The Dover Castle: Roman Roots and Norman Architectural Achievement
The Dover Castle in Kent, England is hailed as one of the great achievement of Norman architecture. It is one of the largest castles in the country and strategically located at the shortest crossing point to continental Europe. The castle has played a prominent part in national history as its earliest beginnings of construction can be traced back to the Iron Age and the Roman Empire. Even with the history dating back as far as the Iron Age the castle withstood the test of time, survived two World Wars and can still be visited today. What was so unique about this site? Did the Romans and Normans have the same motives when selecting the site and also utilizing a similar layout? Lastly, why utilize a castle in the first place or does it serve a underlying meaning beyond just providing shelter and security? In this paper I will attempt to answer those questions. I will also attempt to show how the castle design also served as more than just a bastion in both cultures.
The construction at the Dover Castle site can be dated back as far as the Iron Age, yet the main construction phase did not begin until after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (Haskins, 166). The battle marked the invasion and conquest of England by the Normans. But even prior to the Normans another society utilized that area during their conquests.
The Romans under Claudius I invaded England as early as 43 C.E and lasted through 437 C.E.(Starr, 128-129). That time incorporates not only the evidence of the first construction of fortifications in Dover but also shows how Roman construction evolved while constructing that particular fortification.
The Romans built their standard fortification which was comprised of a combination of wood and masonry. The fort featured watch towers and stone archways as entrances. Furthermore these fortifications were built on mounds and surrounded by ditches. This allowed a relatively small force to...