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Author Topic: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis  (Read 7542 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2014, 18:49:52 »
1850

Offline mikeb

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2013, 12:31:23 »
Quote
As far as I know below is the most recent summery of the academic thinking and research of the history of the fort.

davpott and all, thanks for the additional info.

I spent some time yesterday at Reculver where the fort there has suffered from erosion, of a different type of course. It does bring home how much our coastline has changed over the centuries. It is constantly changing, sometimes by nature, sometimes by man, but is only when looking at ancient "victims" that the extent of these changes can be appreciated.

Offline TowerWill

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2013, 08:08:42 »
 In Rivers and Streams "The old course of the River Rother" I included a plan I found showing when the River Rother used to enter the sea close to Romney.

Offline davpott

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2013, 21:40:59 »
As far as I know below is the most recent summery of the academic thinking and research of the history of the fort.



From  Jill Eddison, Romney Marsh- Survival on a Frontier (Tempus Publishing 2000) pp. 48-52

"The fort we see today was first excavated by Charles Roach Smith and James Elliott (the engineer in charge of the Dymchurch Wall) in 1850, then by Sir Victor Horsley in 1893-94, and by Professor Barry Cunliffe in three seasons from 1976 to 1978. In 1981-82 Professor John Hutchinson led a geotechnical investigation into the effects of the landslips on the fort.

An area of some 4 acres (1.6ha) was enclosed by massive curtain walls with bastions at regular intervals. The walls were 12ft (3.65m) thick, with a core of Kentish Ragstone rubble, faced inside and outside with squared-off ashlar blocks of ragstone, with characteristic layers of red tiles laid at regular intervals between courses of ashlar. Most of the ragstone blocks were robbed away long ago, since they served as a ready-made quarry for medieval buildings, including Lympne Church and Castle on the crest of the hill above. The structure was however, wrecked by landslips and and has been further obscured by soil moving down the hill, so that although very substantial ruins remain, very little is in its original position (16). Three main landslips affected it. The most violent of these took place in the north-east corner, no doubt related to a large stream which comes down the hill. Another slip occurred in the south-east, dislocating the east gate and pushing a prominent lobe of the hillside out on to the marsh. The gate had originally been flanked by two bastions: the upper one had disintegrated, and the lower one had been tilted at a sharp angle inwards (17). The substantial base of the gate, built of large stone blocks, had been broken into thirteen fragments.

A third landslip was responsible for the collapse of the north walls. Trenches cut in 1981 slightly upslope from the remains of the north walls produced spectacular results, showing the Romans were well aware of the problems they faced in building on an unstable hillside. They had dug a foundation trench about 1.5m deep, and then driven closely-spaced short oak piles down into the Weald Clay – a not uncommon Roman practice when building on unstable ground.  A platform of rough ragstone was then packed round the top of the poles to provide a working surface for the construction of the foundations of the wall. The story of the collapse of the wall unfolded in two of the trenches. Some of the oak piles had been bent when the wall collapsed. Those in one trench were now horizontal, and in the other they were also bent over at an angle (18). Above then, a trail of ragstone debris headed down the hill, above which was a shear-plane.

The wall had collapsed because the main landslip had removed the supporting ground from the lower side of it, while a mass of soil (colluvium) had built up against the upper side (19). It had slid downhill, bending the top of some of the piles as it went, and leaving a trail of debris behind it. Bastion 5 moved about 16ft (5m) downhill, while Bastion 6 moved only about 4ft (1.2m). Finally the wall tipped over, coming to rest at an angle between 22 degrees and 28 degrees. By establishing the original position of the northern walls Hutchinson was also able to prove the fort had originally been five-sided, with two upslope walls meeting at an obtuse angle at Bastion 6.

No trace of the south wall of the fort survives on the surface, but it was found when two trenches were dug through the lobe of the south-east landslip and out on to the Marsh. At the same time an important relationship was established between the relative timing of the landslips and the accumulation of sediment brought into the inlet by the sea. At the bottom of the trances a thick beach deposit of sand and shingle was found, and was clearly roman or post roman because it contained a fragment of red tile. Above that was 6ft (2m) of grey marine silt, and while that was accumulating, the clay ground on which the wall had been built slipped downhill and the wall toppled over. Three feet (1m) of the grey silt was deposited after the wall collapsed. It has not been possible to establish the date of the landslide that destroyed the fort, which is unfortunate because if that were known it would be an indication of the date of the silting of the inlet. But at least it is clear that the sea had accesses to the area for some considerable time afterwards. The fort itself was abandoned, for an unknown reason, in c350, some decades earlier than other Forts of the Saxon Shore."

Offline davpott

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2013, 15:23:07 »
Kyn / davpott, many thanks for the greater clarification on probable position/ purpose of Stutfall.

If the fort was built for protection of the port and therefore as close to the shore line as possible, is it possible that the shore was closer to the bottom off the Lympne scarp at this time? Presumably the draining of Romney Marsh has moved the shore line out to sea.

It was an inlet, and you are right, it's shore was at the bottom of the scarp. I think the current consensus is that what is now the Rother once reached the sea through this inlet.

I found this diagram of roman Romney Marsh on a internet. It is from a geology website discussing the results of boreholes and excavations on the marshes.

I have found more details on the fort itself on my bookshelves but it will take me a while to type it out to post on this thread.


Offline mikeb

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2013, 22:25:26 »
Kyn / davpott, many thanks for the greater clarification on probable position/ purpose of Stutfall.

If the fort was built for protection of the port and therefore as close to the shore line as possible, is it possible that the shore was closer to the bottom off the Lympne scarp at this time? Presumably the draining of Romney Marsh has moved the shore line out to sea.

Offline davpott

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2013, 21:59:47 »
Sorry I can't really comment too much on the technicalities but I feel that this has slowly slid down the hill over time, the bank is steep enough that you would get ground slippage after heavy rain, but not steep enough that it would tip the buildings as it eroded.  The way it has moved is similar to Warden Bay in Sheppey, the Rotor Station buildings have mostly slip down complete as the ground shifted down onto the beach.

There is quite a debate about the exact function of the Saxon shore forts.  They are quite likely to have just been built as close as they could to the port and shipping they were defending.  Both Dover and Richborough the Saxon shore forts were partially built over the long redundant and abandoned early roman defences.  In the case of Lympne the earlier defended area and settlement were likely to have been lost to coastal erosion.  But all of the Saxon shore forts all constructed over about 50 years share one thing in common they were built close to the shore line. Built during third century they were either there to protect the inlet and harbour facilities and or offer a safe place, certainly in the  cases of Pevensey and Lympne (I’m not sure of the commercial activity near the forts  in Roman Hampshire Essex and Norfolk) to store and perhaps trade valuable goods.

The Normans built dominating castles which were often ineffective in military terms. They were to impress the 'natives' and make there mark. The Romans had long made there mark by the end of the second century so had no need to show off. The romans having such limited weapons would had little or no reason to construct a fort at the top of a hill when what you are trying to defend is over  couple of hundred metres away especially as the best weapon you’d have is a crossbow with an accurate range of 150 metres or so. Heavy siege weapons would have been ineffective attacking fast moving small vessels a few hundred metres away. However few cables drawn across a harbour entrance with crossbowmen shooting at exposed crew would have been very effective deterrent.


Attached I believe is Collingwood’s interpretation of the fort and the subsequent land movement  from his excavations in the mid 1980s.

Offline kyn

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2013, 17:41:44 »
Sorry I can't really comment too much on the technicalities but I feel that this has slowly slid down the hill over time, the bank is steep enough that you would get ground slippage after heavy rain, but not steep enough that it would tip the buildings as it eroded.  The way it has moved is similar to Warden Bay in Sheppey, the Rotor Station buildings have mostly slip down complete as the ground shifted down onto the beach.

Offline davpott

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2013, 16:57:58 »
In common with the other Saxon-shore forts Lympne was constructed to protect shipping and harbours so they are all very little above sea level. The Lympne fort was positioned to control the entrance to the estuary which would have been one of the main routes for the export of the Wealden iron throughout the roman period. The fort was constructed very late in building sequence of the Saxon-shore forts c280 and was abandoned quite early by 370, perhaps due to subsidence from springs in the wealden clay bank it was built on. Unlike Dover and Richborough there is no evidence of any earlier defensive system although there is evidence of second century military activity in the vicinity suggesting that there may have been an earlier settlement which had been lost to the sea in the roman era.

It would appear that the idea that the fort had shifted all the way from the top of the slope was proposed by early antiquarians attempting to resolve the fragments into a 'typical' rectangular shaped roman fort as found elsewhere in England. Recent research has discovered that third century roman forts were more irregular in shape than the first century ones and so as to suit the sloping site at Lympne it is likely that the original shape was pentagonal.

edit...
Just seen Kyns earlier post which draws on some of the sources I have used. One further comment the 'Castle' at the top of the hill was medieval and built by the Archbishop, I've not read of any evidence to suggest there was any roman occupation there the early saxon/medieval port was nearby at sandtun.   

Offline mikeb

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2013, 10:32:56 »
Kyn, your print certainly looks like the portions of the wall shown in your original photos, and clearly show it "up the hill" as it were. Reading Far away's post, have we any idea just how far the remaining pieces have slid down the hill, in both a vertical and horizontal plane? I suppose if the erosion was gradual, rather than catastrophic, then substantial pieces of the structure would have survived intact, just gradually sliding down hill, south + eastwards?

Given that it, and its successor, were built on the hilltop at Lympne, do you think they served as navigational markers? Lighthouses?

I note the spelling variation Stutfall/Studfall and in the print the Martello Towers on the coast. Very interesting, thanks.

Offline kyn

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2013, 13:27:04 »

Offline Far away

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Re: Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 10:04:06 »
I must admit that descriptions of this castle have often confused me, what with collapsing hills and earlier naval facilities. Having visited many times I cannot see how this structure could have been anywhere near present day Lympne village without ending up as random rubble at the bottom of the hill. Which it isn't.

I am not sure how high the hill the castle was on before it began to collapse, but I find it hard to believe it has moved far to the south from its original location. It seems to me that the hill has been slowly washed out from underneath and it has lost more vertical height than gained horizontal drift to the south. And was the hill as high as the one on which the later castle sits, or was it a lower one, closer to the port?

The way I look at it is - if Dover castle sank into the harbour, how much of anything would there be left? A distinguishable outline?

Offline kyn

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Stutfall Castle/Portus Lamanis
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2012, 13:55:30 »
Stutfall Castle, or Fort, was built during the last quarter of the 3rd century as a Roman Saxon Shore Fort.  At the time the Fort was built at the top of the hill now home to Lympne Village.  The marshes between this hill and the sea were regularly flooded so the sea reached the lower part of the hill, positioning this fort on the sea edge.  It was known then as Portus Lamanis.  This fort was an irregular pentagonal shaped fort with 3.5 metre thick walls and semi-circular bastions; it was built of typical Roman masonry with tile bonding courses and would have covered 10-11 acres of land.

The fort fell into disuse around the year 350 and due to springs in the clay soil causing numerous landslips it has slid down the hill.  This may be the reason for its desertion with a new fort being built on top of the hill.  Today only fragments of the walls survive, some 5 feet high.  The rough shape of the fort can still be made out however the south wall has totally disappeared.  Little of the dressing stones remain as they have been robbed over the years but some still remain to the west.  A good portion of the outer walls remain.  Three bastions survive to the north, north-west and south-east corners and the sites of two more can be made out at the south end of the south-west side.

The site has been excavated a number of times, once in 1850 by C Roach Smith and in 1894 by Sir Victor Horsley, and again in 1976 (until 1978) by Barry Cunliffe.  During these excavations the main gateway was found in the middle of the east wall, very little of it now remains but it was found to be flanked by two bastions, it is thought that it once stood two storeys high.  During the excavations earlier evidence of roman occupation was found, leading people to believe that an earlier Roman Naval Base was on or near the site before the construction of this fort.

C Roach Smith uncovered a 2nd century stone altar which had been used as part of a gate platform, it was covered in salt water barnacles and had been dedicated by Aufidius Pantera, commander of the British Fleet.  He also found tiles of the Classis Britannica, similar to those found at Dover.  Later excavations found a second 2nd century altar which was un-inscribed.  A bath house was uncovered in the south-west corner of the fort and a range of buildings were uncovered to the north of the site.

Stutfall Castle is scheduled as an ancient monument.


 

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