Monday, July 13, 2009
A guiding light at the edge of empire
Reculver Fort stood atop a grassy, wind-blown headland, cobbled together from the remains of Regulbium, the Roman watchtower, and an old Saxon abbey. Christian and pagan ruins occupied the same site, still holding their own, sharing a similar aspect and an equal amount of respect. From a distance the Roman part of the edifice appeared stooped, near crumbling. But up close the fort looked like the head of a beast rising up from the land, strong and permanent. Gusts blew through the grass, first revealing then concealing the fort’s bone-colored foundations. Reculver was originally built by the Romans to monitor shipping and protect the inlaid channels and waterways that veined this part of Thanet. A thousand years later, single mast ships dipped their sails as they passed, acknowledging Reculver as a beacon and trusted landmark. Now, two thousand years on, it was protecting the three of us from strong broadsides of wind blown from the sea.