89. Roman Lighthouse, Church and Trenches in Dover Castle.details

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89. Roman Lighthouse, Church and Trenches in Dover Castle.

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In that curious record, in old French, of the foundation of the Castle of Dover, which we find in Dugdale’s ‘Monasticon,’ we are told that when Arviragus reigned in Britain, he refused to be subject to Rome, and withheld the tribute; making the Castle of Dover strong with ditch and wall against the Romans, if they should come. The old British hill-forts and cities were not works of regular form, like the camps and castles of the Romans; and thus the earliest remains of the labours of man in Dover Castle exhibit a ditch and a mound of irregular form, a parallelogram with the corners rounded off, approaching to something like an oval. Yet within this ditch are the unquestionable fragments of Roman architecture, still standing up against the storms which have beaten against them for nearly eighteen centuries (Fig. 89). We may well believe, therefore, that the statement of the chronicler is not wholly fabulous when he said that a British King strengthened Dover Castle; and that the Romans, as in other cases, planted their soldiers in the strongholds where the Britons had defied them. Be this as it may, the Roman works of Dover Castle are amongst the most interesting in the island, remarkable in themselves, suggestive of high and solemn remembrances. Toil up the steep hill, tourist, and mount the tedious steps which place you on the heights where stands this far-famed castle. Look landward, and you have a prospect of surpassing beauty, not unmixed with grandeur; look seaward, and you may descry the cliffs of France, with many a steamboat bringing in reality those lands together which dim traditions say were once unsevered by the sea. Look not now upon the Norman keep, for after a little space we will ask you to return thither; but wind round the slight ascent which is still before you, till you are at the foot of the grassy mound upon which stand the ruined walls which attest that here the Romans trod. That octagonal building, some thirty or forty feet high, and which probably mounted to a much greater height, was a Roman pharos, or lighthouse. Mark the thickness of its walls, at least ten feet; see the peculiarity of its construction, wherever the modern casing, far more perishable than the original structure, will permit you. The beacon-fires of that tower have long been burnt out. They were succeeded by bells, which rung their merry peals when kings and lord-wardens came here in their cumbrous pageantry. The bells were removed to Portsmouth, and the old tower was unroofed. Man has taken no care of it; man has assisted the elements in its destruction. But its builders worked not for their own age alone, as the moderns work. Its foundations are laid in clay, and not upon the chalk. The thin flat bricks, which are known as Roman tiles, are laid in even courses, amidst intermediate courses of blocks of hard stalactitical concretions which must have been brought by sea from a considerable distance. Some of the tiles are of a peculiar construction, having knobs and ledges as if to bind them fast with the other materials. In the true Roman buildings the uniformity of the courses, especially where tiles are used, is most remarkable. Such is the case in this building: “With alternate courses formed of these and other Roman tiles, and then of small blocks of the stalactitical incrustations, was this edifice constructed, from the bottom to the top:—each course of tiles consisting of two rows; and each course of stalactites, of seven rows of blocks, generally about seven inches deep, and about one foot in length. Five of these alternate courses, in one part, like so many stages or stories, were discernible a few years ago very clearly.”—(King.) When the poor fisherman of Rutupiæ (Richborough) steered his oyster-laden bark to Gesoriacum (Boulogne), the pharos of Dover lent its light to make his path across the Channel less perilous and lonely. At Boulogne there was a corresponding lighthouse of Roman work; an octagonal tower, with twelve stages of floors, rising to the height of one hundred and twenty-five feet. This tower is said to have been the work of Caligula. It once stood a bowshot from the sea; but in the course of sixteen centuries the cliff was undermined, and it fell in 1644. The pharos of Dover has had a somewhat longer date, from the nature of its position. No reverence for the past has assisted to preserve what remains of one of the most interesting memorials of that dominion which had such important influences in the civilization of England. The mixed race in our country has, in fact, sprung from these old Romans; and the poetical antiquary thus carries us back to the great progenitors of Rome herself: “Whilst,” says Camden, “I treat of the Roman Empire in Britain (which lasted, as I said, about four hundred and seventy-six years), it comes into my mind how many colonies of Romans must have been transplanted hither in so long a time; what numbers of soldiers were continually sent from Rome, for garrisons; how many persons were despatched hither, to negotiate affairs, public or private; and that these, intermarrying with the Britons, seated themselves here, and multiplied into families: for, ‘Wherever’ (says Seneca) ‘the Roman conquers, he

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