Blog – Reculver: Reculver Roman Fort: Regulbium.

  • Reculver, Kent.
  • OSGB – TR 22778 69284.
  • Scheduled Monument
  • Monument Number – 1018784.

 

Roman fort. Saxon Shore Fort. Saxon Minster.

The fort covered around 3.2 hectares. The walls measured 3m thick at their base narrowing to 2.5 at the top and stood 4.5m high. Defences included two ditches outside of the walls, measuring 10m wide. There were the usual four entrance gates which were single in width. The north and the west gates have now been lost to sea erosion of the site. Archaeology has shown that the gateways had square towers. Sections of the south wall remain today.

 

Reculver from the Air.
By Geoff soper – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65596810

 

Internally the remains of the basilica, principia, baths, commanders house, and barrack blocks have been uncovered, as well as a Roman oven. Altogether the remains of 11 buildings have been identified internally. Some of the remains of the Roman buildings were used in the construction of the Anglo-Saxon Minster, of which parts remain today.

The fort was constructed to guard the approach to the Thames Estuary and also the northern end of the Wantsum Channel – the stretch of water which once separated the Isle of Thanet from mainland Kent. A road led from the fort to Canterbury – Durovernum Cantiacorum of Roman times.

The site would originally have included a vicus – a settlement which grew up outside of the fort, populated by local people who serviced and supplied the fort. Archaeologically this has been shown to have once existed to the north and west of the fort, the area now lost to sea erosion. The fort would also have included a harbour, but its whereabouts is still unknown.

 

 

The remains of 10 infant burials have been discovered at the fort. These may have been for ritual purposes, but this is unclear. A baby’s feeding bottle has also been recovered along with 25,000 other finds! One of the best finds, for me personally, is a seal of one of the vicars of Reculver Church.

Other finds include coins, parts of Roman cross bars from a vexillum, or standard.

 

 

The site still has a lot to tell us, however, unfortunately the sea has stolen a lot of that history and it now awaits rediscovery on the sea bed, covered by sand – one for maritime archaeologists to uncover!

 

Sketch of the building inscription from the Fort Regulbium after Ian Richmond (1960).

 

Here is a timeline for Reculver,

 

43                     Small fort originally. Later abandoned.

204/10               The Roman fort was built on the site under the orders of Emperor Severus, to guard the northern end of the Wantsum Channel.

270                   Remains of barrack blocks date from.

3rd C                  Mid: Large amount of coin loss at and around the fort.

330                   The number of Roman coins from this date drops off drastically.

5th C                  Saxon Shore Fort in bad repair.

669                   King Egbert of Kent granted this Royal site to a priest named Bassa, with instructions to construct a Monastery on it.

892                   Large Danish army camped on Thanet. The minsters of Reculver, Minster in Thanet and Lyminge were all affected by this incursion,

9th C                  Viking incursions and attacks impacted the Monastery.

1020-1038          Mentioned in a Charter of Ǽthelnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury, as St. Mary’s Monastery.

1030                 Until: A Deacon was still in charge at the site.

1216-1272          Dating from the Reign of Henry III: Coins have been found at the site.

1272-1307          Dating from the reign of Edward I: Coins found at the site.

1284                 The Vicar of Reculver was informed he had to supply a regular priest to All Saints by Archbishop Peckham.

1291                 Reculver was restored to the See of Canterbury.

13th C               The Chancel was extended.

1307-1327          Dating from the reign of Edward II: Coins found at the site.

1327-1377          Dating from the reign of Edward III: Coins found at the site.

1540                 Visited by the antiquarian John Leyland.

1780                 A portion of the cliff fell into the sea taking the north wall of the Roman fort with it.

1781                 The old Chapel House/cottage was demolished. It was one of the original monastic buildings added when the Minster was built in 669.

1802                 The Chapel House collapsed. It was a smaller old chapel being used as a cottage.

1802                 Vicar C. C. Nailor had most of the old church pulled down to use as buildings material for the new church he was given permission to construct at Hillborough, nearby.

1877                 Archaeological sections were cut against the walls by George Dowker.

1878                 Excavated by Mr. George Dowker. The inner face of the eastern wall.

1927                 Excavated by Major Gordon Home. The inner face of the southern wall.

1927                 The base of a possible preaching cross was uncovered.

1931                 Excavated by Major Gordon Home. The foundations of one of the gates was uncovered.

1951                 Excavated by the Ministry of Works.

1953                 The Roman road to the west of the fort was discovered but soon lost to erosion of the cliffs.

1952-1975          Excavations.

1963                 Field Investigation.

1993                 The sea wall was surveyed.

1995                 Watching Brief.

1958                 Some of the metaling from the Roman road, west of the fort, was still visible.

1976                 Excavated

1999                 Scheduling Notification.

2004                 Watching Brief.

2007                 Report written on the state of the site.

2008                 Watching Brief.

2008                 Geophysical Survey.

2011                 The Caravan Park was evaluated.

2015                 Watching Brief.

2016                 Watching Brief.

 

Silver ingots of double axe form with stamped inscriptions, from the Tower of London, Reculver and Richborough, Kent. Late 4th century to early 5th century.
By BabelStone – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23239160

 

References & Bibliography

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Camden. W. 1610. Britain, or, a Chorographical Description of the most flourishing Kingdoms, England, Scotland, and Ireland. George Bishop and John Norton.

Cleere. H. 1978. Roman Harbours in Britain South of Hadrian’s Wall. In J. Du Plat Taylor and H. Cleere (eds.). Roman Shipping and Trade: Britain and the Rhine Provinces. CBA Res. Rep, 24, London, pp.37-38.

Clinch. G. 1918. Researches and Discoveries – Seal of the Vicar of Reculver. Archaeologia Cantiana. Vol. 33. 1918, pp. 169-170.

Cunliffe. B. 1977. The Saxon Shore: Some Problems and Misconceptions. In D. E. Johnston (ed.) 1977. The Saxon Shore. CBA Res. Rep. 18, London, p. 1 -10.

Deanesley. M. 1941. Early English and Gallic Minsters. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 1941, Vol. 23., (1941), pp. 25-69.

Dixon. C. D. 1850. The Visitors New Guide to the Isle of Thanet. C. D. Dixon.

Duncombe. J. 1784. The History and Antiquities of The Two Parishes of Reculver and Herne, in The County of Kent. J. Nichols.

Evans. J. 1897. The Ancient Stone Impliments, Weapons, and Ornaments of Great Britain. 2nd Edition. Longmans, Green & Co.

Fairholt, F. 1853. Early Celtic Coins Found in Kent. The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Numismatic Society, Vol. 16, 184-186.

Fleming. R. 1985. Monastic Lands and England’s Defence in the Viking Age. The English Historical Review, Vol. 100., No. 395, pp. 247-265.

Foot. S. 1999. Remembering, Forgetting, and Inventing: Attitudes to the Past in England at the End of the First Viking Age. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. 9, pp. 185-200.

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“Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of Reculver,” in A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London: Victoria County History, 1926), 141-142. British History Online. Available at https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/kent/vol2/pp141-142.

Howorth. H. H. 1900. Ecgberht, King of the West Saxons, and The Kent Men, and His Coins. The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Numismatic Society. Third Series, Vol. 20., (1900), pp. 66-87.

Hussey. A. 1852. Notes on the Churches in the Counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey. A. Hussey.

Kelly. S. 2008. Reculver Minster and Its Early Charters, in J. Burrows & A. Wareham (eds.) 2008. Myth, Rulership, Church and Charters: Essays in Honour of Nicholas Brooks. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Kent Archaeological Society. 1860. The Columns of Reculver Church. Archaeologia Cantiana. Vol. 3, 1860, pp. 135-136.

Leland. J. 1744. The Itinerary. Volume VII. James Fletcher.

Mann. C. J. 1977. The Reculver Inscription – A Note. In D. E. Johnston (ed.) 1977. The Saxon Shore. CBA Res. Rep. 18, London, p. 15.

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Peacock. D. P. S. 1977. Bricks and Tiles of the Classis Britannia: Petrology and Origin. Britannia, 1977, Vol. 8. (1977), pp. 235-248.

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Reaney, Litt. D. 1961. Place-Names and Early Settlement in Kent. Archaeologia Cantiana. Vol. 76., pp. 58-74.

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