collection

Forts in southern Scotland are abandoned.


A new ‘front line’ is drawn between the Solway and the Tyne. This comprised a chain of forts linked by a road (in medieval times this road was called the ‘Stanegate’, and today the system is known as the Stanegate frontier).

There are hints of trouble in the area, but because the focus of interest had shifted to Trajan’s campaigns beyond the Danube and in the East contemporary sources record little about affairs in Britain at this time.


Thumbnail coin with head of Trajan.

Coin of Trajan.
© SCRAN/National Museums of Scotland

Hadrian visits Britain with a new governor, Platorius Nepos, and troop reinforcements. He builds ‘a wall, 80 miles long, to separate the Romans and barbarians’. This replaced the Stanegate system, which lay close behind the new work. With its subsequent modifications and rebuildings, Hadrian’s monumental frontier can still be traced along its full length.


Thumbnail photograph of Hadrian's Wall.

Hadrian's Wall.
© Colin Martin

Shortly after his accession Antoninus Pius ‘conquered the Britons through the governor Lollius Urbicus, after driving back the barbarians and building a second wall, of turf.’ This frontier, known to us as the Antonine Wall, ran between the Forth and the Clyde. Lollius Urbicus is mentioned on an inscription at Corbridge dated to 139, while coins commemorating victory in Britain were issued in 142/3. As well as the frontier, forts were established beyond and behind it, including Ardoch and Newstead.

c.158 At least some of the Antonine forts appear to have been abandoned by their garrisons, though most were reoccupied and rebuilt shortly afterwards.

Antoninus Pius

Thumbnail bust of Antoninus Pius.

Bust of Antoninus Pius.
© SCRAN/Hulton Getty

Antonine Wall finally abandoned: Hadrian’s Wall

180 Northern tribes overrun the frontier.

Marcus Aurelius

Order restored by Ulpius Marcellus.

c.191 Clodius Albinus governor in Britain.



Albinus claims imperial throne.

196 Albinus mobilises British garrison and crosses to Gaul. Northern tribes invade province.

197 Albinus defeated and killed by Septimius Severus at Lyons.

197-207 Governors Virius Lupus (197-202) and Alfenius Senecio (202-7) buy off the northern tribes and begin rebuilding the frontier.

208-9 Severus, with his sons and co-emperors Caracalla and Geta, come to Britain with massive reinforcements. Peace overtures rejected. Punitive campaign in eastern Scotland reaches the Moray Firth. Forts established at Cramond and Carpow.

210 Further campaigning in eastern Scotland.

Septimius Severus

Thumbnail inscription from Cramond.

Inscription from Cramond, perhaps associated with Severus's campaigns.
© SCRAN/National Museums of Scotland

Severus dies at York. Campaigning ceases. Caracalla and Geta return to Rome to pick up the reins of empire.

Caracalla and Geta

Caracalla murders Geta to become sole emperor. Building work continues at Carpow.

post-212 Carpow abandoned. No further permanent Roman occupation of Scotland.


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