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Roman Medway 43 - 410
Although Julius Caesar led expeditions into Kent in 55 and 54
BC, it was not until AD 43 that Britain became part of the Roman
Empire, conquered by an invading army sent by the Emperor Claudius.
Aulus Plautius, the victorious general, became Britain’s first
Governor. Kent was split into two halves: the west was governed
from Rochester, Medway’s first walled town. The Romans called this
settlement Durobrivae, meaning “the stronghold by the bridges.”
Most small-scale farmers in Medway probably continued working in
the same fashion as they had before the conquest. While Latin
became the official language for business, law and government, the
native British language remained in use in daily life. People with
larger farms or estates began to build new Roman-style houses
A road system was built through Medway, based around Watling
Street, the main route from London to Dover now followed by the A2.
The new roads, together with improved port facilities, opened up
Britain even more to the wider world and supported growing
industries such as the Medway potteries.
Periods of unrest in the empire during the fourth century AD
affected government in Britain. When the legions were finally
withdrawn at the start of the fifth century, Britain entered an
obscure period of change as Germanic settlers from northern Europe
migrated to southern and eastern Britain and the Anglo-Saxon
kingdoms were born.
Durobrivae or Roman Rochester by Edwin Harris,
Traffic and Politics: the Construction and Management of
Rochester Bridge, AD43–1993 edited by Nigel Yates and James M.
Gibson. The Boydell Press, 1994.
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