Why didn't the Romans conquer Ireland or the rest of Scotland?

May 2011
13,736
Navan, Ireland
......................................


It was one thing to cross the channel to an Island that the legions could physically see on a clear day, even though Caligula could not get his soldiers to make the journey in 40AD, but quite another to persuade them to make a long perilous sea journey to an Island they could not see. Had the Romans managed to get a strong foothold in Dalriada I think the short voyage to the Antrim coast would have been on the cards, but the 150 mile sea trip from Chester was quite another matter.

I am not saying that terror of the sea crossing to Ireland among the Roman soldiers was the main reason why they did not invade, but the fear of mutiny from the Legions may possibly have been a factor as to why they did not. It is just another angle to think about however implausible it may seem.
Couple of points;-

Well if it was such a factor why did Julius Caesar actually invade twice the previous century and a few years after Caligula's 'attempt' Claudius actually did invade.

Also the Romans were not only able to trade regularly with Britain but maintain the garrisons for centuries.

There were Naval bases at Cardiff and a major port at Caerleon (Newport), they must have coped with the Irish sea.

Why do you have to control Scotland to invade Ireland? the Normans didn't they came from Pembrokeshire. Holyhead would also be a suitable point.

Now I think the expense of maintain a garrison in Ireland would be greatly magnified by the need for greater naval forces to support them, so it is an important factor that way. In a 'cost/benefit' analysis it made more sense not to control Ireland directly.
 
Aug 2013
630
Turkey
AD84
Advanced to the neighbourhood of the Moray Firth where he crushed the Caledonians in a decisive battle at Mons Graupius. In this year his unprecedented successes incurred the attention of the emperor Domitian, who, perhaps jealous of his success, ordered him back to Rome where he was granted triumphal insignia though not actually afforded a triumph, which was reserved for members of the imperial family.
CORRUPTION
This is a very good explanation of what happened in reality. A capable and ambitious military commander Gnaeus Julius Agricola twice tried to launch a military campaign in Ireland but each time he was hindered by jealous emperors in Rome.
Stupid but true. Gaels were saved by the already corrupted Roman imperial system.

It was not the military capability of Rome, it was not transportation, ships and so on…
It was corruption – the same thing that now is destroying the financial system of Ireland and the welfare of Irish people.
 
Last edited:
May 2011
13,736
Navan, Ireland
I think people are really allowing their thinking to be clouded by modern Geography and concepts.

There wasn't England, Ireland and Scotland etc but an archipelago of island off the European coast, the Romans elected to conquer and garrison only the richest part of the main island.
 
Mar 2014
8,881
Canterbury
Why do you have to control Scotland to invade Ireland?
As later examples show, it's not necessary to control Scotland to control Ireland. But it definitely helps. It's just one afternoon's sailing between Ulster and Kintyre, and across it countless undesirables - military reinforcements, traders, and settlers - can pour before someone based in London or Edinburgh can put on their boots. Had the Romans occupied Ireland, they'd need to invade Scotland too to secure it. And, whatever went down at Mons Graupius, the proto-Picts' military record versus Romans wasn't half-bad.
 
Last edited:
May 2011
13,736
Navan, Ireland
As later examples show, it's not necessary to control Scotland to control Ireland. But it definitely helps. It's just one afternoon's sailing between Ulster and Kintyre, and across it countless undesirables - military reinforcements, traders, and settlers - can pour before someone based in London or Edinburgh can put on their boots. Had the Romans occupied Ireland, they'd need to invade Scotland too to secure it. And, whatever went down at Mons Graupius, the proto-Picts' military record versus Romans wasn't half-bad.
It wasn't half good either and you could as easily if not more so invade Ireland via Pembrokeshire and North Wales/Liverpool what's more the hinterland and you communications to support the invasion is much better.
 

ib-issi

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,403
just sitting here
Could it be because they saw themselves as British , or descendents of British
what if these stories of Belin and Brenne are true ,and they did conquer Rome ,
arent there stories that they came at our request , because we wrote to them requesting assistance , because all our Knights had left with Belin and Brenne......is this men who could trace their ancestors to Britain coming back home...pangs of guilt maybe that they
had left us with little or no defence .

If we got Christianity in some form in AD37 , could it be that Brits did not like them
returning with their Pagan beliefs ....maybe it was not the Scans who made us drift
back to paganism , but the returning Anglo/Romans
Do i take it that you think that was such a stupid post , that it did not
warrant a reply people ?
 
May 2011
13,736
Navan, Ireland
Could it be because they saw themselves as British , or descendents of British
what if these stories of Belin and Brenne are true ,and they did conquer Rome ,
arent there stories that they came at our request , because we wrote to them requesting assistance , because all our Knights had left with Belin and Brenne......is this men who could trace their ancestors to Britain coming back home...pangs of guilt maybe that they
had left us with little or no defence .

If we got Christianity in some form in AD37 , could it be that Brits did not like them
returning with their Pagan beliefs ....maybe it was not the Scans who made us drift
back to paganism , but the returning Anglo/Romans
Just how does Britain become Christian before 37 AD?

I find it highly unlikely that the Romans were actually British but none of that is relevant as to whether they could or could not launch an amphibious assault on Britain.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,971
Couple of points;-

Well if it was such a factor why did Julius Caesar actually invade twice the previous century and a few years after Caligula's 'attempt' Claudius actually did invade.
The first punic war was largely a naval war between Rome and Carthage and was fought in the 3rd century BC. The distances involved are much greater than Dover to Calais and comparable to those in the Irish Sea. Rome conquered Corsica and Sardinia in this war and Sardinia is over 100 miles from mainland Italy. I too cannot see these distances being a problem if sailing to North Africa was not a problem three centuries earlier.
 
Last edited:
May 2011
13,736
Navan, Ireland
The first punic war was largely a naval war between Rome and Carthage and was fought in the 3rd century BC. The distances involved are much greater than Dover to Calais. Rome conquered Corsica and Sardinia in this war and Sardinia is over 100 miles from mainland Italy. I too cannot see the romans being put off when, standing at Cap Gris Nez, you can see Dover.
...................
To be fair the Channel and Irish Sea are rougher and very different to the Mediterranean but I don't see it putting them off a Naval forces did operate out of Britain.
 

Similar History Discussions