Approaching Britannia, Dover.
Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain may have been intended as a reconnaissance expedition or a full-scale invasion—but if the latter, it was unsuccessful. It was the invasion by Claudius in 43AD that conquered the lands “at the end of the known world”.
As the fleet sailed from the continent the massive technical challenge of landing thousands of troops and their equipment in a hostile territory must have daunted even the most confident. Here was a land unlike any other – “Bretannike”. It had been visited and written about centuries before by the Greek Pytheas and it was he who established that it lay at the edge of the inhabited world and was triangular in shape. It was popularly supposed that the inhabitants were in some way descended from the heroes of Troy “As for their habits, they are simple and far removed from the shrewdness and vice which characterize the men of our day.”
Britain was already as much myth as reality. With the fleet approaching the native population must have watched from the fortress cliffs as the sailors negotiated the unfamiliar waters to find a spot to land.
The boiling sea and the insurmountable chalk must have seemed impossible obstacles to the men in the troop transports as unfamiliar northern skies, roll overhead.