Kent Roman vestiges
The Roman invasions and occupation, although limited in terms of time and followed by a later withdrawal, had a deep impact on ancient civilisation in Kent. The roads, military and civil constructions left behind by Romans are still regarded as a step forward in organisation and building techniques. They can be encountered all over Kent, predominantly in and around Canterbury and Dover, settlements which date back from those times.
Lullingstone Roman Villa
Located in the northwest of Kent, close to the village on Eynsford, on the bank of the river Darent, this villa was built in 75 AD (although its construction began around 82 AD) and is believed to have been in use until 420 AD. For travelling convenience, it was built with easy access to Walting Street, a key Roman road in the area which linked a number of towns. Little is known about its occupants (there are speculations regarding their ethnicity as they needn't mandatorily have been Roman and could have been local aristocrats), except for their obvious wealth, considering the lavishness of this dwelling and its expansive grounds. A Christian chapel, initially a pagan shrine, was found as part of this property, and remains as one of the earliest proofs of Christianity found across England, which places the villa among ancient vestiges of utmost importance. The villa is also known for its mosaics, marble bust and also a couple of graves found onsite.
Crofton Roman Villa
In relative proximity of Lullingstone Roman Villa, another villa was discovered in the small town of Orpington, in the London Borough of Bromley. It took decades for the whole site to be unearthed and the findings consisted of a large 20 room construction, only half of the rooms partially surviving to this day. The villa is believed to have been built around 140 AD and used for a few centuries, until 400 AD, by a family of wealthy farmers. This was deduced from the vast farmland surrounding it, which measures approximately 2 square kilometres. As a particularity, the construction itself has preserved two distinctive type of flooring, concrete and tiled, and the remains of what seems to have been an under-floor heating system. When exploring Crofton Villa, visitors can also see a large number of artefacts remaining from the time it was inhabited, including military paraphernalia.
Roman Painted House (Dover)
The name given to this ancient construction derives from its large murals, the remaining measuring about 37 square metres altogether. The house dates back to 200 AD, during the Roman occupation of England, and its function is still being debated. Whilst some historians infer it must have provided lodging for government officials, others interpret the abundance of Bacchic motifs on its murals as an indication that it was actually used as a brothel. In 270 AD, evidence shows that the Roman army itself demolished it in order to clear some space for another construction. The murals consist of painted plaster and used complex imagery as well as bright colours. The under-floor heating system (the floors being made from red concrete) can also be observed in all its intricacy, together withy its walled flues. Akin to other tourist attractions in this category, the site contains a display of the property's history, as well as many objects discovered there.
Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre
Located in present day Sandwich, a fort built during the first Roman invasion in 43 AD, right after obtaining victory over native tribes in the immediate vicinity, Richborough Roman Fort was also preserved, developed and used in later times, akin to other Roman constructions of this type. It was initially built to celebrate the success of the military campaign and adorned with an arch which was a symbol of triumph and conquest. During the 3rd century, as the danger of barbarian invasion intensified, the fort was expanded and added a number of defensive structures, including ditches and ramparts.
Roman Lighthouse (Dover)
Known for its key location throughout history, Dover was intensely developed during the Roman occupation, preserving many remains of ancient buildings to this day. Among other remnants of those times still stands a Roman lighthouse, one of the two constructions once erected on the highest grounds of the town, on its western and eastern side. The western tower has not survived and little can be seen on its site apart from ruins; the eastern one however remains as a 24 metre high structure, which is believed to be its approximate initial height. In later times it was converted into a bell tower for the church built nearby and still serves this purpose.
During Roman occupation, a number of forts were built in Kent, one of the most prominent being Regulbium, which lies in the vicinity of present day Reculver. It was strategically built during the reign of Emperor Claudius, after the invasion of England, with direct access to the Wantsum Channel, which led to the Thanet Island and had a distinctive role in commercial and military navigation. It had the classic square shape and organisation of a Roman fort and over the years was repeatedly added strengthening structures. A larger and stronger fort was later built around it, during the 3rd century, when the fort was intensely used, and a number of functional constructions are said to have been erected as well. However, the sea caused extensive damage throughout the centuries and little remains of what once stood there. Due to its tactical position, the fort was later used by the Anglo-Saxons as well, in centuries to come. In addition to using the fort for military purposes, they also built a monastery there.