Tuesday 9 November 2010

Richborough Castle

 Aerial view from the south-west of the Roman fort and later remains, with the Stour estuary, formerly covered by the sea, to the right.  The stone walls and outer ditches belong to the Saxon shore fort, one of a series built to defend the south and east coasts of England in c AD275.  Within the walls are the remnants of the fort put up during the Roman invasion of c AD43 (top left), of the gigantic monument of c AD85, and the triple ditches belonging to an emergency re-fortification of c AD 250.

West wall and ramparts, showing foundations of West Gate.

North wall from south-east, showing remains of 1st and 2nd century houses.

The second and third of these three cards were bought by my father which must make them pre-1980 or thereabouts.  The top one was bought by myself a few months ago from English Heritage when I visited the site.  The one with the cooling towers.  Those cooling towers were due for demolition 14 years ago, but English Heritage is still selling this card.  Why, I wonder, when they have a much more attractive view on their website?  It isn't easy to make ruins look interesting but they really aren't doing their best here.

Two things occur to me about these cards, I think.  One is that you can't reliably date a postcard from the scene shown.  The card may have been published with a very much older image.  The other, unrelated, is that this is arguably one of the most important sites in Britain but so few people know about it.

The Roman invasion is largely forgotten.  Everyone in this country and beyond seems to know about the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066 but the Romans are best know for Hadrian's Wall up there in the north, built long after the invasion.

The Romans, led by Julius Caesar, first attempted to invade in 55 BC, then again in 54 BC, on a flat beach a short distance from Dover. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but they were more successful the second time.  however once their superiority had been established, they left once again.  It wasn't for about 100 years that Romans came to stay, and that was at Richborough.  No, it wasn't called Richborough in those days, it was Rutupiae.

Interesting facts:
There was a triumphal arch in the centre to signal entry to Britain.
This was the start of Watling Street, the road to London, still evident in some Canterbury.
The quality of the oysters from the coast were famed throughout the Roman Empire.


  1. Hi!

    I've added this blog to my linked list. view http://monalisagonewild.blogspot.com

    Thank you very much

  2. I have been following your blog and I really love and looking forward all the pictures you are posting. Just asking if I can use some of your pics oh only for personal use. It's very nice to use as background for some power point presentations.

  3. I've shared this on facebook as I know a number of people with interest in the Romans.

  4. History is about the worst taught subject in education! I reckon it is the most important after the three 'R's' myself. Folks understanding of where they came from is very poor in some places.

  5. @monalisa, thanks! :)

    @Claire, you're very welcome to use them. They aren't every high resolution though, so they won't take much increase in size.

    @Bob, that's very good of you. I don't have a Facebook account myself.

    @Farah, thanks to you too!

    @Adullamite, I think I agree with you. I certainly wasn't inspired at school but that was a long time ago.

  6. Not much of the castle is left... but the walls still look impressive.

  7. No, there isn't much left Juka, but when you're actually there the walls are very impressive.

  8. Wow, that's a very beautiful aerial view.


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