Saxon Shore: Heritage Lecture

Professor David Gill at 2014 UCS Heritage Lecture © Caroline Gill
Professor David Gill at 2014 UCS Heritage Lecture
© Caroline Gill

I was greatly encouraged by the packed lecture theatre for the first of two UCS Heritage Lectures for the 2014 Ipswich Heritage Fortnight. We explored the development of the ‘Saxon Shore’ fort system and members of the audience shared their knowledge of what was visible of Walton Castle (near Felixstowe) at very low tides. We also considered how a number of the ‘Saxon Shore’ forts (Burgh Castle, Caister-on-Sea, Bradwell, Reculver, Richborough and possibly Walton Castle) were reused in the 7th century as monastic sites.

The lecture concluded with a suggestion that a Late Roman / Anglo-Saxon trail could be developed from Brancaster to the Blackwater, taking in a number of key sites including North Elmham, Bury St Edmunds, West Stow, Burgh Castle, Sutton Hoo, and Iken.

Rome’s Frontier Begins Here

Segedunum
Segedunum Roman Fort

How do you engage with archaeological heritage in a post-industrial setting? Hadrian’s Wall must rank as one of the premier Roman sites in the UK but the east end lies under Wallsend. The Segedunum project has this fantastic viewing tower overlooking the site with a banner that reads, ‘Where Rome’s great frontier begins’. This, of course, is not just Walls-end but Walls-beginning, especially for those walking from the Tyne to the Solway Firth. The tower itself reminds us of the shipbuilding heritage of the Tyne with clear views up and down the river, explaining the strategic location of the fort.

Saxon Shore Forts: Brancaster

Brancaster

Brancaster (Google Earth, 2010)

The Roman fort at Brancaster lies to the east of the village of the name on the north Norfolk coast. Numismatic evidence suggests that the fort was occupied in the 3rd century.

Saxon Shore Forts in Norfolk

Outposts

Three Roman forts associated with the Saxon Shore defences are located in Norfolk (and one of them used to be located in Suffolk before the county boundary changed!). David Gurney has written a helpful illustrated booklet on the forts for the Norfolk Archaeological Trust: Outposts of the Roman Empire: a guide to Norfolk’s Roman forts at Burgh Castle, Caister-on-Sea and Brancaster (2002). There is an introductory section that includes a map of Roman Norfolk, and another showing the estuary of the Bure, Yare and Waveney in the Roman period.

The book contains information about how to visit the three sites, and where to see the finds. There is also a short bibliography.

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