Dover Roman Fort | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Dover Roman Fort

Dover, England, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

15 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dover Roman Fort

Dover Roman Fort is an ancient ruined fortification that once served the Roman fleet in Britain, before being replaced by a 3rd century Saxon Shore fort.

Dover Roman Fort history

Known as the the Classis Britannica, the Roman British fleet was stationed at Dover during the first half of the 2nd century, with the large fort built to defend it covering more than two acres.

The Classis Britannica were intended to protect the Gaul-Britain sailing routes and support the land army in Britannia, rather than defend against invasion, and as such its main port was across the channel at Gesoriacum, in modern-day Bolougne.

The fort was re-built around 130-140 AD, and in 200 AD a vast Roman mansio was built near the site as a hostel for government officials. This building is today known as the ‘Painted House’ on account of the extensive murals found on its walls.

Both the Classis Britannica fort and mansio were demolished in 270 AD however, and were replaced by a newer Saxon Shore fort. The Saxon Shore forts were a collection of fortifications designed to protect Britain’s east and southeast coast from invaders, and include the sites of Branodunum and Burgh Castle.

Dover Roman Fort today

Today a small amount of Dover Roman Fort’s ruins may still be viewed in the area. Some are found in the grounds of the Dover Discovery Centre, located next to Dover Museum, and may be viewed on request, while parts of the old fort, mansio, and Saxon Shore fort may also be seen at the Roman Painted House site.

This is housed inside a purpose-built modern building, and gives a fascinating insight into the Romans’ activity in Dover. Nearby, a Roman Lighthouse likely dating back to Emperor Claudius’ invasion of Britain in the 1st century may be viewed, which now lies in the grounds of Dover Castle.

Getting to Dover Roman Fort

Dover Roman Fort is located in Dover city centre, with its remains in the grounds of the Dover Discovery Centre and at the Roman Painted House, both on the A256 (York Street). Dover Priory train station is a 5-10 minute walk to both sites, while a number of bus services also stop on York Street, including the 61, 62, and 63 Stagecoach services.

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