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Victoria County History of Kent Vol. 3  1932  Romano-British Kent - Military History Page 40

We have now examined the archaeological and literary evidence which illustrates Rutupiae. It remains to sketch its history from these materials. The site was on a natural harbour, and it was the highest and driest ground near that harbour. The Romans occupied it very early. We are told by Dio that the army of invasion in the year 43 sailed from Boulogne in three divisions, and it is tempting to assign to it as its landing-places the sites which were for obvious natural reasons to become the three ports of Kent—Richborough, Dover, and Lymne. Richborough at least has a substantial claim, since excavation has revealed there the remains of a camp dating approximately from the period of the invasion and clearly at one time of legionary size. The early upgrowth of strong timber hutments inside and, to an uncertain extent, outside the camp may represent the development of the site as a military base for stores and men during the first phase of the conquest. But after the middle of the first century the military element becomes less apparent. Richborough was now, we may think, entering already upon a wider destiny. Throughout the Roman period she was to share with London the position of the premier port of Britain. Soldiers from the north of England may occasionally have sailed direct to and from the mouth of the Tyne. Heavy goods, such as the produce of the mines, may normally have been sent by a longer sea-route. But much of the ordinary traffic of the country passed through Rutupiae. In the fourth century the port was regarded as the natural landing-place for imperial emissaries; 61 and it was evidently in accordance with tradition that here St. Augustine first set foot on British soil in the year 598.62
   Richborough, then, in spite of its military episodes, was primarily a harbour-town. And, indeed, between A.D. 50 and 250 we do not know that the place was anything other than a harbour-town. The platform with its monumental superstructure, two or three streets and buildings near it, scraps of road-metalling and vestiges of lightly-built cottages here and there upon the hill, may all be regarded as evidences of civil life or of civil officialdom. The astonishing thing is the comparative poverty of most of these remains. With full allowance for the monument and the buildings beside it there is seemingly nothing which we can dignify with the name of ‘town.’ The traces of a regular street—system outside the fortress still rest largely upon the testimony of Stukeley. Further excavation south of the fortress may amplify our meagre picture. But the suspicion arises that the main part of Richborough town may have lain to the east of the fort, and that it has perished utterly with the cliffs that bore it. Certainly, the third-century tomb beneath the western rampart of the fortress is sufficient witness that this area then lay on the outskirts of the inhabited area. It may be that apart from a few scattered buildings—a temple or two, and here and there a suburban house—we shall now never know much more of urban Richborough than is offered to us by the poor dwellings of the fisher-folk, stevedores and the like, who lived in its environs.
   In the middle of the third century or a little later, we first meet the shadows of the coming storm. Ships of pirates or of landless men were sailing
Carausius, RSR, RCL, R**A, really refer to Rutupiae) is wholly doubtful. Carausius certainly struck coins in Britain; they are indeed distinguishable by their style. But he had a mint in London, and the fabric of his coins with the R mint-marks does not seem to differ at all from that of his other issues. Possibly these letters had no reference to place, but were meant to match the mint-mark R, for Rome, which occurs, combined with other letters, on the coins of Diocletian and his colleagues.
   61 .Ammianus Marcellinus, xx,1, and xxvii, 8. 
62  Twysden, Decem Scripiores, x; Second Richborough Rep. 36.

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