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The Saxon Shore Forts

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  • The Saxon Shore Forts

    The writers here dont get any better. Altho are own ACG journals are outstanding as well. For those who wish an easy and laymans reads, on the era of British history that encompass's what would be called the 'Dark Ages', check both those sources. Their credibility and historical knowledge is among the best imo anywhere and if i wasn't too busy raising cows, i'd go write for them myself... to make it even better.

    Here from the pages of Athena Review is a excellent article on the last attempts by the Romans to contain and or control the ongoing and soon to be catastrophic invasions, of the Saxons and their cousins, the Angles and the Jutes.

    Some of us remember Prince Valiant ; and although he was fiction he would have made an excellent 'Count' of the Saxon shore and their associated fort's. But the truth is always more exciting then fiction and ya can learn about the real Count's by beginning with the article below.


    The Saxon Shore Forts: Coastal defenses of Roman Britain


    The Saxon Shore Forts were built by the Romans in the late 3rd century AD along the southeast coast of Britain to guard against increasing invasion and piracy by Germanic tribes including the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Our only written source for this system of forts is a late 4th century document called the Notitia Dignitatum (Latin for "worthy of record"). The Notitia records that the military commander known as the Count of the Saxon Shore controlled nine forts, the names of which are given as well as the units garrisoned in each.

    Third century unrest along the Rhine frontier:: The 3rd century witnessed a slow but growing encroachment on Roman territories by Germanic tribes. Breaches in frontier security became more frequent, until in 250-260 Rome's claim to the land east of the Rhine was at first compromised, then eventually lost. Germanic tribes including the Alemanni took full advantage of confusion caused by the 258 AD usurpation of Gaul by Postumus. Defensive operations by the legitimate emperor Gallienus (AD 253-268) seriously diverted Roman troops and gave Germanic tribes a golden opportunity to push past the Rhine into Roman territory.

    [Fig.1: Map of Saxon Shore forts in Britain.]

    The sea frontier in Britainuring this period of unrest, the Franks and Saxons increasingly harrassed sea traffic in the English Channel, impeding the transfer of goods and precious metals from Britain to Rome. Coin hoards dating from AD 270-285 found in southeast Britain suggest growing concerns with local security. To protect against invasion, a series of forts were installed along the coast as bases for the Classis Britannica, the Roman fleet in Britain. These naval bases were called Castrorum ("forts") of the Litus Saxonicum ("Saxon Shore").

    [Fig.2: Roman gate at the Saxon Shore fort at Anderitum or Pevensey (photo: Athena Review).]

    The array of Saxon Shore forts stretched from Portchester (Portus Adurni) to Branodunum on the north Norfolk coast. The forts were equipped with towers and gates, from which artillery units armed with onagers and ballistae could hold a charging enemy at bay. The onager ("wild ass") is a large catapult capable of hurling stones some 400 yards (see picture). The ballista, operated from towers by a pair of soldiers, is essentially a crossbow mounted on a waist-high stand. The Saxon Shore Forts provided a successful check against Germanic military invasion and piracy until the Roman withdrawal in the early fifth century AD.

    [Fig.3: Roman onager or catapult.]

    continues w/p @
    Last edited by Centrix Vigilis; 13 Jul 07, 08:58.

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