map
Atrebates
Cantiaci
Catuvellauni
Trinovantes
2
3
1
Thames
1: Calleva. 2: Verulamium.
3: Camulodunum.

Prelude to Invasion

A gold stater (5.32g) of Commius. The inscription [CO]MMIO[S] is around the legs of a stylised horse on the reverse of the coin. The abstract design on the obverse has evolved from a head of Apollo.

It would appear that, about 50 BC, Commius, erstwhile king of the Belgic Atrebates tribe, migrated to Britain (see Caesar’s Expeditions). Shortly after this, the first coins to bear the name of a British ruler appear in the south-east. They are inscribed COMMIOS (or rather they would be if the whole name was ever contained by the coin*), and it is generally accepted that this is the self same Commius, who had succeeded in establishing himself as king of the British Atrebates (see British Tribes). Indeed, it is possible that Commius forged the alliance of various Belgic groups, who had previously settled south of the middle Thames, indigenous British groups living in the vicinity, and people who were now arriving as refugees from the Roman conquest of Gaul, and the new confederation took the name of his erstwhile Belgic kingdom.*

Inscribed coins from other tribes soon followed. From the numismatic record, and fragments of literary evidence, a possible scenario for the events leading to the Roman invasion of AD 43 can be pieced together. It is necessary to stress the word ‘possible’. The coins are, obviously, not dated like modern ones, nor do they bear the name of the tribe who issued them. Instead there is the evidence of coin typology and distribution, the occasional indication that a particular ruler is the son (or claims to be the son) of another, and the occasional indication of where a coin was struck. Inscriptions are usually, to a greater or lesser extent, abbreviated. A further complication is that, at some times, a tribal federation may have had joint rulers. For instance, Julius Caesar mentions (The Gallic War V, 22) that, in 54 BC, Cantium (the territory of the Cantiaci, i.e. Kent) was ruled by four kings – presumably, each ruled a separate group in its own designated territory, but Caesar doesn't elucidate. The looseness of all this evidence means that many stories (pseudo-historical reconstructions) can fit into it. At any rate, north of the Thames, perhaps round about 40 BC, Addedomaros appears to be leader in the territory of both the Catuvellauni and the Trinovantes.

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In fact, the Catuvellauni do not appear in history until the Claudian invasion of AD 43, though it seems reasonable to suppose (?) that the – unnamed, but north of the Thames – tribe of Cassivellaunus, who had killed an unnamed king of the Trinovantes, and was Caesar’s chief opponent in 54 BC, was, if not actually the Catuvellauni, the tribe that would metamorphose into the Catuvellauni, whose heartland was modern Hertfordshire.
The distribution of Addedomaros’ coinage is not conclusive – some theorists make him Trinovantian, others make him Catuvellaunian. Stephen Rippon believes him to have been Trinovantian: “That Addedomaros’ coins are also found in modern Hertfordshire as well as Essex raises two possibilities: that Addedomaros was a Trinovantian who also controlled the North-Western Thames Basin, or that his coins simply spread west through trade and exchange.”  Philip de Jersey, though, suspects that Addedomaros was the son of Cassivellaunus: “thus implying that he was king of the Catuvellauni”.  Rainer Kretz suggests that, after Caesar’s departure, Cassivellaunus: “(or his successor) quickly resumed his policy of aggression towards his eastern neighbours, which in turn led to the demise of the Trinovantian king Mandubracius [who owed his position to Caesar’s intervention] and was to be followed by the gradual incorporation of the Trinovantian territories into the rapidly expanding Catuvellaunian kingdom.”  R.D. Van Arsdell, on the other hand, suggests that Cassivellaunus’ tribe was not the Catuvellauni (“the similarity of the tribal and personal names is coincidence, not a link between the two”), and argues that, by this time, the Trinovantes/Catuvellauni (as he refers to them) were actually: “a single economic group … a powerful, united tribe occupying the area north of the Thames. The unification must have occurred shortly before the Gallic War, or during it.”

Julius Caesar had been assassinated in 44 BC. In his will, he had adopted Octavian, the son of his niece, as his own son and heir. Cassius Dio reports that:

In emulation of his father he [Octavian] had set out to lead an expedition into Britain also, and had already advanced into Gaul after the winter in which Antony (for the second time) and Lucius Libo became consuls [i.e. in 34 BC], when some of the newly-conquered people and Dalmatians along with them rose in revolt.
Roman History XLIX, 38

The conquest of Britain was, for the time being, put on hold. Since 49 BC, Rome had been embroiled in a series of power struggles (which would result in the demise of the Republic and the birth of the Empire). In 34 BC Octavian was, uneasily, sharing power with Mark Antony – Octavian in the West, Antony in the East. By the time Octavian turned his attention to Britain again, in 27 BC, Antony was dead, and Octavian was master of the Roman world. He was now, in effect, the first Roman emperor, and he had just been bestowed the name/title Augustus. Once more, he:

… set out to make an expedition into Britain,
but on coming to the provinces of Gaul lingered there. For the Britons seemed likely to make terms with him, and the affairs of the Gauls were still unsettled, as the civil wars had begun immediately after their subjugation. He took a census of the inhabitants and regulated their life and government. From Gaul he proceeded into Spain, and established order there also.
Cassius Dio Roman History LIII, 22

And again, in 26BC:

Augustus was planning an expedition into Britain, since the people there would not come to terms,
but he was detained by the revolt of the Salassi and by the hostility of the Cantabri and Astures. The former dwell at the foot of the Alps, as I have stated, whereas both the other tribes occupy the strongest part of the Pyrenees on the side of Spain, together with the plain which lies below.
Cassius Dio Roman History LIII, 25
The inscription on the reverse of the above silver unit (1.45g) of Tasciovanus is TASCIA – it begins under the body of the horse and continues around anti-clockwise, with the final A being inverted above the horse. The obverse is inscribed VER, indicating that it was struck in Verulamium (St Albans, Hertfordshire).

Perhaps about 25 BC, Tasciovanus appears as king in Catuvellaunian territory and, for a short time at least, in Trinovantian territory (i.e. Essex). There are coins, broadly contemporary with those of Tasciovanus, inscribed with the name Dubnovellaunus, that were evidently issued in Essex. Not only that, Dubnovellaunus also issued coins in Kent. Now, it may be that there were two kings, both called Dubnovellaunus, one ruling the Trinovantes, the other the Cantiaci, or perhaps there was just one Dubnovellaunus who, somehow, managed to rule in both Essex and Kent. Whichever, it is Tasciovanus who is dynastically significant.

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The reverse of the Tasciovanus gold stater (5.51g) above depicts a mounted warrior. The obverse is inscribed TASCIO RICON. RICON is thought to be a Celtic language equivalent of the Latin REX, meaning ‘king’.
Tasciovanus’ main mint appears to have been at Verulamium (indicated by the inscriptions VER or VERL), i.e. St Albans, Hertfordshire, however, some of his (apparently, early and rare) coins bear the inscription CAM, indicating they were minted in Camulodunum, i.e. Colchester, Essex. None of Dubnovellaunus’ coinage has such mint–marks. There are various theories to reconcile all this. For instance, Graham Webster reckons: “The implication of the two mints and the wide distribution of his coins, is that Tasciovanus was able to bring the two powerful tribes, the Catuvellauni and the Trinovantes together to create one large kingdom … On the death of Tasciovanus, or towards the end of his reign when his power may have weakened, the throne of the Trinovantes was taken by Dubnovellaunus, who may have been the rightful heir.”  In the scheme proposed by R.D. Van Arsdell, the already unified tribe of the Trinovantes/Catuvellauni were ruled successively by Addedomaros, then ‘Dubnovellaunus in Essex’ (as distinct from ‘Dubnovellaunus in Kent’ - “the agreement of names is likely a coincidence”), who ruled briefly c.30 BC–c.25 BC, followed by Tasciovanus c.25 BC–c.10 BC.  Rainer Kretz, though, muses: “it is entirely possible that Dubnovellaunos was also a member of the Catuvellaunian dynasty. Indeed for all we know, both he and Tasciovanos may have been brothers and sons of Addedomaros. Although pure speculation, it is thus conceivable that on the death of Addedomaros, Dubnovellaunos inherited the eastern portion of the enlarged kingdom, Essex, with Tasciovanos retaining the Catuvellaunian heartlands. The numismatic evidence appears to suggest that Dubnovellaunos ruled over both Essex and Kent at broadly the same time and that his rule ran more or less in parallel with that of Tasciovanos. However, a Catuvellaunian origin would still require an explanation as to how Dubnovellaunos came to develop such an early presence in Kent and why the design of his earliest Essex staters appears to have been based on an uninscribed Cantian prototype. With so few facts to go on and so many potential scenarios to construct, it will be a while yet before we finally get near the truth.”  As for the early appearance of Tasciovanus’ coins minted at Camulodunum: “assuming that he succeeded Addedomaros as ruler of the Catuvellauni, it is possible that at this point in time he was destined to inherit the Trinovantian domains. Perhaps … some major political upheaval occurred, changed these plans and resulted in their [the Camulodunum issues] hasty withdrawal? Such a scenario would at least go some way towards explaining the extreme rarity of these types.”
Tasciovanus’ coinage also provides another conundrum. On some (apparently, late and small-scale) issues, other, unexplained, names – ANDO, DIAS, SEGO – are linked with his. Do these names represent subordinate rulers (probably the favourite theory); are they mint-marks (indicating, now unknown, sites where the coins were struck); perhaps they are simply epithets (such as ‘the victorious’); or maybe they were rivals for the throne after Tasciovanus’ death – using his name to legitimise their claim? There are also coins inscribed ANDO, ANDOCO and RVIIS (Rues) alone. R.D. Van Arsdell refers to the timespan of all these “enigmatic types” as the ‘Interregnum’: “one begins to fear we may never explain the period from 10 BC to 10 AD north of the Thames.”
The reverse of this silver unit (1.3g) is inscribed EPP, for Eppillus. The obverse is inscribed REX and CALL (Calleva).

Round-about the time Tasciovanus’ rule began north of the Thames, rule of the Atrebates passed to Tincomarus, a son of Commius. Some time later (say, c.10 BC), however, Tincomarus’ brother, Eppillus, was ruling in the northern part – issuing coins on which he clearly proclaims himself to be king at Calleva (Silchester, Hampshire). Eppillus also took control of Kent – his coins replacing those of Vosenos, who appears to have had a short reign after Dubnovellaunus.*

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On the left is the reverse of a quarter stater (1.22g) of Tincomarus. It is inscribed with the abbreviation TI C. Until recently, it was thought that the various abbreviations on this king’s coins stood for the name Tincommius. In 1996, however, two iron age coin hoards – a total of 256 gold staters – were discovered, by metal-detector, at Alton in Hampshire. One stater had a complete inscription of his true name: TINCOMARVS. On the obverse of the quarter stater pictured is the inscription COM F.
The coin on the right, depicting a bearded head within a wreath on its obverse, is a silver unit (1.28g) of Eppillus. On the reverse is the inscription EPPI. COM F.
COM F is shorthand for the Latin Commius Filius, i.e. ‘son of Commius’. However, whether this should be taken to mean, literally, ‘son of’, or a rather more general claim of affinity, is open to question – after all, Augustus styles himself ‘son of the divine Caesar’, when it was not literally true, but was a status bequeathed to him by Caesar in his will.
A gold stater of Cunobelin (5.40g), inscribed CVNO (Cuno) on the reverse. The obverse is inscribed CAMV, for Camulodunum.

Now, in the, so called, Res Gestae, Augustus, himself, lists foreign kings who “took refuge with me as suppliants”. Two British kings are included, one of whom is Dumnobellaunus. This king, who had evidently been driven from his kingdom, is generally taken to be the Dubnovellaunus who ruled Kent and, possibly, Essex.* Tincomarus, too, seems to have been driven from his kingdom – it being generally accepted that he is the second British king featured in the Res Gestae.*

Around AD 10, Cunobelin, who claimed to be the son of Tasciovanus, began to rule the Catuvellauni and the Trinovantes, with his capital at Camulodunum.* He promptly extended his power south of the Thames, taking Kent from Eppillus. Perhaps Eppillus was killed at that time, since Verica, who, like Tincomarus and Eppillus, claimed to be a son of Commius, appears as king of the Atrebates.

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The obverse of this bronze unit (2.41g) of Cunobelin depicts an imperial-style laureate head. If it was complete, the inscription would read CVNOBELINI. The inscription on the reverse, which begins under the body of a centaur blowing a horn, runs off the flan rather, but reads TASCIOVANI F (the NI F is behind the centaur’s head), i.e. ‘son of Tasciovanus’. Cunobelin’s earliest coins bear a Camulodunum mint-mark. If he was a son of Tasciovanus, king of the Catuvellauni, how come his earliest coins were issued in Essex? Could he actually have been Trinovantian? Stephen Rippon, citing as evidence a dispersed coin-hoard that was found over the years 1999–2001, at Great Waltham, Essex, comprising only issues of Dubnovellaunus (5) and Cunobelin (18), which “indicates that Cunobelin was the direct successor of Dubnovellaunus” (i.e. as ruler of the Trinovantes), concludes: “Overall, it appears that Cunobelin was Trinovantian in origin, that his roots lay at Camulodunum, where he first minted his coins, and that he later extended his rule over the Catuvellauni, where he legitimized his power by claiming to be the son of Tasciovanus.”
In the scenario suggested by R.D. Van Arsdell, ‘Dubnovellaunus in Essex’ had been succeeded by Tasciovanus c.25 BC, as ruler of the combined Trinovantes/Catuvellauni tribe. Following Tasciovanus’ reign there was a two decade period of seeming turmoil, the ‘Interregnum’, which Cunobelin succeeded in bringing to an end c.10 AD.
This silver unit (1.3 g) of Verica is inscribed VERICA REX on the obverse. On the reverse, arranged either side of a scene featuring a toga clad figure holding a branch, is the inscription COMMI F. Verica claims to be the son of Commius. If this was the Commius who had arrived in Britain c.50 BC, then it would seem that he was in his 60s when he sired Verica (which, though not impossible, is, perhaps, improbable). Maybe Verica was a son of Tincomarus or Eppillus, i.e. a grandson of Commius.

In AD 14, Augustus died and was succeeded by Tiberius. Tacitus comments:

… there was a long forgetfulness of Britain … The deified Augustus called this ‘policy’; Tiberius called it ‘precedent’.
Agricola 13

Elsewhere (Annals II, 23–24) Tacitus reports that, in AD 16, some Roman troops, whose ships, having entered the North Sea at the River Ems following a German campaign, had been blown off course and shipwrecked on the British coast, “were sent back by the petty kings”.

Strabo (c.63 BC–c.AD 24), the Greek historian and geographer, was probably in Rome when he wrote:

… although they could have held even Britain, the Romans scorned to do so, because they saw that there was nothing at all to fear from the Britons (for they are not strong enough to cross over and attack us), and that no corresponding advantage was to be gained by taking and holding their country. For it seems that at present more revenue is derived from the duty on their commerce than the tribute could bring in, if we deduct the expense involved in the maintenance of an army for the purpose of guarding the island and collecting the tribute; and the unprofitableness of an occupation would be still greater in the case of the other islands about Britain.
Geography II, 5.8

The date of Strabo’s “at present” is not certain – an allusion in his Geography suggests it was completed in, or just after, AD 23, though the timescale of its production is the subject of debate. Anyway, Strabo further comments:

Most of the island [Britain] is flat and overgrown with forests, although many of its districts are hilly. It bears grain, cattle, gold, silver, and iron. These things, accordingly, are exported from the island, as also hides, and slaves, and dogs that are by nature suited to the purposes of the chase; the Celti [Gauls], however, use both these and the native dogs for the purposes of war too. The men of Britain are taller than the Celti, and not so yellow-haired, although their bodies are of looser build. The following is an indication of their size: I myself, in Rome, saw mere lads towering as much as half a foot above the tallest people in the city, although they were bandy-legged and presented no fair lines anywhere else in their figure.…
At present, however, some of the chieftains there [in Britain], after procuring the friendship of Caesar Augustus by sending embassies and by paying court to him, have not only dedicated offerings in the Capitol, but have also managed to make the whole of the island virtually Roman property. Further, they submit so easily to heavy duties, both on the exports from there to Celtica [Gaul] and on the imports from Celtica (these latter are ivory chains and necklaces, and amber-gems and glass vessels and other petty wares of that sort), that there is no need of garrisoning the island; for one legion, at the least, and some cavalry would be required in order to carry off tribute from them, and the expense of the army would offset the tribute-money; in fact, the duties must necessarily be lessened if tribute is imposed, and, at the same time, dangers be encountered, if force is applied.
Geography IV, 5.2–5.3

Round-about AD 35, Epaticcus, evidently Cunobelin’s brother, took control of the northern part of the Atrebates’ territory, and Cunobelin would appear to have installed one of his sons, Amminus, in Kent.*

When Tiberius died, in AD 37, Gaius – who is better known by his nickname, Caligula, and who the surviving sources portray as a madman – came to power.* In September AD 39 Caligula suddenly decided to undertake an expedition to Germany.

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Cassius Dio and Suetonius each give different reasons for Caligula’s snap decision to go on campaign. Cassius Dio says his excuse was that “the hostile Germans were stirring up trouble”, but the real reason was that, having “now spent practically all the money in Rome and the rest of Italy”, he needed to replenish his funds:
… he did not openly announce his expedition beforehand, but went first to one of the suburbs and then suddenly set out on the journey, taking with him many actors, many gladiators, horses, women, and all the other trappings of luxury.
Roman History LIX, 21
Suetonius, on the other hand, says that Caligula was advised, by oracles at Mevania (now Bevagna, Umbria), to recruit more Batavians for his bodyguard:
… and was seized with the idea of an expedition to Germany. So without delay he assembled legions and auxiliaries from all quarters, holding levies everywhere with the utmost strictness, and collecting provisions of every kind on an unheard of scale. Then he began his march and made it now so hurriedly and rapidly, that the praetorian cohorts were forced, contrary to all precedent, to lay their standards on the pack-animals and thus to follow him; again he was so lazy and luxurious that he was carried in a litter by eight bearers, requiring the inhabitants of the towns through which he passed to sweep the roads for him and sprinkle them to lay the dust.
Lives of the Twelve Caesars ‘Gaius Caligula’ 43

According to Cassius Dio:

When he reached his destination, he did no harm to any of the enemy – in fact, as soon as he had proceeded a short distance beyond the Rhine, he returned, and then set out as if to conduct a campaign against Britain, but turned back from the ocean’s edge …
Roman History LIX, 21

Suetonius reports:

All that he accomplished was to receive the surrender of Adminius [Amminus, presumably], son of Cynobellinus [i.e. Cunobelin] king of the Britons, who had been banished by his father and had deserted to the Romans with a small force; yet as if the entire island had submitted to him, he sent a grandiloquent letter to Rome, commanding the couriers who carried it to ride in their post-chaise all the way to the Forum and the Senate, and not to deliver it to anyone except the consuls, in the temple of Mars the Avenger, before a full meeting of the senate.
Lives of the Twelve Caesars ‘Gaius Caligula’ 44

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Both Cassius Dio and Suetonius tell how Caligula’s British ‘campaign’ was a complete farce.
… when he reached the ocean, as if he were going to conduct a campaign in Britain, and had drawn up all the soldiers on the beach, he embarked on a trireme, and then, after putting out a little from the land, sailed back again. Next he took his seat on a lofty platform and gave the soldiers the signal as if for battle, bidding the trumpeters urge them on; then of a sudden he ordered them to gather up the shells. Having secured these spoils (for he needed booty, of course, for his triumphal procession), he became greatly elated, as if he had enslaved the very ocean; and he gave his soldiers many presents. The shells he took back to Rome for the purpose of exhibiting the booty to the people there as well.
Cassius Dio (Xiphilinus) Roman History LIX, 25
… he drew up a line of battle on the shore of the Ocean, arranging his ballistas and other artillery; and when no one knew or could imagine what he was going to do, he suddenly bade them gather shells and fill their helmets and the folds of their gowns, calling them “spoils from the Ocean, due to the Capitol and Palatine.” As a monument of his victory he erected a lofty tower, from which lights were to shine at night to guide the course of ships, as from the Pharos [the lighthouse at Alexandria]. Then, promising the soldiers a gratuity of a hundred denarii each, as if he had shown unprecedented liberality, he said, “Go your way happy; go your way rich.”
Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars ‘Gaius Caligula’ 46
The ‘seashell incident’ is presented as yet another manifestation of Caligula’s insanity, which perhaps it was, but historians have tried to rationalise his actions – maybe the troops refused to undertake a voyage into the unknown, so Caligula had them gather seashells as a humiliating punishment*; maybe there was never any intention of invading Britain, it was a training exercise and the seashells were thrown to simulate missile attacks*; and so on.

On 24th January AD 41, Caligula was murdered by the Praetorian Guard (the emperor’s household troops). They declared his uncle, Claudius, emperor.

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On the face of it, Claudius seems like an unlikely choice:
… throughout almost the whole course of his childhood and youth he suffered so severely from various obstinate disorders that the vigour of both his mind and his body was dulled, and even when he reached the proper age he was not thought capable of any public or private business.…
His mother Antonia often called him “a monster of a man, not finished but merely begun by Dame Nature”; and if she accused anyone of dullness, she used to say that he was “a bigger fool than her son Claudius.” His grandmother Augusta always treated him with the utmost contempt, very rarely speaking to him; and when she admonished him, she did so in short, harsh letters, or through messengers. When his sister Livilla heard that he would one day be emperor, she openly and loudly prayed that the Roman people might be spared so cruel and undeserved a fortune.
Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars ‘The Deified Claudius’ 2–3
It seems, however, that Claudius had exaggerated his disabilities as a method of self preservation:
… [Caligula] would have killed Claudius, had he not felt contempt for him, inasmuch as the latter, partly by his nature and partly by deliberate intent, gave the impression of great stupidity.…
Cassius Dio Roman History LIX, 23
… [Claudius] obtained the imperial power without having been previously tested at all in any position of authority, except for the fact that he had been consul. He was in his fiftieth year.* In mental ability he was by no means inferior, as his faculties had been in constant training (in fact, he had actually written some historical treatises); but he was sickly in body, so that his head and hands shook slightly. Because of this his voice was also faltering, and he did not himself read all the measures that he introduced before the senate, but would give them to the quaestor to read, though at first, at least, he was generally present. Whatever he did read himself, he usually delivered sitting down.… From a child he had been reared a constant prey to illness and great terror, and for that reason had feigned a stupidity greater than was really the case (a fact that he himself admitted in the senate) …
Cassius Dio Roman History LX, 2
The design on the above silver unit (1.15g) of Caratacus – Hercules (wearing a lion’s skin headdress) facing the inscription on the obverse; an eagle holding a snake on the reverse – is virtually identical to a silver unit issued by Epaticcus.

Back in Britain, sometime between AD 40 and 43, Cunobelin died. His sons, Caratacus and Togodumnus succeeded him. Coins inscribed CARA, presumably issues of the same Caratacus, seem to supersede those of, Caratacus’ uncle, Epaticcus in the northern part of the Atrebates’ territory (there are no coins attributable to Togodumnus). Perhaps it was the territorial ambitions of Cunobelin’s sons which finally precipitated the Roman invasion of Britain. Cassius Dio mentions that, in AD 43, when the invasion took place, the Catuvellauni were ruling over, at least, a part of the Dobunni (to the west of the Catuvellaunian homeland),* and it may well have been the brothers’ expansion further into Atrebatic country that caused Verica to flee to Rome in search of assistance. A significant military success was just the thing Claudius needed to consolidate his position, so Verica found an attentive audience:

… desiring the glory of a legitimate triumph, he [Claudius] chose Britain as the best place for gaining it, a land that had been attempted by no one since the Deified Julius and was just at that time in a state of rebellion because of the [Roman] refusal to return certain deserters.
Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars ‘The Deified Claudius’ 17
Aulus Plautius, a senator of great renown, made a campaign against Britain; for a certain Bericus [thought to be Verica], who had been driven out of the island as a result of an uprising, had persuaded Claudius to send a force thither. Thus it came about that Plautius undertook this campaign; but he had difficulty in inducing his army to advance beyond Gaul. For the soldiers were indignant at the thought of carrying on a campaign outside the limits of the known world …
Cassius Dio Roman History LX, 19
A coin’s design was struck onto a flattened cast-metal disc, known as a ‘flan’. The flan would be placed onto a concave die, engraved with the coin’s obverse face (in negative, of course). A convex die, engraved with the reverse face was put on top, and struck, to impress the designs onto both faces of the coin at the same time. The critical factor was the weight of a coin – its shape appears to have been of secondary importance, and can be rather eccentric. Typically, the flans were smaller than the dies, so, even if a coin was struck centred (which is often not the case), it is usual that part of the design’s periphery will be missing.
The coins on this page are not shown to scale (they will all be in the region 10–20mm across), but the weight of each, in grammes, is given.
Though, Belgic exile, Commius is widely equated with the Commius who issued coins in south-eastern Britain, there remains the possibility that they are two completely unrelated individuals who, coincidentally, happen to have the same name.
The notion that there was also a ‘Commius son of Commius’, on the basis of coins supposedly inscribed COM COMMIOS, is satisfactorily disposed of as “a will o’ the wisp” by Jonathan Williams: ‘Coin Inscriptions and the Origins of Writing in pre-Roman Britain’ (Footnote 47) British Numismatic Journal Vol. 71 (2001), freely available online.
The Roman poet known as Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65 BC–8 BC) published the first three books of his Odes in 23 BC. The eighty-eight poems had been produced over a number of years – the earliest dateable (I, 37) was evidently written soon after Cleopatra’s suicide in the August of 30 BC. (It was the suicides of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 30 BC – following the decisive naval engagement at Actium, on 2nd September 31 BC, in which Octavian’s fleet defeated theirs – that gave Octavian undisputed supremacy in Rome.) Horace published a fourth book of fifteen Odes in 13 BC.
Stephen Rippon Kingdom, Civitas, and County: The Evolution of Territorial Identity in the English Landscape (2018) Chapter 2.
Philip de Jersey ‘Ancient British kings: Addedomaros’ Chris Rudd List 80 (2005), freely available online.
Rainer Kretz ‘The Trinovantian Staters of Dubnovellaunos’ British Numismatic Journal Vol. 78 (2008), freely available online.
R.D. Van Arsdell Celtic Coinage of Britain Third Edition (2017), freely available online.
Graham Webster The Roman Invasion of Britain Revised Edition (1993) Chapter 3.
Also found in Kent are coins, broadly contemporary with those of Dubnovellaunus and Vosenos, inscribed SA and SAM. Assuming the inscriptions do refer to a person, and are not something else, such as a mint-mark, and then assuming they refer to the same person, how he fits into the picture is anyone’s guess.
R.D. Van Arsdell, who espouses the notion that there was a ‘Dubnovellaunus in Essex’ and a ‘Dubnovellaunus in Kent’, notes it was “probably the Kentish one” who sought assistance from Augustus.
The Res Gestae Divi Augusti (Deeds of the Divine Augustus) is a text summarising the achievements of Augustus, composed by Augustus himself. He died on the 19th of August AD 14. He left instructions for the text to be engraved on bronze tablets placed at the entrance to his mausoleum in Rome. The bronzes no longer exist. The text, however, was distributed to other parts of the empire. The Monumentum Ancyranum is the name given to, by far, the most complete survivor – the text inscribed on walls, in both the original Latin and in Greek, of the Temple of Augustus and Rome, at Ancyra (now Ankara, Turkey), capital of the Roman province of Galatia.
The name is not complete in either the Latin or the Greek inscription. It begins Tim or Tin. There seems to be general agreement that Tincomarus is the king in question.
In his account of the Claudian invasion of AD 43, Cassius Dio plainly states (Roman History LX, 21) that Camulodunum had been the late Cunobelin’s capital. Incidentally, Cunobelin is the prototype of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.
Epaticcus, whose coins are concentrated in the north of the Atrebates’ territory styles himself, like Cunobelin does himself, ‘son of Tasciovanus’. Amminus, who issued coins in Kent, was probably a son of Cunobelin, but he makes no such claim on his coins.
His surname Caligula [Little Boots] he derived from a joke of the troops, because he was brought up in their midst [his father, Germanicus, was a popular general] in the dress of a common soldier.
Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars ‘Gaius Caligula’ 9
The impression given by the two most important sources for Caligula’s brief reign, i.e. Suetonius and Cassius Dio, is that, though he set out promisingly, he soon showed himself to be a monster – a profligate, perverted, lunatic. There is a tendency for modern historians to give him the benefit of the doubt – to suggest that he was not quite as bad, or as mad, as he was painted, that he was an arrogant youth (he was 24 years-old when he became emperor), corrupted by power, who received a bad press.
The Batavians formed part of the Chatti so long as they lived across the Rhine; then, being expelled by a civil war, they occupied the edge of the Gallic bank which was uninhabited, and likewise an island close by, which is washed by the ocean in front but by the Rhine on its rear and sides. Without having their wealth exhausted – a thing which is rare in alliance with a stronger people – they furnished our empire only men and arms.
Tacitus Histories IV, 12
J.P.V.D. Balsdon The Emperor Gaius (1934).
R.W. Davies ‘The ‘Abortive Invasion’ of Britain by Gaius’ Historia Vol. 15, Issue 1 (1966).
Up to this point, Book LX is dependant on the Epitomes.
Actually, Cassius Dio calls the tribe ‘Bodunni’, but it is generally accepted that Dobunni (see British Tribes) is meant. This reference is in Roman History LX, 20. It is in the same chapter that Dio identifies Caratacus and Togodumnus as Cunobelin’s sons.