Richborough Roman Fort with the newly reconstructed gateway. Courtesy of English Heritage
The soil from these ditches would have been mounded up to create an earth rampart. These would have been a formidable defensive obstacle and typical of Roman military engineering of the first century AD.
Roman military defences normally enclosed a rectangular area for a camp or fort. The Richborough defences are odd in that they do not do that, but instead cut off a long stretch of land along the shore on the eastern side of the site.
Their full length to the north and south is unknown and much land to their east has undoubtedly been lost to erosion and the construction of the railway.
What was the purpose of the gateway and defences?
The defences look to be designed to secure a length of shoreline, leading historians to suggest that they were temporary defences for a beachhead.
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