Author Topic: Kent Place Names  (Read 1015 times)

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2020, 02:44:37 PM »

MartinR, thanks for that, but it was the following that I am not clear about....

As both the Romans and Normans realised, Rochester Castle hill is a strong point from which you can control the Medway,


I mean, don't see any evidence that the Romans used Castle Hill to control the Medway. Didn't they just eventually build a wall to surround their town?

Offline MartinR

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2020, 10:57:06 AM »
Ronald Marsh* states that after 175 there was systematic fortification of the town.  What is known of the walls indicates that the castle hill was within them.  Brown** states that the castle used the remains of the Roman town walls as foundations.  There is no evidence of a formal fortress (though strong supposition of Plautius setting up a small fort during the invasion) but the fortified town enclosed the castle hill.  Subsequent Norman building has erased the previous property there (from Domesday we know that the land yielded an annual rent of 17/4 to the bishop in 1086 values).  That's why I used the term "strong point" and eschewed "stonghold", "fort", "fortress" or "castle".
Pre-Roman Belgic remains and coin dies have been found.  The Celtic "kingdom" of the Cantiaci had two main administrative centres or 'oppida': Canterbury and Rochester.  Due to two millennia of changing land use there is no evidence whether this was a true oppidum (a large fortified Iron Age settlement) or something much smaller.  Hence my final warning sentence about "How much importance and how much size is, however, pure speculation and nearly devoid of evidence!"
There is a suggestion that the Watling Street is based upon an earlier trackway which crossed the Medway at this point.  I've not been able to find any details of how, there wouldn't have been a bridge and I would have thought the bottom too silty for a ford.  However, at that time the currents and depth were less (Strood hadn't been built up narrowing the river) so a low tide crossing might have been possible, alternatively there might have been some sort of ferry.  The river used to cut in to below the castle (until the Esplanade was built) and early drawings show it being used by boats as a landing place.

*Marsh, Ronald (1974), Rochester, The evolution of the City, Medway Borough Council
**Brown, Reginald Allen (1969), Rochester Castle, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2020, 10:54:04 PM »
I'm in some agreement until the bit about the Romans and the castle hill strong point. I thought there was no evidence of a Roman castle there? I know the town wall that eventually surrounded the Roman town also passed that point, but strong point?


Back to the Rochester name, as you said, we take the derivative as the Roman fort by the bridge, then it follows that that Roman name can only have been applied after the Romans built the bridge. It therefore does nothing to prove there was a pre-Roman strong hold there. There was one at Canterbury, and traces have been found of that.

Offline MartinR

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2020, 07:27:49 PM »
But if the river is your main highway, then Rochester has the advantage of firm(ish) banks and access to the hinterland.  It would be a lot easier to transport goods from the Maidstone area to Rochester by water than over the escarpment.  Likewise goods imported from or exported to places further afield on the Thames and beyond would have a natural port in the Rochester area.  As both the Romans and Normans realised, Rochester Castle hill is a strong point from which you can control the Medway, further downstream, for instance at Upnor,  weapons of the date would not have the range.  Downstream the area was basically marsh (excepting Frindsbury and Upnor) which merged into the tidal mudflats.  In Rochester itself 1961 Belgic remains were found under the Roman layers, and pre-Roman coin dies have also been discovered.  These may indicate that it was a centre of some importance.  How much importance and how much size is, however, pure speculation and nearly devoid of evidence!

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2020, 06:39:55 PM »
I thought about Kitt's Coty, etc after I had posted.Since then, I've been wondering why there would even be any Ancient settlement in Rochester, as the site is fairly pointless before the Roman bridge. It would be hemmed in by a marsh to the north and river to the west. I could imagine Burham being a much more logical location.


 We'll get Time Team onto it after the lockdown!

Offline Smiffy

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2020, 06:22:20 PM »
There seems to be a lot of Roman and pre-Roman archaeology around Burham, so perhaps it had some ancient significance that has yet to be determined?

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2020, 01:55:05 PM »
Found this interesting and thought provoking. If no pre-Roman settlement had been found in Rochester, then is it possible that Burham was the actual location of the large Briton settlement here? This would place it closer to the ancient fording places, Pilgrims Way and nearer the perported location of the Battle of Medway.

Offline Smiffy

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2020, 01:42:00 PM »
You may well be right - Burham is some 4.5 miles from Rochester, so there could have been some other unknown and nearer stronghold. If it was some kind of wooden fortification this may have disappeared long ago without trace.

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2020, 10:06:29 AM »
Smiffy. Burham. My friend's uncle had a farm at Burham Down, which was on top of a ridge, overlooking the whole area, so it could have been a fortress in its own right originally. Not dependant on the nearness of Rochester.

Offline Smiffy

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2020, 11:21:10 PM »

Offline Smiffy

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2020, 05:06:58 PM »

Offline Smiffy

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2020, 10:02:52 PM »

Offline grandarog

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2020, 06:00:15 PM »
Thats Great ,Thanks Smiffy. :)


MartinR  :-.
 Referring to your post .I always wondered where it got its name from.Situated, New Road Rochester
Quote, "There never was an actual place called "Roffensis" or any variant thereon"Always wondered where it got its name from





Offline Smiffy

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2020, 06:27:22 PM »

Offline Smiffy

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Re: Kent Place Names
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2020, 04:45:30 PM »

 

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