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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally the Roman "Senior Service" gets some just coverage, 15 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Roman Britain and the Roman Navy (Paperback)
One would be forgiven from reading the literature for thinking that the Roman navy ceased to exist after 31BC and Actium. The army gets all the coverage, but would never have been able to function as it did without the navy. Finally we have a book to begin to redress the balance.

Mason begins with chapters discussing various aspects of the imperial navy in general before moving on to Britain per se. It seems that it took the Romans some considerable while to master tides, once moving outside the relatively comfortable Mediterranean. Reading between the lines of C. Julius Caesar it appears that lack of experience with the tides contributed massively to his problems on the British expeditions and their ultimate failure. Such difficulties continued at least as late as 12AD when an entire fleet was lost, washed up on the coast of the modern day Netherlands. We've all heard of the Teutoburgwald disaster three years previously, but this other large scale disaster (albeit many of the men survived and managed to return to Roman territory) was new to me.

The role of the navy in the Claudian invasion of 43AD and in the later campaigns of Agricola, Septimius Severus and so on are fully discussed, and the ports and naval bases constructed around Britain are detailed. I had never suspected how numerous they were.

The book ends a little weakly. Fair enough, not much is known with certainly about the ending of Roman Britain, but Mason's discussion of the wider historical situation can have a few holes picked. Nevertheless a most welcome book.

Readers of this may also be interested in Imperial Roman Naval Forces 31 BC - AD 500.
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Location: Devon, UK

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