Author Topic: Battle of the Medway AD43  (Read 3983 times)

Offline MartinR

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1592
  • Currrent having an extended stay in hospital.
Re: Battle of the Medway AD43
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2024, 10:41:41 PM »
Ouch!  Total brain failure.  It appears that I don't know the difference between Essex and Sussex.  For Sussex below, please read Essex and forgive an old man.

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
Re: Battle of the Medway AD43
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2024, 09:42:08 PM »
I'm not so biased that I am endorsing any locations as the true one. There is nothing named in Dio.

However, your suggested invasion route to the Sussex coast via the Thames seems odd?

Offline MartinR

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1592
  • Currrent having an extended stay in hospital.
Re: Battle of the Medway AD43
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2024, 03:33:54 PM »
I've heard the Sussex suggestion before, but I'm afraid I personally dismiss it as local prejudice.  My reasons are:
  • It's MUCH further.  The Romans were essentially a continental power and transporting an army for possibly a two day crossing is really difficult.
  • Crossing the Thames in slow moving vessels without charts is a recipe for disaster.  The charted depths vary enormously and the tidal range can be over 5m.¹
  • Landing sites in south Sussex are few and far between, generally the foreshore is mud.  Local knowledge is essential.
  • The Julian invasions are documented as in Kent, probably Pegwell Bay or into the then Wantsum channel.  Plautius would have been aware of this.
As I said, this is my personal take on the matter, but I honestly can't see the advantage of Sussex.  I think it would be inviting both maritime and military disaster, the latter due to seasickness and dispersal of the fleet.

¹The sandbanks in the Thames estuary are always moving, certainly in 2,000 years!  However crossing from the North Foreland to the river Crouch for example you would need to cross:
  • Margate Sand
  • The Shingles
  • Knock John
  • West Barrow
  • Foulness Sand
- all of which dry in parts at low tide.  Furthermore the tidal stream can be up to 2 knots (reversing every 6 hours) at springs.  For a night time crossing you might prefer a full mooon, and that means springs!

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
Re: Battle of the Medway AD43
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2024, 01:48:54 PM »
Did this battle as a school project many years ago.

Quote
Accounts here differ"

I thought that Dio was the only written account of the battle? Every other version is speculation based on the very few words he wrote. He doesn't mention the Medway or Rochester and it's not even clear that the Roman landing was even in Kent. This has prompted numerous historians to speculate on landings in Sussex etc.

There's no archeology to support a battle location either. All made worse by Cassius Dio being born some 130 years after the battle, so his version isn't contemporary! Nobody knows how he came by his version of the battle.

So for now it's anyone's guess as to where the battle site was.

Offline MartinR

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1592
  • Currrent having an extended stay in hospital.
Re: Battle of the Medway AD43
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2023, 12:36:36 PM »
Interesting.  Rochester was a major (for the time) settlement prior to the Romans arriving.  The traditional tale is that they followed the major trackway which eventually became Watling Street, rather than the modern Pilgrim's Way.  However arriving at the Rochester ford/ferry site they were faced with good land in Rochester but marsh opposite, where modern Strood is.  The crossing of the Medway would have been possible using swimmers (auxiliaries trained to swim in full kit using bladders for buoyancy) and boats under the protective fire of ballistae and onagers.  However, it would have been expensive in terms of casualties, since the Britons were encamped at the foot of Strood Hill with defensive positions on Frindsbury and Sundridge Hills.  Virtually all battles  in the ancient world were decided within the day, but the Battle of the Medway is notable for being possibly the first two day battle recorded in history.  Some details were recorded by Cassius Dio contemporaneously.  The first day ended in stalemate, Romans in Rochester and Britons still in Strood.

Accounts here differ.  Some assume that the second day was a re-run of the first, but with a successful crossing.  Others have a detachment of Romans, possibly the XI Hispania under Gnaeus Hosidius Geta, moving upriver under cover of darkness and fording at (possibly) Burham.  The detachment then moved down river and in the morning (when?) attacked the defenders at Sundridge.  Gnaeus was nearly captured, but the troops rallied and succeeded.  They were then in a position to fall upon the rear of the Britons, and thereby open the way for the main force (Legio II Augusta) under Vespasian to cross the river and decide the battle.

After the battle the defenders retreated to the Thames, but subsequently a series of crossings were forced, both from the Kentish marshes and from a ford in London.  Again, that is a matter of dispute, the site of either London Bridge or Westminster Bridge might have been the lowest fording point.

Offline stuartwaters

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 898
Battle of the Medway AD43
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2023, 11:54:06 AM »
Found this fascinating story while browsing the internet thingy. It would be nice if any knowledgeable members could expand on it. I always thought that this battle was fought in modern day Strood.
Every day is a school day.

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/amp/the-forgotten-battle-which-changed-our-history-299063
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.