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Victoria County History of Kent Vol. 3  1932 - Romano-British Kent - Military History - Page 38

There, four years’ excavation (1922—5) produced the huge total of 11,492 coins struck by the house of Theodosius (about A.D. 383—95), and this total has. since been immensely increased. Even if we try to explain away a proportion of these late coins by supposing that some of them may represent hoards which have been accidentally dispersed by farmers or stone-seekers in the top soil—a supposition entirely unsupported by evidence—it is clear at once that we are faced at Richborough with a very special numismatic problem.. The minting of official bronze coinage ceased or markedly diminished in the West after A.D. 395. So far as coinage was thereafter used, the old currency had now to serve with little or no recruitment. On any site in Britain, therefore, which was occupied intensively after that date, we might expect to find an accumulation of Theodosian coinage, supplemented by the more or less barbaric products of local mints. That we should find such an accumulation at Richborough is in accordance with general probability. Out of the immediate reach of the destructive Picts and Scots, and in close contact with civilized Gaul, the more strongly fortified sites of south-eastern Britain might be expected to hold out, at any rate for a time, as bulwarks of Romano-British urban civilization against the immigrant yeomen of Teutonic Europe. Verulam, we know, was still a substantial Romano-British city when St. German was received there in 429. And it may be found that, when the careful excavation of Verulam enables us to appraise more accurately the evidence of the Theodosian coinage, we shall be able with some confidence to affirm that Richborough, too, was. inhabited for some decades after the break with Rome in A.D. 410. There, until Verulam—our one and only historic site of the fifth century—is explored on an adequate scale, we may leave this primary problem of the Richborough coinage.55  Of the many secondary problems we need not here take account.
   Such are, in outline, the surviving remains of Roman Richborough. There is, fortunately, no doubt of its Roman name. Its position suits that assigned to Rutupiae by Ptolemy, the Antonine Itinerary, and the Peutinger map (P1. VI). Its fourth—century fort suits the statement of the ‘ Notitia ‘ that Rutupiae formed part of the Saxon-Shore defence. Its harbour suits the often— mentioned Portus Rutupinus. Its name may be traced continuously since the days when Bede could tell us of his own knowledge both the old name and the new, and explain that Rutubi was now called Reptaceastir by the English. The identity of Richborough and Rutupiae was indeed perceived by the earliest writers on Romano-British topography, Servetus, Lhuyd, Talbot; and apart from some natural confusion between Richborough and the neighbouring Sandwich, it has never been seriously disputed.56
   Rutupiae is mentioned in Roman literature far oftener than most sites in Britain. The references seem to fall into two groups: those in the poets and those in the prose writers and roadbooks. The poets—Lucan in the middle of
   55  The problem is of course complicated by our ignorance of the density of the population which made use of Richborough at the end of the fourth century. A short period of unparalleled congestion there would produce much the same result, numismatically, as a prolonged period of normal occupation. The whole question, indeed, bristles with difficulties.
  
56  John Twyne in his De Rebus Allbionicis (1590, p. 50), Leland in his Collectanea (iii, 11i) and some contemporary antiquaries of Dover put Rutupiae at Dover; Jovius put it at Canterbury. Later, some have thought that both Reculver and Richborough bore the name Rutupiae (so Battely), or that Richborough was only Portus Rutupinus and Rutupiae itself was Canterbury (so Douglas and Boys). Such ideas need no criticism here.

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