The Roman invasion of Britain signified an empire at its peak. Now, archaeologists believe they’ve identified the very spot where the Romans began their assault more than 2,000 years ago and more than a century before Britain was won.
For millennia, historians have had little more than Julius Caesar’s own account of two invasions (in 55BC and 54BC) on which to base their theories as to where the operation began, reports the BBC.
But an investigation near Ebbsfleet on Pegwell Bay in Kent—across the Strait of Dover from Calais, France—has revealed a 6-foot-deep, 15-foot-wide defensive ditch archaeologists from the University of Leicester believe was part of a fort spanning 50 acres, constructed to protect Caesar’s intimidating force of 800 ships, 20,000 soldiers, and 2,000 horses, per the Guardian and Telegraph.
The ditch, similar to Roman defenses in France dating to 52BC, housed pottery from the era, along with a Roman javelin and bones showing evidence of violence, per the Guardian.
In addition, “the location of the site fits very closely with what Julius Caesar gives in a series of clues,” describing its high ground and open bay, archaeologist Andrew Fitzpatrick tells the BBC.
Though the 55BC and 54BC invasions led to no new territory for Rome, they did result in the appointment of kings allied to the empire, which allowed for a “rapid” conquest of the region beginning in AD43 under Emperor Claudius, explains project leader Colin Haselgrove.
“This was the beginning of the permanent Roman occupation of Britain, which included Wales and some of Scotland and lasted for almost 400 years,” he says.
(In Scotland, Romans used bullets.)