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Historic England Research Records

Lemanis Roman Fort

Hob Uid: 463999
Location :
Kent
Folkestone and Hythe
Lympne
Grid Ref : TR1174034230
Summary : The remains of the late 3rd century Roman Saxon Shore fort known as Lemanis. It has an irregular pentagonal plan and survives in a fragmentary form owing to landslips. The walls are 3.5 metres thick and have semi-circular bastions. Excavations indicate that it was built in the late 3rd century AD and abandoned circa 350 AD. A 2nd century altar erected by the commander of the British Fleet was found as were tiles made by the Classis Britannica which may indicate an earlier fort as at Dover. This conjectural earlier fort may have been destroyed by coastal erosion. A bath house was excavated in the south west corner of the Saxon Shore fort and a range of buildings, much disturbed, was uncovered in the north part of the site.
More information : TR 117 342: Stutfall Castle.
LEMANIS (NR)
ROMAN FORT (NR) (Remains of) (1)

Lemanis. (2)

Stutfall Castle excavated by C Roach Smith in 1850 (a) and Sir Victor Horsley in 1894 (b). (See plan AO/62/141/5). An irregular shaped fort with east, north and west walls surviving. (3-6)

The Saxon Shore fort at Lympne is probably dated to the last quarter of the 3rd century. (7)

Stutfall Castle is scheduled as an ancient monument. (8)

The remains of this Saxon Shore fort are very fragmentary. Owing to numerous springs in the clay soil on which it was built, landslips have occurred and large portions of the walling have either fallen down or been thrown out of their original positions, the south wall having disappeared entirely. The remaining walling, constructed of typical Roman masonry with tile bonding courses varies between 3.7 metres and 4.5 metres in thickness and stands in places to a height of about 5 metres. Three bastions survive at the north, north-west and south-east corners whilst the sites of two more can be identified in the middle and at the south end of the south west side. There is now no trace of gateways or posterns. Published earthworks (25") revised. (9)

Excavations by Roach Smith located a second century altar covered with salt water barnacles, reused in a gate platform. The altar had been dedicated by Aufidius Pantera, Commander of the British fleet (see illustration). This and tiles of the Classis Britannica suggest a naval base nearly a century before the construction of the fort. Excavations by Barry Cunliffe between 1976 and 1978 at Lympne failed to reveal an underlying Classis Britannica base but further reused masonry and an uninscribed altar and more tiles stamped by the Classis Britannica were found. It seems likely that the Classis Britannica base did not lie beneath the later Saxon Shore fort but the ruins were fairly close when Stutfall Castle was built. It is quite likely that the base has already disappeared because of the erosion along the coast. The excavation allowed tentative reconstructions of the east gate, at least two storeys high, and the fort plan (see illustrations). It is thought that the fort was built in the late third century and abandoned circa 350 AD. (10-15)

LEMANIS, PORTUS LEMANIS - the Roman fort at Stutfall Castle, Lympne Kent. (16)

TR 117 342: Most of the circuit of the walls, of irregular polygonal plan, can be traced, but the greater part is fallen and large chunks of the walls and towers lie about. It is built of flint with the bonding courses and had semi-curcular bastions. Substantial portions of the perimeter walls run along the north east and west boundaries. In places these have collapsed. Practically all the dressed stone has been robbed, exposing stonework. Some dressed stone survives on the west side. (17)

The Roman fort of Lemanis, hanging on a clay slope below the village of Lympne, is one of the few ruins still to retain a Victorian flavour. Springs, cutting into the clay have caused serious subsidence and and slipping of the Roman walls, giving a confusing impression, but originally the walls enclosed a semi-rectangular fort 10-11 acres in extent. They were 12-14 feet thick and 20 feet high. Externally a number of semicircular bastions projected from the wall. The main gate lay in the centre of the east wall, little remains, but Victorian excavations showed it to be a simple opening flanked by two bastions. Two masonry buildings have been excavated inside, the principia, and a small bath suite. The fort was probably built in the 280s under Carausius, but judging from quantities of earlier material there must have been a naval base here in the 2nd century. Coin evidence suggests abandonment about 370 AD, possibly because of the land-slipping. (18)

In 1943, Mrs E S G Robinson presented to the Haverfield Library Sir Victor Horsley's field notes of the 1893 excavation in the east part of the south ramparts, plus a report of what was found in four of the seven trenches dug. The scale plan, photographs, pottery, coins and metal objects were all missing and there was no account of work in 1894. (19)

Stutfall Castle was visited by members of the Royal Archaeological Institute on 29th July 1896. Stutfall Castle seems to have occupied a broad point of land forming the north shore of a strait separated by a wide tract of marsh and sandbank from the mainland. This sea channel gradually disappeared to become part of Romney Marsh but excavation has demonstrated that the shoreline was originally 1.8 metres below the present level of the marsh. The siting of the fort and its Classis Britannica predecessor, with the command of this narrow estuary, made good strategic sense enabling it to control all shipping entering the harbour and to oversee the transport of the iron mined and extracted in the Weald. Air photographs in 1945-1952 showed the threat to the site with the wealden clays slipping downhill. This resulted in buildings being displaced and the fort wall shifting. This has led to a suggestion that perhaps the fort was originally rectangular and it is the land movement that has caused its irregular shape. However Philp believes that with the available evidence, Roach Smith's reconstruction of a pentagonal plan to the fort is the best suggestion. He believes that the movement may have not been as much as suggested and the majority of shore forts built at the end of the 3rd century were, in fact, trapezoidal. At Lympne, where the steep slope of the hill was a major consideration, a pentagonal plan is probably the most likely possibility. (20-24)

A date in the reign of Carausius is strongly suggested by the coin series for Lympne. (25)

The name Lympne applies to other locations with an ecclesiastical settlement being no more than an open possibility. The borough and port of Limen may well have been situated within the shore fort and it has been suggested that a church may have likewise. (26)

Additional bibliography. (27-43)

This survey confirmed the pentagonal plan of the Saxon Shore fort. (44)

Additional reference. (45)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 6" 1961
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : OS Roman Britain Map
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 CFW 28-NOV-1962
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : The Roman forts of the Saxon Shore
Source details :
Page(s) : 53-6
Figs. : 33-5
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Excavations at the Roman fort at Lympne, Kent 1976-8
Source details :
Page(s) : 227-88
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 11
Source Number : 12
Source : Kent archaeological review
Source details : B Philp
Page(s) : 175-191
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 68, 1982
Source Number : 13
Source : The Roman inscriptions of Britain, 1. Inscriptions on stone
Source details :
Page(s) : 19
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 14
Source : Archaeologia Cantiana : being contributions to the history and archaeology of Kent
Source details : C Roach Smith
Page(s) : 41-45
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18, 1889
Source Number : 15
Source : Collectanea historica : essays in memory of Stuart Rigold
Source details : B Philp
Page(s) : 46-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : The place-names of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 386-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 17
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : DOE(IAM) AM7 AM12 3 Nov 1986 (J M Melhuish)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : West Kent and the Weald
Source details :
Page(s) : 394-5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Kent, volume three
Source details :
Page(s) : 55-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3
Source Number : 19
Source : The journal of Roman studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 85
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34, 1944
Source Number : 20
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : G E Fox
Page(s) : 352-75, 388
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 53, 1896
Source Number : 21
Source : Late Roman fortifications
Source details :
Page(s) : 52,53,201
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 22
Source : Archaeology and coastal change
Source details :
Page(s) : 45
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 23
Source : The journal of Roman studies
Source details : JK St Joseph
Page(s) : 97
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 43, 1953
Source Number : 24
Source : The Roman military defence of the British provinces in its later phases
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 101
Source Number : 25
Source : The journal of Roman studies
Source details : J P Bushe-Fox
Page(s) : 69-71
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 22, 1932
Source Number : 26
Source : The Saxon Shore
Source details :
Page(s) : 73
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18
Source Number : 27
Source : The Roman forts of the Saxon shore
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 28
Source : Archaeologia : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : T Lewin
Page(s) : 421-52
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 41, 1867
Source Number : 3a
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Richborough Reculver & Lymne 1850 (C R Smith)
Page(s) : 233-68
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 29
Source : Journal of the British Archaeological Association
Source details :
Page(s) : 207-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20, 1914
Source Number : 30
Source : The gentleman's magazine library
Source details :
Page(s) : 152-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1, 1887
Source Number : 31
Source : South Hampshire Archaeological Rescue Group newsletter
Source details : R Bridgland
Page(s) : 10
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18, 1976
Source Number : 32
Source : The towns of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 26,189,193
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 33
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 425
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 8, 1977
Source Number : 34
Source : Current archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 71
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 50, 1975
Source Number : 35
Source : The castles of Great Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 18-19
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 36
Source : Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 52, 56, 59
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 37
Source : South east England
Source details :
Page(s) : 177
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 69
Source Number : 38
Source : Archaeologia : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : I A Richmond O G S Crawford
Page(s) : 37
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 93, 1949
Source Number : 3b
Source : The Athenaeum
Source details :
Page(s) : 9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 22, 1894
Source Number : 39
Source : CASTLES OF ENGLAND
Source details : J D Mackenzie
Page(s) : 30
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1, 1897
Source Number : 40
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Roach Smith C. 1850. Richborough Reculver and Lympne
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 41
Source : Collectanea Antiqua: etchings and notices of ancient remains, illustrative of the habits, customs and history of past ages
Source details : C Roach Smith
Page(s) : 1
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2, 1852
Source Number : 42
Source : Collectanea Antiqua: etchings and notices of ancient remains, illustrative of the habits, customs and history of past ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 158
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 7, 1880
Source Number : 43
Source : Country Life
Source details :
Page(s) : 682
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 28
Source Number : 44
Source : Combined archaeological and geotechnical investigations of the Roman fort at Lympne, Kent
Source details :
Page(s) : 209-36
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 16
Source Number : 45
Source : The Roman fort at Lympne [pentagonal plan]
Source details :
Page(s) : 155-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 87
Source Number : 4
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Kent, volume one
Source details :
Page(s) : 406
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details : F W Fairholt
Page(s) : 89-90
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2, 1850
Source Number : 6
Source : Journal of the British Archaeological Association
Source details :
Page(s) : 234
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 40, 1884
Source Number : 7
Source : The journal of Roman studies
Source details : J P Bushe-Fox
Page(s) : 70
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 22, 1932
Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ancient Monuments England and Wales 1958 (MOW)
Page(s) : 46
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : C1 AD
Monument End Date : 199
Monument Start Date : 100
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence, Find
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Built late C3 AD
Monument End Date : 299
Monument Start Date : 267
Monument Type : Saxon Shore Fort
Evidence : Ruined Building, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Abandoned circa 350
Monument End Date : 360
Monument Start Date : 340
Monument Type : Saxon Shore Fort
Evidence : Ruined Building, Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Fort
Object Type : ALTAR
Object Material :

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : KE 74
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TR 13 SW 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, STUTFALL CASTLE, (LEMANIS)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1850-01-01
End Date : 1850-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STUTFALL CASTLE, (LEMANIS)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1893-01-01
End Date : 1894-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TR 13 SW 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1962-11-28
End Date : 1962-11-28
Associated Activities : Primary, STUTFALL CASTLE (LEMANIS)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1976-01-01
End Date : 1978-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STUTFALL CASTLE (LEMANIS)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1978-01-01
End Date : 1980-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STUTFALL CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1982-01-01
End Date : 1982-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, A259 DYMCHURCH-M20 JUNCTION 11 IMPROVEMENT
Activity type : ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31