Recent excavations in the amphitheatre, fort and town of Richborough

Lecture
Tony Wilmott
Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE

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Description

Richborough has long been regarded as a key site in the history of Roman Britain, due to the excavations by J.P Bushe-Fox, which were published in five volumes between and 1926 and 1968. These concentrated on the area within the walls of the late third century Saxon Shore fort, and this, combined with the discovery of features relating to the Claudian Conquest, has tended to the site’s interpretation as predominantly military. Geophysical survey has shown that it was actually an urban place, some 21 ha in extent; a port town developing after the conquest, and upon which the Saxon Shore fort was imposed.

Excavations have now revealed new evidence on the character of the town, the plan of the Shore Fort, and the relationship of the site with the sea. The amphitheatre, located on the edge of the town was one of the first to be recognised in Britain in 1776, and the very first to be examined by excavation in 1849. The new work undertaken in 2021 has resulted in an extraordinary insight into the structure, decoration and history of the building. This paper will summarise and synthesise the recent work, and how it has expanded our knowledge of this iconic site.