Roman Times

A falling out amongst the iron Age Kings of England provided Emperor Claudius with the excuse to invade England in AD 43.

After two battles Claudius was able to lead his army into the Trinovantes capital of Camuludunum (Colchester) which at the time was one the most important towns in the Country.

Despite the Rebellion of the Iceni and the Trinovantes led by Queen Boudicca the Roman grip was established on eastern England that was maintained for nearly 400 years.

While the rest of England was being conquered Colchester made a good base and became the centre of Roman operations.

Protection for Colchester from the sea was required as local settlements made rich pickings for Saxon and Frankish Raiders who arrived by longboat to plunder coastal areas.

To combat this threat the Romans established 9 sea forts on the east coast including a fort at Bradwell  to guard the approaches to the Colne and Blackwater. This fort was called Othona and continued to operate for 200 years.

The fort was square with 12 feet thick walls with a moat constructed around the fort and manned by a force of auxiliaries called the Fortenses who would use camouflaged scout boats to watch the shore and keep in touch with the force headquarters at Richborough and Bolougne.

Sadly little remains of the Roman fort although the area is still identifiable. 

Much of the Fort was used in Saxon times to construct St Peters Chapel although traces of the earthworks still remain. The sister fort at Porchester fortunately remains in good repair to tell us what Othona would have looked like.

This lovely Roman ring was found at Bradwell in 1897 and is now in the British Museum.

The Dengie area was an important source of salt from the red hill sites and was a source of fish and farming produce.

A road inland was established from Othona into the centre of the Dengie 100 but no linkage to the main road network can be traced. An example of this roman road system is the modern East End Road, Bradwell on sea which is straight for a long section leading from the site of the fort at Othona.

To ensure transport to Colchester and other settlements in Essex and Kent a port was required. Finds of pottery etc at Burnham on Crouch is believed to indicate one of the earliest uses of Burnham as a port.

Villas and fortified farms are believed to have been established on rich land between Burnham on Crouch and Southminster.

A first century roman farmstead was excavated to the northwest of the town on a site now covered by the Springfield Industrial Estate Photographs of the site are to be found at Burnham Museum. Roman bricks and tiles used in the fabric of the Church are believed to have come from this site.