Thursday, March 31, 2022

Richard Hingley's "Conquering the Ocean"

Richard Hingley is Professor of Roman Archaeology at Durham University and the author of several books, including Londinium: A Biography; Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen (with Christina Unwin); and Hadrian's Wall: A Life.

Hingley applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Conquering the Ocean: The Roman Invasion of Britain, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book is mainly taken up with a plan of the Roman colony at Colchester in the late first century CE, although there is also some text discussing the Temple of Claudius, which is marked on the plan. This is an important section of the book since the building of this classical temple celebrated the emperor Claudius’ conquest of Britain in the years following 43 CE. Claudius was the first Roman emperor to gain a foothold in Britain, a century after Julius Caesar had crossed the Channel and forced the submission of some British kings before returning to Rome.

Looking at page 99 would give the reader some idea about the content of the book since Claudius’ activities were a central element in the Roman conquest. This temple was the first substantial classical building to be constructed in Britain and was almost certainly built on the order of Claudius successor as emperor, Nero, during the 50s CE. Nero is famous for his misdemeanors and it was during his reign that the uprising of Boudica occurred in Britain. This chapter off the book focuses on Boudica’s uprising and the threat it posed to Roman rule over southern Britain.

An even better page to sample would be page 73 since this has a reconstruction of the Arch of Claudius in Rome, drawn by Christina Unwin. This monumental arch, which has been demolished, included an inscription which emphasized Claudius’ conquest of Ocean. Significantly, one of the main aqueducts that supplied water to the city of Rome flowed across the top of the arch, emphasizing Claudius conquest of Britain which the Roman elite considered was a highly significant island as a result of its fabled location within Ocean.

My book focuses on the activities of Roman emperors and generals as they sought to conquer the Ocean and also the resistance and gradual submission of the Britons.
Learn more about Conquering the Ocean at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue