Caesars Raid 55BC - Crossing





The main Legionary force loaded on the 24-August at an unidentified place but probably Portus Itius the loading port used the following year. While there is debate on which of three possible locations for Portus Itius the more likely spot is Gessoriacum (Boulogne). The cavalry loaded at nearby Ambleteuse.

The main force set sail that evening and by mid-morning on 25-Aug Caesar was off the British coast near present day Dover. (Meantime the Cavalry had taken longer to load and missed the evening tide on the 24th. When they sailed the next morning adverse wind drove them back to harbour and it was four days before they were able to sail again.) The faster warships anchored off the coast to wait for the slower ships to catch up and saw that the British had assembled on the cliffs and were ready for battle. It is not clear if Caesar intended to land at Dover but clearly it was too dangerous to do so.

The week before setting out, Caesar had sent one of his officers, Caius Volusenus, to make a five day reconnaissance of the British coast with a 48 oared galley, to find a suitable landing place. He found that the coast at Dover had a beach which was protected by chalk cliffs, and the coast to the west was not particularly suited to the landing of large bodies of troops. To the east the coastal cliffs ended about Walmer with open beaches which would allow a landing to be made. However he did not locate the harbour area of Richborough at the south end of the Wantsum channel.

So with the fleet united and having given up on the cavalry element arriving as planned, Caesar moved east and north along the coast. The British followed along the cliff tops and were ready to oppose the landing at any spot chosen by the Romans.

The exact landing spot is unclear but described as even and open and seven Roman miles from the spot where Caesar had anchored. This makes it probable the spot chosen was at the northern end of the cliffs near Walmer.



- 55BC Objectives
- 55BC Timing
- 55BC Crossing
- 55BC Military Units
- 55BC Landing
- 55BC Land Operations

This page last edited - 22 December, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.