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DUROBRIVAE (Rochester) Kent, England.

A Belgic settlement on the river Medway 38 km from London (Londinium) and 37 from Canterbury (Durovernum). It was important enough to have a mint in the period immediately prior to the Roman invasion. The name Durobrivae (which only occurs in the Antonine Itinerary, but the identification is certain) means “fortress by the bridges,” which may suggest the existence of a Belgic oppidum. During the 1st and 2d c. a straggling development occurred along the line of Wating Street, but in the last quarter of the 2d c. the first defenses, a clay-faced earth rampart and a ditch, were constructed. A massive stone wall replaced the rampart early in the 3d c., enclosing an area of 9.2 ha. In A.D. 604 Rochester was still of sufficient importance for St. Augustine to make it the seat of the second cathedral under Justus.

The only Roman remains now visible are parts of the city wall, which survives to the height of 5.1 m at the SE corner, with fragments elsewhere incorporated in the mediaeval defenses. Little is known of the internal plan of the Roman city, though the High Street and Northgate Street mark its principal axes and the existence of four gates is attested by references in Anglo-Saxon charters.


G. Payne, “Roman Rochester,” Archaeologia Cantiana 21 (1895) 1-16; A. C. Harrison & C. Flight, “Roman and Medieval Defences of Rochester,” ibid. 83 (1968) 55-104; id., “Excavations in Rochester,” ibid. 85 (1970) 95-112; id., “Rochester East Gate, 1969,” ibid. 87 (1972) 121-57.


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