During the Iron Age, the small town of Rome grew in power so that by 100 BC it ruled most of the countries around the Mediterranean sea. The people who lived in France at that time were known as Gauls. We think the Channel Islanders were in one of the tribes of Gauls who lived in the nearby coast of France.

Roman wine was popular amongst the Gauls, but was very expensive so perhaps only the leaders could afford to buy it. Wine was shipped up the great rivers of France in large pottery jars known as amphorae. It was also brought up the coast in ships, and across the sea to Britain. We know that by 120BC these ships were stopping in Guernsey, which had a good harbour. Roman pottery was found by archaeologists digging the late Iron Age sites in all the islands.

Guernsey stayed on this trading route for over 500 years. There are at least four Roman shipwrecks near St Peter Port harbour and in the Little Russell channel. Two ships were carrying wine from France and Spain and one was carrying fish sauce from Spain. We think the people of Guernsey may have become friends of the Romans long before their armies arrived here.

The Roman general Julius Caeasar defeated the local tribes of Gauls in 56BC. Battles were fought at land and at sea. It is likely that the Channel Islands then became part of the Roman Empire. Jersey does not seem to have been so friendly towards the Romans. Two great hoards of coins have been found containing over 100,000 silver coins, with gold jewellery as well. These were buried after 56BC, probably to hide them from the Romans. Perhaps this money had been gathered together to pay for an army to rebel against the Romans. This rebellion never happened and the Channel Islands stayed part of the Empire for over 400 years.

Roman coins
Roman coins