Portus Dubris (Dover) Classis Britannica Fort

Roman Fort

A major fort of the Classis Britannia was established at Dover c.85AD as a replacement for their old fort at Richborough. The town developed during the late-1st century. Around 90AD twin lighthouses or Pharos were built on the north cliffs (at NGRef. TR3141 and TR3241). These were originally around 25m high with 4m thick walls made of stone with a rubble infill, octagonal in exterior shape with a 4m square central space. The second century fort covered (0.8ha) and is the suspected headquarters of the Classis Britannica or ‘the British Fleet’. Around 270AD the second-century fort was replaced with a substantial ‘Saxon Shore’ fort, and it ceased to be a base of the Classis Britannica at the same time.

By the fourth century there were two lighthouses at Dubris, set on the cliff tops overlooking the port to either side of the River Dour. The north-eastern pharos was the first to be built, possibly as early as the first century. Only a fragment of the south-western lighthouse has survived, which contained re-used roof-tile material stamped Classis Britannica, giving an early fourth century construction date. Only the northern pharos has survived to any extent, protected within the confines of Dover Castle, beside St. Mary’s Church.

References for Portvs Dubris

  • Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford 1998);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); 

Map References for Portvs Dubris

NGRef: TR326418 OSMap: LR179

Roman Roads near Portvs Dubris

NW (14) to Dvrovernvm Possible Coastal Road: E (5) to Folkestone (Kent) N (12) to Rvtvpiae (Richborough, Kent) Trackway: WSW (13) to Portvs Lemanis (Lympne, Kent) N (9) to Worth