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Gateway to Britannia is Back After 2,000 Years

Located on England's south coast, Richborough - or Rutupiae as the Romans called it - was the ‘Gateway to Britannia’. The original structure was built to allow soldiers a clear view of any threat to the military base they created here.

The reconstructed Roman gateway and rampart at Richborough, Kent
The reconstructed gateway and rampart | Credit: Jim Holden/English Heritage

The invading Romans (40,000 of them) landed here in AD43, and the last vestiges of Roman military power departed from here in the early fifth century. In the nearly 400 intervening years, Richborough morphed from quickly-constructed beachhead and army supply centre to thriving port town, and back to fortress again.

Now English Heritage has reconstructed, reinterpreted and reinvigorated the site to help visitors revisit Roman Britain and get to grips with the many layers of Roman presence here. Including an amphitheatre, one of only 14 found in England.

“Richborough brackets the whole Roman occupation of this country,” English Heritage Senior Historian, Paul Pattison, told a journalist from The Telegraph as they walked through a break in the impressive third-century fortress wall – nine metres (30 feet) at its highest with lines of red Roman tiles and decoratively alternating brown and white bricks.

Restored Roman ramparts at Richborough on England's south coast
Credit: Jim Holden / English Heritage

“Turn around,” he says, “You are now looking up the route of Watling Street, one of the first Roman roads in Britain, that led from here to Canterbury and London and on to Wroxeter in Shropshire.”

“The Roman invasion was a major milestone in our history. We know that Richborough witnessed over 360 years of Roman rule - from the very beginning to the bitter end – but looking out and imagining what the first Romans might have seen, is quite an experience,” Pattison told The Guardian.

The 'Gateway to Britannia' opened on 19 April. Visitor Information.


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