had made primarily for Richborough. Part of
the Claudian army may have landed here in A.D. 43 (p. 2).
Nevertheless, pottery and coins earlier than the end of the
first century seem to occur there rarely or not at all, and the
development of the place must have waited until the second or
even the third century. The comparative frequency of
fourth-century coins suggests a more definite occupation in that
period, coincident with the régime of the Saxon Shore. To the
end, however, Dubra remained a small military or naval station.
It gave no anticipation of the importance of medaeval and modern
Dover as the bridgehead of the Calais crossing.
The village of Lyrnpne stands on
the edge of a long shelf of high land which overhangs the north
side of Romney Marsh. From its church and houses a grass-grown
slope drops down steeply and brokenly, falling 300 ft. in 600
yards, amid much disturbance of landslip, to the military canal,
which forms the landward limit of the levels, and coincides
roughly with the high-water mark of the sea. Near the bottom of
this slope lie the ruins of a huge Roman rampart, long known as
Stutfall Castle. Its highest point is about 150 ft. above
high-water mark, its lowest extremity comes down to the marsh
and canal. Across the marsh, a mile and a half to the
south-eastward, the sea beats on the beds of shingle heaped up
by itself, and on the artificial defences of Dymchurch Wall. In
Roman days it probably came nearer. Its exact ancient line
cannot now be determined. But it seems certain from
archaeological evidence that a harbour existed here in the Roman
period. Lymne, as we shall see, was called a harbour by the
Romans, and its waterside ruins, as well as the analogy of the
other Saxon-Shore defences, require a harbour close to it.
Geological evidence, if not very decisive, agrees with this. The
shingle and blown sand near West Hythe suggest an inlet of the
sea between Hythe and Dymchurch, which came close to Lympne. The
only question seems to be whether this inlet ended at Lympne or
formed part of a river estuary. Early documents mention a river
Limene which rose in the Weald, and probably flowed past Lyrnpne,
and which certainly seems to be connected by its name with
Lympne. This river may be an earlier channel of the Rother,
which now emerges into the sea near Rye, but which may be
conjectured to have then made its way out between Hythe and
Dymchurch. Leland goes so far as to declare that a memory of a
tideway existed at Lympne till his time in the names Shypwey and
Old Haven, and the name Shipway (whether or no it have any
connexion with ships) still survives. But no other trace of such
a tradition is recorded,87 and it would be
worth little, however well recorded.
86 For early mentions see
Talbot, ed. Hearne, Itin. of Leland, iii, 158; Leland,
ed. Hearne, vii, f. 41 Lambarde, Perambulation of Kent
(1576), p. 145; Camden (ed. 1607), p. 246, and
Stukeley, Itin. p. 124 (ed. 2, p. 132). Hasted, iii, 442,
Gough, Britton, Beauties, viii, 1136, etc., add nothing.
Excavations were undertaken by Mr. Roach Smith and his friends
in 1850, and to these we owe practically all our knowledge of
the site: see C. R. Smith, Richborough, etc., p. 233, and
Report on Excavations at Lymne (London, 1852) and Thos.
Wright, Wanderings of an Antiquary, pp. 124—36.
87 For the geological evidence see
Topley and Drew, Geology of the Weald (Memoirs of the
Geol. Survey, London, 1875), pp. 303—6. For the Limene,
see Anglo-Saxon Chron. A.D. 892—4 and charters cited by C. R.
Smith, Topley, etc.; the passage often quoted from Asser is not
by Asser and has little value. For Shipway, see Leland, ed.
Hearne, vii, f. 41: the name might, of course, mean only ’sheeptrack.’
On the genera] question of Romney Marsh in Roman times see T.
Rice Holmes, Ancient Britain, 532—52.