The Battle of the Medway

Summer A.D. 43 saw a large Roman army led by Aulus Plautius enter Britain. They were sent by the Emperor Claudius to conquer the Brittons. They probably landed at Richborough and at first met little opposition from the natives. Advancing westwards along the North Downs,they came to 'a river',which most scholars have identified as being the Medway. Here they saw British tribes on the opposite bank of the river,probably under the command of 'Caratacus'. The Greek Historian of Rome 'Dio Cassius' thought this to be 'rather careless' of the British tribes because they believed that the Romans could not cross the river without a bridge.

Plautius first sent across some Cohorts of Celts who had been trained to swim rivers in full armour and they hamstrung the horses which drew the British chariots. He then sent Vespasian,the future Roman Emperor,who commanded one of the four Legions to cross the river by another route. He too took the Brittons by surprise,and in a two day battle,in which Vespasian was joined by at least one other Legion,The Romans won the battle and the Brittons withdrew across the Thames into Essex.

Platius then sent for the Emperor Claudius,who arrived with Elephants,to capture Camulodunum (Colchester) at that time an important tribal centre. Vespasian extended the campaign westwards to improve Roman rule over the greater part of Southern England.

The exact site of The Battle of the Medway is uncertain,but the ancient trackway later known as the 'Pilgrims Way' may have been one route of the Roman advance,it is probable that the battle took place somewhere on the west bank of the river between Aylesford and Rochester.

The Battle Of The Medway Stone that commemorates this event can be found by the River Medway at Burham,West of Burham Court.