Walton Castle

Port, Saxon Shore Fort and Vicus

Walton Castle now lies in ruins under the sea off Felixstowe, and for its features we must rely on various old descriptions, which give the landward wall variously as 100 or 187 yards long, and 12 or 9 feet thick.

Walton Castle was a Saxon Shore type fort, probably built in the late 3rd century.  Much of our knowledge of the fort derives from an outline drawing and plan of 1623, as well as some 18th-century literary accounts. The 1623 drawings show a plan similar to Burgh Castle to the north. Forward projecting curvilinear towers are present at the corners of the fort. The walls have flint facing with brick bonding courses. The presence of forward-projecting towers with rounded corners is thought to be good evidence for a construction date contemporary with other Saxon Shore forts such as Burgh Castle and Othona.

In 1722 the remains were described as:

“‘Tis 100 yards long, five-foot above ground, 12 broad at each end and turned with an angle. Its composed of Pepple and Roman bricks in three courses, all round footsteps of buildings, and several large pieces of Wall cast down upon the Strand by the Seas undermining ye Cliff all which have Roman brick. At low water mark very much of the like is visible some distance in the Sea. There are two entire pillars with Balls, the Cliff is 100-foot high.”

In an account of 1754 the length of the west wall is given more accurately as 187 yards, and it is described as being “nine feet thick”. Roman finds found in the vicinity of the fort suggest the existence of an extensive Roman settlement occupied over a long period. It was probably a vicus, and a port. There may have been a second fort on a promontory around six miles south of Walton Castle. The location, on West Rocks, is now about three miles out to sea.

References for Walton Castle

  • The Archaeology of Roman Britain by R.G. Collingwood (Methuen, London, 1930)

Map References for Walton Castle

NGRef: TM3235 OSMap: LR169

Roman Roads near Walton Castle

River Deben: NW (9) to Martlesham (Suffolk)

Sites near Walton Castle