42AD Classis Britannica the Roman fleet of Britain.
Classis Britannica the Roman fleet of Britain.
Why are we including Classis Britannica in Villagenet Classis Britannica was the Roman Fleet created for the Invasion of Britain in 42AD by Claudius. It was a mixture of fighting forces and transports, and provided transport and logistical support of the army of 40,000 men, quite an undertaking even in these days. There is a great deal of evidence that the area around Hastings was controlled by Classis Britannica and their production of iron from the wealden ore beds in this area.(see our pages on Haesta and our Iron Master pages ).

Classis Britannica had a very profitable iron working area in the Hastings area where the Wadhurst greensand (iron ore) deposits come near to the surface, and the wooded area of Andredsweald provide charcoal for their processing into iron goods. It is believed that they produced 30,000 tons of iron from current day Beauport(probably derived from the Latin Bonum Portum - Good harbour) alone during their ownership of the area. The next thing to note is that the Romans had an efficient distribution network of roads throughout the area, mostly north to south, and also via sea from the harbours in the Bulverhythe / Pebsham area(the good harbour) of current day Hastings / St Leonards, Bodiam where the main Roman road from Beauport to Gravesend crossed the river Rother / Limen and also at Ninfield / Boreham Street where another harbour allowed transport of pig iron via Pevensey to Europe.

The Classis Britannica built massive forts at Pevensey to defend the coastal access to the Pevensey Bay area and at Port Lymne to defend the mouth of the river Limen/Rother, these forts were defended by units between 200 and 400 men. It is also possible that there was a fort near Seaford to defend the Cuckmere and Ouse valleys, but this would have been lost to erosion many centuries ago.

Classis Britannica under one of their commanders Carausius, defeated the combined Roman fleets from France and Germany in 286AD. Carausius declared himself emperor of Britain and Northern Gaul, but this ended when Carausius was assasinated by a subordinate. This was the start of the end for Classis Britannica. Constantinus retook Britain in 296-297AD and it became fully part of the Empire by 300AD, but Classis Britannica became just a transport service.

The Wealden Iron Research Group have researched the area in some detail, and are always interested in new members.
Villages Mentioned
Bodiam (The finest ruined castle in the Country)
Wadhurst (Last bare fisted Prize-Fight in England)
Boreham Street (Picturesque village on top of the Ridge)
Ninfield (Last of the Iron Stocks)
Pevensey (Ancient Roman Fortification)
Seaford (The cormorants or shags)
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