Search

What the Romans did for Felixstowe

PUBLISHED: 03:48 14 July 2004 | UPDATED: 05:01 02 March 2010

ROMANS invaded Felixstowe instead of Dutch soldiers as the town once again marked its unique place in history.

The resort was the last place in England to be invaded by a foreign force when the Dutch tried to scale the walls of Landguard Fort in 1667.

ROMANS invaded Felixstowe instead of Dutch soldiers as the town once again marked its unique place in history.

The resort was the last place in England to be invaded by a foreign force when the Dutch tried to scale the walls of Landguard Fort in 1667.

But as both the fort and Felixstowe Museum marked Darell's Day - named after Capt Nathaniel Darell who led the garrison which repelled the invaders - it was Romans, who made the resort their home 1,300 years earlier, who set up camp.

Members of the Colchester Roman Society spent the weekend camped inside the fort walls, talking to visitors and explaining how the Romans cooked, made their forts and roads, and about their weapons and armour.

Although the Romans never occupied Landguard, Felixstowe has a rich Roman history - and the remains of a shore fort at The Dip, where seaweed-topped rocks can still be glimpsed at low tide.

The fort was built in 296 AD. It was of oblong construction and stood on low cliffs on a coastline which at that time was mainly saltmarsh and pocked with inlets. Its promontory was eventually eroded and it collapsed into the sea.

It housed about 100 soldiers whose route across the peninsula was a rough track - the forerunner of the A14 - and there have been a number of finds of coins and other items in the area over the years.

A Roman graveyard was found at Brackenbury when homes were being built, and a few years ago sea defence work ruptured middens, old rubbish tips, leaving the shore inches deep in oyster shells which the soldiers had ridden to harvest from beds where Felixstowe port now stands.

Adrian Wink, of Felixstowe, a member of the re-enactment group, said the main aim of the weekend and the society's work in schools, was to present living history and to educate people about Roman times.

"It's much more fun to be able to see something real than read about it in a book, to smell the cooking smells and taste what they would have eaten, to feel the weight of the armour and see what it looked like," he said.

Mr Wink got involved with the group after going to a fancy dress party as a Roman general.

"I had all these swords and a helmet and I thought what I am going to do with them? My wife found this re-enactment group and I got involved and I was hooked," he said.

He now spends his spare time at re-enactments all over Britain and Europe, and along with other members has done TV and film documentary work.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star