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History of Richborough

Rutupiae was the Roman name for Richborough, which they founded when first landing in England in 43AD. 

It has commonly been accepted that the Romans landed at Richborough in the 43AD invasion, because of the existence of 1st Century ditches and fortifications on the site. The Romans built the emplacements to protect their bridgehead and supply depot. 

As the fighting moved north, Rutupiae became an increasingly large civilian settlement. It had temples; an amphitheatre and a Mansio (first built in 100AD, and went through several phases, being a hotel for visiting officials, bath house and administration building).

As a port, the town always competed with Portus Dubris (modern Dover). The Roman Empire held the
Richborough oyster in high regard and some literary works used ‘Rutupiae’ as a synonym for the whole coast of Britain.

During the late 3rd century, this large civilian town remilitarised by its conversion into a Saxon Shore Fort - a series of forts built by the Romans along the Channel on the English and French sides, to guard against invading Saxon pirates. Construction of the fort here started in 277 and completed in 285. The fort covered 5 acres in area and borded with massive walls, forming an almost perfect square. However, the construction of the north and south walls differed. Different gangs of labourers built the north wall, while a single unit built the south wall, suggesting that the north wall came sometime after the south wall. In some places, the walls - built of small ashlar and double-tile courses - reached over 25 feet (8 m) in height.

Though some stone buildings existed in the interior, most of its buildings composed of timber. There existed a central rectangular building built of stone, - probably the headquarters. 

During the decline of the Roman Empire, the Romans eventually abandoned
Richborough, which became a Saxon religious settlement.