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Caister Roman Fort (Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk)

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A partially ecavated Roman fort in Caister-on-Sea, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

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      20.09.2011 21:14
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      Interesting, but not really worth a special visit.

      Review of Caister Roman Fort, Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk.

      My partner and I recently spent a holiday on the Norfolk coast and on a day out in Caister-on-Sea, paid a visit to Caister Roman Fort.

      ==Directions to The Fort==

      The fort is located on Norwich Road in Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk. To get to the Roman Fort, take the road signposted Caister on Sea, from the A149 roundabout, 3 miles from Great Yarmouth. Parking and the entrance to the Fort are situated on a lay-by on Norwich Road, about 0.25 miles from the roundabout.

      The site is accessed via a small metal gate, parking is available free of charge in a layby adjacent to the gate.

      Entry to the fort is free of charge to all, visitors are requested to treat the fort respectfully, to keep dogs on a lead and clean up after them.

      The land the fort stand on is surrounded by modern houses and there are no facilities at all on the site.

      ==The Fort==

      Now under English Heritage, Caister-on-Sea Roman fort was built around AD 200 as a base for a major unit of the Roman army and navy.  The fort was in continual occupation until the end of the 4th century, when Roman forces were withdrawn from Britain.

      The fort was designed as a defence and military building. When it was built, the fort occupied a small island at the northern side of a large estuary, where the rivers Ant, Bure, Yare and Waveney meet the sea.  In Roman times, these rivers were important routes for both trade and transport into East Anglia, where many Roman and native people lived. Nowadays, the estuary that existed in Roman times is mostly the dry land on which has sprung up the town of Great Yarmouth.

      In Caister Roman Fort's heyday,  the fort housed a garrison of between 500 and 1,000 men who fought against Rome's enemies on land and at sea and protected the locality against raiders. The garrison would have also included barracks, granaries, workshops, stores and stables, making it an almost self-sufficient community.  

      The fort was partially excavated between 1951 and 1955. It is thought to have originally covered an area of approximately 8.6 acres, most of this is now underneath modern housing, leaving a playing field of approximately 1 acre which also contains the excavated portion of the fort. The thick walls are exposed to view and these are constructed mainly of local flint.

      ==My Thoughts and Conclusion==

      I am fascinated by Roman buildings, so I was delighted to think that I could visit this fort from my holiday base in Norfolk. As mentioned, we incorporated the visit in a day out in the Caister-on-Sea area.

      The fort is quite interesting, but note my word, 'quite'!

      There are several informative, colourful information boards dotted around the site giving the history of Caister fort and whilst it is interesting to note the layout of the small piece of excavated fort and the thickness of the walls, that is about it!

      In my home town, Folkestone, we have the remains of a huge Roman villa on the cliff tops which is currently undergoing excavations thanks to a National Lottery grant. In Dover, a nearby town, we have the Roman Painted House, an amazing place to see. I have also lived in Northumberland and spent many a happy hour walking Hadrian's Wall, so perhaps I have been spoiled where Roman architecture, relics and sites are concerned!

      I fully appreciate the fact that the houses were probably already in situ when excavation took place in the 1950's. Because of this, obviously the site could not be given the same type of attention that other Roman sites such as Lullingstone in Kent have been given, without demolishing the modern buildings.

      It is a shame, as the fort must have played a huge role in Roman East Anglia's history, but as it stands, Caister fort is not worth making a special trip to see, in my opinion.

      If you happen to be in Caister-on-Sea, then by all means do visit, it is free and the children can run around on the playing fields that the fort stands on and it passes, at the most, half an hour.

      I enjoyed my visit, but, sadly, I wouldn't bother to visit it again.

      Thank you for reading

      ©brittle1906 September 2011

      N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.


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