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Reculver*

  • R. F. Jessup
Extract

The twin towers of Reculver, a far-seen monument on the northeast coast of Kent 3½ miles east of Herne Bay (PLATE I), have long been recognized as a sea-mark of great antiquity. They were for many years maintained solely for the benefit of mariners using the shoal-beset inshore channels on the southern side of the Thames Estuary, but with the general disuse of these channels during the last decade such a guide-mark is no longer required.

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page 179 note *

The Roman name was Regulbium (Not. Dig. circa 425) ‘derived from an old British word for “beak, bill”…. with a prefix corresponding to Latin prae or pro, the name meaning “promontory”‘. Ekwall, Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, 1936, p.365. The projecting character of the land on which Reculver stands is now masked by the green meadows which on the south and east have replaced the tidal marsh and mud flats of earlier times.

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1 Ireland, W.H. History of the County of Kent, vol. 1 (1828), 427.

2 The Corporation of Trinity House have been good enough to supply me with a copy of the Minute, an extract from which I reproduce with thanks for their courtesy.

3 The only pagan Saxon relics from Reculver known to me are a lobed glass beaker, and a broken Kentish brooch.

4 Reculver : its Saxon Church and Cross’, Archaeologia (1927), 77, 241.

5 Clapham, A.W. English Romanesque Architecture before the Conquest (1930), pp.17, 62, etc.

6 The present ground-level is a few feet above the walls ; formerly the area within the Roman walls was a wheat field.

page 183 note * See ANTIQUITY 1929, 3, 6574: ‘The earliest Churches in England#x2019;, by SirCharles, Peers.

7 For details see Peers, and Clapham, , Archaeologia, (1927), 77, 204 ff.

8 They were drawn in situ before the demolition; see Smith, C.R. Richborough, Reculver, and Lympne (1850), p. 197; for the original drawings see Society of Antiquaries, Red Portfolios, Kent L-R, 24, 26. There is not much possibility of their having been part of the great monument at Richborough as suggested in Arch. Cant. (1932), 44, 170.

9 Printed at length in Nichols’ Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica (1784), no. 18, p. 133.

10 Leland, Itinerary (3rd edition, 1770), 7, folio 136. Leland also saw a ‘very auncient Boke of the Evangelyes’ with a stone inscribed CLAUDIA ATEPICCVS in the binding.

11 In particular Mr Clapham has made an interesting suggestion (op. cit. p. 62) that the cross may have been in existence before the church.

12 The fragments at Hillborough have not been reported upon by a geologist, but I think there is no doubt that they are of the same stone as the pieces described by Sir Charles Peers.

13 Bede, Lives of the Holy Abbots, Benedict.

14 Camden, Britannia (1610), p. 335.

15 Lambarde, W. A Perambulation of Kent (1576); 1826 edition, 235.

16 Hill‘s map was reproduced in Roach Smith’s Richborough, Reculver, and Lympne (1850). By Mr Collard’s permisson there are photostat reproductions of both maps in the Map Room at the British Museum (3120,2 and 3120,3) ; and there is a copy of Castell’s map on the site for the benefit of visitors.

17 Society of Antiquaries, Red Portfolios, Kent L-R, 24, 25 ; published in Nichols’ Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica (1784) no. XVIII, plate iv.

18 Ireland’s legend of nine miles is, of course, absurd. Popular opinion, dating from the 17th century, places the town of Reculver on the Black Rock Shoal.

19 Battely, J. Antiquitates Rutupinae (Oxford, 1711 in Latin), 1774 edition, p. 54.

20 A detailed account of Roman Reculver will be found in V.C.H. Kent, 3, 1924.

21 As Mr R. G. Collingwood has emphasized, the probable narrow entrance and the stout walls are both against a 2nd century date. Arch. Roman Britain (1930), 54.

22 An inscription of a trierarch at Boulogne dates from Nero’s reign. (Corpus Inscrip. Lat., xm, 3542).

23 John Battely, op. cit.

24 Arch. Cant. (1878), 12, 113.

25 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, Book I, ch. XXV.

26 Bede, op. cit. Book V, eh. VIII.

27 The Wantsum channel seems therefore to have been used as a kind of maritime isthmus-route.—EDITOR.

28 e.g. Hasted, History of Kent, folio edition, vol. 4 (1799), 289. The story of the Wantsum is in vol. I (1778), CXXXI.

29 Leland, Itinerary (3rd edition, 1770), 7, 137.

30 MS. Cott. Aug. I, vol. I, 54.

page 179 note * The Roman name was Regulbium (Not. Dig. circa 425) ‘derived from an old British word for “beak, bill”…. with a prefix corresponding to Latin prae or pro, the name meaning “promontory”‘. Ekwall, Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, 1936, p.365. The projecting character of the land on which Reculver stands is now masked by the green meadows which on the south and east have replaced the tidal marsh and mud flats of earlier times.

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Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
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