Folkestone Castle (Caesar's camp), Kent
~ History ~
The ringwork at Castle Hill is the largest and most complete ringwork in the south east of England and survives to a large extent undisturbed by later activities. Folkestone was already a place of some importance on the arrival of the Normans in 1066, possessing its own small harbour. The Norman's established two castles here at different times in its history.
William de Arois built a castle near the harbour, but the sea undermined its foundations,and was eventually washed out to the sea.
With the continued encroachment of the sea, a site on higher ground was decided. The site of 'Caesers Camp' was chosen, to expand upon the existing prehistoric earthen & timber defensive ditches were enlarged and built into the Norman Motte and Bailey stye of defence
The Bronze Age bowl barrow feature was incorporated into the causeway to the castle. A large defensive earthen bank or rampart encloses the summit of Castle Hill, except on the western side where the steep slope was sufficient defence. The rampart averages some 60 feet in width and, when taken in conjunction with the deep outer ditch, presented a long and steep slope to any would-be attacker. Within the enclosed area is a smaller oval enclosure surrounded by another ditch. This inner enclosure, or ringwork, was the site of the main residential buildings of the castle as well as a small chapel. Between the ringwork and the outer bank was the bailey, joining the entrance to the ringwork on its eastern side with the entrance to the castle to the north east. A well over 60 feet deep within the ringwork provided a good source of water in times of need.
Castle Hill, Folkestone
Crete Road West, Off A260
Folkestone Castle is a site that until recently we were completely unaware existed, despite having driven past far below on the M20 over many years. From below the castle looks nothing more than an enormous high hill overlooking Folkestone and the surrounding area.
Access to the site is easiest from Crete Road West, heading north out of Folkestone towards Canterbury. There is limited on road parking near the sign posted footpath that will take you on a circular walk round the castle.
It is only when you near the top and come across the defensive ditches that you would associate with a ringwork or hill fort, do you realise you are now exploring anancient hillfort and castle now devoid of its wooden pallisades. Despite this, exploring the site there is still more than enough to define its original layout and take in the spectacular views from the top.