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Panel 1 - The Port of Dover

Dover, situated at the closest point to Europe, has been a landing place or port since the Bronze Age. At different times, it has been a trading site, a base for the Roman navy, a vital part of the defence of the nation, a place of arrival from or departure to the continent and a centre of commerce and industry.

In the Bronze Age this area was upstream of the mouth of the River Dour. It was a tidal delta with braided channels. Evidence for prehistoric cross-channel travel was discovered in 1992. The remains of a wooden, rope-sewn plank boat were found while excavating the underpass for the new A20 through Dover. The boat, dating from 1550BC, is displayed in Dover Museum and Bronze Age Boat Gallery.

By the Roman period, sea levels had risen and the mouth of the Dour had become much wider. Dover became an important port and garrison for the Roman fleet, the Classis Britannica. A fort was built at the bottom of the Western Heights slopes, a little to the west of here, in the 2nd Century AD.

By the late 3rd Century, the fleet fort had been replaced by a larger garrison fort, built partially across land reclaimed from the harbour. Its purpose was probably to combat Anglo-Saxon invaders. In the 5th Century, the old Roman fort and waterfront were abandoned and fell into disuse. The probable line of this fort’s east wall has been shown with different coloured paving in the Market Square.




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