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But at the time of Caesar’s invasions it was closer to the coast.It has a ditch up to 16 and a half (5 metres) wide and six and a half feet (2 metres) deep.The shape was very similar to some of the Roman defences at Alesia in France, where the decisive battle in the Gallic War took place in 52 BC.Caesar’s own account of his landing in 54 BC backs the study which was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and will be featured in BBC Four’s Digging For Britain.Explained Dr Fitzpatrick: “Sailing from somewhere between Boulogne and Calais, Caesar says at sunrise they saw Britain far away on the left hand side..“As they set sail opposite the cliffs of Dover, Caesar can only be describing the white chalk cliffs around Ramsgate which were being illuminated by the rising sun.“The Wantsum Channel was clearly not a significant barrier to people of Thanet during the Iron Age and it certainly would not have been a major challenge to the engineering capabilities of the Roman army.” The last full study of Caesar’s invasions was published more than a century ago.In the course of his Gallic Wars he invaded Britain twice, in 55 and 54 BC. The first invasion, in late summer, was unsuccessful, gaining the Romans little else besides a beachhead on the coast of Kent.
These were its visibility from the sea, the existence of a large open bay and the presence of higher ground. Iron weaponry, including a javelin, and other artefacts dug up at the neighbouring hamlet of Ebbsfleet overlooking the bay suggests it was a Roman base dating to the 1st century BC.
“These three clues about the topography of the landing site; the presence of cliffs, the existence of a large open bay, and the presence of higher ground nearby, are consistent with the 54 BC landing having been in Pegwell Bay.” It has long been believed as Caesar returned to France the invasions were failures and had no lasting effects on ancient Britons because he did not leave a force of occupation.
The campaigns were short so it was also thought there would have been few, if any, archaeological remains.
“Caesar also describes how the Britons had assembled to oppose the landing but, taken aback by the size of the fleet, they concealed themselves on the higher ground.
This is consistent with the higher ground of the Isle of Thanet around Ramsgate.