Kent Archaeological Review extract

Classis Britannica.

Long-established readers of the Kent Review will recall an excellent article See Reference [1] some years ago on Roman Boulogne, situated on the French coast. Mention was then made of the Classis Britannica base corresponding to that found at Dover in 1970. See Reference [2].

In July 1978, contractors opening up a new building site in the ancient part of the town struck Roman buildings at a depth of about 5-7 metres. An immediate rescue-excavation was launched under the direction of Claude Seillier (who was largely responsible for the earlier work in Boulogne) for which just four weeks were allowed.

PHOTO: Some Visitors Discussing Part of the Newly Discovered Roman Buildings at Boulogne.

Some Visitors Discussing Part of the Newly Discovered Roman Buildings at Boulogne.

This work revealed some 60 metres of a defensive wall of the Classis Britannica base, not previously seen, an interval tower, and an internal road with flanking masonry buildings, one with part of an hypocaust. There was also some evidence of subsequent 4th century defences, but it seems that most of these lay under a bank and medieval town-wall.

Four days prior to the end of the excavation special invitations were sent out by Pierre Leman to a limited number of French, Dutch, Belgian and British archaeologists (only four from Britain) to attend a final site-meeting. Brian Philp went on behalf of the Council for Kentish Archaeology and Derek Garrod on behalf of the Kent Rescue Unit. After the site-visit the invited guests were taken to a special champagne reception held by the Mayor of Boulogne, at the civic town-hall. The importance of the discovery was stressed by all concerned and the Mayor gave an assurance that as much as possible would be incorporated into the building being erected on the site. Following the reception the two Kent representatives were able to join the French archaeologists and work together on the site. About ten days before, a party of French archaeologists and a journalist from Boulogne had visited the Roman Painted House at Dover. There they were able to see a similar major discovery, which at one time also had a very uncertain future, and to see just what an important tourist attraction can be created. Perhaps the Mayor of Boulogne will also be visiting it in the coming months as indeed the Mayor of Calais did in 1977.


Footnote 1.

Cl. Bernier, KAR, Number 34 (1973), page 121. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 2.

Philp, B J. KAR, Number 21 (1971), page 70. Return to the paragraph.
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