Timeline: prehistory

 1 mya      Prehistory      54 BCE
A series of Early Neolithic chambered long barrow tombs near to Rochester are known as the Medway Megaliths.

Kent, Britain and Europe

Date Rochester and its cathedral

The earliest evidence for Homo occupation of Britain is dated to around 900,000 years ago. Fossils of very early Neanderthals dating to around 400,000 years BP been found at nearby Swanscombe, Kent (KCC 2008). The earliest occupation of anatomically modern humans dates to around 40,000 years ago, but glacial periods periodically make Britain uninhabitable over this time.

900,000 years to 12,000 years BP (before present)

Glaciation and retreat gradually carve the Medway River valley, Rochester’s defining geographic landscape. Britain at this time was attached to continental Europe by a huge area of land known as Doggerland, allowing easy migration (Coles 1998).

The last Ice Age ends (the Younger Dryas) and since then Britain has been continuously occupied by anatomically modern humans. For most of this time this would have been small hunter-gatherer communities of fewer than 150 individuals.

11,700 to 8,000 BP

Doggerland is submerged by rising sea levels, creating the British Isles. The area that would become Rochester is now situated on the lowest crossing point of the River Medway.
Britain sees the adoption of agriculture, as communities gave up their hunter-gatherer modes of existence to begin farming, beginning to nucleate into small settlements. Elaborate ceremonial practices emerge. 4,500 to 2,600 BP The earliest monuments in Britain date from this time. A series of Early Neolithic chambered long barrow tombs near to Rochester are known as the Medway Megaliths (Holgate 1981).
The Cantiaci or Cantii were an Iron Age Celtic people living in Britain before the Roman conquest. They lived in the area now called Kent, in south-eastern England. 2,500 years before present to 50 BCE Coin dies suggest a settlement called Rochester became one of the two oppida (fortified settlements) of the Cantiaci tribe, the other being their capital of Durovernum Cantiacorum, modern day Canterbury (Detsicas 1983).
The Roman Empire has begun warring with the peoples of Gaul (modern France). It has been suggested that Rome suspected the Cantiaci of suppling arms to the Gauls, so Julius Caesar led an expedition to Britain, landing in Kent. 55 and 54 BCE Caesar recounted: “Of all these (British tribes), by far the most civilised are they who dwell in Kent, which is entirely a maritime region, and who differ but little from the Gauls in their customs.” (De Bello Gallico v. 14)


 54 BCE      Roman occupation     410 CE
     410 CE      Anglo-Saxon era       1066 CE


 1066 CE     Norman period     1299 CE


  1300 CE    Late Middle Ages     1499 CE


1500 CE     Early Modern era     1799 CE


1800 CE      Late Modern era     2018 CE