Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre - History and Facts | History Hit

Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre

Dover, England, United Kingdom

Richborough Roman Fort in Kent marks the site where the Romans successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD.

Lily Johnson

07 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre

Richborough Roman Fort, originally called ‘Rutupiae’, marks the site in Kent where the Romans successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD, and was one of the last places they occupied in the 5th century.

Richborough Roman Fort history

Known by many as the ‘gateway to Britain’, Richborough Roman Fort is symbolic as the site of the very start and very end of the Roman occupation of Britain.

In 43 AD, Emperor Claudius’ Roman army of 40,000 men landed at Richborough, soon establishing a military stronghold there. As the key link to mainland Europe, the fort became an important port and military supply base.

Later growing a civilian town around it, Richborough went on to host an amphitheatre and one of the biggest monumental arches in the Empire.

In the late 3rd century, as the Saxon and Frankish threat increased the fort was rebuilt in stone, joining a line of strongholds across the coast known as the Saxon Shore forts.

When the Romans left Britain in the 5th century, Richborough was also one of the last sites to see official Roman occupation, making it one of the best places to explore the entire 400 years of Roman Britain.

Richborough Roman Fort today

Located amongst the Kent marches, today Richborough Roman Fort is managed by English Heritage and is open to visitors.

At first glance, is hard to believe that this inland site was once a coastal defensive structure, however in 2008 archaeologists discovered the location of the original Roman coast.

The impressive stone walls that still stand at Richborough Roman Fort date from the late 3rd century, when the fort was rebuilt to protect against the Saxons. Visitors can also see the intriguing defensive ditches of the earlier fort, and the ruin of the 1st century triumphal arch.

Around a 5-minute walk away also lies the site of the amphitheatre, which today remains as a large earthwork, with a noticeable dip in the middle outlining the original structure.

Getting to Richborough Roman Fort

Richborough Roman Fort is located near Sandwich in Kent, and can be reached from the A256/A257 roundabout before taking Richborough Road for 1 mile.

Sandwich train station is 2 miles away, while the Stagecoach East Kent 87 and 88 services run to the nearby area from which visitors may walk to the fort along the Stour Valley Walk/Saxon Shore Way.