Julius Caesar’s Invasion of Britain: Solving a 2,000-Year-Old Mystery

Written by Roger Stephen Nolan
Review by Edward James

Roger Nolan has a new theory about the route taken by Julius Caesar in his invasion of Britain in 54 BC.  The received version is that Caesar landed at Deal in Kent and crossed the Thames well upstream from London, possibly near Brentford, before marching on the enemy capital near St Albans.  The weakness of the theory is that there is no archaeological evidence of Caesar’s marching camps.

Nolan proposes a different route with five camps using existing British fortifications, still well preserved, and a Thames crossing near Tilbury, downstream from London.  It is difficult to imagine an army fording the Thames at Tilbury today, it is a deep water port, but things were different in 54 BC.  Even so I would have thought it was extremely risky for a large force to have forded such a wide river with such an exceptional tidal range as the Thames.

Nolan’s theory occupies only three chapters. The rest of the book is background material on Caesar, Celtic Britain, the Roman army and the Gallic Wars – a lot of background for a short campaign.