Local Learning

Local Learning: Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre

Richborough Roman Fort on the East Kent Marshes was the 'gateway to Britannia', the key connection between the northernmost Roman province and the rest of the Roman Empire. It was the site of Emperor Claudius's successful Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43 and was inhabited until the end of Roman rule in around 410. 

Use our suggested reading, activities and video resources to help your learners discover the story of Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre and the lives of the people who lived and worked there. 

The coastline of east Kent in the Roman period. The Wantsum Channel silted up during the medieval period, leaving Richborough landlocked
The coastline of east Kent in the Roman period. The Wantsum Channel silted up during the medieval period, leaving Richborough landlocked.

Get to Grips with the Area

Although Richborough is 3km inland today, it stood above a natural harbour  when Emperor Claudius's army came to conquer Britain in AD 43. The Romans safely docked their ships here and began to build long earth ramparts with ditches in the front to protect their encampment from any Britons who wanted to defend the area. The soldiers' building skills helped them to develop a settlement at Richborough which grew into a port known in the Roman Empire as Rutupiae

Soon, Richborough became the main entrance into Britain for people and goods. A large Roman road (Watling Street) began at the settlement's west gate, linking Richborough to other towns and cities the Romans established as they conquered Britain. By AD 70, Richborough was a busy town with a bustling port. People from across the Empire came to trade goods or travel through on their military duties or as part of their government jobs.

Within the settlement at Richborough, archaeologists have found a system of streets lined with many buildings including shops, houses and storehouses. There are also granaries, a bath house and a monumental arch within the fort walls and an amphitheatre for staging entertainments outside. 

Top Resources

Suggested Activities

Audio and Video Resources

  • Meet a Roman Legionary

    Find out more about what life was like for Roman legionaries who landed at Richborough in AD 43. 

  • How did the Romans Change Britain?

    Watch our short animation to find out more about how Roman rule impacted Britain. 

  • Roman Makeup Tutorial

    Learn about the makeup Roman women wore with Makeup Artist Rebecca Butterworth and Fashion Historian Amber Butchart.

  • Defending the Roman Empire - English Heritage Podcast

    Listen to our podcast to learn more about the 4th-century saxon shore fort at Richborough and what happened to it after the Romans left Britain. 

Link Your Learning

ENGLISH - Rosemary Sutcliff was an author who wrote a novel featuring Richborough towards the end of Roman rule (The Lantern Bearers). Analyse the extract in the Sources section of our Teachers' Kit for descriptive words and techniques that you could use in your own story about the fort. 

SCIENCE - Use our 'Amazing Arches' activity in the Teachers' Kit to explore how different forces acted on the monumental arch. 

MATHS - Estimate the height of Richborough's monumental arch by taking 25 long strides (1 stride is about 1 metre). How does this height compare with other tall objects like trees and buildings in your area? 

GEOGRAPHY - Use Stanford University's online map of the Roman World (ORBIS) to locate Richborough and other key settlements along Roman Watling Street, including London (Londinium) and Wroxeter (Viriconium). Are these north, south, east or west of Richborough?

ART AND DESIGN - Examine the ceramic vessels on display in the museum to inspire your own Roman designs.

DRAMA - Use the Roman character cards in our 'Welcome to Rutupiae' activity to create a short sketch showing how different people from different parts of the Roman Empire interacted with each other in settlements like Richborough.

A photograph of Rob Howell, the Education Visits Officer for Kent

Visiting Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre

It’s so easy to miss what we have right on our doorstep but by booking a Free Education Visit to one of our historic places, you can bring local stories to life and connect your students with the past.

Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre were built and developed during almost 400 years of Roman rule. Rutupiae, as the Romans knew it, became an important port and a gateway to the province of Britannia. The site has continued to fascinate visitors over the centuries and today you can explore the remains of the late 3rd century fort, along with the foundations of some of the Richborough's buildings. Our reinterpretation of the site and the new museum showcasing finds from the town help immerse students in Richborough's story. The objects on display also support cross-curricular learning with links to subjects like geography, art and science.

We have downloadable resources that you can use before, during and after your trip, as well as a handling collection on site. If there is anything I can do to help with your visit to Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre please don’t hesitate to contact me!

- Rob Howell, Education Visits Officer (Kent)

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