Reculver Fort, Kent
Reculver Fort was built by the Roman's in the late second century to guard the north entry to the Wantsum Channel from the North Sea and Thames Estuary. The other end of this strategically important channel being Richborough Fort, which was the main Roman port into the English Channel.
The fort at Reculver is one of the earliest chain of Roman fortifications
which later become known as the Saxon Shore. Once its stout walls would have been defended by wide ditches some 33 feet wide, with towers at each corner. Today much of the Roman fort has been lost to erosion into the sea but still enough survives to give you an idea just exactly how large this important fortification was.
From Herne Bay take the road signposted to Reculver and park in the car park opposite the church towers which dominate the coastline.
A lovely pub is located close to the Roman walls following a pleasant walk round its perimeter.
~ History ~
55BC ~ Julius Caesar lands his forces on the Kent shore in order to punish the British tribes who had assisted the Gauls against their fight against Roman rule. In addition Julius Caesar is in need to enhance his prestiage back in Rome. The expedition is a near disaster after winds delay his landing, storms damage his ships and once ashore British tribes drive his men back into the sea.
54BC ~ Caesar sets sail for Britain to avenge his near earlier disaster with a much larger fleet, which is also better equiped for a beach landing. This time his forces march through Kent sweeping aside any resistance and manage to cross the River Thames leading to the submission of the war leader of the Catuvellauni tribe. Soon other British tribal chiefs ally themselves with the all conquering Roman army, paying tribute with hostages.
AD40 ~ The British chieftan of the Atrebates tribe dies leaving a disputed succession which escalates into open warfare between pro and anti Roman tribal leaders. One of these tribal kings is forced to flee to Rome as civil war erupts.
AD41 ~ Upon arrival in Rome Claudius becomes Emperor and he quickly see's the power struggle in Britain as a way of securing his legitimacy as Emperor from the growing power struggle in Rome.
AD43 ~ Emperor Claudius general Aulus Plautius and his 40,000 Roman soldiers land unopposed near Richborough in Kent. The invasion is delayed due to many sailors believing they would sail off the edge of the world. The sheer scale of the Roman army is sufficiently massive to supress any potential resistance. Once secured Emperor Claudius sets sail to join his army. An early Roman settlement is secured in the harbour at Richborough.
AD185 ~ A fortified Roman settlement grows at Reculver, around a bustling harbour. Similar forts are built at Brancaster & Caister on the Norfolk coast.
AD258 ~ Germanic tribes attack Roman Gaul and later its Saxon & Frankish pirates raid the North Sea.
AD270's ~ A further eight stronger and more modern Roman forts are built along the coastline in response to the growing threat of Saxon raids.
AD500's ~ Long after the Roman's have abandoned their defence of Britain the fort at Reculver has fallen into disuse.
AD669 ~ An Anglo-Saxon monastery is founded on the sit, reusing the existing defences, and the church of St Mary is built near the centre of the earlier fort.
AD900's ~ The site has ceased to function as a monastic house, after which time the church becomes the parish church of Reculver.
1100's ~ Remodelling of the church includes the addition of tall twin towers.
1805 ~ The medieval church is partly demolished, with much of the stone reused to construct a new church on higher ground at Hillborough, but the twin towers are left.
1809 ~ They towers are bought, repaired and underpinned.