The Roman Invasion

In August 55BC., Julius Caesar set sail from Boulogne accompanied by two legions in some eighty transports and a number of scout ships and Roman warships. Once the fleet had landed the expedition force they lay at anchor, but during a storm most of the ships were driven ashore, 40 ships had become totally wrecked, what remained the army reboarded and returned across the channel to build a new fleet.

In 54BC., Julius Caesar returned, with a fleet of 600 transports and 28 warships, again sailing from Boulogne, but after marching inland was to return once again, back across the channel. It was not until 43AD, a 100 years later, that the Roman army conquered Britain and ruled for four hundred years

It was not until just 80 years ago, that the importance of the Ancient harbour town of Folkestone became known, when an impressive Roman villa site was discovered on Folkestone's east cliff by S. E. Winbolt, M.A.. The site is now an English Heritage's scheduled monument site. Who occupied this villa complex is still uncertain, but the clues are there, or they were..
The black and white photographs are from the S.E Winbolt collection .

In 2010, the Heritage Lottery Fund gave a Canterbury archaeological group the sum of £298,700.00 towards their project to unearth the Folkestone East Cliff Roman villa site.*

It is believed that the villa site, was once the residence of the Admiral of the British fleet of Rome, a naval supremacy which the Romans had for the Channel, to keep it clear of pirates, the forerunner of the Cinque Ports fleet. This amazing partly excavated site with many unrecorded artifacts is being lost as our heritage is allowed to fall over the cliff edge. and where today's 'Indiana Jones', raiders, plunder the site of its artifacts.

If the remains of the villa residence is possibly those of the Admiral of the British fleet of Rome, then there should be a nearby Roman harbour. Investigations have been made into a possible Roman harbour complex that may be connected to the Folkestone's Roman villas. It is possible that the remains of an Ancient harbour that was found was built over during the construction of the Tudor harbour, four centuries ago, as many of the areas Bronze Age and Roman finds, would suggest.

Folkestone is an ancient harbour town, the fate of the town and the harbour over the centuries went, hand in hand, and as such both are now a derelict, just a shell of what it once was. Most of the modern car ferry harbour that was, was designed and built, by some of the greatest names of Britain’s Industrial Age, names such as William Jessop, Thomas Telford, Henry Palmer, & Sir William Cubit. Since the harbour went into private ownership in July 1984, it has been left without the essential repair and maintenance, just left to fall into wrack & ruin. As for the above Ancient harbour remains these were mostly destroyed by laying power cables to France and trenching in of massive twin outfalls. The remains of Folkestone's Ancient harbour complex, with origins of which could well date back to around the Roman occupation of Britain or earlier, is being destroyed.

The Folkestone area of Britain's coastline has aways been important, as an early historian William Camden, wrote of Folkestone, in 1610AD:-

“- a flourishing place in times past as may appear by the pieces of Roman coins and Britaine brikes daily there found, but under what name, it is uncertain

The Roman Trail >
* This website has no connection with, or links with the activates of the group digging on Folkestone’s Roman villa site.