Chronology

This chronology covers significant dates around South Yorkshire and the whole of Roman Britain, and its role is to help provide context to the information available on this website. It is also useful to know however what role it is not meant to play. As Creighton points out, “all clear event and date boundaries in history tend to provide conceptual ways to divide up time easily and make our understanding of the past manageable, but nearly all mask longer term processes” (Creighton, p.1). This timeline constructs its own narrative, which is not to be taken as solid fact or as arguing for one interpretation of the past over another. For this reason, this chronology is accompanied by extra details to raise important issues on the nature of evidence, flexibility of dates, and the historiography of Roman Britain generally, which aim to help use the chronology critically. These will be marked in RED

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Caratacus © Trustees of the British Museum

55-54BC Julius Caesar launched two campaigns to invade Britain which are generally considered unsuccessful, but still achieved contemporary acclaim for Julius and have not blemished his historical reputation (Caesar, [1917])

AD43 Emperor Claudius dispatches a total of 40,000 men to invade Britain. After a few years of rapid conquests in southern Britain, the remnants become client-kingdoms and a effective military frontier is established

AD48/9 Governor Scapula’s campaign in North Wales recalled to support Cartimundua against an uprising causing disruption on the northern frontier (Tacitus, 1937, p.359)

AD51 Cartimundua hands over the resistance leader Caratacus in a show of loyalty to Roman authority (Tacitus, 1925, p.403)

AD54 Though traditionally a well established date in the typical narrative of early Roman Britain for the first Roman intervention in favor of Cartimundua against her husband Venutius, historians Hanson and Campbell have challenged this orthodox opinion with a compelling argument that the two accounts of Tacitus refer to just the one event in AD69 rather than two separate splits between Cartimundua and Venutius (Hanson, pp.77-80)

AD60 Iceni Rebellion led by Boudicca (Tacitus, 1970, p.57)

AD69 Vespasian’s ascension as Emperor after a civil war known as the ‘Year of the Four Emperors’ fuelled disruption and division of loyalties, bringing the fall of Cartimundua and the Brigantian throne to Venutius. The Romans are able to conduct a successful rescue of Cartimundua (Tacitus, 1925, p.403)

AD71-74 Roman campaign by Governor Cerialis against the Brigantes, with Venutius’s final defeat at Stanwick; the Roman IX Legion occupies York (Tacitus, 1970, p.59)

Bust of the Emperor Trajan © Trustees of the British Museum

AD79 Territory consolidated though campaigns by Agricola (Tacitus, [1970]) and Frontius (Hanson, p.88)

AD100 Apparent Brigantes uprising in Lowland Scotland, pushing back the Romans

AD117 Supposed Brigantian revolt near the end of Emperor Trajan’s reign but few details are known (Buckland p.13, Hartley p.5)

AD122 Construction began on Hadrian’s Wall

AD142 Construction began on the Antonine Wall, pushing Rome’s frontier further north

AD154/5 Coin evidence depicting some form of victory around this time suggests a Brigantian rebellion was suppressed, potentially causing a temporary abandonment of the Antonine Wall, and the rebuilding and strengthening of previously abandoned forts such as Templeborough and Danum (Hartley, p.5)

AD160s Emperor Marcus Aurelius withdraws back to Hadrian’s Wall permanently

AD175 A decline in the coin sequence suggests a reduction of the force at Templeborough

AD180-184 Another Brigantes revolt suppressed by Ulpius Marcellus (Dio Cassius, p.87)

AD196 Governor Clodinus Albinus withdraws troops from Britain in an attempt to usurp the throne, and after achieving the rank of Caesar, is defeated by Severus (Zosimus, p.7)

AD200-400 Less is known about the history of events in Roman Britain during the Third and Fourth centuries due to fewer written records compared to the previous century

AD208-238 York acquires the title of Colonia (City)

AD286-296 Britain is controlled by the separatist regime of Carausius and Allectus after the revolt of Carausius, commander of the British fleet, until their defeat by Constantius

Vision of Constantine © Trustees of the British Museum

AD306 Constantine the Great proclaimed emperor in York – the first Roman Emperor to become a Christian

AD367-369 Hadrian’s Wall was overrun by a concerted invasion on land and sea of Picts, Scots, Saxons and Attacotti until order was restored and the wall rebuilt (Ammianus, [1939], p.51)

AD383 Governor Magnus Maximus revolts, beginning another civil war, until eventually defeated by Theodosius in 388 (Zosimus, p.168)

AD398 Stilicho engages the Picts in an expedition to Britain which appears to not have been as successful as Rome had hoped (Miller, p.144)

Contemporary evidence suggests Barbarian troubles were frequent in Britain on land and by sea. Julian was presumably aware of some potential trouble before the Barbarian crossing of Hadrian’s Wall, having sent commander of the armed forces Lupicinus to Britain in AD360 (Ammianus, [1937], p.3). The construction of defensive forts along the British ‘Saxon Shore’ are evident in the Notitia Dignitatum (Seeck, p.180), which according to Gildas may have been built following Stilicho’s AD398 campaign (Miller, p.144). It is likely that the defensive signal stations along the North Yorkshire coast were established earlier

© Trustees of the British Museum

AD407 The future Constantine III takes Roman forces out of Britain to enter the fray of civil war and usurp the Emperor (Zosimus, p.250)

AD410 Emperor Honorius informs the province of Britannia to ‘look to its own defences’ after Rome is sacked by the Goths (Zosimus, p.256)