Archaeologists Discover Roman Coastline - Two Miles Inland

By Culture24 Staff | 02 October 2008
a man in a hard hat using surveying equipment down a hole in

English Heritage Archaeologist Matt Jones conducts scientific experiments next to the fallen Roman fort wall and where the Medieval dock is situated at the Richborough Roman Fort in Kent. © Hugo Philpott/PA Wire

As the debate ebbs and flows about the dangers of coastal erosion to Britain's shores, archaeologists in Kent have discovered that parts of our Roman coastline lay two miles inland from today's coast.

English Heritage archaeologists, excavating on previously untouched land at Richborough Roman Fort near Sandwich in Kent, have discovered the original Roman coastline at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain in AD43.

"It is widely known that Richborough Roman Fort was the gateway to Roman Britain 2000 years ago,” explained English Heritage archaeologist Tony Wilmot, “but what is really exciting is that we have actually found the Roman foreshore while digging in a deep trench alongside the remains of a Roman wall.”

a man with a beard sqautting next to an old wall excavation

English Heritage Archaeologist Tony Wilmott stands next to the fallen Roman fort wall and above the Medieval dock at the Richborough Roman Fort in Kent. Photo © Hugo Philpott/PA Wire

“The bottom of the trench continually fills with water and by trowelling you can feel the hard surface, which was the Roman beach. We have long been curious about this fallen Roman fort wall and now we know there was a Roman harbour sitting out there."

A month-long dig has been taking place along a 90-metre section of collapsed Roman wall and archaeologists have also found evidence of a medieval dock amidst the Roman remains – built using the same technique as the 14th century town wall in Kent.

The month-long dig ends Friday October 3 and archaeologists are still evaluating the significance of the medieval quayside.

a long view of an archaeological trench next to a railway embankment

English Heritage Archaeologist Tony Wilmott talks to fellow Archaeologist Jess Tibber near to the fallen Roman fort wall and the Medieval dock at the Richborough Roman Fort in Kent. © Hugo Philpott/PA Wire

Fragments of Roman pottery and building materials such as wood and leather have also been found in the ditch, which will be carbon dated to validate the time period of around the 4th Century.

In the Roman invasion era, Richborough Roman Fort overlooked a sheltered lagoon and archaeologists have also uncovered a number of smaller finds such as Roman coins and fragments of Italian marble.

It is believed the latter is from a great triumphal arch built at Richborough in around AD80 to commemorate the Conquest of Britain.

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