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Dubris Pharos -- Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 51° 07.695 E 001° 19.378
31U E 382651 N 5665424
Quick Description: The Roman Lighthouse of Dubris Pharos, at Dover Castle in Dover
Location: South East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 9/26/2016 11:58:06 AM
Waymark Code: WMT4X7
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 1

Long Description:
The Romans built this lighthouse to guide ships into the Dubris Harbour, now better known as Dover, between 120-150 AD. It is part od the protected English Heritage Dover Castle reservation at the top of the famous white cliffs of Dover.

From the Lighthouses of Southeastern England website: (visit link)

"Dubris Pharos
Around 130-150 AD. Ruined octagonal flint rubblestone stepped tower built by the Roman government of Britain. . . . This is the tallest Roman ruin in Britain and the only substantial Roman lighthouse ruin anywhere. The surviving portion of the tower is 19 m (62 ft) tall and has three stages (storys) and most of a fourth; the topmost 6 m (20 ft) are of medieval construction. Scholars believe the tower originally had eight stages and was about 24 m (80 ft) tall. An open fire was displayed from the top to guide ships into the harbor of Dubris, as Dover was called in Roman times. Since the twelfth century the tower has stood within the walls of Dover Castle, adjacent to the Church of St. Mary in Castro. The tower was used as the bell tower of the church in medieval times, and in the 1580s it was renovated to serve also as a powder magazine. The Romans actually built two lighthouses, but a small lump of masonry called the Bredenstone is all that survives of the Western Pharos. Located on the heights above Dover Harbour. Site open, base of the tower open. Owner/site manager: English Heritage. ARLHS ENG-034."

More from the Journal of Antiquities website: (visit link)

"The Roman Lighthouse, Dover, Kent
May 12, 2013 by sunbright57

OS grid reference TR 3260 4181. At the south-eastern side of Dover, Kent, along Mortimer Road on the promontory called Eastern Heights and in the grounds of Dover Castle, a 12th century Norman strong-hold, stands a ‘reasonably’ well-preserved Roman Lighthouse or Pharos, dating from around 46-50 AD (during the reign of the Emperor Claudius 41-54 AD) and, just after the invasion of Britain in 43 AD; the Roman army possibly first coming ashore here or further along the Kent coast at Walmer. There was a second Roman lighthouse at Breden-stone on the Western Heights but nothing much of that remains. The parish church of St Mary-in-Castro, a late Saxon foundation from 1000 AD, stands right beside the Pharos but is not attached.

The Romans built a large fort here in c130 AD in order to guard the harbour and sea-route for the fleet sailing from Gaul and through the English Channel. It seems likely they rebuilt the fort in the mid 3rd century. They called the place Portus Dubris or Dubrae, which eventually became the Port of Dover. A Roman road runs north-west from Dover to the Roman town (civitus) at Duruvernum Cantiacorum (Canterbury). There is also evidence to say that the mound and earthworks (hillfort) on which the castle, church and lighthouse stand dates back to the Bronze-Age or, more likely the Iron-Age? The M20 motorway is 12 miles to the west of the town.

Today the pharos is only a four-storey building at 19 metres or around 60 feet high with the top floor section being a medieval restoration, but originally it was six levels high at 24 metres or 80 feet and, maybe even eight levels high, according to some Roman historians? In the 13-14th century the lighthouse was in use as a church bell-tower and it was at this time the medieval stonework was added to strengthen the top 6 metre section, making it look more like a fortified ‘church tower’ with battlements. A flight of stone steps runs up the inside of the structure but is now cut-off at the belfry.

After nearly two thousand years the original Roman stonework on the seaward-side is looking quite weather-worn and crumbly and the entrance and window openings rather worse for ware, like gaping holes, though the top medieval section is still in a resonable state of repair. A beacon of fire would have burned every night on the top of the lighthouse enabling Roman sailing vessels crossing the channel between Gaul and Brittania to navigate their way into the harbour without coming to harm on the rocky headland. The lighthouse would have been manned all through the night by a regular ‘watch’ of sailors from the Classis Britannica naval fleet galley crews who may have camped beside the harbour and, with the help of slaves they apparently built the pharos as a replica to the design of Emperor Caligula’s (37-41 AD) lighthouse at Boulonge-sur-Mer near Calais on the northern coast of France, which was built in 40 AD; the Classis Britannica themselves coming from that area of Gaul. The fort at Dubris (Dover) was garrisoned by the Milites Tungrecani legion."
Most Relevant Historical Period: Roman Empire > 27 B.C.

Admission Fee: £18.30

Opening days/times:
Daily 10am-6pm


Web Site: [Web Link]

Condition: Partly intact or reconstructed

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Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
MeerRescue visited Dubris Pharos -- Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, UK 5/7/2017 MeerRescue visited it
Benchmark Blasterz visited Dubris Pharos -- Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, UK 7/22/2016 Benchmark Blasterz visited it

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