Although Julius Caesar's expedition to Britain landed on the Kent Coast in 55 BC, it wasn't until 43 AD that the Romans launched a full-scale invasion under Emperor Claudius. This second expedition landed at Richborough and constructed earthworks to overlook the sea.
Richborough Roman FortLast updated on
In Roman times, Richborough was right at the edge of Britain's coast. Now, the area has silted up so much that it's now solid ground. Known as Rutupiae to the Romans, a thriving town quickly sprang up around the fort once stone walls were raised in the 1st Century AD. Rutupiae had a temple, a mansio (governmental way station), and even an amphitheater.
Richborough also became the starting point for Watling Street, the great Roman road that traverses much of Kent and leads to London. A 25-meter high triumphal arch was constructed at Richborough to mark the entrance to the newly conquered Roman province of Britannia.
After over a century as a thriving port town, Richborough was redesigned as one of the first Saxon Shore Forts in around 285 AD. The Romans built these bulwarks to guard the British coast against Saxon raiders. When the Romans fled the province in the 5th Century, Richborough ironically became home to a Saxon settlement.
Some of the walls still remain as part of an English Heritage site along with a small museum that showcases some excavated artifacts. The amphitheater is now little more than a mound and a ditch, located a short way from the site.